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WashPost Tackles White House Bullying of the Press

by Keith Koffler on December 23, 2011, 3:17 pm

Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi today published a good piece on the press bullying tactics of the Obama West Wing, which is categorically the most vicious operation I have seen in 14 years covering the White House.

As I’ve reported before, the White House intentionally bullies reporters on a regular basis over stories they don’t like but know full well are legitimate pieces, hoping to get inside journalists’ heads and either get them not to do the current story or make them think twice before doing something similar.

The attacks are voluble and often laced with profanity, sullying the great building in which these people are privileged to work.

Interestingly, only a couple of regular West Wing reporters agreed to be quoted on the record about the abuse.

My fearless friend Julie Mason, who has long covered the White House and hosts a superb talk show on POTUS Sirius XM Radio from 12-3 weekdays, offered a characteristically direct assessment.

“They shoot first and ask questions later,” said Julie Mason . . . In one of the e-mails that reporters have dubbed “nastygrams,” White House press secretary Jay Carney branded one of Mason’s stories “partisan, inflammatory and tendentious.” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, reacting to comments Mason made in a TV discussion, sent her an e-mail that included an animated picture of a crying mime — a visual suggestion that she was whining.

Carl Cannon, another veteran of the White House press corps who is now Washington editor and a columnist for RealClearPolitics, was also unafraid of rubbing the White House the wrong way.

Carl Cannon . . . says he recently got zinged. After his site posted a headline and video of President Obama promoting a political fundraising raffle at the White House in June — which Republicans said could be a violation of campaign-finance law — Cannon heard about it in no uncertain terms. A deputy press official let loose “a screaming, profane diatribe that lasted two or three phone calls,” Cannon recalled. “It hurt my ear.”

Cannon and other reporters are convinced that the tough language and immediate response is part of a strategy. “It’s clear to me that [Obama’s media operation] looks at the press differently than anyone who was there before. The majority of reporters are trying to play it straight and get the story right, but they divide the world into two camps — they either favor you or try to punish you, depending if they see you as friend or foe.”

George Condon of National Journal, a cheerfully no-nonsense veteran White House reporter, was polite but left little doubt what he thinks.

Condon . . . says some of the interactions he has witnessed make this White House “different to a degree than what I’ve seen from earlier White Houses.” After a colleague wrote a column that was critical of Obama this year, he was hammered by e-mailed criticism from media officials, even though the president and much of his communications staff were in London at the time, Condon said.

A couple of reporters, Jake Tapper of ABC and Glenn Thrush of Politico said they didn’t really mind and minimized the problem. I don’t agree with them in the least.

Getting angry over an unfair story is one thing, and something other White House’s have certainly done. But the Obama people have moved beyond this to actual suppression of speech, a thuggish approach to intimidating reporters more worthy a petty Third World dictatorship than the White House.

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anneinarkansas December 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm

You are correct, Keith. Getting angry over the truth exposes the hypocrisy and Chicago thuggery of this entire administration.

Just2old December 24, 2011 at 9:15 am

You are correct Anne, this is the Chicago way…

srdem65 December 23, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Reward your friends and punish your enemies. The Chicago-way.

Wigglesworth December 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm

You know this administration looks at the regimes in countries like Argentina and wonders how they can replicate their control over the press.

Sadie December 23, 2011 at 3:48 pm

The think they can control the (st)ink.

Sadie December 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Barack Orwell and the “Thought Police” posing as reporters.

Janice/Granny Jan December 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm

The WaPo article gave off the vibe that everyone else does it. The article was also placed in the Style section. It might be better than nothing but not by much,

cindylu December 23, 2011 at 4:00 pm

3rd world dictatorship indeed-scary stuff!

any of these reporters want to release the emails or phone call transcripts, I am naive I didn’t think the Whitehouse was allowed to do this

MFS December 23, 2011 at 4:03 pm

At Least there are not a bunch of Journalists locked up like with his ‘buddy’ Erdogan………..well not yet.

langley barfly December 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Now will the WH “press corps” stand-up and act like “real journalists”…?

More stories like this need to be reported about the Obama regime and its ‘propaganda’.

ol gator December 26, 2011 at 9:52 am

Wheres Dan Rather? he was so very combatant with the Nixon WH back in the watergate days over reporting issues.( of course it was for personal gain only)’d think someone in this pool would have the “gonads” to blow a major whistle on these trashy thugs !
60 minutes? silent
NYTimes? silent
Boy ,obambo wasn’t kidding he said there’d be change !

Mari December 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm

So I g uess I will be even less trusting of any reporting from Jake Tapper and Glenn Thrush since I won’t know if they’ve been intimidated into toning down their reports or dropping them altogether.

Susan December 23, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Guess that WH anti-bullying conference the Obama’s sponsored earlier this year didn’t do much good for their toadies.

Star December 23, 2011 at 4:51 pm


cindylu December 23, 2011 at 5:01 pm

For SURE! excellent Susan!

Anonna December 23, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Bullies persecute those who appear vulnerable.

Maybe if reporters developed some self-respect and fought back, the White House would stop bullying them. Remember the video of the fat kid in Australia who picked up his tormentor and slammed him to the ground? What will it take to make the White House Press Corps, for example, stop wanna, wanna, wanna-ing to be Barack’s buddy?

Where are these emails online? Where is the tape of the screaming phone call? No one has the guts to make these available to the public?

Mary B December 24, 2011 at 9:43 am

Bullies always back down when their victims stand up to them and do so publicly. I was bullied in high school by one of the “cool” kids until I publicly and loudly put her in her place in front of the entire girls PE class. End of bullying. The WH press corps should do the same thing if they want it to stop.

Star December 23, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Low rent, as I have said. No sense of history, decorum, right and wrong–just “win” at any cost. Well, the cost is already rising.

MarjoJimbo December 24, 2011 at 11:22 am

Agree about the low rent. Ruby Payne’s low class behavior.

Shofar December 23, 2011 at 5:54 pm

“Half a dozen reporters contacted for this article described censorious e-mails or phone calls from Carney or his staff members that they characterized as heavy-handed. The reporters declined to speak for the record out of concern that doing so would further harm their relations with the White House.”

I think the above quote from the article says it all. When a “free press” is concerned about harming its relations with the powers that be, it is no longer a free press. Burke is credited with calling the press the “Fourth Estate” more powerful that the other three. It seems that today’s American press is no longer an “Estate” but rather living on the plantation. Taking whatever crumbs the masters what to give.

The media – print, TV or alternate – all need to collectively rise up against the master and say “No more! You will respect us and we will report on your dirty laundry!” The administration, any administration, should be respectful and a tad fearful of the press. That is what is good for democracy and the Republic.

Stefan December 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm

We haven’t had a republic since February 13, 1999.

That’s when the media-ocracy replaced democracy.

DeniseVB December 23, 2011 at 6:14 pm

I read several major newspapers online and find the real truthiness of the articles are in the comments. It’s the only place I can find fair, balanced and off the WH dole. :D

Good on you Mr. Koffler for giving us a sane corner in bizzarr-O world :)

cheryl December 23, 2011 at 6:58 pm

I cannot wait for the first tell all book. I typically don’t buy books like that but I’ll make an exception. I’m a firm beleiver that the personality of the top dog trickles down to the subordinates and they will behave likewise, whether it’s a family or a business or a White House – Obama, I’ve always believed, is the Bullier in Chief.

Knothead December 23, 2011 at 8:24 pm

I have tons of things I could opine about this piece but, It’s Christmas and if I keep hearing more of the regime’s scare tactics I’ll puke. It’s time to enjoy the season and have a little R&R. Best Wishes to my fellow Patriots and our unofficial official leader, the thorn in the White House’s side, Keith Koffler.
Joy to the World.

Darrel December 23, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Yep, while Barry and the Mooch enjoy their 4 million dollar vacation at taxpayers expense in Hawaii, the rest of us catch a small break from the desturction of the country we love.

Darrel December 23, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Barry’s formative years were in Indonesia. The culture imbedded deep within him.

Star December 24, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Isn’t Indonesia kinda poor. He sure doesn’t have a clue about poor.

Moe December 23, 2011 at 11:45 pm

the 4th estate has lost its intestinal fortitude and are being run over by Nazi’s!

cindylu December 23, 2011 at 11:55 pm

as michael savage says-the 4th estate is the 5th column

cindylu December 24, 2011 at 12:00 am

good definition from wikipedia-so TRUE!

“A fifth column is a group of people who clandestinely undermine a larger group such as a nation from within.”

James Walker December 24, 2011 at 12:31 am

This is further confirmation of the complete lack of substance offered by this Administration. Obama suggests the GOP needs to put “Country over party” as if they are a bunch of traitors lacking any legitimate basis for opposition. He then floats a one year payroll tax cut until he finds out Reid can’t talk the Senate GOP into funding it with Chinese yuan and so a ridiculous two month cut becomes essential to survival of the middle class. The sad fact is that now we have to rob from Social Security to fund a payroll tax cut, while Obama and his pals Reid and Pelosi claim that protecting Social Security is the most important task at hand. It is not about sound policy or protecting the middle class or even Social Security’s viability; it is and has always been about initimidation as a means of getting what Obama wants (i.e., re-election) regardless of policy.

Holder doesn’t like his DOJ being faulted for providing rifles to cartel thugs who use them to kill heroes like Brian Terry and other innocents? Why his accusers are racist, naturally. Again, playing the race card to intimidate and bully opposition to silence them.

Interesting that Obama has decided not to intimidate, but to placate, Assad, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, Chavez, Ahmadinejad, and now even favors the “stability” Kim Jong Un offers. Undermine Netanyahu (who presides over the only legitimate democracy that shares our Judeo Christian heritage) and encourage the “reformer” Assad (who presides over a military assault that murders at least as many as 5000 of his own people.)

Obama’s interest in intimidation as a tactic knows no bounds. How do we encourage Obama to extend his stay in Hawaii for another 24 months?

Chuck Thomas December 24, 2011 at 10:22 am

Keith, I do hope that if you receive a “response” from the powers-that-be in the WH, that you will republish it here.

Keith Koffler December 24, 2011 at 11:47 am

Good idea!

MarjoJimbo December 24, 2011 at 11:23 am

Keith, are you being harassed, too?

Star December 24, 2011 at 11:42 am

Yeah–don’t MAKE us come over there….

Steve December 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm

So when is someone besides Keith gonna grow a pair?!

DeniseVB December 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm

From April 2010, Obama is definitely trying to control the message, here’s how…..

Janna December 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm

The loathing and disgust I feel for the current occupants of the White House cannot be expressed well in civil words. I hate them.

BobbyONJ December 26, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Well put Janna.

big fan December 25, 2011 at 10:58 am

Thanks for a great year of fantastic work, Keith. Can’t remember how I came across your site but I have since made it a ‘must read’ every day. Love the humor you add to your articles (especially the inside stories on Michelle’s staff conversations).
I look forward to 2012 and your coverage of the elections. Please keep telling it like it is — no matter who is in the WH.
God bless you and have a Merry Christmas!

Mark Barton December 26, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Wow, This whole bullying thing is so
I’ve actually been enjoying the Christmas holiday with my family.
Why am I so ..out of touch..?
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!
You betcherass I’m still watching these criminals..and voting appropriately.

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