Written by Rory Cooper - Heritage.org
Yesterday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said on Fox News: "This White House supports free speech." Now, it is hardly comforting to know we have a White House that feels it has to defend that position. It's akin to saying, 'this White House support oxygen,' but the behavior of senior White House officials over the past few weeks has brought us to this point. A concerted and coordinated effort against cable news channels and their personalities; radio hosts and regular citizens from every walk of life has made Americans across the country fearful of a vengeful Obama administration.
By now, it is common knowledge that the White House asked neighbors to report other neighbors who may disagree. They defended their White House "list" by saying that names wouldn't be kept. Well, either they're keeping a list or they're destroying public records, but either way something wrong is occurring. America agreed.
Then the White House introduced the term "Astro Turf" into our August lexicon by accusing soccer moms, senior citizens, students and regular concerned Americans of getting on buses and disrupting the left's attempt to overhaul one sixth of our economy without opposition. Speaker Pelosi jumped in on this attack referencing swastikas, and Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA) calling protesters "brown shirts." Townhalls are apparently supposed to be lovefests as demonstrated by the President's pep rally yesterday in Portsmouth, NH.
Well these attacks didn't work either. Instead, townhalls grew more crowded and those folks were able to capture on video Members of Congress taking cell phone calls during questions, refusing to speak to their constituents and union intimidation. So now what? Well if you can't silence the people, silence the news. The White House yesterday pivoted to blaming Fox News and cable networks for the problem of dissent. A straw man that they have successfully attacked in the past.
But the new development is their potential use of closely affiliated groups, like one recently operated by top White House advisor Van Jones, to launch organized attacks on commentators like Glenn Beck and Fox News. Apparently Beck, certainly no friend of the Obama administration and never advertised as such, said something that the White House chorus deemed offensive enough to launch an underground attack on his show's advertisers. Whether Beck said something controversial or not about the President's reaction to the Henry Louis Gates arrest is not the question. But is it appropriate for the White House to be judge and jury of the fourth estate, and are they using Chicago-style tactics to silence their critics?
As of two days ago, Color of Change changed their website bios to marginalize its founder Van Jones' role in the organization. The group itself is small in support with barely 500 facebook followers, just over 100 twitter followers. This organization is not built on massive grassroots organizing. But with a small following, they were able to convince a handful of advertisers to abandon the Beck show. Making fun of cable news is one thing, but is the White House associated with a campaign to not only discredit their critics but also strangle the financial footing these businesses rely on? These are questions that need answering.
One would expect a sympathetic journalist to push a 'Fox News extremist agenda' story in the days to come to solidify that the White House was right, and cable news was wrong all along. President Obama should denounce any group that works to silence White House critics, especially one his top advisor leads. He should open up his townhalls to a legitimately open audience and instead of blaming the opposition for the state of his health care plan (whatever that plan may be); he should go back to the drawing board and develop an alternative that recognizes the overwhelming voice of America heard this August.