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The Short Memories of OC Register Editorial Page Writers


Last week, the Orange County Register ran a column by Joseph Perkins that accused the White House of journalistic collusion with left wing media in which Perkins produces actual evidence of said collusion in the form of quotations from left wing media.  It’s a stunning “pot calls Kettle black” moment for a paper that leans so far to the right when it comes to conservative opinion, I almost laughed out loud.

From Perkins column:

What are the odds that not one, not two, not three, but four impassioned defenses of Obamacare would randomly appear this week under the bylines of Mssrs. Beutler, Chait, Hiltzik and Benen? And that each would have headlines suggesting that those who would undo the putative “signature achievement” of the Obama presidency are immoral?

Pretty long, I imagine.

Indeed, the most plausible explanation for this improbable coincidence is that the copycat commentaries by the four journos were the product of message coordination between the White House and its echo chamber on the media Left.

Message coordination!

More from the column:

The issue is not that Beutler, Chait, Hiltzik and Benen are liberal. It’s not that they support Obama’s policies. It’s that they are, for all intents and purposes, unpaid Obama staff members, strategically imbedded at New Republic, NYMAG, L.A. Times and the Maddow show.

Journalists know there is a bright red line they are not supposed to cross – don’t get in bed (figuratively or literally) with those you write about. That applies not only to reporters – who are supposed to maintain the appearance of objectivity (although most who cover politics are hardly so) – but also those who are opinion writers. Whether they bend left or right.

Let’s turn the Wayback Machine on to 2006 where then President Bush was likely to lose the midterm elections, and did.  What did the White House do then?  It invited right wing conservative talk radio hosts to jump in bed with the administration.

Just two weeks before the election, the New York Times reported (with photos) of the right wing love fest.  From the story:

On an overcast Friday morning last month, White House aides ushered an influential group of conservative radio hosts into the Oval Office for a private audience with the president.

For an hour and a half, Mr. Bush discussed his case for the war in Iraq, his immigration proposals and even the personality of his Scottish terrier Barney, who scratched on the door during the session until the president relented and let him into the office, according to several hosts who attended.

The meeting, which was not announced on the president’s public schedule, was part of an intensive Republican Party campaign to reclaim and re-energize a crucial army of supporters that is not as likely to walk in lockstep with the White House as it has in the past.

Disgruntlement can now be found not only among the more flamboyant radio voices, like Michael Savage, who raged against Mr. Bush’s proposals on immigration and other issues, but also among more mainstream hosts, like Laura Ingraham, who told her listeners in the wake of the scandal involving former Representative Mark Foley and under-age Congressional pages, “You have to ask yourself, the people who are in positions of power now in the Republican Party, are they able to credibly articulate the conservative agenda to the American people — to rally the base, to rally the country?”

Such questions, coming from such quarters, have created yet another challenge for the White House and the central party leadership as they work to steer Republicans to victory next month in the face of low approval ratings and dissatisfaction among the party faithful.

Strategists on both sides agree that the party’s greatest hope for holding control of Congress now rests with its ability to get core Republicans to vote, and that talk radio, which reaches millions of them, is crucial to the task.


The White House and the Republican National Committee are hammering home that point in interviews, talking-point bulletins and a healthy dollop of pomp that only a White House can provide.

The effort will peak on Oct. 24, when the administration will hold something of a talk-radio summit meeting, inviting dozens of hosts to set up booths on the White House grounds, where top cabinet officials are expected to sit for interviews.

The party chairman, Ken Mehlman, has already been working overtime on the talk radio circuit. From Wednesday to Friday of last week, he was interviewed a total of 20 times in Missouri, Tennessee and Ohio, promoting party stances on tax cuts and terrorism.

But, several hosts said, the most telling development so far this year was the White House decision to invite some of the most popular hosts to the Oval Office for off-the-record time with the president.

You want to make sure that your friends are friendly,” said Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, who has been crucial to the effort and who was a conservative radio host who turned harshly critical of Mr. Bush just months before he went to work for him last spring.

Now does this sound like message coordination to you?  Is this journalistic collusion?  Is the pot indeed black according to the Kettle?  What a surprise: conservative media supports a conservative president and liberal media supports a progressive president.  But to accuse liberals of journalistic collusion…of being de facto Obama administration staffers in the face of conservative media cheerleading in the previous administration makes Perkins look dumb.

And I wonder if the columnist reads his own paper.  This January 23rd editorial in the Register had these fascinating sentences:

These are nervous times for Republicans. After losing an election that should have been a cakewalk, Mitt Romney is back for more. After years of middling performance and sagging approval, Barack Obama’s ratings have risen to roughly where Ronald Reagan’s and George W. Bush’s were at the same point in their presidencies. No wonder that seemingly every well-known Republican officeholder wants to run for president.

A cakewalk?  The Register thinks the 2012 election should have been a cakewalk for Romney and the Republicans. Laughable.

But as far as “Journalists know there is a bright red line they are not supposed to cross – don’t get in bed (figuratively or literally) with those you write about.”

Does this mean his boss — Brian Calle — ought to return that “freedom award” The Lincoln Club of Orange County presented him last Spring?  If Brando could refuse an Oscar, Calle could have refused a cheap plaque.