Is Scott McCLellan a patriot or a weasel?
July 29, 2008 8:30 PM   Subscribe

Who spins for the White House?

As O'Reilly berated Scott McCLellan he made him admit that he wasn't getting talking points from the White House. Who are the "pundits and commentators" who do get these talking points. I've heard Rush Limbaugh, the O'man mentioned Chris Matthews. Who else? Michael Gordon? Roger Ailes?
posted by minkll to Law & Government (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
All mainstream pundits, commentators and journalists receive White House "talking points" in the form of press releases, but that doesn't mean they'll all parrot them unquestioningly to their viewers. The Fox people (television and radio) are the ones who are most often regurgitating the White House line. All it takes is an educated and discerning ear to know who's doing it (e.g. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and yes even Bill O'Reilly whether he admits it or not).
posted by amyms at 8:47 PM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Um, "no one"?

You may be stunned to learn that there really isn't a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. There are just people who happen to agree with one another, to a greater or lesser extent, and occasionally say similar things.
posted by Class Goat at 8:48 PM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that McClellan (accidentally or not) overstated the case significantly. He made it sound like the White House was communicating with certain pundits, directly feeding them talking points. But from his walking it back the impression I'm getting is that it is more that certain pundits were taking it upon themselves to repeat talking points the white house put out generically, not directly to those pundits.

For example, it seems that O'Reilly didn't receive talking points directly from the white house. But he certainly repeated things that were white house talking points all on his own.
posted by Justinian at 8:49 PM on July 29, 2008


amyms; McClellan was making it sound like this was going beyond the generic memos that everybody gets. That some pundits were actually coordinating with the White House. That's the part he's had to walk back.
posted by Justinian at 8:50 PM on July 29, 2008


I really am stunned to learn that there really isn't a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

Here's an example, unless you want to believe there's some kind of ideological firewall between the White House and the Pentagon
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:09 PM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


In the past, the Bush admin has paid columnists to promote policies, particularly NCLB. There have been similar accusations of the Pentagon paying military pundits. These communications were coordinated by the administration for its own benefit. That there are pundits who will regularly parrot the talking points without financial incentive from the WH is just luck for them.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:32 PM on July 29, 2008


I'm not sure how this isn't chatfilter, but I'll give it a go...

The White House, regardless of the political leanings of the current occupier, does cultivate friendly connections within the press.

An example of this was illustrated in the Plame affair incident where specific conservative commentators were passed information of questionable legal and political merit.

On of the more bizarre examples revolved around the whole Jeff Gannon incident (too quickly forgotten IMHO) which actually could be classified as conspiratorial to some degree. Basically the White House planted a stooge in the press corp who would then ask either soft ball questions, or leading questions that would then allow the press secretary to expunge White House talking points. There is a persistent rumor that Gannon was brought in by McClellan - both men spent time in Austin and were said to... ahem... frequent the same night spots...

Of course the most obviously example of the White House trading media access for favorable reporting was the whole embed press deal. If this administration has ever shown a spark of genius it was in getting the media into their pocket during course of the entire Iraq war. It makes sense when you think about it as both Cheney and Rumsfeld were Nixon toadies and saw first hand the nation pivot on Vietnam as that ugly little police action unfolded each night on network news. Nixon, incidentally blamed the press and pollsters for all of his troubles - from his, "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore..." moment at his gubernatorial defeat, to his "silent majority" appeal to a middle America he believed the press overlooked.

The point is that the White House would be stupid not to cultivate relationships with the press. Cheney pops up on Rush Limbaugh's show every now and then. Bush interviews on Fox News... they all talk to back room dealers and dirty bag men like Robert Novak.

And why wouldn't the White House do this? Friends in the press trade access for towing the line - is anyone surprised?
posted by wfrgms at 9:41 PM on July 29, 2008


I'm not sure how this isn't chatfilter, but I'll give it a go...

Well, you answered it right there no? Cheney/Limbaugh. Novak/was it Armitage? Ergo not chatfilter!

Initially I was just hoping for names but you're right, it doesn't mean anything without the documentation.

Class Goat, did you see the footage of that Critical Mass biker getting knocked on his ass by the NYPD cop?
posted by minkll at 9:57 PM on July 29, 2008


No, but I heard about it. The cop in question got his gun and badge lifted and they're considering filing charges against him.

What's that got to do with anything?
posted by Class Goat at 10:09 PM on July 29, 2008


"They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them." - Dan Bartlett, former Counselor to the President (of GWB), talking about conservative blogs.
posted by null terminated at 10:44 PM on July 29, 2008


> unless you want to believe there's some kind of ideological firewall

Consider the source. The UN and NYT aren't what you'd call fans of the right.

I think the bottom line here is - don't believe anything you read or watch on television.

There is no "single" VRWC. There are "conspiracy pockets" on both the left and right, though. Depends on all the various agendas, the day of the week, the phase of the moon, etc.,. I have to wonder how many of the ones that are "discovered" by the press are just red herrings. OMFG conspiracy-within-a-conspiracy-within-a ....!

> They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them

I think what he meant was: the bloggers put the interview up almost verbatim rather than taking it out of context, or selectively filtering points and distorting the truth. He was using "regurgitate" in a positive joking way. Bloggers are not mindless parrots any more than print reporters are mindless parrots. (Oh, wait...)
posted by ostranenie at 5:35 AM on July 30, 2008


[removed links from original post, please don't turn your AskMe question into a FPP about white house spin]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:53 AM on July 30, 2008


Um, "no one"?

I worked with Roger (and the late Chet Collier) at CNBC and at Fox during the Clinton years. I've been in production meetings with Roger and Chet.

Please don't assume there's no one talking to these people. You have no idea what you're talking about. Even CNN and CBS get some marching orders from The White House nowadays.

The heads of these networks (all of them, now that Ted Turner is gone) more or less have a duty to the President. They are all part of a club: The Old Boy Network.

For every Olbermann, there are 100 right wingers with their own shows, if you count radio. And a lot of these radio shows pull in a much bigger audience than Olbermann (and Letterman, for that matter).
posted by Zambrano at 12:58 PM on July 30, 2008


I think what he meant was: the bloggers put the interview up almost verbatim rather than taking it out of context, or selectively filtering points and distorting the truth. He was using "regurgitate" in a positive joking way.

I've never heard regurgitate used positively.
posted by null terminated at 5:11 PM on July 30, 2008


More evidence that talking points get sent to everyone - the WH sent talking points to Olbermann, hardly one of their friends, in 2004.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:30 AM on July 31, 2008


I've never heard regurgitate used positively.

Isn't it obvious he was joking?
posted by ostranenie at 9:00 AM on August 21, 2008


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