Lamar Alexander Repeats Fox News 'Enemies List' Attack on Obama
Gotta' love that GOP/Fox News echo chamber with this latest talking point. Lamar Alexander repeats his 'enemies list' accusation made earlier in the day on the Senate floor.
For the past couple of weeks, Fox News’ Sean Hannity has been aggressively pushing the talking point that the Obama White House is compiling an “enemies list.” That wild accusation came in response to Obama communications director Anita Dunn’s suggestion that Fox News operates as a “communications arm” of the GOP.
“I mean, is this an enemies list? Seems like it to me,” Hannity said on his program last Wednesday. “They want to come after the Fox News Channel,” the right-wing pundit complained. Almost every night in recent weeks, Hannity has badgered his guests, demanding that they take up his talking point. Last night, Liz Cheney took the bait:
HANNITY: It seems to me, it’s almost like an enemies list. Is that a fair description?
CHENEY: Well, uhh, yeah.
Yesterday, Hannity won his biggest convert yet. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) took to the Senate floor and read Sean Hannity’s talking points into the congressional record:
ALEXANDER: I want to make what I hope will be a friendly suggestion to President Obama and his White House, and it is this: don’t create an enemies list. […]
So in conclusion Mr. President, here’s my point. These are unusually difficult times with plenty of forces encouraging us to disagree. Let’s not start calling people out and compiling an enemies list.
Watch a compilation:
As Think Progress also noted, Karl Rove accused the White House of keeping an enemies list on Fox News Sunday last weekend. And now we have Alexander following suit. For someone complaining that the White House is being unfair in claiming that Fox News is a communications arm of the Republican party, Alexander is certainly doing a good job of proving it as he does it. My only question might be which one is leading and which is following? I would imagine it's Fox following since I'm pretty sure Hannity gets all of his talking points straight from the RNC.
Steve Benen weighed in on this today as well:
While I don't doubt this will make for weeks of breathless speculation on Fox News, and give a wide variety of pundits endless entertainment, that doesn't make it any less ridiculous.
The most obvious problem here is that Republicans are defining Nixonian tactics down. In effect, Alexander argued this morning that the White House's opponents and detractors will go after the president and his team, but if they respond in any way, they're necessarily acting in ways similar to the disgraced 37th president.
Look at Alexander's list. Is the White House pushing back against the Chamber of Commerce's efforts to derail the administration's agenda? Sure, what's wrong with that? Did the White House impose a "gag order" on Humana? Of course not, that's absurd. Is the White House pointing out that Fox News is an arm of the Republican Party? Yep, as well it should. Has the president criticized financial institutions that brought the global economy to the brink of a depression? Yes, but I'm not sure what's wrong with that. Has the White House criticized an insurance industry that screwed over its customers and continues to fight against sensible reform efforts? You bet, but again, that's a good thing.
Alexander, Gregg, and assorted political reporters make it seem as if the White House should be a non-partisan, non-political, take-punches-but-don't-respond entity. In other words, Obama and his team are expected to just lose every fight, and take every criticism. To do anything else leads to Nixon comparisons.
It's possible the political world has a very short memory, but it's worth remembering, as Eric Boehlert does, that Nixon's White House "declared war on his enemies (including news outlets), and used the full power of the federal government to exact his bouts of revenge."
When Nixon didn't like a news outlet, he directed federal prosecutors to investigate journalists, including going through their taxes. Nixon assembled actual enemies lists, and used the power of his office to target and try to destroy his adversaries.
That any serious person would compare these tactics to routine political efforts at the White House is insane.