Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," publisher Mort Zuckerman called the Obama administration out for being "without a doubt the most hostile administration to business and to the role of business that we've had in decades."
Panel members Mika Brzezinski and John Heilmann seemed shocked at the severity of the criticism, however.
"Where is the hostility?" John Heilmann, columnist for New York Magazine, asked with incredulity. When Zuckerman responded that the administration deals with businessmen as shady characters trying to rip off the middle class, Heilmann simply called it rhetoric.
"I don't know if that's a good use of words," show host Mika Brzezinski remarked about Zuckerman's claim of hostility.
Heilmann claimed that the administration could definitely have been tougher on Wall Street. Its policy ended up "in a modest, moderate place," he stated.
"It ended up in the center, nowhere near as far to the left or the populist right as it could have," remarked Heilmann on Obama's dealings with Wall Street.
Zuckerman is no Republican cheerleader, either, as his campaign donations would make it seem.
The transcript of the segment, which aired on July 9 at 8:22 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
JOHN HARRIS, Editor-in-Chief, Politico: The White House is concerned about the perception that it's anti-business. I had an interview yesterday with Rahm Emanuel, who really underscores just how seriously they're taking this. He responded with real heat to the perception that Obama is anti-business. He didn't say this directly, but the clear message was "Would you guys just stop your whining? And don't listen so much to the rhetoric about BP, or about Wall Street. Look at our policies."
He's saying business should love us. The money and the stimulus package, most of that went to private sector companies to spend, so that was good. He said we didn't take the more liberal positions on health care, went with an incrementalist plan. That's good for business. Even the financial regulation, he says, gives business the sort of regulatory, clear expectations,.takes away uncertainty, the markets hate uncertainty, gives them the stability they need. He says business should love us. Of course, business does not love Obama. And incidentally, some of the things Rahm is saying, his own Democratic Party activists wouldn't love. Because he's talking about how Obama is free trade, and tough on teachers unions.
MORT ZUCKERMAN, Editor-in-Chief, U.S. News & World Report: I mean, I don't know how [Rahm Emanuel] can make those allegations about the business world. It's without question the most hostile administration to business and to the role of business that we've had in decades, and he's saying it's not hostile to business. It's totally hostile to business.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Hostile?
JOHN HEILMANN: Where is the hostility?
ZUCKERMAN: Where is the hostility? What are you talking about? Every time they make a reference – he just came out with a program for the expansion of exports. And you read, it says "we are not supporting those people, those unscrupulous, dishonest businessmen who are trying to rip off the middle class. No, no, no, we are going to help the other business people." What is he talking about?
JOHN HEILMANN: That's rhetoric! That's rhetoric!
ZUCKERMAN: You let me tell you, rhetoric is damn important when you want to make a long-term investment. You want to have a sense of confidence. This has been the most anti-business administration. And the whole business community feels it.
BRZEZINSKI: Did you feel that at the job summit, when you went there?
ZUCKERMAN: You're darn right I did.
BRZEZINSKI: Wow. Okay. I don't know if that's a good use of words.
HEILMANN: I've thought about this. I wrote a piece about this a while ago, about Wall Street and Obama. If you think about the existing political climate in the country, what the country would like to see done to Wall Street, what the Obama administration could have done politically, if it had wanted to, in terms of the populism out there in the country, it ended up in a modest, moderate place. It ended up in the center, nowhere near as far to the left or the populist right as it could have.
PAT BUCHANAN: Oh it sounds like they got the worst of both worlds. If the business community thinks they're hostile, and they didn't get the populist community, who did they get?
Ken Shepherd contributed to this report.