The White House is amping up its vigilance in silencing its critics with the creation of a new communications position designed to respond to unfavorable online stories about the President.
Attacking critics is nothing new for the administration, and the creation of this position is only the latest effort to throw the considerable weight of the White House bully pulpit behind efforts to attack Obama's critics. For the president, this tactic began during the campaign and has continued to date.
Until now, though, the fight was mostly funded by the DNC or campaign teams, as is standard practice for the sort of oppositional approach this position seems poised to adopt. But as an official White House position, taxpayers are actually the ones footing the bill for Obama’s new attack dog.
Communications staffers inside taxpayer-funded agencies like the White House are supposed to be windows of transparency to bring information about the government to the public through the media. This new position, officially known as the Director of Progressive Media and Online Response, will instead provide a White House sanctioned response to any unfavorable story about Obama circulating online, working as a political spin artist on the taxpayer's dime. Apparently, transparency from the White House requires a progressive slant.
Jesse Lee, former member of the DNC’s online team during the 2008 campaign cycle and staffer of the new media department of the White House, has filled the position, and already has an official White House Twitter account with which to attack the administration’s critics.
It appears Lee’s new job will be an outgrowth of the campaign’s 2008 Fight the Smears website that worked to combat baseless attacks on then-candidate Obama, but also to silence his critics. Those efforts included campaigns against radio hosts who gave platforms to two high-profile Obama critics, the Washington Examiner's David Freddoso and National Review's Stanley Kurtz.
Freddoso released a hard-hitting book, "The Case Against Barack Obama," during the 2008 campaign season, and was immediately described by Fight the Smears as making his career "off dishonest, extreme hatemongering.” Kurtz was similarly called out for digging up the connection between Obama and his radical preacher, Jeremiah Wright, and for exposing the work Obama did with Bill Ayers in Chicago's public schools.
The problem with this new position, though, is the White House is not a campaign office, and any position it creates in the vein of Fight the Smears is paid for by taxpayers, not private donors. For a politician to be deciding what is and is not true, attacking media outlets who contradict or disagree with the official White House position on an issue, leads to the troublesome conclusion that anything the White House says is true should be accepted as true just because they say it is.
Coming on the heels of last week’s threats by the White House to revoke Boston Herald’s press access to administration events in Boston for not being favorable enough to the president, it seems Lee will continue the administration's trend of silencing critics by acting as “the White House’s liaison to the progressive media and online community,” a tax-funded propaganda machine to retort any unfavorable online press.
We won't hold our breath waiting for a "liason to the conservative media and online community."