FNC’s Hemmer: Media Ignoring Obama's Plans to Control Census

On Saturday’s Fox News Watch, FNC host Bill Hemmer brought up the media’s lack of interest in Barack Obama’s plans to exert control over the 2010 census from the White House, as the show’s panel discussed Republican Senator Judd Gregg’s decision not to accept appointment to the position of Commerce Secretary. Hemmer teased the show: "Is the White House effort to control the census a play to control the vote? And did most of the major media miss this major story?"

Conservative panelist Jim Pinkerton blamed Gregg’s decision on White House Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel’s planned involvement in the census: "What clearly got under his skin was the issue of the census and the clear realization, as Republicans were pointing out to him, that the census, the biggest thing the Commerce Department has to do... And for Gregg to be told that Rahm Emanuel is going to be running that from the White House and changing the numbers around, I think, was too humiliating for him..." On the February 9, Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC, correspondent Jim Angle had notably related: "Lawmakers such as Representative Barbara Lee reportedly yelled at a White House official until he agreed that Gregg would not be left in charge of [the census]." 

Pinkerton also inspired some protest from liberal panelist Jane Hall because of his assertions about the Obama administration’s census plans. After recalling that former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young had lobbied the Bush White House in 1990 to add 10,000 people to the city’s official count so Detroit would be eligible for "a new category of urban aid," with Hemmer adding, "Sometimes that’s the way it happens," Pinkerton theorized about the significance of Emanuel to the census: "And who do you want to call? You want Rahm Emanuel answering the phone or some career bureaucrat in the Census Bureau? You'd much rather have Emanuel if you're a Democratic member."

Hall was appalled that Pinkerton would "imply" that the Obama White House was planning to cook the numbers, sparking an exchange between the two, with Pinkerton quipping that "I’m not implying, I’m accusing":

JANE HALL: You’re implying that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the numbers. That’s what you guys are saying. You have no evidence of that.

JIM PINKERTON: I’m not implying, hold on, I’m not implying, I’m accusing.

HALL: You certainly are.

BILL HEMMER: I'm losing at the moment.

PINKERTON: I'm accusing.

HALL: You certainly are.

On the February 9, Special Report with Bret Baier, correspondent Jim Angle reported on the controversial proposal to use statistical sampling to arrive at census numbers. After showing a clip of Bill Beach of the Heritage Foundation relaying that "Every former director of the census, except one, and that's President Clinton's director, has formally come out and said that's a very bad idea. And that stretches back even into the Kennedy era," Angle informed viewers that Obama had seemed comfortable with a Democratic Commerce Secretary handling the census when Bill Richardson was the choice.

Referring to fears by Republicans that the census would be "politicized," Angle related: "That fear is reinforced by Mr. Obama's remarks on his first Commerce nominee, Democrat Bill Richardson, who dropped out and seemed slated for full control of the census, as Mr. Obama praised his talents." Then came a clip of Obama: "It will be key to his work on the critical functions of the Commerce Department from administering our census and monitoring our climate, to protecting our intellectual property."

Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the Saturday, February 14, Fox News Watch on FNC, followed by a complete transcript of Jim Angle’s report from the February 9, Special Report with Bret Baier, also from FNC:

#From the February 14 Fox News Watch:

BILL HEMMER, IN OPENING TEASER: This week on Fox News Watch, President Obama works hard to sell the stimulus. Did it work with the press? Plus, is the White House effort to control the census a play to control the vote? And did most of the major media miss this major story? What's the real story behind Judd Gregg's dropout?

...

BILL HEMMER, AFTER A CLIP OF JUDD GREGG SPEAKING: The team player, said he couldn't have given him 110 percent. He's out. Time for our panel. That's topic number one. Jim, what about this topic?

JIM PINKERTON, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Well, it certainly says something bad about the cabinet, doesn't it, that you go from being a Senator to being a lackey, in his view. And there's a lot of truth in that about what the cabinet represents. But look, I think the real story here is what made Gregg change his mind.

HEMMER: Stimulus or census?

PINKERTON: I think, well, remember, he, everybody knew what President Obama's stimulus package would be like two months ago, three months ago, and Gregg didn't mind that. What clearly got under his skin was the issue of the census and the clear realization, as Republicans were pointing out to him, that the census, the biggest thing the Commerce Department has to do, the Commerce Department is not exactly the most important agency we have. The only most important function they have is the census. And for Gregg to be told that Rahm Emanuel is going to be running that from the White House and changing the numbers around, I think was too humiliating for him, and, so he was very gracious. And again, a lot of this "I made a mistake" stuff going around now, which is to their credit to people who apologize, and I think Gregg had no choice.

HEMMER: Everybody's saying they’re sorry these days. Marisa, why isn't television covering this story?

MARISA GUTHRIE, BROADCASTING AND CABLE: Well, they were slow to get to it. The first, on Thursday when Gregg withdrew, there was barely a mention of it. And he downplayed it. So I think they’re reacting to what he’s saying-

HEMMER: But, specifically, on the census, there's been no coverage. You've seen it on the Fox News Channel but nowhere else, Cal.

CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, look, here’s, the real cat came out of the bag when Barbara Lee, the Congresswoman, was part of the Black Caucus news conference, advocating for the White House. She had been assured, she said, that the White House was going to handle the census. At that point, it appeared that Judd Gregg said, wait a minute, you know, this is a major thing going to be taken away from me, and we've got the news conference. But let me tell you something else that's going on here. Not only the terrorists, our enemies, sense weakness in America, so does the Congress. The Congress has run this show since the day of the inauguration. Obama has not demonstrated, and that's why he's going on this magical mystery tour. He ought to be in Washington governing, not out doing photo ops.

HEMMER: So you're saying the Democrats in the House and the Senate side are doing that. Jane, why is it so important for the White House to have control over the census? What does it gain them?

JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Well, you know, it's who's counted and who gets to vote. But, you know, unlike some people, I don't think that is the only reason or even maybe the main reason that Gregg resigned. I mean, the people I talked to said, I mean, Mitch McConnell was happily quoted saying it was a principled decision for him to withdraw. I mean, according to the Obama people, Gregg sought them out. He withdraws. They get another person back in the Senate, they get the votes for filibuster. That is also a factor. I mean, let's be honest.

HEMMER: How do you think the media handled his departure this week, Jim?

PINKERTON: Well, I think, first, we have to sort out a few things. According to the Obama people, Gregg wanted the job. According to Gregg, an intermediary approached him. So again, it’s, the clear story here is missed. Look, I think the media just didn't pay attention to this all important issue. I think it was the Washington Post that first mentioned-

HEMMER: That's where you read it.

PINKERTON: That’s where I saw it first.

HEMMER: We haven't seen it on television anywhere except for here.

PINKERTON: It's a little tiny squib. It certainly wasn't on the front page. And I think, so I think the reporters were slow to realize -- for example, what I remember when I worked in the Bush 41 White House way back when, the Detroit census for, I think it was 1990, came in, and Detroit came in at like 990,000 and Coleman Young called up and said, "Listen, I demand we be a million because there's a new category of urban aid."

HEMMER: Sometimes that's the way it happens in this-

PINKERTON: That's exactly the way it happens.

HEMMER: -and you know how critical it can be.

PINKERTON: And who do you want to call? You want Rahm Emanuel answering the phone or some career bureaucrat in the Census Bureau? You'd much rather have Emanuel if you're a Democratic member.

HALL: You’re implying that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the numbers. That’s what you guys are saying. You have no evidence of that.

PINKERTON: I’m not implying, hold on, I’m not implying, I’m accusing.

HALL: You certainly are.

HEMMER: I'm losing at the moment.

PINKERTON: I'm accusing.

HALL: You certainly are.

#From the February 9, 2009, Special Report with Bret Baier:

BRET BAIER: Democrats and Republicans are exchanging some angry words over the 2010 census. The survey is politically important because of its impact on federal funding and voting districts. Its supervision will apparently be taken away from the President's pick for Commerce Secretary, Republican Judd Gregg, and transferred to the White House. Chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle explains.

JIM ANGLE: President Obama depicted his nomination of Republican Senator Judd Gregg as a gesture of bipartisanship, one that was not appreciated by some Democrats who insist Gregg be relieved of any role in overseeing the next U.S. census.

CAROLYN MALONEY (D-NY): I do know that the Congressional Black Caucus and the Latino Caucus in Congress was very concerned about Senator Gregg's appointment because in his youth, he calls it his crazy youth, he voted to abolish the Commerce Department.

ANGLE: Though the President seems to have no reservations about Gregg, black and Latino lawmakers do because he also once opposed additional funding for the census. More recently, the democratically controlled Congress has cut funding for the census, but lawmakers such as Representative Barbara Lee reportedly yelled at a White House official until he agreed that Gregg would not be left in charge of it. The census is critical in that it determines how many representatives each state gets in Congress and the electoral college, and even determines where massive amounts of federal funds go for the next decade. The Obama administration says the White House wants a bigger role in the census and issued a statement saying, "From the first days of the transition, the census has been a priority for the President, and a process he wanted to reevaluate." Officials could not say what exactly Mr. Obama wants to reevaluate, but one analyst has an idea.

BILL BEACH, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: The Obama administration has been very active on the Hill going to offices that are part of the infrastructure to appropriate money to the census and arguing the case for statistical sampling.

ANGLE: Which means estimating the number of people in areas where people are hard to count, such as transients, even illegal aliens. This is an extremely controversial motion.

BEACH: Every former director of the census, except one, and that's President Clinton's director, has formally come out and said that's a very bad idea. And that stretches back even into the Kennedy era.

ANGLE: Republicans feel the same way and smell politics in the move.

JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): -shift it to the White House, to me, just politicizes the census.

JOHN BOEHNER, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: It just tells me that the census, the counting of the population of the United States, is going to be politicized.

ANGLE: That fear is reinforced by Mr. Obama's remarks on his first Commerce nominee, Democrat Bill Richardson, who dropped out and seemed slated for full control of the census, as Mr. Obama praised his talents.

BARACK OBAMA: It will be key to his work on the critical functions of the Commerce Department from administering our census and monitoring our climate, to protecting our intellectual property.

ANGLE: There’s another problem with estimates. The Constitution specifies the census be, quote, "actual enumeration," not estimates, so any move to use estimates would surely bring a constitutional challenge and possible delays.

Appointments Fox News Channel Fox News Watch Judd Gregg Bill Hemmer Rahm Emanuel Jane Hull


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