Conservative Blogosphere Wins Again, White House Issues New NEA Guidelines

September 22nd, 2009 5:30 PM

As the Obama-loving media continue to abdicate their journalistic responsibilities in order to blindly support the President's agenda, the conservative blogosphere has for the third time in as many weeks uncovered dirty little secrets that have precipitated immediate action from the White House or entities close to it.

In response to revelations published Monday by Big Hollywood, the Obama administration on Tuesday issued new guidelines for conference calls held by the National Endowment for the Arts.

This comes in the same month that investigative efforts by the rightosphere led to the resignation of Obama green jobs czar Van Jones as well as the federal defunding of the controversial organization ACORN.

According to ABC's Jake Tapper, just hours after the release of Patrick Courrielche's stunning exposé about the Administration using the NEA to help drive the President's agenda via the art community, new guidelines have been mandated by the White House to prevent it from happening again:

An August 10, 2009 National Endowment for the Arts conference call in which artists were asked to help support President Obama's agenda -- a call that at least one good government group called "inappropriate" -- has prompted the White House to issue new guidelines to prevent such a call from ever happening again.

"The point of the call was to encourage voluntary participation in a national service initiative by the arts community," White House spokesman Bill Burton told ABC News. "To the extent there was any misunderstanding about what the NEA may do to support the national service initiative, we will correct it.   We regret any comments on the call that may have been misunderstood or troubled other participants.  We are fully committed to the NEA's historic mission, and we will take all steps necessary to ensure that there is no further cause for questions or concerns about that commitment." 

In the call, Yosi Sergant, then the NEA's communications director, seemed to encourage the listeners to create art to further the president's goals by promoting the United We Serve campaign and create art specific to areas of health care, education and the environment. [...]

Today White House officials are meeting with the chiefs of staff of the executive branch agencies to discuss rules and best practices in this area, a conversation during which they will be told that that while White House lawyers do not believe that the NEA call violated the law, "the appearance issues troubled some participants," Burton said. "It is the policy of the administration that grant decisions should be on the merits and that government officials should avoid even creating the incorrect appearance that politics has anything to do with these decisions."

After listening to the transcript and the audio posted at the conservative website -- secretly recorded by Los Angeles filmmaker Patrick Couriellech -- Melanie Sloan, executive director of the good-government group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told ABC News that the call was "disturbing."

"Government agencies are not supposed to be engaged in political activities," Sloan said. "Here, because they didn't veer off into 'This is about the election,' where you'd get into violations of the Hatch Act, it's not illegal. But it doesn't look good -- it looks terrible. It's inappropriate."

The Hatch Act restricts the political activity of executive branch employees of the federal government.

Said Sloan of the conference call: "It's not what the NEA was created for, it's not supposed to be helping the president's agenda; that's not the point."

Burton added that the White House will be issuing a formal memo for White House staff "to that effect and will be doing training sessions and personal visits with staff here to make sure the message gets across."

In the end, this appears to be almost as big an embarrassment for the media as it is the White House, as mainstream news outlets were once again scooped by a conservative website.

To quote Jon Stewart, "You know what investigative media...where the hell were you?"