Anita Dunn and Mao: Establishment Press Predictably Mostly Muzzled

October 18th, 2009 4:08 PM

This won't surprise anyone who reads this blog regularly, but it needs to get on the record nonetheless: The airing of a June video showing interim White House Communications Director Anita Dunn praising Mao and Mother Teresa as "two of my favorite philosophers" to a group of high school students is barely news in the establishment press.

In an August 2008 report on the Obama campaign, Anne E. Kornblut of the Washington Post also described Dunn as "as senior adviser" who had joined the campaign "in the spring."

Roger Kimball at Pajamas Media has the video of Dunn's speech. NB's Jeff Poor (covering Glenn Beck's original broadcast that broke the story) and P.J. Gladnick (on Dunn's pathetic attempt to excuse herself) have previously dealt with Dunn's speech.

Here are the Mao-relevant portions of the speech excerpt:

.... the third lesson and tip actually comes from two of my favorite political philosophers - Mao Tse Tung and Mother Teresa, not often coupled with each other but the two people that I turn to most to basically deliver a simple point, which is you're going to make choices.

.... In 1947, when Mao Tse Tung was being challenged within his own party on his plan to basically take China over, Chiang Kai-Shek and the nationalist Chinese held the cities, they had the army. They had the air force. They had everything on their side, and people said how can you win? How can you do this? How can you do this? Against all the odds against you, and Mao Tse Tung said, you know, you fight your war, and I'll fight mine, and think about that for a second.

"Mao: The Unknown Story" is probably the most thorough compilation of Mao's destructive legacy. Authors Jung Chang and Jon Halliday contend in an interview carried at the Amazon link that "Mao was responsible for the deaths of well over 70 million Chinese in peacetime."

What follows is a round-up of the establishment media's reaction to the Dunn revelation.

Here is what I found in a search on "Anita Dunn" (typed with quote marks at the Associated Press:


At the New York Times, the same search request came back with two relevant results:

  • First, there's a ridiculously biased "Week in Review" piece ("The Battle Between the White House and Fox News") that appeared in that section's front page in today's print edition by David Carr that is dated October 17 online. Though the story more than likely went to print 36 hours or more after Glenn Beck aired the Dunn speech excerpt Thursday evening, Carr made no reference to Dunn's Mao-is-a-fave speech.
  • Then there's a Friday afternoon Caucus Blog post ("White House Vs. Fox: Chairman Mao"). The post does refer to Dunn's speech, carries the YouTube vid, and also carries Dunn's shameless "Lee Atwater also quoted Mao" justification attempt. That's nice, but in my opinion keeping the news at the Caucus Blog with a with a conveniently uninformative "this is nothing" headline is a "clever" way for the Times to claim "See, we covered it," while ensuring that print edition readers, most of whom will never see the blog entry, don't see it.

Now let's get to the the Washington Post. A search on Dunn's name in quotes at about 10:15 a.m. came back with two relevant items.

Readers will love the first one. At the end of a "Live Fix" online exchange with readers on Friday, the Post's Chris Cillizza had this testy exchange with "Dunn Loring VA":

Dunn Loring, VA: Questions about Rak Goyle, ok, questions about Anita Dunn, avoided. Isn't the WH communications director and her crusade against Fox more newsworthy? Are you afraid of what she might do if you address her admitted love of Mao in your chat?

Chris Cillizza: HMMM. No.

I think the WH made a strategic move to publicly hammer FNC and they used Anita Dunn to do it because she is a veteran communicator who also happens to be the White House communications director.

Happy now, Dunn Loring?

The other item is Kathleen Parker's Sunday syndicated column, where the faux conservative's predictable reaction to the escalating fight between the Obama administration and Fox News is to "Let the little dogs yap, Mr. President." Parker's column first appeared on Friday at other outlets, so it's probable that she prepared it before Beck's program appeared.

Otherwise there is no straight-news coverage of Dunn's Mao reference in the Post.

A search on Dunn's name at the Los Angeles Times returns one item from yesterday noting that "Dunn's criticism of Fox News" will be a subject of conversation on CBS's "Sunday Morning" show.

After sorting by date, a Google News search covering October 15-18 on ["Anita Dunn" Mao] (typed as indicated between brackets) at about 10:45 this morning came back with 77 results. U.S. establishment press outlets make a up a precious few of those results. The ones I found came from:

Lynn Sweet

at the Chicago Sun-Times put up the transcript of a press briefing by White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton, which includes this priceless Q&A (bold is mine):

Q. One more question -- have you -- do you any comment on Anita Dunn's belief that Mao is one of her favorite political philosophers?

MR. BURTON: I caught some of that from the Glenn Beck show yesterday, but I don't think anybody takes it -- takes his attacks very seriously. We're just -- you know, we go day to day in this White House trying to ensure that people know the truth about the policies and programs and positions that the President holds, and we're going to continue to do that.

They take Beck sooooo not seriously, yet they're watching him. Sure, Bill.

Several other items that appear to represent establishment media coverage of the situation only appear because commenters at the respective links brought up the topic. Thanks to those commenters for literally doing the press's work for them. It's a shame that those commenters can't receive rewards for their efforts.

Cross-posted at