If White House press secretaries are windows to the presidential mindset, Robert Gibbs continues to reflect President Obama in an unpresidential light.
Here the entire nation is in an uproar over the release of stolen U.S. State Department documents by WikiLeaks bad boy Julian Assange, and how does the White House respond?
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs appeared on all three major morning shows, on Wednesday, and was pressed by ABC, CBS and NBC's anchors about whether or not the President would fold and compromise with the Republicans on keeping the Bush era tax cuts in place - but it was the Today show's Meredith Vieira that hit him the strongest question from the left as she asked Gibbs what kind of "message" would Barack Obama "send to his base" if he doesn't raise taxes on the wealthy, adding, "many of whom already wonder what happened to the fighter they elected president?"
Vieira began her interview with Gibbs by noting that, according to her NBC colleague Chuck Todd, White House officials were "privately conceding that the President will bend on this tax issue" and that would include "tax cuts for every one, including the very wealthy" and continued to repeatedly push Gibbs to say if Obama would support tax increases on the rich, something Matt Lauer also did in his interview yesterday morning with Republican Congressman Eric Cantor.
Over on ABC's Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos bolstered the left's soak the rich line as he tried to get Gibbs to reassure Obama's base: "You just said extending the tax cuts for the wealthy is a line in the sand. Does that mean the President would veto any bill that extends the tax cuts for the wealthy?"
(video after the jump)
Former Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday hyped a call for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to resign over the revelations in the WikiLeaks release. While talking to Robert Gibbs, the GMA host quoted Jack Shafer of Slate: "Diplomacy is about face. And the only way for other nations to save face will be to give them Clinton's scalp."
The attack on the wife of his former boss may seem out of character for Stephanopoulos, but it still came from a default liberal perspective. The anchor began his badgering of Gibbs by noting, "...The State Department brushed off this call by Julian Assange for Hillary Clinton to resign. But Assange is not alone."
Continuing to recite from Shafer's article, he lectured the White House Press Secretary: "There's no way that the new WikiLeaks leaks don't leave Hillary Clinton holding the smoking gun. Sooner or later, the weakened and humiliated Secretary of State will have to pay."
Video after the jump
Call it Chuck Todd's Profile In Pusillanimity . . .
Given a chance to express his personal opinion of White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, Todd--NBC's chief WH correspondent--mumbled, stuttered, stumbled and ultimately punted, saying it was "an awkward thing."
Chuck's duck-and-cover came during a Morning Joe segment today devoted to analyzing Gibbs in light of a GQ article about him by Robert Draper, who appeared on the show. After Draper, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough gave their brief takes on Gibbs, Scarborough offered the floor to Todd . . . who proceeded to give his best deer-in-the-headlights impersonation. View video here.
On Sunday, AP science writer Milan Rising reported that a Japanese scientist was under probable consideration to win this year's Nobel Prize in medicine:
A Japanese researcher who discovered how to make stem cells from ordinary skin cells and avoid the ethical quandaries of making them from human eggs could be a candidate for the medicine award when the 2010 Nobel Prize announcements kick off Monday, experts said.
Several prominent Nobel guessers have pointed to Kyoto University Professor Shinya Yamanaka as a potential winner of the coveted award.
Though the prize, announced this morning, went to another gentleman, the question remains: How could this be? As a court case over President Obama's executive order permitting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research has been progressing through its various appeals during the past several weeks, AP's political writers have been giving readers the clear impression that it is the research involving the destruction of human embryos that holds the real promise of scientific progress. Uh, not exactly. In fact, not at all.
One of the latest examples came yesterday at the Associated Press. In a report covering a court ruling on government funding of embryonic stem cell research (ESCR), the AP's Nedra Pickler completely failed to acknowledge that there are any other kinds of stem cells. Every single use by Pickler of the terms "stem cell" or "stem cells" has no modifying adjective, except the very first, whose modifier is "embryonic."
It's as if there are no other avenues besides ESCR for "scientific progress toward potentially lifesaving medical treatment." In fact, Pickler's less-informed readers would have no reason to believe that there is any form of stem cell research besides ESCR. The reality, which will be shown later for the umpteenth time, is that non-embryonic stem cells, often referred to as adult stem cells, have already shown that they can do virtually everything embryonic cells can with far less potential for side effects and, of course, no loss of human life. The word "adult" does not appear in the AP report.
Here are several paragraphs from Pickler's pathetic piece, which also includes a deeply deceptive quote (is there any other kind?) from Obama White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs (bold is mine):
CBS's Bob Schieffer on Sunday bashed the White House for how it responded to House Minority Leader John Boehner's (R-Oh.) tax cut comment uttered on "Face the Nation" a week ago.
As readers are likely aware, Boehner made news - if not friends amongst conservatives! - by telling Schieffer that if the only thing that came out of the House was an extension of the Bush tax cuts for all but folks that make $250,000 or more per year, he would grudgingly support it.
After reading the White House's official response to Boehner during this Sunday's final segment - "Time will tell if his actions will be anything but continued support for the failed policies that got us into this mess" - Schieffer scolded, "I can remember when the first move by a president like Lyndon Johnson or maybe a smart aide in the Eisenhower White House would not have been a snarky press release."
"I`m guessing LBJ would have been on the phone to Boehner in five minutes after seeing him on TV saying something like, if you`re serious, why don`t you come over here quietly and we`ll try to work out something good for both of us and the folks out there," continued Schieffer.
"As we saw, no chance it could happen today. And we`re right back to the partisan war" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
On Friday, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz wrote a "White House rips Forbes" article. Dinesh D'Souza has drawn a "torrent of criticism" for writing that President Obama is motivated by his African father's "anti-colonial" views, Kurtz wrote, but emphasized how the White House is training its fire on Forbes magazine for publishing it, suggesting it's un-factual. Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs asserted "It's a stunning thing, to see a publication you would see in a dentist's office, so lacking in truth and fact." (Has he read Newsweek?)
This isn't about "facts," it's about spins. D'Souza can be accused of putting the president on a psychoanalyst's couch about his father. (As if the media never did this for George W. Bush.) D'Souza shot back to Kurtz that it's simply a fact that the president had a Kenyan father. But Kurtz went into Gibbs-echoing rebuttal mode:
The facts are also these: Obama Sr. abandoned the family when his son was 2, and the future president saw his father only one more time, during a visit in Hawaii when he was 10. Obama Sr. died in 1982.
Gibbs says the Forbes attack comes at a time when there is "no limit to innuendo" against the president, including baseless charges that he is a Muslim and was not born in the United States. Forbes, he says, "left the facts on the cutting-room floor."
He maintains especially tight ties with a circle of lobbyists and former aides representing some of the nation's biggest businesses, including Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup, R. J. Reynolds, MillerCoors and UPS.
They have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaigns, provided him with rides on their corporate jets, socialized with him at luxury golf resorts and waterfront bashes and are now leading fund-raising efforts for his Boehner for Speaker campaign, which is soliciting checks of up to $37,800 each, the maximum allowed. [...]
The woman he hopes to replace, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, derided him on Friday as having met "countless times with special-interest lobbyists in an effort to stop tough legislation" that would regulate corporations and protect consumers. And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, through a spokeswoman, charged that he "epitomizes the smoked-filled, backroom, special-interest deal making that turns off voters about Washington."
So marvelous a hit job was done by Eric Lipton that Obama's Press Secretary Robert Gibbs sent four consecutive messages on Sunday to his 93,000 followers on Twitter:
BILL PRESS: Robert, over the last four days, Glenn Beck has criticized the president for believing in liberation theology, which he calls a Marxist form of Christianity. Two questions, Does the president, in your knowledge, even know what liberation theology is?
ROBERT GIBBS: I don’t know the answer to that. I will say this, Bill, um, a crude paraphrasing of an old quote, and that is, people are entitled to their own opinion, as ill-informed as it may be, but they’re not entitled to their own facts. The president is a committed, mainstream Christian. I don’t, I have no evidence that would guide me, as to what [whether?] Glenn Beck would have any genuine knowledge as to what the president does and does not believe.
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos recited House GOP Leader John Boehner’s dig at politicians who “fought tooth-and-nail to stop the surge strategy,” and then rejected Gibbs claim that Boehner’s was “made up history.” NBC’s Matt Lauer recited Obama’s own words to Gibbs: "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq are gonna solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse."
Gibbs is under fire from the left for sharply criticizing liberal critics of President Obama saying that "they need to be drug-tested" and "will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we've eliminated the Pentagon. That's not reality."
His comments have drawn heated criticism from the left. Democratic firebrand Rep. Alan Grayson, Fla., wants "Bozo the Spokesman" fired. Prominent activist and blogger Jane Hamsher claimed Obama is "having trouble across the board" with liberals. Lefties at the Daily Kos and Democratic Underground were frantic.
Yet almost no "civil war" labels from the media, in contrast to coverage of other instances of intra-party squabbling. The ouster of Dede Scozzafava in the special election in New York's 23rd District earned the "civil war" label 23 times from major media players, according to a Nexis search.