Does The White House View Gay Activists As “Internet Left Fringe?” (Update)

john harwoodPresident Obama’s speech to the gay community on Saturday night didn’t promise anyone the moon, but it was nevertheless well-received, and Obama’s reaffirmed commitment to end “don’t ask, don’t tell” was a historic occasion. Less than 24 hours later, the blogosphere is aflame over a set of remarks attributed to an unnamed White House adviser to the effect that the White House views the National Equality March as “part of the Internet left fringe” and not to be taken too seriously.

Update: The White House press office has just sent us the following statement via another blog: “That sentiment does not reflect White House thinking at all, we’ve held easily a dozen calls with the progressive online community because we believe the online communities can often keep the focus on how policy will affect the American people rather than just the political back-and-forth.”

Yesterday, CNBC’s John Harwood had this to report on the Nightly News:

Barack Obama is doing well with 90% or more of Democrats, so the White House views this opposition as really part of the Internet left fringe, Lester.

For a sign of how seriously the White House does or doesn’t take this opposition, one adviser told me those bloggers need to take off the pajamas, get dressed, and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult.

The first half of this quote could have merely been an impoliticly worded summary on Harwood’s part. It seems to be equating the “opposition” — which in this context, sounds an awful lot like gay activists or the gay community — with the “Internet left fringe.” But the second half, attributed as it is to an unnamed “adviser,” sounds like fightin’ words. Bloggers tend to react like piranhas whenever the old “pajamas” line is trotted out, and when the source purports to be somebody in the White House and the subject is a hot-button political issue over which there have been mass demonstrations all weekend, the reaction is that much swifter and stronger. Here are responses from a few from blogs across the spectrum:

From Americablog’s John Aravosis, who was one of the first to jump on Harwood’s remarks:

So the gay community, and its concerns about President Obama’s inaction, and backtracking, on DADT and DOMA, are now, according to President Obama’s White House, part of a larger “fringe” that acts like small children who play in their pajamas and need to grow up. (And a note to our readers: The White House just included all of you in that loony “left fringe.”)

I wonder how the Human Rights Campaign is going to explain how the White House just knifed our community less than 24 hours after he went to their dinner and claimed he was our friend.

From Another Black Conservative:

Back in July I asked the question if gays were becoming the new blacks of the Democratic Party. Today, it appears we get an answer to that question… So the White House views gay protesters as a “pajama clad Internet left fringe”. Funny, that sounds exactly like the attitude Obama had for the Tea Party protesters.

From Slog’s Dominic Holden:

[Obama] truly doesn’t give a shit about LGBT people. His administration chose Rick Warren to give his inaugural invocation, his lawyers filed a homophobic legal brief defending DOMA, and now his advisers are marginalizing scores of Americans … as pajama-clad fringe bloggers. And when did it become such a sin to be blogger in pajamas?

Mediaite has contacted the White House and is awaiting a response.

Here’s the video of Harwood’s remarks:

(h/t Slog)

It’s Time For “Don’t Talk, Just Do”

soupie-soup-150x1501There is something a good portion of liberals and conservatives can agree on: Obama does a lot of talking but not quite enough following through.

At the Human Rights Campaign 13th Annual Dinner, Obama reiterated his campaign promise to abolish “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  The reaction by some seemed to suggest that people thought Obama was repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which is not the case, it’s just more talk.

Andrew Sullivan took the President to task, saying:

The sad truth is: he is refusing to take any responsibility for his clear refusal to fulfill clear campaign pledges on the core matter of civil rights and has given no substantive, verifiable pledges or deadlines by which he can be held accountable. What that means, I’m afraid, is that this speech was highfalutin bullshit. There were no meaningful commitments within a time certain, not even a commitment to fulfilling them in his first term; just meaningless, feel-good commitments that we have no way of holding him to.

Obama can’t repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” alone anyway, he needs to convince Congress to do so. He has control of both the House and the Senate, but he’s done little to wield that power to push forward the things a majority of Americans elected him to do.

Sullivan isn’t the only one annoyed by Obama’s tough talk and no action. Paul Krugman wants to know when he plans to address the culprits behind our economic crisis.

In response to an unprecedented economic crisis — or, more accurately, a crisis whose only real precedent is the Great Depression — Mr. Obama did what people in Washington do when they want to sound serious: he spoke, more or less in the abstract, of the need to make hard choices and stand up to special interests.

Obama’s stalling on health care reform is well documented. He’s finally came around to releasing his own plan for reform, and up until that point made high level declarations for what he wanted Congress to develop. The ensuing food fight between Republicans and Democrats has failed to result in a bill and we’re still waiting with nearly no end in sight for one to be put to a vote.

Obama would be better off if he stopped worrying about trying to compromise and make the right leaning portion of the country happy. He can’t, and by not pushing forward, he’s simultaneously pleasing the right by not putting forth policies they oppose and giving them more fodder to say he’s done nothing. All the while he’s leaving the left frustrated and annoyed. It’s a lose/lose position he’s taking. He’s wasting the political capital he earned during his campaign by not being more aggressive about fulfilling his promises.

The Nobel committee gave him the Peace Prize because they believed he would be a transformative figure on the world stage. We elected him based on his policies for both home and abroad. He has the support of the majority of Congress and of his citizens, how long do we have to wait for him to act?

It’s time for  ”Don’t Talk, Just Do” and that goes for a lot more than just “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

White House Has Beef with Fox News, But Loves FNC Reporter Major Garrett

garrett3It was a sign that things were bad: David Axelrod, senior adviser to President Obama, sat down with Fox News founder and chairman Roger Ailes for coffee while the whole White House crew was in New York City two weeks ago for the United Nations General Assembly.

The White House was annoyed by the way that FNC has been covering the current administration, and also upset that other mainstream outlets have not been especially diligent when fact-checking Fox.

Time’s Michael Scherer has been following the White House’s attempts to manage the cable news network and others in the mainstream media. In this week’s magazine, he writes about how the Obama administration has gradually grown tired of slanted coverage and criticism. The plan is to “call ‘em out.”

White House officials offer no apologies. “The best analogy is probably baseball,” says [White House Press Secretary Robert] Gibbs. “The only way to get somebody to stop crowding the plate is to throw a fastball at them. They move.”

But in his reporting, Scherer found out that the White House doesn’t think that Fox is all bad. Actually, Anita Dunn, the field marshall of the Call ‘Em Out Patrol, thinks Fox’s Major Garrett is pretty legit. Major Garrett, eh? Well at least somebody can be considered a real journalist, because this was pretty harsh:

“They are the paid political programming for a party, and occasionally a couple of news stories break out in the midst of 23 hours and 45 minutes of political rantings and opinion,” said one senior administration official. “Everything about it is one-sided political opinion directed at a base. Period.”


The White House And Glenn Beck Agree! Mainstream Media Is Failing At Its Job [Mediaite]
Ailes Meets Axelrod: What’s A Cup Of Coffee Between Friends [Mediaite]
Roger Ailes Is The Most Powerful Political Figure In America [Mediaite]
FNC’s Major Garrett Reflects On Pissing Off Robert Gibbs Today [Mediaite]
Major Garrett’s Power Grid Profile [Mediate]

Read What Even The White House Respects About Fox News [Time]

Winners and Losers: Imus Comes Back Swinging and Letterman’s Creepy Week

david-letterman-032709lIt’s Friday, which means it’s time to separate the chumps from the champs in Mediaite’s new “Winners and Losers” — our scorecard of who rocked and who flopped in the week’s headlines.

This week’s contenders include: Michael Vick, giving reality-redemption a shot, Don Imus, back on TV and already taking cheap shots, and Tom Delay, who samba-ed away his own chances at Dancing With The Stars glory. Here’s the rundown:

The Bronze Loser: Mel Gibson

Remember back in 2006 when Mel Gibson got wasted and went on an anti-semetic tirade? Nope, you sure don’t, because it never happened. At least according to his arrest record, which fancy attorneys had expunged earlier this week. And that means it’s been erased from our brains too, with some sort of Men In Black-esque device? Seriously, we understand wanting a clean slate if you were planning on filling out an application at the FBI or something, but we remember Mel’s mugshot better than most of his movies. So really, what’s the point?

The Bronze Winner: Don Imus

It’s been two years since the old cowboy got himself axed from morning TV, but Imus is back in the saddle this week, proving he’s still got it! And by “it” we mean a knack for obnoxiousness and a loyal fanbase to soak it up. In true pot and kettle fashion, Imus began his comeback calling David Letterman an “angry, mean-spirited jerk” and his former parent network “corrupt.” And the old schtick seems to be working — he’s boosted FBN’s morning ratings by roughly a billion percent.

The Silver Loser: Tom Delay

Dancing with the Stars was working out great for the former House Majority Leader. Yes, his moves were cringeworthy, but trainwreck TV has mass appeal and his cha-cha achieved bipartisan support! A few more rounds of sequins and soft-shoe and we might have forgotten all about those looming corruption charges. But instead, Delay quit early because his little feet hurt. Now he’s still the shady “Hammer” of the House — and he’s also the wussyboy of reality TV.

The Silver Winner: Michael Vick

He’s out of the slammer and back in the NFL, and now the convicted dog killer is getting his own show! God Bless America! And it’s not just a genius PR play. Michael Vick says his BET docu-drama can be a “blueprint” for kids dealing with adversity. We can hear his pitch now: “Sure, kids, dog killing might have worked out awesome for me, but how about you give not killing dogs a try?” A guaranteed tear-jerker.

The Gold Loser: Hollywood

Celebrity support is always nauseating, but industry A-listers outdid themselves when they came together to defend fugitive child-rapist Roman Polanski, not because he’s innocent, but because he’s their friend and he’s a “genius.” Apparently in Hollywood, being popular and brilliant means raping kids and fleeing is a-ok! And now it turns out some Polanski petitioners are also big Obama-backers. And the right-wing rant writes itself.

The Gold Winner: David Letterman

The Late Show host might have humiliated himself last week with admissions of “creepy” sex with staffers, but this week he’s turned things around. Monday’s mea culpa was sincere, as well as hilarious. It was also ratings gold! And so far, the scandal’s sordid details aren’t so sordid. (There was sex. Sex was had. That’s pretty much it.) And compared to Roman Polanski and MacKenzie Phillips‘ father, Letterman still looks pretty darned good!

Honorable Mention: Barack Obama

Hyperbole Or Hate? Right-Wing Reaction To Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize

obama-glennToday’s announcement of President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize created quite a stir in the world of opinion journalism. The left seemed eager to agree with the seeming absurdity of getting nominated for such an honor only 12 days in office, but the right have been downright giddy — some went so far as to claim that this is “way worse than not getting the Olympics!” Huh?! Following is a run-down of real right-wing reaction to this morning’s news.

Glenn Beck said on his syndicated radio show today that “the Nobel peace prize should be turned down by Barack Obama and should be given to the tea party goers and the 9/12 project.” Beck continued, “because of the tea party goers and the 912 project people that stood in his way and stopped him from accomplishing from the things that he thought, ‘Please I’m the messiah, I’ll be able to accomplish that.’” (h/t The Hill)

Matt Drudge linked to a Reuter’s article and included the phrase “EMBARRASSING JOKE” in the headline. But who actually said that phrase prominently quoted on his homepage? None other than Liaqat Baloch who is also known as the twice elected president of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba in Lahore, Pakistan.

As we reported earlier, Joe Scarborough openly mocked and laughed at the award, while guest Mark Halperin immediately compared it to Marrisa Tomei winning an Academy Award for her light-weight role in My Cousin Vinny. Scarborough later apologized via Twitter – TO TOMEI! (That was pretty funny actually.)

But its not just those on the right. Michael Moore got in the act with a congratulatory letter written to President Obama published on his website. “The irony that you have been awarded this prize on the 2nd day of the ninth year of what is quickly becoming your War in Afghanistan is not lost on anyone.” This from a supporter?

But Rush Limbaugh made the stunning comment “this is a greater embarrassment than losing the Olympic bid.” Again, only in the strange world of Rush Limbaugh does winning a Nobel Peace Prize equate to an embarrassment. But he didn’t end there.

Limbaugh said later “I think that everybody is laughing. Our president is a worldwide joke. Folks, do you realize something has happened here that we all agree with the Taliban and Iran about and that is he doesn’t deserve the award. Now that’s hilarious, that I’m on the same side of something with the Taliban, and that we all are on the same side as the Taliban.”

There it is — Barack Obama has brokered peace between Rush Limbaugh and the Taliban! NOW who says he doesn’t deserve the Nobel Peace Prize!

Did A Modest And “Deeply Humbled” Obama Make The Right Look Foolish?

Picture 15President Obama struck a remarkably humble and modest tone in a speech today where he announced his intentions to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, which was announced earlier today. This is a remarkably different tone from that of his conservative critics, perhaps best exemplified by the outright laughter from MSNBC Host Joe Scarborough (who was later allegedly called out by the White House). Video of his speech after the jump.

The answer to the question in the headline? Yup!

Stunning Twitter Reaction: Many Call For Obama To Turn Down Nobel Prize

Picture 1Was anyone not surprised to wake up this morning to news that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize? “In a stunning surprise” was how the Times phrased it. Stunning indeed. Also, why? It may seem like lifetimes but Obama has only been president for nine months! Also, the nominations for the prize closed ELEVEN DAYS after Obama was inaugurated. What exactly has he done to deserve a Nobel Peace prize? No doubt a certain quarter of the right wing will be spending the day pointing out everything he hasn’t done. Even the Times seemed to edge toward that thinking:

With American forces deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama’s name had not figured in speculation about the winner until minutes before the prize was announced here.

Yes! Not terribly peaceful. The Nobel board says Obama “has created a new international climate,” which is basically a diplomatic way of saying congratulations on not electing another George W. Bush!!

The view from Twitter reveals a similar sense of surprise from media folk across the board. Also the growing sense that maybe Obama should consider turning the prize down. Give it a couple of more hours to sink in before the real backlash begins. Take a look.

    “Should Pres. Obama accept the Nobel Prize? Should he suggest the award is premature and there might be others more deserving?”

    Nick Kristof: My blog on Obama’s Nobel: it’s premature, esp when so many are risking lives doing fab work.

    Howard Kurtz: Never thought I’d see Nobel Prize portrayed as a negative. But hard to fathom since O took office 2 wks before nomination deadline

    Felix Salmon: RT @smalera: Does Nobel prize clerk requires photo ID and birth certificate when picking up? I smell a trap.

    Marc Lamont Hill – Am I the only one who thinks that awarding Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize is ABSURD?!?!?!

    Michael Scherer: RT @marcambinder: RT @blakehounshell: For those perplexed, Committee has been awarding”aspirational” prizes for years

    @pourmecoffee: Nobel committee picks Obama for its fantasy peace team.

    Mike Madden: RT @tfish77: obama? what was it, his passionate defense of bush torture policies, or his passionate refusal to investigate bush war crimes?

    Mark Knoller: Should Pres. Obama accept the Nobel Prize? Should he suggest the award is premature and there might be others more deserving?

    Jake Tapper: apparently the standards are more exacting for an ASU honorary degree these days

    Rachel Sklar: ironic Obama gets Nobel Peace Prize on day the U.S. declares pre-emptive, unprovoked war on the moon

    Rachel Sklar: BONK BONK BONK BONK BONK (That’s the sound I imagine Hillary Clinton’s head made banging against the wall this morning.)

    Steve Krakauer: RT @mediaite …Nobel Peace Prize Problem: Spin this: #Obama was 11 days into presidency when noms closed

    “Nobel Peace Prize Problem. Spin this: #Obama was 11 days into presidency when noms closed”

    Patrick Gavin: Also, Arafat // You know who also has a Nobel Peace Prize? Kissinger. (Not actually a joke.) (via @anamariecox)

    Chris Lehmann
    : Harry Reid flummoxed that Obama won Peace Prize without Olympia Snowe’s backing.
    40 minutes ago from TweetDeck

    Ana Marie Cox: WE’RE EARTHLINGS! BLOW UP EARTH THINGS! #eatitmoon

    Rachel Sklar: Obama is to the moon as Joe Wilson was to Obama

    Ana Marie Cox: RT @lehmannchris: Biden now convinced he has a shot at the Chemistry prize. // Actually convinced he HAS the Chemistry prize.

    Choire: I can’t believe Sweden is upstaging our moon-bombing. (Among other things I can’t believe! Thanks for making everything awkward!)

    Mark Knoller: So — if Nobel cmte based its decision on speeches, Jon Favreau and Ben Rhodes won Obama his Nobel.

    NYTimes: Also on our radar, literally: Moon bombing. Any minute now.

    Glynnis MacNicol: Obama Nobel Prize translation: Congratulations America on not electing another GWB.

    The Note (Rick Klein): RT @anamariecox Apparently Nobel prizes now being awarded to anyone who is not George Bush.

    Marc Ambinder: RT @Goldberg3000: It might be smart for Obama to turn this prize down, at least until he achieves peace somewhere. Or trade for Olympics

    ChuckT Political (Chuck Todd): Axelrod on MSNBC: nothing anyone expected. … Affirmation by the Nobel cmte “are important and significant.”

    “It might be smart for Obama to turn this prize down, at least until he achieves peace somewhere. Or trade for Olympics”

    Marc Ambinder: RT @KagroX: Obama just unlocked the Nobel Laureate badge in Foursquare!
    about 1 hour ago from Echofon

    Marc Ambinder: Reaction from everyone seems to be: Huh? RT @alansmurray: Can someone explain? I thought award was for accomplishments, not intentions.

    Chris Lehmann: Couldn’t the Nobel Committee achieve the same effect by retroactively giving prize to GWB & then revoking it? #Nobelfollow-unfollow

    Jonathan Glick: Obama should refuse the Nobel Prize, saying that it is premature. The best of a number of bad response options.

    Muck Rack: Now trending on Muck Rack: Nobel Peace Prize

    Mark Knoller: Pres. Obama got the news of his Nobel Prize in a phone call from press secretary Robt Gibbs at about 6A – an hour after Prize was announced.

    The Note (Rick Klein)
    : wouldn’t you love to hear Bill Clinton’s reaction – his true reaction – to the Obama Nobel Peace Prize news?

    Mark Knoller: Even WH trying to figure out how to spin the awarding of the Prize to Pres. Obama for the promise of his policies rather than achievements.

    The Stalwart (Joe Weisenthal)
    : I’m totally flabbergasted.

    Mark Knoller: Do we now mark Norway as a “blue state” for awarding Nobel Prize to Pres. Obama?

    ChuckT Political (Chuck Todd)
    : Obama is third sitting prez to win the prize, joining Wilson and Teddy R. Carter won it in 2002
    about 2 hours ago from

    Mediaite: BARACK OBAMA WINS NOBEL PEACE PRIZE This should be an interesting cable news cycle… RS
    about 2 hours ago from web

    “BONK BONK BONK BONK BONK (That’s the sound I imagine Hillary Clinton’s head made banging against the wall this morning.)”

    Mark Knoller: The Nobel Committee risks being discredited for a political decision honoring aspirations for peace rather than a concrete accomplishment.
    about 3 hours ago from web

    The Note (Rick Klein)
    : Nobel Peace prize goes to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations ….” shall have done

    Mark Knoller: Initial White House reaction to Nobel Prize for Obama. Spokesman Robert Gibbs e-mails one word: “wow.”

    Mark Knoller: The Nobel Committee based its decision on Obama speeches and policy statements, rather than any concrete accomplishments.

    Mark Knoller: The prize is sure to be seen as a political statement by the Nobel Committee and an implied swipe at the eight years of George W. Bush.

    The Note (Rick Klein)
    : President Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize – sorry, but did anyone else see this coming? even a hint of a possibility?
    about 3 hours ago from web

    Mark Knoller: It’s an unprecedented honor for a new U.S. president less than 9 months in the job.
    about 3 hours ago from web

“Initial White House reaction to Nobel Prize for Obama. Spokesman Robert Gibbs e-mails one word: “wow.”