President Barack Obama is naming names in his second term when it comes to his un-preferred media, something he generally farmed out to White House staff and political surrogates during the first term.
The president, in a recent interview with The New Republic, found scapegoats for Washington gridlock.
“One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates,” Obama told TNR. “If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it.”
In the last White House press conference of his first term – one week before his second inauguration – Obama didn’t name names, but was clearly expressing the same sentiment when talking about the GOP’s “preferred” media.
“I think there are a lot of Republicans at this point that feel that given how much energy has been devoted in some of the media that’s preferred by Republican constituencies to demonize me, that it doesn't look real good socializing with me,” Obama told reporters.
Two days later, he unveiled his gun control agenda, and spoke about “pundits” among others “warning of a tyrannical, all-out assault on liberty -- not because that’s true, but because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves.”
Time will tell if this is foreshadowing for the second term of a willingness to go all out against talk radio and other pundits he might consider obstructionist to his progressive agenda. But at least three clear cut statements in two weeks does not seem coincidental.
Just as the first inaugural address was not the unabashed progressive dogma of the second, the president did not directly engage conservative pundits in the first term.
For his part, Limbaugh scoffed at the argument.
“If it’s Fox News and me -- your harmless, lovable, little fuzzball host -- as the only things keeping the Republicans from finding meaning in life, by joining the Democrats, I'm not paid enough,” Limbaugh said. “I’m it. If I’m the last line, if I’m the bulwark.”
Calling Rush Limbaugh “the leader of the Republican Party” was later reported to be a Democratic strategy. But it was party surrogates and White House staff such as Robert Gibbs that pushed the phrase, never the president himself. Though there was a well-documented dustup between the White House and Fox News, the president kept his distance.