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President Obama Taking a Page from Hugo Chavez?

Hugo Chavez has a history of criticizing the Venezuelan media that didn't overtly praise the dictator:

As politicians in the U.S. discuss bringing back the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which would compel radio and TV stations to present both sides of any controversial issue, the question in Venezuela is far more serious: whether there can be more than one side -- Hugo Chavez's side -- that gets aired about anything.

Addressing the nation on his weekly television show on Sunday, the Venezuelan president laid out plans for his next crusade, ordering his governors and mayors to draw up a "map of the media war" to determine which media are "in the hands of the oligarchy."

Chavez said that "if it weren't for the attack, the lies, manipulation and the exaggeration" of the private media networks, the Venezuelan government would have the support of at least 80 percent of the population. Recent polls have put Chavez's popularity at a little over 50 percent.

In August, Chavez shut down the media outlets that refused to jump in the tank and sing hosannas to him:

Venezuela has revoked the licences of dozens of radio stations as part of a wider crackdown which could jail people deemed guilty of "media crimes" for up to four years.

At least 13 stations went off the air over the weekend and another 21 were expected to follow soon in an effort by President Hugo Chávez to extend his socialist revolution.

The move followed last week's introduction of a draft law to jail journalists and broadcasters who "harm the interests of the state", "cause panic" or "disturb social peace". Critics denounced the moves as a recipe for censorship. "What we are witnessing is the most comprehensive assault on free speech in Venezuela since Chávez came to power," said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch.

"With the exception of Cuba, Venezuela is the only country in the region that shows such flagrant disregard for universal standards of freedom of expression."

That is not completely true. The Obama administration, while not actually shutting down media outlets that are critical of the president, is working on the periphery of such actions. The administration has just ratcheted up its attempts to marginalize Fox News Channel from the rest of the news media. At first Obama refused to send representatives as guests to Fox News shows, particularly Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. Then it sent out its representatives to criticize the organization. Anita Mao Tse Dunn said in an interview with CNN that Fox News isn't a real news organization but rather the research arm of the Republican Party.

David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel did the rounds on all the Sunday morning talk shows except Fox News and repeated those claims that Fox News isn't a real news organization, but they took this idiocy even further. The White House not only thinks Fox News is not a real news organization but now it is telling the rest of the media they need to join its effort to marginalize Fox:

The White House escalated its offensive against Fox News on Sunday by urging other news organizations to stop "following Fox" and instead join the administration's attempt to marginalize the channel.

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel told CNN that President Obama does not want "the CNNs and the others in the world [to] basically be led in following Fox."

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod went further by calling on media outlets to join the administration in declaring that Fox is "not a news organization."

"Other news organizations like yours ought not to treat them that way," Axelrod counseled ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "We're not going to treat them that way."

By urging other news outlets to side with the administration, Obama aides officials dramatically upped the ante in the war of words that began earlier this month, when White House communications director Anita Dunn branded Fox "opinion journalism masquerading as news."

What, is President Obama not satisfied with owning two automobile companies, controlling large portions of the companies on Wall Street, and putting the health care industry under its command that he has to insert himself into the inner workings of what are supposed to be independent media outlets?

While Barack Obama has not gone as far as Hugo Chavez has to deny broadcasting licenses to those networks he doesn't like, the administration's bullying of independent news networks smacks of Chavezesque heavy handedness.


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Comments (9)

While Barack Obama... (Below threshold)
Brett:
While Barack Obama has not gone as far as Hugo Chavez has to deny broadcasting licenses to those networks he doesn't like, the administration's bullying of independent news networks smacks of Chavezesque heavy handedness.

Uh, why do you suppose that they are repeatedly using the talking point about "not a news outlet"? If it isn't a "news" organization, the constitutional protections of the press no longer apply. In fact, as a "arm of the Republican party", their activities would be be subject to all sorts of restrictions.

And don't forget that broadcast licenses are subject to rules about broadcasting "in the public interest". Technically, Fox News is not a broadast outlet, but there have been murmurings for years about the FCC getting heavily involved in cable and satellite in addition to public airwaves. And who is it that determines what is in the public interests? Why, appointed government bureaucrats, of course.

For the time being, they are using the classic tactic of denying "access" to the administration - or in this case, threatening to "deny access" to any other outlet that doesn't play ball with them. But that's just until something with more teeth can be arranged.

The wording is absolutely no accident, and is very carefully chosen to begin making the case that they CAN in fact use the laws of the land to shut them up or shut them down.

The White House seems to ha... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

The White House seems to have a peculiar understanding of the First Amendment. For somebody who professes to be a "Constitutional Scholar", that simply amazes me.

First it was cheap shots against talk radio and a threat to disinter the Fairness Doctrine from a well-deserved dirt nap. Then it was the NEA program to give out grant money to the arts for politically supportive projects. Then it was the recent Rush-is-a-RACIST! program.

Then last week, we hear that the networks are being encouraged to service their community with "topics of public interest" such as healthcare, global warming legislation, union struggles, and other matters of interest (to the White House).

Now Fox News is in the crosshairs. No representatives from the Administration will appear on Fox. There were playbook attacks on Fox on all of the Sunday morning talk shows.

If Obama really believes what he and his ferrets are spouting, he has the power. Just pull their FCC license, along with all of the talk radio stations that he objects to. Have Holder round them all up and put them in prison.

Of course, then the lines between America and Venezuela would get a little fuzzier...

This is a president who puts his political agenda in front of his oath of office.

Does he really think we are so stupid that we won't figure out that we're being played?

Is Vic actually Obama?

I believe it was Mark Twain... (Below threshold)
Matt:

I believe it was Mark Twain that cautioned not to start a war of words with someone tha buys ink by the barrel.

I'd think the same would apply here. Rupert Murdoch did not get where he is today by letting someone try to sideline one of his news organizations. He might just be letting the administration pull enough rope to hang themselves...

Taking a note from Breitbar... (Below threshold)
JustRuss:

Taking a note from Breitbart? That would be great.

Again I mention the first piece of the puzzle for shutting down syndicated talk radio. The Local Community Radio Act of 2009 which allows local stations to use the airwaves when the big station owns them but doesn't reach them.

First step in "giving the airwaves back to the people" as long as those people are government approved, or have so small an audience they aren't a problem.

Barry is a fool. He keeps ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Barry is a fool. He keeps pressing on this, and does something really stupid, he will get a revolution.....and not the one he wants.

GarandFan, people will only... (Below threshold)

GarandFan, people will only revolt if they are made aware of the revolting things their government is doing.

In many cases the ONLY network letting people know about those revolting things is FoxNews.

Imagine if the two young people who made the ACORN videos had taken those videos to MSNBC, NY Times or CBS??? Most likely: NOTHING!

Proof? Even AFTER the videos broke those same organizations didn't report on it until they HAD to mention it when Congress spoke up...a week later!

Venezuela's problem is too ... (Below threshold)
bill-tb:

Venezuela's problem is too many ignorant people. Something we wish to emulate by bringing in ignorant illegals as fast as we can.

Recipe for disaster.

This looks like an unpreced... (Below threshold)
epador:

This looks like an unprecedented abuse of executive power to me. An impeachable offense. But likely to be ignored by the legislature. Maybe after 2010 we can have a relook.

BARACK OBAMA and HUGO CHAVE... (Below threshold)
Flu-Bird:

BARACK OBAMA and HUGO CHAVEZ two birds of a feather a pair of vultures sitting on the same cactus together




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