Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Barry As President: What A State-Run Media Looks Like

RICHMOND -- President Barack Obama seemed to offer a ringing endorsement Wednesday for "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart's upcoming Rally to Restore Sanity – although he didn’t get the name quite right.

"I was amused -- Jon Stewart, you know, the host of The Daily Show, apparently he's going to host a rally called something like Americans in favor of a return to sanity, or something like that," Obama told a crowd gathered around a living room in a comfortable suburban home. "And his point was 70 percent of the people – it doesn’t matter what political affiliation –70 percent of folks are just like you. They go about their business. They work hard every day. They’re looking after their families. They don’t go around calling people names. They don’t make stuff up.”

The session was Obama’s final – and friendliest – small-group suburban discussion that took him through Ohio, New Mexico and Iowa. White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton told reporters on Air Force One the president will likely field a few more rounds of casual, unscripted lawn-chair gatherings in the coming months.

The goal of the gatherings is to give the president an intimate forum to discuss his policies, including education reform, the sweeping health care overhaul, and the economy. But the groups don’t always toss Obama softball questions: in New Mexico, one woman asked Obama to describe why he is a Christian, and in Iowa several members asked about government intrusion, challenged his plan to tax the rich and asked him how he intends to eliminate poverty.

In Richmond, the president discussed the rancorous political discourse in Washington: it must be fixed.

Both the right and left have used the president as a political punching bag: conservative TV host Glenn Beck once called Obama a racist who hates whites and accused him of embracing a "perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ," while liberal MSNBC host Rachel Maddow repeatedly shreds the administration for its muddled stance on the "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gays from serving openly in the armed forces.

But Obama takes particular issue with Fox News, home to some of his fiercest critics like Beck and Sean Hannity.

In a Rolling Stone interview this week, said Fox News is “part of a tradition” of a free American press with a “very clear, undeniable point of view.” But he said the right-leaning network has “a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive” for the nation. He also said in the interview that Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, is more concerned with profit rather than journalistic standards or ethics: “I suspect that if you ask Mr. Murdoch what his number-one concern is, it’s that Fox is very successful.”

Obama told his living-room audience that pundits who say outrageous, provocative things – liberals as well as conservatives – are being rewarded with more TV time and book deals. But he noted that Republicans made a tactical decision to block his agenda no matter what, and "from just a raw, political point of view, it's been a pretty successful strategy."

Reflecting his 2004 DNC convention speech that launched him to the national stage, Obama reiterated that there aren't "red states" and "blue states."

"I believe that so profoundly," he said. (source)

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