Shhh. The White House is Listening

by Crocker on February 21, 2009, 7:05 am

in Media,Politics

This Administration is unusually thin-skinned. Hope ‘n Change, Dr. Axelrod and Glib Gibbs obviously didn’t like Rick Santelli’s ‘Chicago Tea Party’ rant about the Nancy Pelosi’s mortgage plan, which, in Santelli’s words, forces the rest of us to pay off the mortgages of ‘losers’ who should never have been given the credit in the first place.

As Santelli observes, we could reduce the interest rate on these mortgage to minus-two percent and 40% of the mortgage holders still wouldn’t be able to repay. 

And now the White House has called out Santelli – by name. From the Politico:

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs jumped at the chance Friday to rebuke a CNBC reporter whose attack on President Barack Obama’s anti-foreclosure plan caught fire on the Internet.

Gibbs took on CNBC’s Rick Santelli in unusually personal terms after being asked a question about Santelli’s bracing critique during a regular White House briefing. . . .

Gibbs insisted Santelli was misinformed when he said Obama’s program would amount to a transfer of money from prudent taxpayers to those who had taken reckless risks. . . .

Gibbs brandished a copy of a fact sheet about Obama’s plan. “Download it, hit print, and begin to read it,” he said. In all, Gibbs used Santelli’s name six times.

The White House promptly dispatched Joe Biden’s economic adviser Jared Bernstein and Housing Secretary Shaun Donovana to CNBC to proclaim the party line, but without apparent success.

CNBC hosts pressed Bernstein to explain why Obama’s plan calls for allowing borrowers to refinance loans even if they have less than 20% equity in their homes. “To refinance can save a family $4000, $5000, $6000 a year in an economy that’s been extremely tough,” Bernstein said.

“I don’t know that they deserve to refinance because those are the terms they signed up for in the first place,” CNBC’s Melissa Francis said.

And as Santelli said in a later segment, why are we supporting irresponsible mortgage holders when the Adminstration should be trying to help people recover the value in their retirement accounts?

A very good question. But don’t ask it too loudly. The White House is listening. And even the AP has noticed (with an obligatory dose of snark):

The [Santelli] episode underscores how closely the Obama White House, like others before it, monitors how media coverage may be shaping public opinion. In particular, the constant chatter of cable television news shows has at times gotten under the skin of White House aides, and they have made no effort to hide their displeasure.

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