Obama WH adds position to deal with bad press online

posted at 2:04 pm on May 24, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

This one pairs up nicely with the Daily Caller’s scoop that campaign media relations people sometimes speak poorly of competing candidates and offer negative tidbits to reporters.  Color me shocked, shocked to find that the White House would hire someone to deal with bad press in online media:

The Obama administration has created and staffed a new position tucked inside their communications shop for helping coordinate rapid response to unfavorable stories and fostering and improving relations with the progressive online community.

“This week, Jesse Lee will move from the new media department into a role in the communications department as Director of Progressive Media & Online Response,” read an internal memo from Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, provided to The Huffington Post. “For the last two years, Jesse has often worn two hats working in new media and serving as the White House’s liaison with the progressive media and online community. Starting this week, Jesse will take on the second role full time working on outreach, strategy and response.”

The post is a new one for this White House. Rapid response has been the purview of the Democratic National Committee (and will continue to be). Lee’s hire, however, suggests that a portion of it will now be handled from within the administration. It also signals that the White House will be adopting a more aggressive engagement in the online world in the months ahead.

Let’s see a show of hands: How many had the first thought after reading this of Damn, why didn’t Bush do this? Be honest …

Actually, the only thing shocking about this is that the White House apparently thinks Media Matters is too inept to rely on for the effort.  Normally, as Sam Stein notes, administrations would let their campaigns or parties deal with rebuttals, and for good reason.  If the White House spends its time responding to every blogger criticism, it’s going to look pretty petty and distracted.  Not only that, but it will also make other supposedly independent outlets like MMFA appear to be less independent and more talking-points dependent, or at least more so than now.

So this is probably a bad idea, but it’s hardly a Big Brother moment, either, as some seem to be claiming (although Lee’s choice of graphic doesn’t help his case much).  This isn’t the same kind of program as Linda Douglass’ “Snitch Central,” asking people to inform on those who disapproved of the administration’s ObamaCare proposals.  The administration has the right to respond to public arguments and attacks, just as anyone else does.  Whether or not they tell the truth when they do is another matter, of course, and the responses will become fair game for even further critiques of the White House.  That will keep Lee spinning on the same ground for longer than the White House will probably like — and it will significantly raise the profile of those bloggers that Lee takes on.

There’s an old axiom in politics: Don’t punch below your weight.  Getting into fights with secondary and tertiary media outlets only benefits those organizations and individuals.  One would have thought that Obama learned that lesson in his disastrous wars with Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.  The only story here is that this administration doesn’t learn from its mistakes.


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Damn, why didn’t Bush do this?

Can you imagine the exploding heads??

CurtZHP on May 24, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Obama has a Media Czar?

Who knew this would happen, right?

PappyD61 on May 24, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Soon to be seen on ads at HuffPo/DailyKos:

“Work from home. Earn $1,000 per hour from your own home!”

portlandon on May 24, 2011 at 2:07 PM

Only the ONE should be allowed to control the media!

Cinematicfilm on May 24, 2011 at 2:08 PM

weak sauce.

ted c on May 24, 2011 at 2:08 PM

WH already looks petty and distracted, this gives it a face

cmsinaz on May 24, 2011 at 2:09 PM

+1 portlandon

:)

cmsinaz on May 24, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Why do they need this person? I thought that was the entire reason for MSNBC’s existence?

davek70 on May 24, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Uncle Jimbo wants to meet the guy.

I would like to be there.

cozmo on May 24, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Does this mean the fishy email address is back in commission?

powerpro on May 24, 2011 at 2:11 PM

In 2008, the St. Louis DA and County Atty announced that they were going to file charges on anyone who “lied” about Obama. Very scary shite.

Blake on May 24, 2011 at 2:11 PM

I think the terminator skull was meant as a joke. He linked it along with a tweet that said “Okay, I’m turning on this new gov’t twitter feed…”

Pretty sure it was meant as a Skynet joke.

John Sexton on May 24, 2011 at 2:11 PM

One guy’s gonna do all that?!

Akzed on May 24, 2011 at 2:11 PM

I’m interested in exactly what the purpose of the position is.

To engage in flame wars? To further explain and clarify the words and phrases displayed by TOTUS?

To tell us the Emperors’ clothes are in fact beautiful, we’re just to dumb to see it?

Hopefully the first response we’ll see will be in response to Harry Reids’ criticism of the Wounded One.

BobMbx on May 24, 2011 at 2:11 PM

With no budget in sight, I guess the sky’s the limit…keep hiring and spending on bullshit…

PatriotRider on May 24, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Well if the position was created to deal with bad press, whoever the lucky dude is who gets to fill that vacancy has their work cut out for them!

pilamaye on May 24, 2011 at 2:12 PM

One of the local Chicago rags had an article (pro) about the same tactics, already being employed:

“Comment Corps” — a list of 3,000 people XXX asks to intervene when XXX believes online comments have become bigoted or monolithic.

“Balance the rhetoric of fear by posting your own comment, using the talking points below as a guide,” she wrote. “It takes only a few moments to make your voice heard!”

XXX and some like-minded allies are trying to influence opinion by engaging their foes in the new media’s public square. By presenting their arguments in forums they see as one-sided, they hope to counter what they regard as misinformation and sway at least a few hearts and minds.

MayorDaley on May 24, 2011 at 2:14 PM

What will make this a story is the “club” that the new position carry’s with them…

helping coordinate rapid response to unfavorable stories

…in other words, they will be watching Fox News 24/7…

right2bright on May 24, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Do they all wear brown shirts…?

d1carter on May 24, 2011 at 2:15 PM

I guess it’s time to open the books at HA and let the fly in, said the spider…

Akzed on May 24, 2011 at 2:15 PM

One guy’s gonna do all that?!

Akzed on May 24, 2011 at 2:11 PM

One “guy” head is it up, no government program (personal or not) has just “one guy”…I am sure the next move will be an appointment to the FTC…

right2bright on May 24, 2011 at 2:16 PM

Right. This from the gang that landed on a small newspaper in Calif. for saying that MO glared at a pilot – or something – only to have Zippy tell a huge Latino audience that the last thing he would do is get between his wife and a tamale.

Smart power, for sure.

Cody1991 on May 24, 2011 at 2:16 PM

Is this the Blog Czar? How much does the position pay, and what are the benefits…..;-)

Cody1991 on May 24, 2011 at 2:17 PM

In 2008, the St. Louis DA and County Atty announced that they were going to file charges on anyone who “lied” about Obama. Very scary shite.

Blake on May 24, 2011 at 2:11 PM

No kidding! Do you know if they ever filed any charges, and if so, was anyone prosecuted?

Mary in LA on May 24, 2011 at 2:19 PM

I think this is a good idea. It’s ripe for exploitation by our side!

The only story here is that this administration doesn’t learn from its mistakes.

…is the wrong response. The correct response is: Oh, no! Now we won’t get anything to stick! Those guys are Left-wing Karl Roves!

cartooner on May 24, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Petunia, MJBrutus, Crr6…you guys (gals) can work directly for the White House now. How cool is that?

Pattosensei on May 24, 2011 at 2:19 PM

I think this has already started.

Yesterday, a local show host was reading something very negative toward Obama, from an op-ed piece out of a London paper. I forgot which paper, so tried to do a search for the piece, to read the whole piece.

Every way I tried to search, the first and foremost hit was Obama’s campaign site. The fix is in.

capejasmine on May 24, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Why does the White House need to bother? They have the press itself to provide cover. CNN factchecks SNL skits for God’s sake!

Doughboy on May 24, 2011 at 2:20 PM

First target:

C-Span, but only when an “R” is speaking.

BobMbx on May 24, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Pattosensei on May 24, 2011 at 2:19 PM

I haven’t had a chance to do much indepth reading over the past few days. Busy, busy, busy. But is this why they’ve been so quiet too lately? Transitioning?

capejasmine on May 24, 2011 at 2:21 PM

What if Bush did this? … LOL

tarpon on May 24, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Ras says O has 51 percent approval and that Reps only have a 2 percent advantage in congressional ballot. O’s strategy is working.

andy85719 on May 24, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Is this guy funded by tax money?

Mason on May 24, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Tell them to suck it up.

Being ‘criticized and/or attacked’ comes with the territory (along with the perks). Try to behave with some dignity like Bush did.

Sir Napsalot on May 24, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Zzzz.

Good Lt on May 24, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Ed. I think you should start posting some outrageous stories about the big O to see how long it takes to get the WH to come after HA.

*waves to the WH*

miConsevative on May 24, 2011 at 2:25 PM

capejasmine on May 24, 2011 at 2:21 PM

No, they are very busy on anything Palin related. You know, the same gig they always do: enter the Palin thread, repeat lefty meme, cry foul when other posters put them down for the constantly debunked meme.

Petunia recently announced that she prefers marxists to Palin supporters or something to that effect. She/he has been getting pummeled over the comment for the past couple days.

Pattosensei on May 24, 2011 at 2:26 PM

The thinnest of thinned skin

Kini on May 24, 2011 at 2:26 PM

Let’s see a show of hands: How many had the first thought after reading this of Damn, why didn’t Bush do this? Be honest …

Bush did do this…when he hired the late Tony Snow to be his Press Secretary, one of the first things Tony set up was an online WH “Fact Check” section at the official WH website, sort of his own version of NewsBusters.

And as his former employer noted when reporting his death:

At the White House, Snow brought partisan zeal and the skills of a seasoned performer to the task of explaining and defending the president’s policies. During daily briefings he challenged reporters, scolded them and questioned their motives as if he were starring in a TV show broadcast live from the West Wing.

BTW his final illness was actively cheered on by the tolerant Left.

Del Dolemonte on May 24, 2011 at 2:28 PM

Is this guy funded by tax money?

Mason on May 24, 2011 at 2:23 PM

That was my first question. My second is: Isn’t that illegal?

UnderstandingisPower on May 24, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Do they all wear brown shirts…?

d1carter on May 24, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Yes, Al Gore was ahead of the curve when he talked about “digital brownshirts.” He had the wrong party in mind.

I guess this new position means that Carney, the official WH spokesman, is not up to the job.

I’m sorry, but this newest effort to control the message smacks of the institution of the Ministry of Propaganda. Will this horse manure eventually be piped into classrooms across America as part of a current events drive?

onlineanalyst on May 24, 2011 at 2:33 PM

More job hires. What’s not to like?!

Shy Guy on May 24, 2011 at 2:33 PM

In 2008, the St. Louis DA and County Atty announced that they were going to file charges on anyone who “lied” about Obama. Very scary shite.

Blake on May 24, 2011 at 2:11 PM

I take it that the entire Dem caucus wasn’t indicted en masse, so it was a hollow threat.

teke184 on May 24, 2011 at 2:38 PM

I honestly thought they already had someone doing this. The WH keeps bullying reporters and news editors (like this) so this is simply an extension of that misguided strategy.

rcpjr on May 24, 2011 at 2:39 PM

Winston Smith LIVES!!!!

Lily on May 24, 2011 at 2:41 PM

No kidding! Do you know if they ever filed any charges, and if so, was anyone prosecuted?

Mary in LA on May 24, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Don’t know, however, there was still the chilling effect of threatening people with illegal state action, let alone criminal prosecution.

Blake on May 24, 2011 at 2:41 PM

Obama WH adds position to deal with bad press online

Next (logical) step -

Obama WH adds millions of poisitions to deal with bad opinions in person

(In fact, there are already legions of thugs doing just that. Next step is to absorb them to be WH paid.)

Sir Napsalot on May 24, 2011 at 2:42 PM

The Pentagon leaked that it was going to start an unofficial office of misinformation. The press went nuts, and Rummy was asked about it at a press conference by a hostile reporter. His response was classic: “Uh, we’re not doing that.”

Classic.

Akzed on May 24, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Get it? Classic! Because that’s the same answer they would give whether they were doing it or not!

Akzed on May 24, 2011 at 3:02 PM

Crr6…you guys (gals) can work directly for the White House now. How cool is that?

Pattosensei on May 24, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Can? Please–with this announcement, crr6 now moves up the ladder to assistant to the regional manaager.

Kataklysmic on May 24, 2011 at 3:10 PM

That should be:

Director of Progressive Oppressive Media & Online Response.

Chip on May 24, 2011 at 3:11 PM

But why does Obama need this position, when he has all the media short of Fox to do the job?

search4truth on May 24, 2011 at 3:20 PM

Petunia recently announced that she prefers marxists to Palin supporters or something to that effect. She/he has been getting pummeled over the comment for the past couple days.

Pattosensei on May 24, 2011 at 2:26 PM

Well the mask is off then. Anyone who says they’d prefer a marxist over anyone else is a true blue, bonfide liberal.

capejasmine on May 24, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Has Jesse, the Online Response Czar, been approved to post comments on HotAir?

I’m sure we could keep him quite busy!

wren on May 24, 2011 at 3:34 PM

Nice (web site, blog, news channel, news paper) you have there, shame if anything were to happen to it… -Media Czar

rgranger on May 24, 2011 at 3:35 PM

Since this will be on the internet, it should be fairly easy to expose the administrations efforts. They will use talking points. These talking points will be indexed by search engines. If something smells fishy, just search on the comments that a user left and see if they show up anywhere else. We’ll be able to expose both the individual brown shirts as well as White House efforts at strangling the speech of others.

I say, bring it on.

ReaganWasRight on May 24, 2011 at 3:36 PM

Is this guy funded by tax money?

Mason on May 24, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Probably another one of those government jobs “created or saved” by our trillion dollar “stimulus” spending.

AZCoyote on May 24, 2011 at 3:37 PM

Pattosensei on May 24, 2011 at 2:19 PM

You beat me to the concept. Good work.

An expansion:
What’s new? We call them trolls.

Caststeel on May 24, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Don’t know, however, there was still the chilling effect of threatening people with illegal state action, let alone criminal prosecution.

Blake on May 24, 2011 at 2:41 PM

Well, you’re right about that, no question — I just wondered if any of those thugs had had the guts to follow through with actual prosecutions. Seems to me that such a case would, and certainly should, ride a rocket up to SCOTUS…

Mary in LA on May 24, 2011 at 3:40 PM

No kidding! Do you know if they ever filed any charges, and if so, was anyone prosecuted?

Mary in LA on May 24, 2011 at 2:19 PM

So far, his threats have been just a bunch of hot air, if you’ll pardon the phrase.

However the general direction is not a good one.

Uncle Sams Nephew on May 24, 2011 at 3:43 PM

The only story here is that this administration doesn’t learn from its mistakes.

But…but….but….HE is THE ONE. HE makes no mistakes. HE commits no errors. HE is the Obamassiah!

GarandFan on May 24, 2011 at 3:58 PM

“For the last two years, Jesse has often worn two hats working in new media and serving as the White House’s liaison with the progressive media and online community. Starting this week, Jesse will take on the second role full time working on outreach, strategy and response.”

I’m sure they’ll be hiring someone else to deal with the conservative media.

unclesmrgol on May 24, 2011 at 4:06 PM

The Department of Damage Control.

DAT60A3 on May 24, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Minitruth Czar.

Wonder when they’ll get around to publishing ever-shrinking dictionaries?

Dr. ZhivBlago on May 24, 2011 at 4:26 PM

The only story here is that this administration doesn’t learn from its mistakes.

Given that they haven’t learned from urinating on the electric fence the only conclusion can be that they like the jolt they get from it.

“Some learn by reading, some learn by observation all the rest learn from peeing on the electric fence” Will Rogers.

chemman on May 24, 2011 at 4:30 PM

Maybe a new cabinet-level department is in order?

Ministry of Propaganda

~~~~~or~~~~~

Federal Department of Astroturf

hillbillyjim on May 24, 2011 at 5:25 PM

Director of Progressive Media

Wow, I’m glad that he isn’t partisan.

disa on May 24, 2011 at 5:38 PM

chemman on May 24, 2011 at 4:30 PM

I would love to see Obama do that.

No, I would rather waterboard him.

disa on May 24, 2011 at 5:39 PM

Why should our tax dollars fund his campaign propaganda? Is this even legal?

hillbillyjim on May 24, 2011 at 5:40 PM

Can? Please–with this announcement, crr6 now moves up the ladder to assistant to the regional manaager.

Kataklysmic on May 24, 2011 at 3:10 PM

You beat me to the concept. Good work.

An expansion:
What’s new? We call them trolls.

Caststeel on May 24, 2011 at 3:39 PM

I was under the impression that they were working for Obama unofficially through secondary organizations like Media Matters and the like. Now it can be direct. ;)

Pattosensei on May 24, 2011 at 5:55 PM

From the looks of the hundreds of ‘Obama is so disconnected from reality he thinks it is 2008′ posts, this group is already a lost cause.

Freddy on May 24, 2011 at 5:59 PM

I always thought this was Jon Stewart’s job.

Go RBNY on May 24, 2011 at 6:18 PM

Don’t tell me the Soros agit-prop money is drying up. That’s about as likely as Ojugears making a coherent foreign policy statement.

hillbillyjim on May 24, 2011 at 6:37 PM

Jesse Lee is married to Nita Chaudary. Nita Chaudhary is Campaign Director at MoveOn.org Political Action: Nita leads MoveOn’s campaigns on the Iraq War, Constitutional Liberties as well as running the fundraising program for MoveOn’s 2008 electoral effort. In the past she was the Director of Online organizing for the DNC. She’s also held several positions at People for the American Way, including Media Research Analyst, Web Editor, and Online Organizer.

Was Nita Chaudary, behind the “Betray Us” Ad?

http://www.redstate.com/moe_lane/2010/06/24/moveonorg-memory-holes-general-betray-us/

Viator on May 24, 2011 at 6:43 PM

I think the terminator skull was meant as a joke.
Pretty sure it was meant as a Skynet joke.
John Sexton on May 24, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Okay Jesse “the Terminator” Lee spin this!

1500 missing
125 confirmed dead
President Obama is playing “ping pong” in Ireland.

Go for it Jesse “the Terminator” Lee pick up your Obama SEAL action figure, rub its belly and ask “please teh one tell me what do I say now?”

DSchoen on May 24, 2011 at 7:43 PM

Was Nita Chaudary, behind the “Betray Us” Ad?

Viator on May 24, 2011 at 6:43 PM

Was Nita Chaudary, behind the “Obama SEAL action figure”?

DSchoen on May 24, 2011 at 7:46 PM

OMG! While I did expect to see a few obvious comments concerning this new arm of the 0bamaGanda machine at that Twitter site, I was not at all prepared to see the SLEW of comments showing just how foolish this latest White House effort actually is.

I’m still LMAO so I’m headed to the facilities NOW. ;o)

DannoJyd on May 25, 2011 at 1:57 AM

Lee’s wife was behind the Move-on “General Betray Us” ad.

Akzed on May 25, 2011 at 9:43 AM

MOST THIN SKINNED MARXIST, EVUH!

Roy Rogers on May 25, 2011 at 12:39 PM