President meets with conservative talk show hosts, Andrew Sullivan characterizes it as “toadies” awaiting their “talking points”

Posted by: ST on October 17, 2006 at 7:07 pm

Take a look at the below photo, and the caption beneath it.



President Bush discussed his policies with conservative radio hosts last month at the White House, including, from left, Mike Gallagher, Neal Boortz, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and Michael Medved. (WH photo by Eric Draper)

Here’s the article describing the meeting and why it took place.

Then read Andrew Sullivan’s reaction. Not surprising, but annoying all the same:

Who are these people called in to meet the president for a pep talk? Here are the toadies awaiting instructions and talking points: Mike Gallagher, Neal Boortz, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and Michael Medved. It forces one to ask the question: what is the difference between journalists fawning on a president, taking spin directly from him, cozying up to him – and paid propagandists whose job it is to advance the interests of those who already wield power? Some of these “journalists” have been critical of Bush policies. Which is why they have been summoned. You want the party line? You now know who to listen to.

There are so many things wrong with the above paragraph that I don’t know where to start, but I’ll give it a try. If Andrew wasn’t so busy trying to paint the President as a modern day version of Hitler (it all started after the President declared he’d seek a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as that of one man and one woman, now the man could discover the cure cancer and AS would still hate him), he’d have the time to listen to at least an hour of any of those hosts (or visit their websites) to see where they’ve been very critical of the admin as of late, especially on the issue of immigration. Some of them have also been critical about how the House Republican leadership handled Foleygate. There was round the clock criticism of the nomination of Harriet Miers to the USSC. Outrage from some of those Republicans over the UAE port deal. They’ve no need to be given “instructions” or “talking points” from the President. What’s clearly happening is that the President is trying to win back support from conservative talk show hosts who are wavering in their support of him and other Republicans.

Those talk show hosts didn’t get out of bed the morning of that meeting with the President and say “ok, time to get my daily talking points memo.” They establish their own “talking points”, Andrew. You know, what you do everytime you blog, or write a column? This is just another typical example of someone who can’t stand the Bush administration and Republicans in general trying to paint them all as mindless Bush cultists, standing in line to get their daily dose of propaganda to use on the air, in print, etc, because they ‘can’t think on their own and need special guidance from the WH.’ What utter bullsh!!.

Secondly, these people aren’t “paid propagandists whose job it is to advance the interests of those who already wield power” – AS makes it sound as though these people were hired by the Bush adminstration to host talk show hosts on various radio and TV stations and spout off RNC talking points, which as we know is not true. Thirdly, it’s not their “job” to “advance” the interests of anyone in power, or anyone who wants to be elected to serve in Washington. Their job is the same as Andrew’s job, and that’s to talk about the current issues of the day, give their take on them, and (in some instances) invite comments from the audience. I think Andrew’s just jealous because he, a journalist/blogger, hasn’t been invited to the WH to talk with the President.

Lastly, Andrew’s “You want the party line? You now know who to listen to” is laughable, simply because most of the time when you listen to talk radio, whether it be left or right, what you hear is sometimes similar to what you’d find in a talking points memo, and that’s mainly because most conservatives and liberals are respectively on the same or similar side of most issues and of course are going to be saying similar things. It’s the same way in the blogosphere. A lot of us write about issues that are important to us, as being a part of the Republican party, and we oftentimes unwittingly bring up the same points you may find repeated by the Prez, the admin, or on another blog. That doesn’t mean I’m “toeing” the party line anymore than any other conservative is. When you have similar interests, oftentimes the content of what you say on the radio or on your blog or in your editorial is going to sound similar to what you may read on the RNC website. BFD.

Posts like these are one of the reasons I stopped reading AS long ago (which is disappointing, because Sullivan was one of my original inspirations for starting in the blogosphere). The only reason I happened to catch this one was because it was linked up at Memeorandum.

Blogger Joe Gandelman, someone I do highly respect (and still will, even after referencing his post on the issue), echoed a similar theme to Andrew’s when he wrote the following about the meeting of conservative talk show hosts and the President:

You have to ask yourself: who ever would have thought 30 years ago that talk radio would evolve into where three hour “shows” would essentially become propaganda strips for political parties — and if the hosts wavered from the party line the President would meet with them to get them back “on message?”

[...]

Indeed, Limbaugh and Hannity provide a vital role for the GOP: they have become talk show hosts who can be relied upon on most issues to broadcast The Party’s and The Leader’s talking points so that no scandal is deemed too outrageous, no change in previous position is seem as dismaying, and the discarding of a conservative value held dear years before is not seen as at variance with deeply held principles.

I posted this in the comments section there:

Joe, did you ever consider the possiblity that the WH is not trying to make sure talk radio hosts “stay on message” but instead to try and win back their support, which is wavering? If you’ve listened to some of the people in that picture lately, they’ve been very critical of the President and the admin. The WH needs their support, and I think they are trying to shore it up.

No need to try and turn this into some meeting of brainwashed conservative cultists salivating over the President’s every move.

There are some truly brainwashed fruitcakes on the right out there who would not criticize the President at gunpoint. The conservatives pictured in that photo are not among them.

Update: My liberal friend Michael Stickings gets it wrong, too:

All spin, no substance. In desperation, with sagging approval ratings and the prospect of Republican defeat next month, Bush energizes his talk-radio propagandists, the purveyors of mis- and disinformation to the faithful and thoughtless, those drooling clones who either don’t know any better or refuse to know any better.

Me, as a drooling talk radio listener: “Where’s the drool-wiper guy with the tissues when ya need him?” x(

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Trackbacks

  • The Political Pit Bull trackbacked with President Bush And Talk Radio Hosts
  • Watcher of Weasels trackbacked with Submitted for Your Approval
  • 24 Responses to “President meets with conservative talk show hosts, Andrew Sullivan characterizes it as “toadies” awaiting their “talking points””

    Comments

    1. Ryan says:

      Who are they, Andrew? They are people with large numbers of conservative listeners, many of whom, along with these talk show hosts, have been very critical of the President’s policies. Nothing wrong with trying to win back their support.

    2. biwah says:

      SS,

      I’m not your #1 fan but think you make a good point here. The prez is making his pitch to the skeptical among his supporters. He’s making a show of humility, not authority, by meeting with these people – although he’s counting on them to be flattered and a little star-struck as well.

      If they were merely obedient drones then Karl would just need to send out an email…or something.

    3. Baklava says:

      These people read and research for HOURS every day and AS (not worth spelling out) thinks that a 1 hour meeting is supposed to give these people enough material for the next few weeks or months?

      AS, you sincerely need help now. Serious help. You have serious BDS. Especially given the substance that these people discuss on a daily basis outweighs your substance by a factor of 50. The only host I don’t listen to is Boortz. Every one of them has been critical and very well informed and freely discuss many issues.

    4. Ali-Bubba says:

      What rankles me, Sistah, is the way El Hombre en La Casa Blanca compared conservatives to terrorists:

      Mr. Bush spoke about his commitment to his immigration plan in terms of the fight against terrorism. He said the president made a case that if he were to give in to conservative complaints, “the nation’s enemies (and the rest of the world) would take away the belief that the president could be bullied, prodded, overwhelmed and intimidated.”

      Combined with his description of the Minutemen as “vigilantes,” this remark tells me that El Hombre A) can’t tell America’s friends from its enemies, B) can’t tell the GOP’s friends from its enemies, C) hasn’t read Michelle Malkin’s “Invasion,” D) is politically tone-deaf, and E) has forgotten that he was elected by a majority of the American people.

      But then again, I’m just one of those evangelical “nuts,” so I guess I’m too stupid to know when I am being insulted.

      Oh, well. When House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers begins the impeachment inquiry, perhaps El Hombre will wish he had chosen his words more wisely.

    5. I don’t have any idea how you concluded that the President equated the Minutemen to terrorists (he didn’t) and I also don’t understand why you’d believe that the President must always follow the will of the American people. Yes, he’s a public servant, but sometimes doing what’s right doesn’t always mean doing what’s popular. What if, for example, a majority of the American people didn’t want the President to order the invasion of Afghanistan after 9-11?

      And if the President is impeached, something tells me that the conservatives who wanted to ‘teach’ him and other Republicans a ‘lesson’ in the fall elections by sitting at home instead of voting will be singing a different tune.

      Lastly, I’m not sure what your post had to do with mine, which I composed in an effort to prove those people – the ones who claimed the President was ‘summoning’ his ‘brainwashed minions’ to ‘get them back on message’ – wrong.

    6. Jimmie says:

      Sista-T, I’ll bet if you asked every one of those folks sitting with the Prsident what their job is, they’d give one answer: to put on an entertaining radio show so they get more listeners so their radio stations get more advertisers and can charge more for the ads so they make more money.

      As the folks who run Air America found out, you don’t make money as the on-air propaganda arm of any political party. You make money by being entertaining, insightful, and, above all, yourself.

      I noticed that none of those radio hosts were wearing cheap clothing. They’re all doing pretty well which means that they’re giving good radio that brings in millions of listeners each. Who exactly does Saint Andrew of the Never-Ending Heartache think is paying these folks, and for what?

    7. Ali-Bubba says:

      Read the quote from the NYT story. Bush said:

      1. If he heeded criticism from CONSERVATIVES;
      2. TERRORISTS would believe he could be bullied.

      In other words, listening to criticism from the Americans who elected him would be morally equivalent to acceding to the demands of Al Qaeda.

      The syllogism could not be clearer.

      Your hypothetical “what if” has nothing to do with the comparison that Bush actually implied. But since we are playing the hypothetical game: What if the president had equated pro-lifers with terrorists?

      I heard Rush Limbaugh today, too, and he’s not talking about me. I have no desire to teach anyone a lesson.

      I am saying quite simply that there are such thing as a single-issue voter. There is such a thing as a Republican coalition. And some conservatives are serious enough in their opposition to the president’s amnesty plan that such a remark as the one cited here — it was from Michael Medved’s blog — is, as previously stated, “politically tone-deaf.”

      It doesn’t matter what your position is on immigration, or whether you want to “teach ‘em a lesson.” What matters is that the White House apparently has no clue about how to keep the conservative coalition united and motivated.

      To compare Tom Tancredo to Osama bin Laden? El hombre está loco. Muy loco.

    8. - Hmmmm… For some reason Ass Franken/ Err America wasn’t there… Maybe something to do with listener support being down a bit….No wait…. The “Toadies” of the progressives only go to “Hate America functions”….Forgot that for a moment…. My bad….

      – Sullivan has become a one man hate Bush gang … Other than HBO pro-SP gigs, he’s largely ignored, since all he posts anymore is long winded tirades focused on his own angst. HBTW, the more the gay community, Sullivan in particular, continues to conflate the gay sexual “preference” movement with the Legitimate civil rights movement, the angrier the black community gets. Good luck on that.

      – Bang **==

    9. gahrie says:

      I’ll bet dollars to donuts that Sullivan et al saw nothing wrong, or didn’t comment, when Slick Willy met with a bunch of leftwing moonbat bloggers last month…you know the meeting that started the whole “booby” controversy.

    10. stackja says:

      ST Silly people say silly things. AS sounds silly.

    11. “Read the quote from the NYT story. Bush said:

      “1. If he heeded criticism from CONSERVATIVES;
      2. TERRORISTS would believe he could be bullied.

      In other words, listening to criticism from the Americans who elected him would be morally equivalent to acceding to the demands of Al Qaeda.

      The syllogism could not be clearer.”

      That’s total nonsense. The President did not compare the Minutemen nor their supporters to terrorists. There is no clear ‘syllogism’ except perhaps to you.

      “Your hypothetical “what if” has nothing to do with the comparison that Bush actually implied.”

      My hypothetical had everything to do with what the issue was about, what you made it about anyway, and that is that the President supposedly has an obligation to bow to the will of the people. I’ll ask my hypothetical one more time:

      What if, for example, a majority of the American people didn’t want the President to order the invasion of Afghanistan after 9-11?

      You made it a point to post that the President was ignoring the will of the American people, as if that were a grave sin. My question had everything to do with that. If you want to backtrack from it, fine, but don’t act like my hypothetical didn’t address what you yourself were asserting.

      “But since we are playing the hypothetical game: What if the president had equated pro-lifers with terrorists?”

      He should be called to the carpet for it. So far, he hasn’t said any such thing, nor has he done so with the Minutemen and their supporters. No matter how much you want to believe it, putting the two in the same sentence does not equal to equating them.

      “I heard Rush Limbaugh today, too, and he’s not talking about me. I have no desire to teach anyone a lesson.”

      Then what was the point behind mentioning a possible impeachment initiated by Conyers with the warning about what the President has said coming back to haunt him?

      “I am saying quite simply that there are such thing as a single-issue voter. There is such a thing as a Republican coalition. And some conservatives are serious enough in their opposition to the president’s amnesty plan that such a remark as the one cited here — it was from Michael Medved’s blog — is, as previously stated, “politically tone-deaf.””

      Well apparently those conservatives can’t think for themselves, because there is enough motivation sitting in Iraq and Afghanistan for this conservative to be able to understand that whether or not the President is “politically tone-deaf” on the immigration issue, he’s definitely not so on the war in Iraq. And some conservatives can actually disagree passionately with the President on his immigration plan and still support Republicans in the fall. Especially considering it’s the Republican HOUSE that wants the tougher plan. The President isn’t running for office anymore – the House, however, is up for grabs, if the latest polls are any indication.

      “It doesn’t matter what your position is on immigration,”

      To one issue voters, it apparently does, otherwise you wouldn’t have brought it up.

      “or whether you want to “teach ‘em a lesson.””

      Oh that matters very much, because teaching Republicans a “lesson” this fall would be disastrous, yet I know there are conservatives who are considering doing just that. I refuse to be a part of that. If you think it’s hard enough getting meaningful legislation on illegal immigration passed now, it’ll be almost impossible to do so if we have a Democratic Congress.

      “What matters is that the White House apparently has no clue about how to keep the conservative coalition united and motivated.”

      Yeah, if they’d just cave on their stance on immigration, that would all change, though, wouldn’t it?

      “To compare Tom Tancredo to Osama bin Laden?”

      That didn’t happen, and you continuing to repeat it doesn’t make it true.

      “El hombre está loco. Muy loco.”

      I think your position, quite frankly, is muy loco.

      BTW, I accidentally deleted a short comment you made earlier in this thread after your last one. Sorry about that.

    12. Drewsmom says:

      sullivan is out of his mind …. just listening to him on msnbc gives me the creeps.
      I’m glad they went to the sit down with Bush as they all have been critical and whats wrong with that and the invite.
      The moonbats are getting so desperate now that yesterday that gay activist dude outed Larry Craig, a married conservative, said with un-named sources he has sex with kids in closets …. I’m getting so tired of this …. Weldon, Simpson …. they will sink to anything and I pray all this bs blows up all over em … we shall see.:-?

    13. Ali-Bubba says:

      Sister, this immigration cage match just became irrelevant, now that Democrats have completely blown the election by “outing” a Republican senator. It’s the October Surprise!

      We can argue later about whether the president of the United States “has an obligation to bow to the will of the people.” But … did you never hear of King Charles I?

    14. Brian says:

      You know what I think it is? I think those on the left continue to say that conservative radio hosts and bloggers are being told what to say because to this day, they still can’t grasp the reality that Bush won the election, not once, but twice. They simply cannot believe he did that without some mass conspiracy going on, from rigged voting machines to a massive propaganda machine.

      They think everything is being coordinated by Karl Rove. I tell you, if Rove really had the power that the left continues to say he does, he’d be the King of Earth by now.

      Tell me that Clinton didn’t meet with people on the left to talk with them. I know he didn’t meet with liberal talk radio hosts, because they don’t exist (wonder why that is?), but I’m fairly certain he met with quite a few liberal media people to discuss things.

    15. Brian says:

      And for the record, ST is correct. Presidents shouldn’t be so quick to bow to the will of the American people. Doing what’s right sometimes means doing what isn’t popular. I can think of any number of examples to back that up. History is filled with such examples.

    16. J Rob says:

      Two problems with the Charles I analogy. First of all we do not live in a Divine Right Monarchy. The president is elected and limited to two terms per the 22nd Ammendment. The president can also legally be removed from office.
      In late January of 2007 somebody else will be in the White House for better or worse. That is how the system works. As there is currently no move afoot to repeal the 22nd Ammendment, the tyranny charge is a bit of a stretch. The only move afoot to impeach the president is John Conyers’ little tantrum. Hey, if “President Dick Cheney” sounds good to him far be it from me to argue with him.

    17. Baklava says:

      I for one and glad we have a leader as opposed to the previous president who would stick his wet finger in the air and see which way the wind was blowing.

      I may disagree with him but at least public policy isn’t fabricated by what the legacy drive by media pumps into the public view anymore.

      I remember the drum beat of the legacy drive by media who drummed into the American people’s conscience that we have to do something in Yugoslavia. I’m not sure if it came from the Clinton administration or if the administration realized they need to act in Yugoslavia because the people thought this way due to the media…. whatever the case it would not have happened given the drum beat was against action because Bill was not a leader. Period.

      The above commentary does not say whether or not the “safe” (safe because we stayed above 15,000 feet) action in Yugoslavia was warranted or needed for America’s national security or other national interests.

    18. Baklava says:

      JRob wrote, “In late January of 2007 somebody else will be in the White House

      Don’t the Dem’s wish!! :) I know you meant 2009 JRob.

      It’s always funny to hear big government liberals charge Republicans with tyranny. They can only do so with the incorrect accusations about losing our civil liberties because we can’t talk to Al Qaeda on the phone… boy that outrages me now that I think about it. :o

    19. PCD says:

      Boy, people who hate the President are a pretty sick bunch. I’ve worked in talk radio. I worked for Hugh Hewitt’s current producer. The research that goes into each show is incredible. We didn’t do the Mary Mapes thing and bloviate about non-existant documents.

      A one hour meeting is too short for the brain washing the lefties think is going on. Although, these very same lefties never failed to echo-chamber Clinton White House talking points, and they still do to this day.

      The left is intellectually dishonest and projects that dishonesty on all those who broadcast the truth.

    20. PCD says:

      Ali-bubba,

      Like you, most liberals I know are as shallow as the thickness of your average loose leaf paper page. They do not reason, they scream their emotions and when confonted with facts and reason, they scream their emotional nonsense even louder. You are nothing different. All you did here was scream louder.

    21. Norma says:

      I just can’t imagine why anybody reads or pays attention to Sullivan anymore. I think I linked to him the first few months (2003) of my blog, but the man is johnnie one note–nothing matters but his own sexuality, and he apparently doesn’t realize the Dems were willing to throw them all under the bus just to alienate Republicans.

    22. J Rob says:

      That’s what I get for writing before the 3rd cup of coffee. I meant ’09. In late January of ’07 I expect them to still be saying, “But the polls said it was in the bag”