Yes, the White House Is Trying to Control the Media. Republicans Need to Stop Whining and Get In the Game

By Noel SheppardAssociate Editor,

In recent weeks, the White House has come under increasing criticism from conservatives for its coordinated attack on talk radio host Rush Limbaugh as well as the amount of attention it's given to CNBC personalities Jim Cramer and Rick Santelli.

The belief is that because the economy is doing so poorly, Obama Co. should have their eye on the ball and not waste time debating their media opponents.

This argument runs counter to disappointments expressed by the very same people concerning the Bush administration's abysmal record rebutting its own negative press.

For almost five years, although the nation was engaged in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, conservatives, myself included, frequently chided Bush for not standing up to the constant bashing he was taking from what many referred to as "the drive-by media."

Isn't this a double standard? Should our side be the only one allowed to parry with its opponents? Isn't that absurd given the power of the press and how critical it is for politicians to try to control them is at this moment in history?

The truth is that George W. Bush became a lame duck in the first nine months of his second term when he allowed the media to prevent him from reforming Social Security as well as blame him for the hurricane that hit New Orleans.

How much different might Bush's final years in office have been if he had pushed back against the press's practically immoral "there's no problem with Social Security" campaign, and if he had aggressively challenged the disingenuous attacks concerning the White House's "poor response" to Hurricane Katrina?

Maybe the Republicans would have fared much better during 2006's midterm elections if Bush Co. had fought the media tooth and nail every time they misrepresented his policies or blamed him for events totally out of his control.

And maybe if the White House had challenged the baseless accusations last fall that it was responsible for the collapse of the financial services industry John McCain and Sarah Palin might have been able to defeat Obama-Biden in November.

Regardless of his own miscues, one could make the case that Bush's entire legacy was dictated by an antagonistic media which he and his administration left largely unchecked.

By contrast, former President Clinton and his team seemed to have a far greater control of the message when they were in power. It was this very influence that helped Clinton survive impeachment proceedings by convincing enough of the population that his only crime was adultery.

Obviously it is much easier to manipulate those that support your view of the world, but such an inconvenient truth shouldn't prevent Republicans -- especially when they control the executive and legislative branches -- from doing their utmost to make darned sure liberal voices and opinions aren't running roughshod over the nation.

Now that the Democrats are in such a position and effectively manipulating it, the carping and whining on our side seems almost like complaining to the refs about the other team's offensive prowess. This not only gets us nowhere, but makes us look foolish in the interim.

In bottom line: the political war in America is indeed being fought in the media. Since their devastating loss in 2004 liberals have been doing a far better job waging this war than conservatives.

Those on the right should stop crying foul over what Team Obama is wisely doing to control the message and instead learn to play the game better.

Noel Sheppard is associate editor of the MediaResearchCenter's He welcomes feedback at