During an interview on Current TV’s “The War Room with Jennifer Granholm,” POLITICO journalist and White House correspondent Joe Williams made a highly original claim: the president's poll numbers are low because the mainstream media has failed to report on Republican opposition.
His remarks came during a broader discussion on Republican obstruction of the Obama presidency. Williams argues that one of the reasons more Americans aren’t aware that the GOP is “intentionally sabotaging” the president is because the media won’t touch the story out of fear the GOP "message machine."
“Do the Capital Hill journalists whisper about this obstruction on the part of Republicans?” Granholm asked.
“There’s not so much a whisper; it’s pretty much plain. A lot of people in a lot of newsrooms, you’re absolutely right, we have a duty of objective here and I think that’s one of the reasons why the poll numbers are so low,” Williams said, referring to a recent poll that shows only 49 percent of Americans are aware of the “vast rightwing conspiracy” against President Obama.
“Because we try to present news in an objective fashion, we try not to necessarily focus on what they [Republicans] said and on the agenda because they do have, for lack of a better term, legitimate reasons for saying what they’re saying."
"As you mentioned, they are philosophically opposed with the president and they can extrapolate and say that philosophical opposition is what’s leading them to vote against the president at every turn,” he added.
Williams wasn’t finished.
“But sooner or later it becomes pretty obvious, especially when the president points out that some of the things he’s proposing that will fix the economy, in years past, have been universally loved by Republicans,” he said.
“They voted for transportation packages, they voted for infrastructure spending in the past. These were not controversial proposals until President Obama seemed to put his name on it,” he added.
Granholm was interested in his theory.
“Well, you said something really interesting there, Joe,” she said, “Which is that one of the reasons why the number of that poll might be so low, the 49 percent, is that the media feels like it has got to be even-handed and, on this channel, I think we would call that 'false equivalency.'"
“The media knows very well where the obstruction is,” she added.
“And there are many who would agree with you,” Williams responded, “it is false equivalency but nonetheless, one reason why that still sticks and why that still maintains a presence in most newsrooms is, not only because of integrity of individual journalists, but also because the conservative, the Republican message machine is very, very good at vilifying people who they believe have crossed a line into advocacy --”
“Wow!” Granholm exclaimed, shocked to learn that after all those years without the blogosphere, talk radio, or cable news, conservatives somehow hold sway over journalists.
“Who have done a number on what they believe is there fair and objective way of looking at things and looking at the White House agenda,” Williams added.
“And so the Democrats don’t do as good of a job of scaring the journalists into being fair to the Democrats?” Granholm laughed.
“Certainly, in my view,” Williams responded, “and, again, I’m only speaking as one reporter, in my view they have done a very good job of pushing back, we always talk about ‘Republican push back,’ and we always talk about the fact that they are very much intent on staying on message.
"They do it very, very well, they’ve got very intense messaging discipline, and they are very good at convincing journalists…that not only is their stance legitimate but you might have gone too far.”
“And there are some journalists who are very sensitive,” Williams concluded.