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After Criticizing Obama For Saying Fox News Attacks Him, Santorum Compares Him To Hugo Chavez

Reported by Ellen - August 22, 2009 -

Those Fox News loud mouths are great at dishing out the attacks but at the first sign of pushback, their widdle feewings turn vewy, vewy sensitive and they start howling about how unfair and mean their opponents are. Latest example: Fox News regular Rick Santorum on On The Record last night (8/21/09). After Greta Van Susteren played a few comments of President Obama making mild criticisms of “cable news chatter” and commenting that Fox News is “entirely devoted to attacking my administration,” Santorum immediately construed that as “an attack” on Fox and said Obama reminded him of Hugo Chavez, “trying to shut down the voice of opposition in the media.” Van Susteren did not challenge that over-the-top remark. With video.

The segment began with Van Susteren playing a montage of Obama’s comments about cable news. Each clip was from a different setting:

- Referring to media coverage after Sarah Palin’s nomination for vice president in 2008, Obama said, “Cable was 24 hours a day (saying) Obama’s lost his mojo.”

- Speaking to his supporters, Obama said, “Instead of being preoccupied with the polls and with the pundits and with the cable chatter, what you guys consistently did was you just kept on working.”

- “They don’t want to be constructive, they just want to get in the usual political fights back and forth. And sometimes that’s fed by all the cable chatter on the media.”

- “I’ve got one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my administration… That’s a pretty big megaphone.”

- “I don’t find most of the cable chatter very persuasive… It feels like WWF wrestling. Everybody’s got their role to play.”

Santorum reacted by saying, “This is an attack on Fox. This reminds me of what Hugo Chavez is doing down in Venezuela, trying to shut down the voice of opposition in the media. This is not good.”

“Liberal” Van Susteren never seemed to notice that Santorum had just engaged in exactly the kind of behavior Obama had been talking about. She never pointed out that Obama said nothing to even remotely suggest he was trying to shut down any news outlet. Nor did she tell her viewers that Obama and Chavez have virtually nothing in common other than the animosity of guys like Santorum.

Instead, Van Susteren commented, “We have some people on this network who are politically conservative – Sean Hannity – no one’s going to dispute that, somebody (who) goes after him. But we have a lot of news gatherers as well who are just gathering the news.” She somehow forgot “vacationing” Glenn Beck, who accused Obama of being a racist and who started bleeding advertisers as a result. She also “forgot” Sean Hannity’s (and other Fox News personnel) legitimizing of the birthers along with his continual accusations that Obama is a radical and a socialist with suggestions that he’s a racist, too. Hannity and Beck, alone, go well beyond political conservatism into outright malice, beyond anything Obama referenced.

Santorum added, “Case in point you – I mean, I don’t think anyone’s gonna come and say… ‘You’ve been brutal on Barack Obama.’ You’ve not been brutal on him… He’s over-reacting. He’s a very thin-skinned president. This is a guy who’s not used to being criticized and the fact that some here on Fox are taking him on and some, like yourself, are just holding him accountable when he’s crossing the line in the wrong direction. His reaction, I think, is really unprofessional.”

It’s probably true that Van Susteren has not been directly brutal to Obama. But she certainly has not objected when other people fanned the flames of incendiary hostility. In addition to not objecting to Santorum’s inflammatory remark, she also had no problem when Rush Limbaugh said in an interview, “Let’s face it, President Obama’s black. And I think he’s got a chip on his shoulder. I think there are elements of this country he doesn’t like and he never has liked and he’s using the power of the presidency to remake the country.” Nor did Van Susteren object when Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich made the false and inflammatory accusation that Obama supported infanticide as a state senator. And she still didn’t have a clue why Obama might be criticizing cable news.

According to Santorum, it’s “thin-skinned” and "unprofessional" to object to being characterized as a racist, radical, infanticide-supporting socialist. But it’s reasonable to read into Obama’s mild criticisms in return that he’s trying to shut down opposition and to engage in incendiary name calling. Who's really being unprofessional here?