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Bulls & Bears Baselessly Blames Obama For G20 Protest Violence

Reported by Ellen - September 28, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Brian

On Saturday (9/26/09), Bulls & Bears used a discussion about the protests at the G20 economic Summit in Pittsburgh as an opportunity to attack President Barack Obama. Rather than discuss the summit or the protests, the segment was framed around the suggestion from conservative panelist Gary B. Smith that violence at the protest, as well as anti-American sentiment at the U.N. is Obama’s fault. Smith never offered any direct connection between Obama's supposed anti-capitalistic views and the protests and host Brenda Buttner never asked for any. With video.

"It all starts right with our Commander in Chief,” Smith began. “I maintain that Obama is the most anti-capitalistic, anti-business President we've ever had. It's not just my gut feel, I pulled out some little tidbits here.” Smith went on to repeatedly mischaracterize Obama’s record, without any argument or correction from Buttner.

Smith said, “Three weeks after he took office, (Obama) said only government has the resources to jolt our economy. He thinks the government can teach the private sector lessons in efficiency.” Presumably, Smith was referring to this statement by Obama, during his first press conference: "It is absolutely true that we can't depend on government alone to create jobs or economic growth. That is and must be the role of the private sector. But at this particular moment, with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back into life."

Obama said nothing about the government teaching the private sector lessons in efficiency. He was talking about government having the financial resources the private sector did not have. Also ignored was Obama's reference to the importance of the private sector.

Smith continued, “Remember when he said that doctors that ordered up extra tests for patients, they have a business mentality, as if that's a bad thing." Presumably, Smith was referring to a statement Obama made in June at a health care town hall: "Now, the problem is more and more what our health care system is doing is it's incentivizing each doctor individually to say, 'How many tests can I perform? Because the more tests I perform, the more I get paid.' And it may not even be a conscious decision on the part of the doctor; it's just that the medical system starts getting in bad habits. And it's driven from a business mentality instead of a mentality of, how do we make patients better?"

Clearly, Obama was saying that the problem is not that doctors have a business mentality but that our health care system puts profits over patient care. Notably, Smith didn’t argue that Obama was wrong.

Smith added, "The bottom line, you look through his cabinet, he does not have one person in his cabinet who has ever hired or fired workers, who’s an entrepreneur, that’s a businessperson. (Buttner agreed.) They're all academic and politicians, they understand nothing about business, and they hate business."

False: First of all, Obama has surely hired and fired workers, probably on his staff at the White House, his campaign staff and his Senate staff, if nowhere else. Furthermore, U.S. Treasury Secetary Timothy Geithner has worked in the private sector (as a consultant for Kissinger Associates); Attorney General Eric Holder was a litigation partner at a private law firm; and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan “worked in the private sector on financing affordable housing,” to name three.

Marc Lamont Hill, of Columbia University, was the guest liberal. Hill said, "Global capitalism is having some problems right now… The poorest people in the globe are suffering… You look at a lack of living wages, you look at sweatshop labor around the globe, this is all an extension of global capitalism and wealth building… People aren’t critiquing capitalism. They're critiquing unregulated, unfettered capitalism… Capitalism needs regulation." It was a great point but, unfortunately, Hill never challenged the preposterous, poisonous premise of the segment, using the Summit as a pretext for the partisan purposes of their business as usual, the smearing of Obama.

After a bit of more discussion, Buttner played sidekick to Smith again, interrupting the discussion to say,. "I'm sorry. I'm getting word that Gary B – you’re absolutely, you don't even know what to say."

Smith, stuttering with outrage, said, "Marc, for an academic and, and a person I really, I admire, to pin the world's problems on capitalism is just, it’s shocking to me. You're talking about a country here that has grown quicker, more prosperous, more educated, made more advances than any combination of countries in the world based on one thing, capitalism. My gosh, and you look at every other country that has dug itself out from the bottom, it's based, when they move to capitalism. Even China has become more capitalistic."

That was all the "we report, you decide" network's producers thought its viewers of this "business block" show needed to know about the G20 summit.