Jindal v Cheney: When reporters repeat what House talking points

Sometimes you have to wonder if reporters just do dictation for Democrat Press Secretaries. Check out this story by Politico’s Andy Barr. He invented a debate between Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal and former Vice President Dick Cheney to make sure that it had the White House’s framing, no matter how far from the truth it was, excluding all sorts of essential facts.

You see, Jindal was on Good Morning America, Jindal came on right after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who had just attacked Cheney. The GMA host asked Jindal to respond to Napolitano about Cheney. Jindal ducked and attacked Obama’s policies. Watch it:

But look at how Barr reported it:

“I think Democrat or Republican, we should all agree that our current president, our former president would obviously want to do everything they could to keep us safe,” he said. “Let’s give the new administration a chance. Let’s not question their intentions. Let’s have a real debate on their policies.”

The Republican governor praised Obama for “showing more flexibility when it comes to Iraq than maybe some of the campaign rhetoric suggested.”

“I am, quite honestly, pleasantly surprised,” he said. “That’s the kind of pragmatism, listening to the commanders on the ground, I think is very important.”

Jindal did offer some criticism of the president, pointing out that it is “fine to have an honest disagreement on the policies that both administrations would choose to try to keep us safe.”

Somehow Barr’s report manages to exclude Jindal’s criticism over Guantanamo prisoners, which was one of Cheney’s specific attacks. He also excluded the fact that the question asked was explicitly in response to Napolitano’s attack on Cheney. Or even that Jindal didn’t even mention “Cheney”, “Vice President”, or anything like that.

And that tells you really what you need to know. Like with Rush Limbaugh, the White House is trying to pick their opponents. They want to be debating Dick Cheney, not Bobby Jindal. GMA didn’t give the White House’s framing by asking Jindal to respond to Napolitano. So Barr stepped in to frame it up with the White House’s preferred story-line, points of disagreement. What was “Cheney attacks Obama”, “Napolitano attacks Cheney”, and “Jindal attacks Obama” was twisted into “Jindal attacks Cheney” by aggressive editing and removal of context.

This is just a reporter taking dictation for the White House. Nothing more complicated.