When Rupert Murdoch bought Dow Jones, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal, most observers were properly concerned about how he would go about destroying the paper’s legacy. The speculation leaned toward obvious predictions of more overt bias inserted into the news pages, as well as dumbing down the articles by shortening them and diluting the journalistic content with tabloid sensationalism and a reliance on dubious sources. But I’m not sure anyone predicted this:
Today’s issue of the Journal contained an article purporting to reveal President Obama’s “Enemies List.” The author, Theodore Olsen, paints a disturbing picture of a vengeful White House bent on destroying innocent, patriotic Americans who want nothing more than to run a business, create jobs, and bring energy to America.
The ominous list that has Olsen so upset seems to have only two names: Charles and David Koch. And coincidentally, Olsen, an attorney, represents the Koch brothers. So the Wall Street Journal handed over their editorial page to the Koch brothers’ lawyer for the purpose of accusing the President of carrying out some sort of vendetta against them.
For a lawyer, he doesn’t try very hard to make his case. The article alleges several times that the President has personally, or via his direction, made the Kochs “targets of a campaign of vituperation and assault.” However, he doesn’t provide a single example to support his claim. The article begins…
“How would you feel if aides to the president of the United States singled you out by name for attack, and if you were featured prominently in the president’s re-election campaign as an enemy of the people?”
The only problem is that that never happened. If Obama ever uttered the name of the Koch brothers, I can’t find it. It would not surprise me if they were mentioned by aides, but most likely while defending the President against attacks on him. I challenge Olsen to present his evidence that anyone in the White House ever characterized the Koch brothers as enemies of the people.
On the other hand, the Koch brothers created and bankrolled the Tea Party, an AstroTurf, corporate funded, pseudo-movement, that incessantly disparages Obama as a communist, a Nazi, a Muslim, an atheist, a Kenyan, and a Manchurian agent whose mission is to deliver America to its enemies and/or Satan. The Kochs are also the money behind numerous think tanks and organizations whose purpose is to destroy the presidency through propaganda or outright manipulation and suppression of the vote. One such organization is the American Legislative Exchange Council which drafts bills and then pays GOP legislators to carry them in state houses across the country.
Olsen attempts to inoculate the Kochs from criticism by portraying them as merely private citizens going about their business. The absurdity of that depiction is downright surreal. To suggest that because the Kochs do not hold public office, that they are not an integral part of the political landscape in America, is akin to suggesting that because Charles Manson did not hold a weapon, that he is not guilty of murder. The Kochs are the masterminds and financiers of the most prominent attack groups on the right that are trying to bring the Obama administration to a crashing end. It is a role they assumed voluntarily and enthusiastically.
Olsen’s article drops names of some historical villains that he asserts have something in common with Obama. He cites Richard Nixon, who actually did have an enemies list and abused the power of his office in order to punish the people on it. But Olsen cannot seem to find even one example of Obama doing anything similar. He just brings up the Nixon name to deceitfully tie it to the President. Then Olsen does the very same thing with Joe McCarthy, who orchestrated a campaign of red-baiting that ruined the lives of countless innocent people. Again, Olsen offers nothing to show any connection to Obama. He just likes to use their names in the same sentence in the hopes of having the infamy rub off.
The article continues with ad hominem use of contentious rhetoric like “the exercise of tyrannical power” and “stand up against oppression” to falsely convey the impression that Obama is attempting to “demonize and stigmatize” the Kochs. But nowhere does Olsen justify such language.
Like many conservatives, Olsen holds a perverse definition of free speech wherein conservatives are permitted vast leeway to spew any and all slander that they like, but if the other side seeks to respond they are guilty of stomping on the rights of the right-wingers. If the Kochs want to play the political game, and by the evidence of their prodigious spending they obviously do, then they cannot complain when the victims of their assaults fire back. The Kochs are not waifs who wandered unaware onto a battlefield. They know what they are doing and they have vast resources to plot their designs on society. They even have the support of the Wall Street Journal who will publish the screeds of their attorneys on the editorial page as if it were there personal diary. What more do they want?
Message to the Kochs: Either stop disseminating self-serving propaganda and fomenting hostile division in America, or be prepared if your victims decline to roll over, or STFU.