Robert Gibbs Nails Major Garrett Of Fox News

Today’s White House press briefing contained a bit of dramedy that should serve as a model for how to treat the pseudo-journalists from Fox News.

Fox’s Major Garrett was concerned about people who claim that they have received emails from presidential advisor David Axelrod despite never having signed up for any communications from the White House. Garret prefaced his question by conflating the communications activities of the White House with those of Organizing for America or other campaign operations.

Press secretary Robert Gibbs responded that the White House does not coordinate with outside political groups. Garret persisted in inquiring as to why people who have never requested these emails should be receiving them. Gibbs told him that he could not speculate as to the source of the emails and that he would be happy to check to see if the recipients were on the White House list. Here is where Garrett went off the rails. In a fit of disbelief he pressed Gibbs:

Garrett: “I need to give you these peoples’ email so you can check them on a list?”

Garrett was clearly implying that this was some sort of scam to harvest more names for White House propaganda. Gibbs responded that he couldn’t possibly know if these people received email from the White House if he didn’t know who to look for on their list. Indeed, how could Gibbs know the origin of the emails without seeing the email? These emails could very well have been received originally by people who did sign up for them and then forwarded them to their friends and family. The secondary recipients may be the people who contacted Garrett. How could Gibbs know?

Garrett somehow takes this as a personal affront and insists that he has received emails with this complaint. He implies that Gibbs is calling him a liar. Of course Gibbs never disputed that Garret received complaints, it’s just that he still has no idea where the emails came from and is only trying explain to this to Garrett (who, by the way, also has no idea where the emails came from).

Undaunted, Garrett continues to pester Gibbs even though he cannot provide any additional substance. And he seems not to have even the most rudimentary understanding of email and how it can be forwarded. So when Garret winds up for his next pitch, Gibbs lets him have it:

Gibbs: Let me go someplace else that might be constructive.

That’s telling him. And that response would work exceedingly well for ANY encounter with Fox News. During much of this exchange, Garrett had a look of utter surprise on his face. He seemed to be shocked that Gibbs was not clairvoyant. And he also seemed to be dismayed at what he perceived as a dismissive tone from Gibbs. But anyone listening to this dialogue would agree that Gibbs would be justified in being dismissive.

Garrett, like the rest of the Fox News cabal, is overtly partisan. Most people believe that the obvious right-wing bias at Fox is limited to the primetime shouters like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and daytime’s Glenn Beck. But Garrett is the author of “The Enduring Revolution: The Inside Story of the Republican Ascendancy and Why It Will Continue.” That book was published in 2005. Its obvious partisanship is matched only by how monumentally wrong is its premise.

Look for Garrett to file a report that disparages Gibbs and accuses him of both avoiding the question and snubbing the questioner. Garrett’s pals at Fox News will probably also jump on this as an opportunity to whack the White House. But I would advise the President, and anyone contemplating an encounter with Fox News, to heed the advice of Robert Gibbs and “go someplace else that might be constructive.”

Update: For reference, the Axelrod email actually requests that it be forwarded:

“So let’s start a chain email of our own. At the end of my email, you’ll find a lot of information about health insurance reform, distilled into 8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage, 8 common myths about reform and 8 reasons we need health insurance reform now.”

“Right now, someone you know probably has a question about reform that could be answered by what’s below. So what are you waiting for? Forward this email.”

The subject line for the email is: “Something worth forwarding.”

Follow up report posted 8/14/09: Garrett was on Fox News this morning to prove that he still doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand that anyone can forward emails to anyone else. People can also go online and enter someone else’s email address into an email request form. Many sites, including the White House and Fox News (click to view), have a “share this” feature where people put in email addresses of their friends and family. Garrett needs to get former Sen. Ted Stevens to explain the series of tubes to him.


15 thoughts on “Robert Gibbs Nails Major Garrett Of Fox News

  1. Gee! I though Major called him out on why he received an email since it was not requested. When do you suppose the WH will start owning up to “the list”.
    Gibb–the biggest joke press secretary.

    • True, in an alternative reality where Ari Fleischer was the model of honesty and straight-forwardness.

  2. Shorter post: Garrett picked a fight and lost. Now wait for him to admit it.

  3. People are getting emails they don’t request? On the internet emails? Since when??
    I don’t know White House lists from Shinola but I know my press secretaries. If you’re going to plot in terms of badness there’s no way you can put Gibb below Dana Perino. In my entire life I’ve never seen anyone ever less competent to relay information to the American people via the press and act so condescending while totally sucking at their job. She’s so bad yet smug she’s qualified to be a waitress at Olive Garden…

  4. It’s the typical reaction from the morons on the left. One of their own is destroyed and the jungle fever crowd claim victory. It must be terrible to be that stupid.

    • “…jungle fever crowd…” ???

      And you wonder why we think right-wingers are racists?

  5. Gibbs was 1)too dense to understand the scenario and 2) very rude…But then I think..How can you tell? ..He seems this way all the time, everytime.

    • Are you merely stating the Gibbs didn’t understand the situation or do you have some kind of insight that I don’t? Garrett wants information and Gibbs wants to be able to investigate the complaint. Given the text of the e-mail Garrett even asking the question seems disingenuous at best either that or he’s too dense to understand the scenario.

      As for being “rude” it’s not like he called someone from the FOXnews network “racist.

      • I just saw Garrett on Fox News and he still doesn’t get. He thinks there is some sort of scheme to harvest email addresses. Let’s get real. The White House doesn’t have to plot to get anyone’s email address. The Bush administration already made everything you do online accessible to the feds.

        Now I think that’s a pretty awful thing, but it also puts the lie to the allegation that Obama is stalking people online.

  6. I was very surprised one day to receive a phone call on my cell phone from Rep. Jay Inslee. It was a recorded message, wanting to inform me about a telephone Town Hall meeting on Health
    Care that the Rep. would be holding. I found the call disarming in that I have never contacted Mr. Inslee in any way shape or form. I have written e-mails to our state senator Patty Murray as well as congresswoman Maria Cantwell. It has bothered me ever since–and now that other people are receiving unsolicited e-mails from this administration, it makes me wonder what is actually going on.

    • Relax. Nothing is going on. Congressmembers have access to the phone numbers of the people in their districts. And they aren’t subject to “do not call” regs.

      As for the emails…did you read the article above? They may not be unsolicited. They may be forwarded. There many innocent explanations for why these people received this email.

      What’s more, there is no reason to send this email to anyone but supporters. It was written explicitly to appeal to people who advocate health care reform. It wouldn’t make sense for the White House to send this particular email to opponents.

      Turn down your conspiracy detector.

  7. This is silly ! For example if I said I was receiving harassing emails from Sarah Palin’s office .. Wouldn’t u say provided me with copies of the emails ? Or would you take my word that they are genuine ? Of course not ! All Gibbs was saying is provide them and I will investigate ! Garrett is saying or assuming he is being called a liar ! If he were doing real journalism ?! He knows he would have to provide some proof of the emails ! Common sense !!!!

  8. Oops – Garrett has now provided them AND Filed a request under FOI act. Can’t wait to see how this turns out.

    I still stand by my comment that Gibbs was rude…esp. his last comment.

    • Hah. That FOIA request is hilarious. Garrett didn’t even do the most basic research. He admitted that he didn’t verify any of the complaints he got from Fox News viewers (see my follow up). And they are such a reliable, non-partisan bunch.

      Also, the FOIA could violate the privacy policy of the White House web site. I know that I wouldn’t want my email info turned over to Fox News.

      I agree. This should be fun.

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