Obama administration threats against Chrysler gain more corroboration

Posted on May 5, 2009

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Business Insider is reporting that other creditors of Chrysler are backing up the claim that the White House used intimidation to get them to sign on to Obama’s plan for the struggling auto-maker (heads-up from Hot Air). The initial claim was made by Thomas Lauria, representative of Perella Weinberg, who stated that his client felt they’ be politically targeted and publicly destroyed by the White House Press Corps if they opposed the administration’s plan for Chrysler, and with more grumblings of hardball tactics, the claim is becoming more credible.

The story is worrisome on several fronts. The suggestion that the White House Press Corps could be used not as an objective arbiter of facts but as a politically minded arm of an administration is deeply troubling, as it represents a fundamental abrogation of the press’ fundamental duty to report fairly, honestly, and independently. Conservatives have long complained of media bias, but the alleged belief that the media would work in concert with an administration to destroy its opponents goes beyond bias and into out-and-out political activism. Media apologists can stutter all they want about the outrageous charge, but unfortunately efforts like the recent Pew Research study which shows that Obama has gotten more positive coverage than Bush and Clinton combined do nothing to dispel the notion that an exuberant press corps, intent now on drooling over the Obamas’ date night and obsessing over how great the President looks in a swimsuit, might be inclined to go along with such a request by the Obama administration.

But beyond the media issues lies a disturbing idea that an administration will use threats and intimidation against private entities to get its way. One of the issues that has concerned me over this initial period of Obama’s Presidency is the seeming tendency of an administration brought to power with 52% of the vote to believe itself above reproach and to strike back with a vengeance against those who don’t stand with it, to refrain from freaching out and governing from the center and instead dictate terms to the losers. Of course the allegations are not automatically true, but the fact that others are echoing them does give them more weight. And no matter what your politics, these kind of tactics don’t have a place in a modern democracy, period.

Update: Spooked by the unprecedented, and some would say uncalled for, public chastisement by President Obama, Chrysler creditors who chose bankruptcy over the administration’s outstretched hand have asked the bankruptcy judge for anonymity to avoid threats. Don’t cross this administration, folks, and don’t step out of line.

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Posted in: News, Politics