Does Obama want to control the message or the media?

Controlling the message, for any White House, is hard work. Numerous staff and advisers must all be moving and speaking in concert like a well-oiled symphony. Sound bites must be thoroughly vetted.

Answers to probable questions should be well-thought out. Answers to the questions that those answers provoke must be anticipated and carefully scripted. This is what constitutes “controlling the message.” It’s a laborious process that’s full of traps and pitfalls. And the Obama administration has no use for any of it. It would rather control the media instead.

What else are we to think when the administration declares war on the one cable network news outlet that doesn’t serve solely as a propaganda mouthpiece for all things President Barack Obama?

What else are we to think when Obama’s communications director by day (and worshipper of murderous, Chinese dictators by nights, weekends and sometimes holidays) explains proudly that the Obama campaign’s “strategy” is to speak to the press through video messages “without having to actually talk to reporters.” That’s not strategic. That’s arrogant, secretive, cowardly and dictatorial.

What else are we to think when Obama’s handpicked “Diversity Czar” at the Federal Communications Commission says that “good white people in important positions” in the media industry must be forced to “step down” so that “people of color, gays, other people” can fill those positions?

What else are we to think when Obama’s FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, pushes for regulatory authority with the Internet so the FCC can dictate to Internet service providers what content they must (or must not?) provide.

There’s a big difference between controlling the message and controlling the media. Obama is clearly focused on the latter. Whether it’s blackballing and attempting to marginalize a leading news outlet, trying to regulate the Internet or forcing broadcast corporations to replace their executives with people who are more politically palatable to the administration — make no mistake — Obama would rather bind, gag and hold rule over hearts and minds than win them over.

We Americans, however, are a freedom-loving bunch. And according to a recent Zogby International/O’Leary Report poll, most of us recognize these shenanigans for what they are. The poll surveyed 3,544 voters Friday through Monday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points and it asked:

“The Obama administration recently declared that the White House would treat the Fox News Channel as an ‘opponent’ and declared that Fox News is not a ‘legitimate news organization.’ Do you agree or disagree that this is an attempt by the Obama administration to silence dissent?”

A majority of Americans (53 percent) agree that it is an attempt by Obama to silence dissent. Only 40 percent disagree. Even a plurality of Democrats (48 percent) think Obama and his staff are trying to silence dissent, while 43 percent of Democrats disagree.

Fifty percent of independents agree, while 43 percent disagree. Majorities of Hispanics (54 percent) and small-business owners (57 percent) also agree. Surprisingly, among those who voted for Obama, 43 percent agree he’s attempting to silence dissent and 46 percent disagree.

Why would a man who is universally praised for his exceptional communication and persuasion skills so eagerly shrink to embrace cheap Napoleonic thuggery? The answer is simple: Even the most polished salesman can’t close the deal unless the product he’s pushing is halfway decent.

The number of Americans rejecting Obama’s third-rate product is increasing quickly. The president sees this. He knows this. And if the president can’t sell us his unwanted ideas and policies, by golly, he’ll ram them down our throats.

Brad O’Leary is publisher of The O’Leary Report, a best-selling author and is a former NBC “Westwood One” talk-show host. His book — “Shut Up, America! The End of Free Speech” — is available in stores and online at www.EndOfFreeSpeech.com.</em>

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