President Obama Prepares For Battle with Cable News Channels Over Tax Cut Compromise

By Alex Weprin Comment

Pres. Obama and the GOP leadership announced a compromise plan last night that would extend the Bush tax cuts while also ensuring that unemployment benefits would not go away. In his statement, Obama seemed to recognize the fact that the compromise would likely draw the ire of the Keith Olbermann’s of the world, while also lighting a fire under conservative pundits like Sean Hannity. Said Obama last night:

We cannot play politics at a time when the American people are looking for us to solve problems.  And so I look forward to engaging the House and the Senate, members of both parties, as well as the media, in this debate.

(emphasis ours)

Indeed, Obama’s prediction looks to be prescient, as Hannity spent last night’s show licking his lips at future prospects, while Olbermann readies a “special comment” about “presidential timidity.” Even CNN is getting into the game.

According to former TVNewser turned CNNer Steve Krakauer, CNN  “has put together a pretty damning package showing Pres. Obama ‘breaking’ campaign promises on Bush tax cuts.”

Meanwhile at MSNBC, Keith Olbermann tweeted earlier that he was working on a special comment for tonight’s show. The subject? “Taxes, Blackmail, Bullies, the 99’ers – and Presidential Timidity.”

On Fox News, the mood was more cheerful, with Sean Hannity talking with Dick Morris.

Hannity started the show by saying “I think I heard a sigh of relief from small business owners and families across the country,” while Morris addressed what he believes to be the political implications:

This shows that Obama will blink. The first of the trifecta of confrontations. The next will be state bankruptcies when we are called on to bailout. The enchilada which will be defunding Obamacare, balanced budget plan and blocking the EPA from cap and trade. Those are all going to be the three fights of the year. It is incredibly significant that Barack Obama caved in.

Hannity and Morris went on to talk about how “the left” would surely turn their backs on Obama, and how “alleged conservatives” like Tom Coburn need to get with the party program.

Obama, like Bush and Clinton before him, has had his fair share of battles with the media. Fox News Channel has been a frequent target, but liberals like MSNBC’s Olbermann and Maddow have not been afraid to call him out when he strikes compromise deals that they don’t approve of.

Politicians want to control the message, but that is usually too much to ask for. With the cable news channels putting political news first and everything else second, any sort of intramural squabbling will be blown up and become a big deal, whether politicians want it to be or not.

At least in this case, Obama saw the writing on the wall, and took the first shot. Now, with Olbermann’s special comment, CNN’s “gotcha” clip package and FNC’s excitement over the compromise, the media is readying for its turn.

CNN’s clip is below.