They’re Lying

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Isn’t it time we did away with the position of White House Press Secretary?

We’ve reached the point now where the person who occupies this position is intentionally kept in the dark about anything remotely important, so they can honestly say they “don’t know” when asked by the press about anything at all controversial. If it’s something about which they should at least know something about the administration’s policy, they can merely say they “aren’t allowed” to discuss it. The WHPS may be the most uninformed senior member of any presidential administration.

Yet we pay this person well into six figures of taxpayer money . . . for what, exactly? This person is supposed to be the liaison between the White House and the press. And we’re now to the point where stonewalling, obfuscating, spinning, parsing, and generally preventing the flow of truthful information are accepted and acknowledged parts of the job description (standard disclaimer about these things also being endemic to politics itself notwithstanding).

Why are we paying someone to mislead us, stonewall us, and flack for the president–someone who basically runs an overglorified White House PR shop? Any time there’s any sort of controversy at all, you can bet the WHPS will be doing everything he/she can to make sure we know as little as possible. So why should we pay for that? It’s pretty insulting, really.

I say we de-fund the office. If the president wants paid flacks, he can fund the position from his own pocket, or he can pay for the office out of campaign contributions.

And yes, I’m speaking as much about the previous administration as I am about this one.

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15 Responses to “They’re Lying”

  1. #1 |  SusanK | 

    So if you were White House Press Secretary, what would you say?

  2. #2 |  Radley Balko | 

    About what?

    Actually, it doesn’t matter. I’d never take a job like that.

    And I’m not necessarily passing judgment on the people who hold the office. I’m saying the office itself is a joke. And it’s an insult to ask taxpayers to fund it.

  3. #3 |  Rex | 

    If there were at least a Dana Perrino swimsuit calendar at the end of it, I would see no problems with paying her salary.

    Ari Fleischer was damn good at his job too…so much so that I have no need to see him in a swimsuit.

  4. #4 |  deadcenter | 

    Interesting thought. Maybe take them off the white house payroll and have them paid by the Party currently occupying the oval office, that is, have the RNC (currently) pay them to flack for the President rather than the having the taxpayer pay for the willfully ignorant.

  5. #5 |  Michael Pack | 

    The list of federal jobs that are a a joke is a long one.Many do more damage then this one.Radley,I’d feel better if you whent after congressional staffs as well as the admin.Those people are making policy and spending daily in the shadows.They then move to industries they helped regulate.

  6. #6 |  Mike H | 

    I’d never given it much thought until now, but you’re right. Why should taxpayers be subsidizing the enforcement of their own ignorance?

    Six figures you say? Suddenly I’m tempted to start my own private Presidential PR firm.

    “You can count on me for all your deniability needs!”
    “Let us help them see it YOUR way!”
    “We take the FUS(S) out of obfuscation!”

  7. #7 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Wait a sec. So you’re under the impression that the executive branch should regard information flow as a two way street?


  8. #8 |  Bronwyn | 

    The only WHPS I ever liked was the one Alison Janney played on West Wing.

    All the non-fictional WHPS can go to hell.

    … of course, referring to a WHPS as “non-fictional” seems inappropriate. I tried “flesh-and-blood” but that didn’t sound right, either. Neither did “in real life”. I’m stuck, here.

  9. #9 |  B | 

    I agree…I lost a great deal of respect for Tony Snow after he took the job (not based on what he did in the job mind you, but that he took in the first place.)

  10. #10 |  Dan | 

    Here’s a better idea — how ’bout we get rid of all government propaganda? Presidential press secretary, ONDCP ads, the “click it or ticket” campaign, everything. Why should we pay for the government to tell us what to think?

  11. #11 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I have always had a problem with government advertising. I find the government’s anti-drug propaganda to be particularly offensive. Like Dan said, why should we be paying for the government to sell us on their ideas. I’ve always been of the opinion that they are supposed to be implementing the programs that the people want. Not vice versa.

    Next thing you know, ubiquitous TV monitors with a bobbing head and a droning voice will be perpetually spewing forth propaganda on staying healthy in body and mind so we can best serve the state. We’re really not that far from that now, are we?

  12. #12 |  James | 

    This is kind of silly. The entire job of the the WHPS is to explain why their boss made the decision they made in a way that doesn’t piss people off. This is also known as spin, even if it’s simply explaining a logical move, because she isn’t going to be explaining the opposite opinion’s finer points. This is also what Fireside chats and other reassuring, “keep your shit together”-type explanations are about.

  13. #13 |  cicero | 

    I couldn’t agree more. Members of Congress should also be barred from having taxpayer-financed press secretaries too. Their job is to make their boss look good. That’s an electoral position. Let members of Congress hire press people with campaign funding. Taxpayers shouldn’t be made to pay the expense of making government officials look good.

  14. #14 |  Bad | 

    It seems like a pretty winning idea until you really think about how much you’d have to cut out of politics to do it. Every Congressperson has a taxpayer-funded version of a press spinner. You think they are really likely to fire and eliminate the position of a person who is almost always one of their closest friends and longtime allies?

  15. #15 |  Red Green | 

    The level of dismissive contempt, in Dana’s face…how would you rate that? And Ari…war criminal. They should be “paid” alright.