Mark Finkelstein -- whose transgressions at NewsBusters we've previously documented -- has largely abandoned NewsBusters (though he's still listed as a "senior contributor") to focus on his own new blog, Finkelblog. We checked in on him the other day and found a Feb. 26 post in which he sympathizes with CNBC's Rick Santelli for thinking that Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs issued a threat against him and his family and bashes NBC's Matt Lauer for calling Santelli out on it.
I tend to agree with Lauer’s bottom line. It’s not as if Gibbs were waving around a photo of Santelli’s family and saying “nice kids. Wouldn’t want nuthin to happen to them.” Hot Air has been very critical of Santelli for resorting to the same tactics of victimization typical of the left. Then again, I do think Gibbs intended, let’s say, a chilling effect. Criticize the president, and expect to be ridiculed on national TV. Of course Gibbs’ criticism of Santelli has boomeranged, making him something of a national hero to many, and presumably making it almost impossible for CNBC to fire him any time soon.
It’s Lauer’s role to ask tough questions of Santelli. But when Matt passionately expresses a point of view, as he did today, he ceases being a journalist and sounds more like a pundit—or surrogate White House spokesman.
First, Finkelstein's point is very confused. First, he agrees with Lauer that Gibbs didn't threaten Santelli, yet Lauer still gets bashed for saying so? If it's a fact -- and it objectively is, no matter how much Finkelstein imagines a "chilling effect" -- why make a big deal out of how "passionately" it is made. Ari Fleischer's post-9/11 "watch what you say" comment was widely interpreted as having a "chilling effect." Does Finkelstein agree?
Second, wasn't Santelli acting like a pundit instead of the journalist he was supposed to be when he let his rant fly? How does that make him any better than Lauer? That is, beyond the fact that Finkelstein appears to agree with Santelli's rant and, thus, the guy gets a pass, and Lauer, being a liberal elitist, is not allowed to repeat an objective fact that makes Obama look good -- that even Finkelstein agrees with -- without being accused of being a "surrogate White House spokesman."