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The White House called LGBTs part of pajama-clad 'Internet left fringe' for asking for civil rights

NOTE: There are three updates below.

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In an NBC report less than 24 hours after the President declared his unwavering support for the LGBT community, the White House has decided to sh*t on citizen journalists on the left who are simply advocating for our civil rights. This is a real shot across the bow. Via Americablog:

NBC News’ John Harwood just reported that an Obama administration staffer advisor today called the gay community part of “the Internet left fringe,” and therefore the White House is not concerned about the gay community’s, and other Democrats’, concerns that the president isn’t keeping his promises. As part of its report on today’s gay march, NBC’s Harwood said the following:

Barack Obama is doing well with 90% or more of Democrats so the White House views this opposition as really part of the Internet left fringe.

Harwood then went on to say that the White House thinks that:

For a sign of how seriously the White House does or doesn’t take this opposition, one adviser told me those bloggers need to take off the pajamas, get dressed, and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult.

Wow. Nice to know that asking to pass federal legislation (ENDA) so my fellow North Carolinian LGBTs don’t get canned for being who they are is a “fringe” activity. I must remind the White House that North Carolina delivered for him in 2008, and LGBT support was key, and was leaned on for support in a big way.

Nice to know that asking to pass federal legislation related to national security (repeal of DADT) when our military forces are strained and the Obama administration is mulling an increase in troops in Afghanistan is a “fringe” activity.

I guess asking for any of the long list of issues to be addressed before 2012 (since re-election isn’t a given in the reality-based universe) is a “fringe” activity.

I guess all of that “support” he doled out last night at the HRC dinner and the fact Candidate Obama said to hold him accountable was conditional if you’re LGBT. Or maybe civil rights matters are don’t qualify for the “keep up the pressure” policy.

It doesn’t matter why this behavior is occurring, really. What one has to take away from this message, naturally not attributed to anyone at the WH — cowards — is that bloggers are messing up their playbooks. And the answer is to diminish what influence we have — it’s limited at best. You have to ask why is this paranoid, juvenile message getting tossed out there. All those big brains in the White House and the best they can do is to bring up the hoary pajama game?

Here is the transcript via FDL:

LESTER HOLT: John what we saw in that protest today, was it simply frustration or does it represent a serious problem the President is having with an important part of his base?

JOHN HARWOOD: As a practical matter Lester I don’t think it’s a serious problem. we’ve seen and certainly Bill Clinton learned that they Democratic President can get punished by the mainstream of the electorate for being too aggressive on social issues so for now I think the administration feels that if they take care of the big issues – health care, energy, the economy – he’s going to be just fine with this group.

HOLT: But in general when yo look at the left as a whole, have there been conversations about some things they thought would have been done but haven’t?

HARWOOD: Sure but If you look at the polling, Barack Obama is doing well with 90% or more of Democrats so the White House views this opposition as really part of the “internet left fringe” Lester. And for a sign of how seriously the White House does or doesn’t take this opposition one adviser told me today those bloggers need to take off their pajamas get dressed and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult.

So which Barack Obama is it — the one who said to challenge him, or a fragile flower that panders to LGBTs then has a coward source backstab? To me the WH has just declared war on us after a wine and dine with the right kind of LGBTs that don’t make trouble for them. Someone has to answer to this.

Or do I just need to fold my hands in my pajama-clad, Cheetos-stained lap like a good homo?

Time to weigh in…

* On Obama’s HRC keynote — plus watching our movement in flux
* Joe Solmonese clarifies the 2017 message delivered in HRC e-blast
* Is HRC telling people to sit hands folded for Obama re: progress until 2017?


UPDATE: You wouldn’t believe some of the excuses flying around on FB and Twitter saying “oh, you shouldn’t pay attention to anon sources” or “the WH wouldn’t say that” or that this statement somehow is NBC reporter John Harwood making the sh*t up, or that “he didn’t say LGBT bloggers” (ok, that one is just lame — I said in the headline “part of pajama-clad ‘Internet fringe’” – AND the reporter’s filing a report about NEM, for god’s sake, lolol).

Well, sitting in this chair, SOMEONE needs to take responsibility for the statement because it is someone’s POV, one believed to be widely held by insiders about progressive bloggers, but never articulated so boldly.

The remarks are an insult to people like me (and readers), who know how complicated governing and legislating are, and many of us do this from a perspective of 1) being in a state where waiting DOES matter and, in my case 2) I blog and work a full time job, at the expense of my own health, not to be a muckraker, but to make a difference. If someone has a different perspective and dismisses me outright, I do have a right to be angry and demand someone own their statement. When I say something it’s straight up, you mean to tell me no one has the stones to own their opinions up there? That’s pathetic. Anonymous or not, the statement’s out there now for all to see.

The bottom line is that it’s one of three things — 1) Harwood is lying or 2) The White House is playing two-faced; or 3) they’ve got a lunatic loose high level advisor who is off message.

The WH needs to clear it up pronto.

UPDATE 2: I had to change the headline of this post because people appear to be too lazy to read the transcript to see that Harwood’s source according to him said “the White House views this opposition as really part of the “internet left fringe.” Someone has to own the quote, which is referring to the NEM pop as “this opposition” and encompassing progressive bloggers generally, and many LGBT bloggers that have been critical are a slice of the progressive blogosphere. I understand people wanting to parse this stuff to death to avoid the fact that SOMEONE said this (or Harwood made it up) and has to answer to the statement.

BTW, we’re not the only ones “bellyaching”– take this scorching review by Time Mag’s John Cloud, “Obama’s Gay Outreach: All Talk, No Action”” :

Saturday night President Obama charmingly delivered a rather bleak message to the gay community on the eve of its latest march on Washington. In a speech to the world’s largest gay political group, the Human Rights Campaign, Obama essentially said two things: I’m with you. But I can’t do much for you.

…Obama patted himself on the back for his party’s passage earlier in the week of a a hate-crimes bill that, for the first time, includes gay and transgender people. And he used the opportunity to tell gay critics who have expected so much of him to express what he expects of them. The hate-crimes bill, he said, had become law only because those who believed in it had thoroughly educated the public about why it was important. “Countless activists and organizers never gave up,” he said. “You held vigils. You spoke out year after year, Congress after Congress.”

Obama is right, in a civics-class sort of way, because social change can’t occur if it’s forced from the top-down. But that’s also a convenient argument for him, since it defers responsibility from his office.

UPDATE 3: As Jane Hamsher notes, the White House can clear this up quite handily (or face questions about it during Gibbs’s next press briefing).

If the administration wasn’t in the habit of giving anonymous quotes on a daily basis that might be fair, but reporters regularly complain that they show up for ON the record briefings at the White House only to be told that it’s on background. It’s a regular habit so you can’t just say that the ones you don’t like aren’t legitimate. They need to stop the practice completely or take responsibility for the ones that get out there that backlash on them. There’s a reason the person didn’t give their name.

Harwood said that “the White House views this opposition as really part of the ‘internet left fringe'” so yes, you’re right, he did make the connection – based on what he says he was told. By an aide in the White House, knowing he was going on the national news momentarily to talk about the march.

The appropriate thing for the White House to do at this point is free Harwood up to reveal his source. Because if they just deny that the statement was accurate without doing so, it’ll always be trapped in that nether region of journalistic privilege. And the “anonymous source” will have achieved their desired objective of getting it out there without having to wear it.

And if Harwood is lying, he should have to own that, too. But the only way we’ll know for sure is if they free him up to reveal the source and the source contradicts him on the record.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding