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White House Takes on ‘Czar’ Claims, Slams Glenn Beck

Fox News has focused many hours to uncovering and trying to take down so-called “Czars.” The White House has, apparently, had enough of the nonsense and published a firm statement on their official blog. One of the people they’ve called out is Glenn Beck.

Glenn Beck Claimed There Were 32 “Czars” In The Obama Administration. “The Brainroom counts 32 czars in the Obama administration, based on media reports from reputable sources that have identified the official in question as a czar.” [Glenn Beck Website, 8/21/09]

Reality: Many of the arbitrarily labeled “czars” on Beck’s list are Senate-confirmed appointees or advisory roles carried over from previous administrations. Others are advisors to the President’s Cabinet Secretaries.  Beck himself says on his own website, “Since czar isn’t an official job title, the number is somewhat in the eye of the beholder.”

Here are the important points from the White House blog:

  • Republicans have supported these positions in the past.
  • In fact, the Bush administration had many of the same officials and advisors now described as “czars,”  including Afghanistan czar, AIDS czarDrug czarFaith-based czar, Intelligence czar, Mideast Peace Czar, Regulatory Czar, Science Czar, Sudan Czar, TARP/Bailout Czar, Terrorism Czar, and Weapons Czar.
  • Some hold jobs that involved coordinating the work of agencies on President Obama’s key policy priorities: health insurance reform, energy and green jobs, and building a new foundation for long-lasting economic growth
  • Of the 32 “czars” on Beck’s list, nine were confirmed by the Senate
  • Sen. Robert Bennett has criticized czars as “undermining the Constitution,”  but reportedly prodded President Clinton to appoint a Y2K Czar.  In a 1999 CNN appearance, Sen. Bennett said “I think John Koskinen has been superb. I wrote the president six months before John was appointed, recommending that he appoint a Y2K czar.”
  • Senator Lamar Alexander has also criticized President Obama’s “czars,” calling them “an affront to the Constitution.”  But during remarks delivered on the Senate floor in 2003, Sen. Alexander said “I would welcome” President Bush’s “manufacturing job czar.”
  • When asked on Fox News if he had opposed any of President Bush’s “czars,” Rep. Darrell Issa responded “No we didn’t,” despite previously claiming that czars “undermine” transparency and accountability.

The Truth About Czars

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Sean Hannity’s Falsehoods About John Holdren

Sean Hannity, on his attack against so-called “czars,” or advisers, has targeted John Holdren with the following bit of misinformation:

HANNITY: So we know the White House sought out Van Jones, which begs the question: How many more like him are serving in our government? Is Van Jones just the tip of the iceberg? We know for example there’s John Holdren, the science and technology adviser, who has advocated compulsory abortion. And then there’s Cass Sunstein, the Harvard law professor, who wants to ban hunting and grant rights to livestock, wildlife, and pets. Now we can only conclude that it’s time to take a much closer look at who exactly this president has now serving in our government.

What the heck is Hannity talking about. Apparently Holdren co-authored a book on environmental sciences over 30 years ago that discusses “compulsory control of family size” for countries populations with expanding birth rates that cannot be curbed by “milder methods.” That is not the same thing as “advocating compulsory abortion.” PolitiFact gives this claim “pants on fire” status.

Here is a statement from Holdren’s office:

The quotations used to suggest that Dr. Holdren supports coercive approaches to limiting population growth were taken from a 1977 college textbook on environmental science and policy, of which he was the third author. The quoted material was from a section of the book that described different possible approaches to limiting population growth and then concluded that the authors’ own preference was to employ the noncoercive approaches before the environmental and social impacts of overpopulation led desperate societies to employ coercive ones. Dr. Holdren has never been an advocate of compulsory abortions or other repressive means of population limitation.

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Bill O’Reilly’s Support of ‘Czars’ Under Bush

Rounding out today’s stories about so-called “czars” is a history lesson involving Bill O’Reilly. Everyone from the O’Reilly Factor guest-host Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck to Sean Hannity to Fox & Friends is on the attack against “czars” under the Obama Administration, regardless of the fact that many of the positions existed under previous administrations, they’re confirmed by the Senate, or that they are simply advisers. What did Bill O’Reilly have to say in 2001 & 2002? Let’s take a look…

O’REILLY (October 4, 2001): Yeah, there should be somebody appointed by the federal government, a disaster relief victims family czar, to do it.

O’REILLY (October 21, 2001): So things are moving in the right direction, but are still far too chaotic. Talking Points continues to ask for the appointment of a charity czar to coordinate all the money and organizations.

O’REILLY (March 13, 2002): A presidential counsel should be appointed immigration czar and clean out the INS once and for all. This pitiful government agency has put all of us in danger. It simply does not perform, and all the excuses in the world don’t cut it. Shut it down, start again. The INS is a dangerous failure.

O’REILLY (June 11, 2002): It’s time for Congress to act and for the president to appoint a charity czar to oversee the money and hold the charities accountable.

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Sean Hannity’s Weak Argument For Using Term ‘Czars’

A lot of focus is being put on so-called “Czars,” or advisers, in the Obama Administration, even though the same faux outrage was not staged for advisers of previous administrations. So, why the outrage? Why the new terminology? Sean Hannity tries to answer that, and fails.

Hannity claims that the term is used because the White House, itself, uses it. However, his montage only provides clips that show responses, a joke and a reference to the long standing position dubbed “drug czar” (Both Bushes & Reagan had “drug czars”)

YouTube Preview Image

– On July 13, Obama did use the term “Drug Czar” when referring to Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

– Hannity’s March 11 clip of Gibbs saying, “I think I’ve been asked in this room any number of times if the czars in our White House to deal with energy and health care had too much power” was in response to a reporter’s question. In fact, the first person to use the term “czar” in that briefing was Fox News reporter Major Garrett.

– At the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association dinner in June, Obama was joking when he said, “ABC is planning a series called ‘Dancing with the Czars.’” It was part of his comedy routine at the dinner.

– Hannity’s fourth clip was taken from the same March 11 press briefing as his second clip. In fact, it was in response to the exact same question, and came just a sentence later.

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Sean Hannity’s New Job: Getting Rid of Czars

Sean Hannity has now made it official – his job is to get rid of all of the “czars,” AKA riding on Glenn Beck’s coat tails. Never mind that so-called “czars” are nothing new… Is he going to go back in time and get rid of Bush’s, Clinton’s Reagan’s, etc. ?

HANNITY: Do you want another czar?

CROWD: No!

HANNITY: I don’t think so. By the way, we got rid of one, and my job starting tomorrow night is to get rid of every other one. I promise you that!

One way to get rid of “czars” is to call them what they are: Advisers.

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Rachel Maddow: Fox News is Czar Struck

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Glenn Beck Gets Facts Wrong on So-Called ‘Czars’

Glenn Beck has been on the attack against so-called “czars” appointed by President Obama.

BECK: He has 37 czars to oversee and advise him directly. Never before have there been so many executive posts that were not confirmed by Congress and who answered only to the president.

Many of the “czars” are long-standing positions, work for congress (Elizabeth Warren), or have had their confirmation held up by Republicans (Cass Sunstein).

The best part may have been when the following graphic was put up to put faces to the “czars” …you’ll notice that one face, that of Senate-confirmed John Holdren, was included twice.

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Fox News Promotes & Debunks Lies About Czars

An increasingly common conservative attack against President Obama is to address the so-called czars and questioning their accountability. Fox News’ Jane Skinner brought up the question of whether or not having czars is constitutional and if there would be any oversight.

Fox News even displayed a graphic titled “All The President’s Czars” (see below). Included are eight Senate-confirmed positions, one is being held up by Republicans, one is the Science Adviser and one is the chair of a Congressional oversight panel.

Thankfully, Fox correspondent Wendell Goler was able to explain that having czars is nothing new and many of them are actually advisers (i.e. National Security Adviser) who are confirmed by the Senate. Furthermore, he brought up how Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Adviser appointed by Bush, refused to comply with the Senate in regards to providing testimony about the supposed weapons of mass destruction.

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