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Obama tells Democrats to turn off cable news and listen to the public. Fox, MSNBC respond by turning him off

February 3, 2010 |  8:28 am

Fresh from his triumphant televised encounter with the Republican House Caucus last Friday, President Obama wowed the Senate Democratic Caucus on Wednesday. And, eager to "let Obama be Obama," the White House once again opened the forum to the cameras.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, mindful that the televised platform could help Democrats who are endangered in the 2010 elections, called on such vulnerables as Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter, Colorado's Michael Bennet and Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln.

But the star was Obama, who looked invigorated like the campaigner of 2008. He urged Democrats to "finish the job" on healthcare and to "keep making our case." The answer to Republican Scott Brown's stunning Senate victory in Massachusetts, the president said, is to get proactive, "not to do nothing."

And Obama suggested that his former colleagues in the Senate "turn off CNN, Fox" and other purveyors of the political "echo chamber," to shut off the noise in political Washington and focus on hearing the public.

Reid, pounded by bloggers recently for saying Obama had "no Negro dialect," helpfully prompted the president to include MSNBC and bloggers in his denunciation of the inside gamers.

Shockingly, after Obama issued his challenge to turn off the chatter channels, MSNBC cut him off. Ditto for Fox News.

As critic H.L. Mencken once said, the power of the press belongs to those that own one. I guess that applies to television networks too.

-- Johanna Neuman

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