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Was White House behind Chamber of Commerce hoax at National Press Club? Kudlow wondered

October 20, 2009 |  8:54 am

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been making headlines lately -- and losing members -- over its adamant opposition to climate change legislation that is backed by the Obama administration.

So Monday, a group of pranksters sent out a press release on the Chamber's letterhead announcing that the powerful business lobbying group had changed its mind and would be holding a press conference to trumpet the new position. Halfway through the presser, they were interrupted by a real staffer from the Chamber, who exposed the fraud. Take a look.

CNBC's Larry Kudlow asked if the White House was behind the hoax.

No, this was strictly a rogue operation. But it is true that the White House has been trying to undercut the Chamber's standing lately as a monolithic voice for business interests.

In a stroke of personal diplomacy, Obama has invited small groups of CEOs to his private White House dining room. And, reports the Washington Post, he has dispatched top aides Valerie Jarrett and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to corporate boardrooms. Since the summer, the three have met with some of the biggest names in the business community, including the heads of IBM, Wal-Mart Stores, Time Warner, Eastman Kodak, Starbucks, and Coca-Cola.

So maybe that's why the hoax played, at least for a bit. And the group responsible, who call themselves the Yes Men, didn't even have a balloon.

-- Johanna Neuman

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