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Obama spokesman Gibbs tweaks cable critics

By Dave Cook / March 4, 2009

AFP/NEWSCOM

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White House spokesman Robert Gibbs continued to rib the Obama administration's critics on cable and radio during his Wednesday briefing.

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Mr. Gibbs was asked about a new housing program the administration unveiled Wednesday designed to help up to 9 million borrowers stay in their homes. Gibbs said it was aimed at "those who played by the rules and acted responsibly."

The White House spokesman said that the provisions to ensure only the worthy were helped were not a response to "two dozen people watching a cable program."

That was a reference to CNBC reporter Rick Santelli who on February 19 engaged in a self-described rant on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade over what he said was the President's plan to help homeowners in a way that was "promoting bad behavior."

Gibbs also was asked Wednesday about the wisdom of engaging in the controversy that errupted when conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh gave a speech over the weekend saying he wanted President Obama to fail.

On Monday, Gibbs was quick to brand Limbaugh as "a national spokesman for conservative views and many in the Republican party." Since the speech, cable talk shows have feasted on Limbaugh's comments and the response they have drawn from both Democrats and Republicans. On Tuesday, Republican Party Chair Michael Steele apologized for criticizing Limbaugh's remarks.

It "may be counter-productive" to engage with Limbaugh's comments, Gibbs said. Then he added, "your head throbs from listening to arguments" on cable TV where two people on opposite ends of the political spectrum compete "to yell loudest." Gibbs added that he "won't kick the cable people out of the briefing room" saying he did "occasionally watch it."