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Gibbs says political coverage focuses on 'the loudest and shrillest'

By Dave Cook / September 17, 2009



Speaking to a room full of political reporters at Thursday’s White House briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs offered a scathing view of how politics is covered in the US.

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“I think the way that a lot of political discourse gets covered in this country is covered at the edges. It is covered by the loudest and shrillest on either end of the political spectrum. That is what tends to get covered on both sides,” Gibbs said near the end of a lengthy briefing.

The comments came as Gibbs -- for the second day -- distanced President Obama and the White House from statements made by former President Jimmy Carter that much of the opposition to Mr. Obama was race-based. The former president told NBC anchor Brian Williams that “an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man.”

And at a town hall meeting in Atlanta on Tuesday, Carter said Rep. Joe Wilson’s "You lie!" outburst during Obama’s speech to Congress last week was racially motivated. “There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president,” Carter said.

As he did on Wednesday, Gibbs Thursday disagreed with Carter’s conclusion. Gibbs said his assessment “was based on discussing with people here and the president who share the view" that the strong disagreements are not "based on the color of one’s skin but on honest political disagreements that have been going on for -- well since the beginning of our country.”

The president believes “we can have this type of very passionate debate but do so in a way that is civil and respectful for all of those that are participating in these debates, acknowledging a difference of opinion,” Gibbs said.

"I hope that’s the way that we can deal with these problems because the president, and and I think many people involved in seeking these solutions for our country, believe that we have a series of very big challenges some of which have festered for a very long time that have to be addressed," Gibbs told reporters. "If all of our time and our energy is taken up in the exercise of yelling at each other, there is very little time left over for coming to a sensible agreement on how to move forward addressing those problems."

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