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TV critic: Gibbs and Axelrod pushing ‘propaganda’ on MSNBC

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michal Conger

CNN’s “Reliable sources” host Howard Kurtz and Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik debated on Sunday whether MSNBC’s hiring of former Obama officials Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod is punditry or propaganda.

“Two of President Obama’s fiercest and most visible defenders are now becoming television pundits,” Kurtz said, asking Zurawik, a frequent “Reliable Sources” guest, about the move.

“They are smart guys,” Zurawik said. “And, look, there is an advantage, Howie, I think, to having people who are in the room at key moments at this high level on your cable channel or network. That’s important.

“But, you know, I saw Axelrod with Andrea Mitchell this piece, and it was really interesting how hard he was pushing the president’s line. He actually interrupted her. She was going on the next question and he said, wait, I just want to say this, Andrea.  There is a belief among some Republicans in Congress that maybe the sequester is a good thing. Maybe this is a good way of shrinking government in a dramatic way and then he said, that’s a dangerous idea, of course. And then she said, no doubt.

“Well, that’s not a discussion about politics. That is propaganda. Republicans in Congress are dangerous. And then Mitchell says, no doubt, that really troubled me about how these guys are working the White House line on a cable channel.”

Kurtz read statements from Gibbs and Axelrod, who both said they don’t see their new jobs as “working the White House line.”

But Zurawik disagreed.

“This is more — Axelrod was more than sympathetic to the president,” he said. “I really do think, Howie, he was pushing that line. To give them a forum to say this is all the fault of the Republicans and they’re dangerous — that notion of saying Republicans have dangerous ideas, that’s bad.”

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