The dreaded secret strategy sessions

THE DREADED SECRET STRATEGY SESSIONS…. The Politico reported about a week ago that James Carville, Rahm Emanuel, George Stephanopoulos, and Paul Begala talk regularly on the phone. The piece described this as “a street-corner bull session between four old friends who suddenly find themselves standing once more at the busiest intersection of politics and media in Washington.”

This was hardly shocking. Indeed, it was barely news. But the story apparently caused a stir in some conservative circles — the right complained that CNN should fire Carville and Begala, ABC should fire Stephanopoulos, and the White House should stop trying “co-opt” the media. These chats among long-time friends, some conservatives said, are evidence of “secret planning sessions” between the president’s chief of staff and major media figures.

It’s bizarre, but thanks to right-wing blogs and talk-radio, this has actually started to gain traction as a “controversy,” and networks have received more than a few angry calls from the public.

Greg Sargent took a closer look at the calls causing a fuss among far-right activists.

These secret strategy sessions don’t appear to exist…. “They’re not conference calls,” Carville said, denying that any planning or scheming of any kind goes on. He said the conversations were casual banter among friends, and that they weren’t organized: “Since 1992, the four of us have all kind of talked to each other at some point on an almost daily basis.” He dismissed the conservatives’ argument as “absurd” and “humorous.”

“I’ve spoken to George this morning. Later today Rahm will probably call me. I should be fired because I talk to people who have been my friends for 16 years?” Carville continued, adding that all he can do is “laugh at” the criticism.

As a rule, it’s pretty easy to “laugh at” tirades from the far-right, but keep in mind, for some conservatives, this isn’t funny. In one especially hysterical rant, a Red State blogger demanded that Carville, Begala, and Stephanopoulos be “fired,” and short of that, the networks “should tell their employees to cease and desist with these secret planning sessions with the White House and issue apologies to the viewers for not informing them of this secret pipeline to power.”

Right-wing bloggers sure are odd.