A smear they can't refuse: Media compare Obama administration to mobsters

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

Numerous media figures have compared President Obama and his administration to the mafia, frequently referencing films and television shows such as The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos.

Since President Obama took office, numerous media figures have compared Obama and his administration to the mafia. In doing so, they have frequently referenced films and television shows such as The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos. Examples of the media's mob obsession include Rush Limbaugh claiming that "Don Obama has made Don Corleone look like Daffy Duck"; Fox News host Neil Cavuto declaring that Obama's economic policies are "not the American way, but it may be the Tony Soprano way"; and Fox News' Fox & Friends hosting a former mobster to compare Obama and other Democrats to members of the mob.

Those and other examples are detailed below:

  • During the May 19 edition of Fox News' Your World, Cavuto hosted Sopranos actor Vincent Curatola to discuss Obama's May 19 press conference with auto executives about new auto emissions standards. Cavuto said: "Vincent says the president might have offered them a deal, I guess, too good to refuse." Curatola later said: "You remember the scene in Goodfellas where one of the guys -- they're in the restaurant, the Bamboo Lounge, he says, 'When you can't borrow another dime,' you know, you acquiesce, don't you? I mean, we -- we're ruining ourselves." Cavuto later asked Curatola, "[Y]ou say this has, like, a mob feeling to it?" Curatola replied, "Yeah, sure, it does." While Curatola spoke, Fox News aired the following on-screen text:

cavuto1

  • During the May 19 edition of Fox Business Network's Cavuto, Cavuto said of the Obama administration's emissions proposal and government bailouts: "It is not the American way, but it may be the Tony Soprano way." While Cavuto spoke, Fox Business aired the following text:

cavuto2

  • During the May 19 edition of CNBC's The Kudlow Report, host Larry Kudlow previewed a segment about Obama's emissions proposal by stating:

Coming up, the gangster government is going green. Much more on President Obama's latest attack on consumers. We're going to have a rip-snorting debate on this whole issue. This is the story of the day. This could change the very nature of the American automobile market, and it could wind up costing U.S. taxpayers a bloody, bankrupting fortune before it's all said and done. You're watching The Kudlow Report. Whatever happened to consumer choice?

  • While Kudlow spoke, the following on-screen text appeared:

kudlow1

  • During the May 18 edition of CNBC's The Call, media and technology editor Dennis Kneale said of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP): "Now, who would have ever thought we'd get to a point after the government gave the banks these loans and we were so mad at the banks, did we think we'd get to a point where government would then say, 'Wait a minute. We're not sure you're healthy enough to pay us back.' This is like doing business with the Sopranos. The Sopranos give you a loan, the next thing you know, they're moving in and taking over your store."
  • In a May 15 column, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan claimed: "On war and torture, at least, [liberals] thought Barack was one of them. He is not. Barack is not into ideology. He is into Barack. As he showed in 2008, when he threw his white grandmother under the bus and spared his beloved black pastor, the Rev. Wright, then threw Wright under the bus when his toxicity level rose too high, Barack has all the sentimentality of Michael Corleone when it comes to the family business."
  • In a May 14 post -- headlined "Don Obama's Message to GM Lenders" -- on National Review Online's Planet Gore blog, Henry Payne wrote:

The Obama administration's brass-knuckled coercion of bondholders to surrender their first-lien bankruptcy rights so that a politically favored UAW could take a majority stake in Chrysler amounts to a forced taking of assets. And it is important to note these mob tactics were carried out not by rogue underlings but with the public endorsement of the President of the United States himself.

[...]

The White House offer "must look to bondholders like something Tony Soprano dreamed up," financial analyst Shelly Lombard has written. Sound familiar?

How far are these firms willing to go to secure a fair deal for their investors? They must even now be calculating the political costs after watching Don Obama himself mixing the concrete galoshes when Chrysler's lenders were pushed off the end of the pier.

  • A May 12 Weekly Standard opinion piece written by The Detroit News' Henry Payne and Richard Burr was headlined "Gangster Government and the Chrysler Fix: The Obama administration runs roughshod over bankruptcy law and bullies investors."
  • In a May 11 WorldNetDaily.com column, radio host Roger Hedgecock wrote:

In "The Godfather" movies, or "The Sopranos" TV series, the brutal methods and depraved morals of mafia "dons" were entertaining because they were contrasted to the "normal" methods and morals of free-market America.

Today, it's getting harder to distinguish between the two.

For example, in the mafia movies, the distressed private businessman takes a loan from the local mafia "don" to save the business only to find that the "loan" has transformed the "don" into a senior partner.

Chrysler corporate bond holders, normally senior debt holders in a bankruptcy, found themselves junior to the UAW retiree health plan on order of the new "don" -- the Obama administration. Big banks, which owned the senior corporate bond debt but had been bailed out with TARP funds, couldn't resist Don Obama's order to take 29 cents on the dollar and cede control of Chrysler to the UAW. Other "dissident" bond holders who held out for traditional rules of bankruptcy were threatened by the new Don publicly and, some said, privately.

  • In a May 7 syndicated column about auto bailouts, Michael Barone characterized the Obama administration as "Gangster Government":

The Chrysler negotiations will not be the last occasion for this administration to engage in bailout favoritism and crony capitalism. There's a May 31 deadline to come up with a settlement for General Motors. And there will be others. In the meantime, who is going to buy bonds from unionized companies if the government is going to take their money away and give it to the union? We have just seen an episode of Gangster Government. It is likely to be part of a continuing series.

  • Kudlow wrote in a May 7 post on his CNBC.com blog: "Hat tip to my friend Michael Barone, who coined the term 'gangster government' to describe Team Obama's bullying threats against the senior bondholders in the Chrysler bankruptcy, where constitutionally backed contract rights have been overturned."
  • During the May 5 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham responded to the disputed allegation that the Obama administration threatened Perella Weinberg, a hedge fund invested in Chrysler, by stating: "Yeah, well, move over, Tony Soprano. I mean, this is bare-knuckle tactics at the very least."
  • In a May 4 Bloomberg News column, Kevin Hassett wrote of the Obama administration's handling of Chrysler's bankruptcy proceedings: "I feel like I have seen this bad gangster movie before."
  • On the April 28 broadcast of his radio program, Rush Limbaugh said of the automotive bailouts: "What has just happened is that Don Obama has made Don Corleone look like Daffy Duck. Don Corleone was nothing compared to Don Obama." Limbaugh later added of unions: "Don Obama owns half of General Motors, and Don Obama's army -- his consiglieres, his capo di peteys [sic] or whatever they are -- the unions, they have the other 39 percent of the company." Limbaugh's website posted the following graphic accompanying his April 28 remarks:

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  • In an April 6 post on the National Review Online blog The Corner, contributing editor and Fox News contributor Jonah Goldberg wrote of "Don Obama": "Surely I'm not the first person to be reminded of Michael Corleone's experience dealing with Europeans in Godfather III? I know many of us want to block that film out of our memories. But watching Obama talk a lot, but get little for it, reminded me of that scene where the Europeans lecture the American upstart about the European way."
  • In an April 1 New York Daily News column headlined "President Obama's offer is one the banks can't refuse," Fox News contributor Michael Goodwin wrote of the Obama administration: "First AIG; then automakers; next, the banks. Big Government is on a Big Roll, using bailouts to turn busted-out companies into wards of Washington. Kind of like the mob, only it's legal."
  • During the March 26 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck, host Glenn Beck claimed:

America is going the way of the mob. We all know that it takes power to get things done, and that's why mob bosses, like [Treasury Secretary] Tim Geithner, are looking to grab more of it. Geithner now wants the power to target any company that he even suspects might hurt other companies or pose a risk to the financial system. I wonder if talk shows will do that.

He wants to take them over -- do things like break contracts, fire people, even dissolve the company. Wow. Kind of sounds like Geithner is, you know, maybe in the Corleone administration.

Beck then played a video clip from The Godfather.

  • On the March 26 edition of Fox & Friends, co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Gretchen Carlson hosted Michael Franzese, the former caporegime of La Cosa Nostra's Colombo crime family, to discuss similarities in the way Democratic leaders and progressive figures are "operating" and "the way we used to operate on the street." Kilmeade began the segment by asking, "So, is this a big stretch to think that, all of a sudden, the Washington, D.C., has become our Godfather?" Asked by Carlson what he would "call" Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Franzese replied that Geithner is "like an underboss to me. I mean, he's doing the work of, you know, the whole family, and he's kind of the guy out front, and looking to exercise control." When Kilmeade later asked how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) would fit "in the mob," Franzese replied that Pelosi and Frank are like "the lady and the guy that Obama is kind of stuck with to appease the rest of the family," and he also referred to Obama as "the boss."
  • In a March 21 WorldNetDaily column, Ellis Washington wrote:

If you like how Congress is dealing with the exploding AIDS epidemic in D.C. by enabling promiscuous people to infect the innocent or uninformed in the name of perversity correctness, then you will love how Obama and Congress plan to take over corporate America like rapacious Mafia dons by printing trillions of dollars in new money, driving down the value of the dollar and driving up inflation. I predict that Obama and the Democrats will not stop until they make us all mindless slaves of a socialist welfare state.

Welcome to the USSA -- the United States of Socialist America. [emphases in original]

  • In his February 25 WorldNetDaily column, Washington wrote of the economic recovery bill:

How does the legend of Faust apply to [Republican Louisiana] Gov. [Bobby] Jindal's refusal to accept all of the $100 million dollars Obama is offering the state of Louisiana as part of it's share of stimulus package money. President Obama, like the suave, cosmopolitan Mephistopheles, has not only crafted and passed the largest wealth confiscation in the history of the world, but upon closer examination of the 1,000-plus pages of this bloated, complex and convoluted text, the devil is truly in the details.

[...]

It's like the wedding scene of "The Godfather," Part I, where Michael Corleone recalled his father (Vito Corleone) doing business through his muscleman, Lou Cabrachi: "Either your signature on this contract, or your brains on this contract." President Barack Corleone's so-called $787 billion economic stimulus package has offered America a deal with the devil.

  • In his January 28 WorldNetDaily column, Washington wrote of Obama:

When President Obama promised America "FDR, part II," few of the political pundits took notice because ideologically they are elitists, liberals and socialists like Obama. The propaganda press, the professors of the academy, judges, the Democrats and most Republicans all have fallen prey to the siren song of socialism and leviathan government taking over more and more of private enterprise. Wall Street, the investment banks, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the home mortgage industry, the auto industry, states like California, Arizona and Michigan on the verge of bankruptcy, even the porn industry, is just the beginning. They all want "bailouts" i.e., "welfare," i.e., unearned, undeserved, unconstitutional confiscation of money belonging to "We the People" and given to others who didn't earn it and don't deserve it to secure Democrat Party votes in perpetuity. It's legalized thievery. It is Mafia tactics on a grand scale.

From the May 19 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: Did you guys see this? I want you to take a look at all of these very happy auto guys assembled in the Rose Garden today. Can we go full on that pan? Is there a way to look at that?

Do they look like a bunch eager to put up a fight with the president, who has just proposed sweeping fuel-efficiency standards, standards they would have fought tooth and nail in the past? They were pretty much quiet as smiling church mouse today -- for good reason. A lot of them are in hock to the government and literally dictated to by the government, so why challenge the government or the guy running it? Not when he fired one auto CEO already. But why aren't they saying anything, anything?

Well, this guy knows. With me now, Vincent Curatola. He is, of course, better known as Johnny Sack in The Sopranos. Vincent says the president might have offered them a deal, I guess, too good to refuse.

CURATOLA: Too good to refuse. Good to be with here, Neil.

CAVUTO: Good to see you.

CURATOLA: My pleasure. Thank you.

CAVUTO: What do you make of it? Weird, isn't it?

CURATOLA: Well, you know what? Now it's, "I came and I anointed you. I helped you. Now you'll do what I tell you to do." It's ridic-- you know, we're losing capitalism in this country. You know, we know what Obama looks like already. We know what he sounds like. He should stop talking. Let the marketplace do what it's supposed to do.

CAVUTO: But these are the free marketeeters, most of them standing behind him. A couple of big guys taken over by the government. Ford -- you never know -- could [unintelligible] too. So, they're all behind him, and they're signing on to something they -- I'm not kidding, they have vociferously challenged every step of the way and had lobbyists knee deep to China to stop. Not now.

CURATOLA: You remember the scene in Goodfellas where one of the guys -- they're in the restaurant, the Bamboo Lounge, he says, "When you can't borrow another dime," you know, you acquiesce, don't you? I mean, we -- we're ruining ourselves.

CAVUTO: So you're saying they know that this could be a problem.

CURATOLA: Oh, abs--

CAVUTO: You're in debt to the boss?

CURATOLA: Exactly right. And I guess they say to themselves, "You know, we'll yes you to death. We'll yes him to death. A year will go by, two years will go by, we'll get some private financing. We'll do this to you. You're a one-term president, and thank you." They're going to keep -- listen, they want to keep their companies afloat. I personally don't buy American cars anymore, but that's all -- nothing.

CAVUTO: Really?

CURATOLA: No. No, I was tired of the little screws falling out the minute you pull out of the --

CAVUTO: Now, stop it.

CURATOLA: You know?

CAVUTO: That's not all American cars. Boy, you must be very tough as a car -- if I were a car salesman and I were dealing with you.

CURATOLA: I buy cars over the phone.

CAVUTO: Scary. Do you do the face with the salesman?

CURATOLA: Yeah. Well, I --

CAVUTO: You don't buy cars over the phone.

CURATOLA: I do. I -- if I see something on the Internet, and I call the dealer, yes, that's what I do.

CAVUTO: No, you would turn it on the salesman, wouldn't you? "It'd be very regrettable if I don't get this car."

CURATOLA: I just -- well, you know what I do? I hold them -- never mind.

CAVUTO: All right. So -- but you say this has, like, a mob feeling to it?

CURATOLA: What? Yeah, sure, it does. It has -- it's -- you know what it is? It's Machiavelli. Here's the new guy. "Oh, he saved us from -- God, whatever." And we're going to do this, we're going to do this, and then as, you know, as he gets close to leaving office, then we're going to spit on him, and we're going to rail him out of town.

CAVUTO: Well, he's still very popular. This could be -- and by the way, the wind could be at his --

CURATOLA: But who is he popular with? This is what I can't figure. We cast a president. We didn't elect him. This is a Hollywood guy.

CAVUTO: Say what you will --

CURATOLA: What?

CAVUTO: -- he's popular.

CURATOLA: No, I don't know how popular he is.

CAVUTO: OK, I don't want to argue with you because you would hurt me.

From the May 19 edition of CNBC's The Kudlow Report:

KUDLOW: Coming up, the gangster government is going green. Much more on President Obama's latest attack on consumers. We're going to have a rip-snorting debate on this whole issue. This is the story of the day. This could change the very nature of the American automobile market, and it could wind up costing U.S. taxpayers a bloody, bankrupting fortune before it's all said and done. You're watching The Kudlow Report. Whatever happened to consumer choice?

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