Appointment Of Ron Klain As Ebola “Czar” Draws The Wrath Of Conservative Media

Conservative media figures lashed out at President Obama's appointment of Ron Klain as the Ebola response coordinator or “czar,” criticizing the selection as “insane” and “dumb.” Klain has been praised for his work in government and has been called “a great choice” to deal with the Ebola crisis by other media outlets.

President Obama Appoints Ron Klain As His Ebola Response Coordinator

NY Times: Ron Klain Appointed Ebola “Czar.” Following the first diagnoses of Ebola within the United States, “President Obama on Friday named Ron Klain, a seasoned Democratic crisis-response operative and White House veteran, to manage the government's response to the deadly virus as public anxiety grows over its possible spread,” as The New York Times explained. Klain previously served as chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore. [The New York Times, 10/17/14]

Conservative Media Lash Out At Klain's Appointment

Rush Limbaugh: Klain Is A “Conservative-Slash-Republican Attack Dog.” On the October 17 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh called Klain's appointment “pure 100 percent politics,” accusing him of giving “political payoffs” and being a “conservative-slash-Republican attack dog.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 10/17/14]

Fox's Geraldo Rivera: Obama Made A “Dumb Choice.” Fox contributor Geraldo Rivera tweeted that Klain's appointment as Ebola “czar,” was a “dumb choice,” calling him a “political hack”:

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CNN's Ben Ferguson: Appointing Klain " Insane." CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson responded to Klain's appointment by declaring it was “insane” to appoint a “political democratic lawyer”:

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ABC's Laura Ingraham: Klain's Background “Is A Parade Of Horribles.Contributor for both ABC News and Fox News, Laura Ingraham, questioned why Obama's choice for Ebola “czar” wasn't a doctor, calling Klain's background “a parade of horribles” and declaring that appointments like his “always go political.” [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 10/17/14]

Fox Host Todd Starnes: Klain Can't “Instill Confidence In The Nation.” Fox News radio host Todd Starnes criticized the appointment of Klain as Ebola “czar” on Twitter:

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NRA News' Cameron Gray: Klain Appointment Shows “Administration Has Just Given Up.” NRA News reporter Cameron Gray claimed that Klain's appointment made it “obvious” the Obama administration “has just given up”:

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RedState Editor Compared Klain's Appointment To Karl Rove Overseeing Hurricane Katrina CleanupDan McLaughlin, editor for the conservative website,, called Klain's appointment tantamount to Karl Rove overseeing cleanup after Hurricane Katrina:

[Twitter, 10/17/14]

While Other Media Praised Klain's Selection, Calling Him "A Great Choice" To Take On Ebola Crisis

Bloomberg: Ron Klain "Is Known For Navigating Complex Political Challenges." Bloomberg Politics explained that Klain is known for “navigating complex political challenges,” noting he will be working with the Obama administration on the public relations aspect of the Ebola response:

But it's a pick that signals the role Obama envisions: a single point of contact who will be less involved with the specific policy decisions and more involved with making sure the process, the people, the politics and the public relations are all lined up. In short, a manager. It also continues the administration's aversion to bringing in outside help to come in and run projects. Klain is an insider who knows the ways of this White House.


Officially Klain is being called the “Ebola Response Coordinator,” according to a White House official. He'll be reporting directly to Monaco and Rice. White House aides have long pointed to his to ability to deal with complex political issues as a primary reason why he's so well-liked and, as one White House official acknowledged, this is certainly that and more. Since leaving the White House, Klain, a lawyer by trade who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Byron White, spent time with O'Melveny and Myers LLP before taking senior roles with Revolution LLC and Case Holdings, two companies founded and run by former AOL chief executive Steve Case.

[Bloomberg, 10/17/14]

Vox: “Ron Klain Is A Great Choice For Ebola Czar.” Vox's Ezra Klein wrote that the decision to pick Klain as the administration's Ebola “czar” was a “great choice.” Explaining Klain's reputation on policy and praising his “political instincts,” Kleinadded that the appointment meant having somebody deal with Ebola who had real experience in the government:

But the esteem for Klain wasn't based on his resume. Rather, he had a mix of policy, political and bureaucratic chops that everyone agreed was rare. The policy people spoke admiringly of his policy savvy, and they all agreed he lapped them in political instincts. The political people admired his political instincts, but recognized he was better at policy. And everyone agreed Klain knew how to run an interagency process.

“He understands the intersection of politics and policy better than anyone I've ever worked with,” says economist Jared Bernstein, who worked closely with Klain in Biden's office, “and is thus uniquely effective in getting things done.”


Actual government experience is badly underrated in Washington. Politicians run for office promising that they know how to run businesses, not Senate offices. “Bureaucrat” is often lobbed as an insult. But in processes like this one, government experience really matters. Nominating Klain suggests the White House is thinking about this correctly: as an effort that requires the coordination of already ample resources, where the danger is that the federal government will be too slow in sharing information across agencies and getting the resources where they need to go. [Vox, 10/17/14]

Wash. Post: Former Colleagues Say Klain “Developed A Reputation” For “Formulat[ing] Good Strategy.” According to an October 17 blog post in The Washington Post, Klain's former colleagues praised his ability to take on projects with “significant complexities”:

Robert Bauer, who served as White House counsel under Obama and also worked on the 2008 recount, said Klain has developed a reputation of having “taken on highly-charged assignments where there significant complexities, and managed them very well.”

Klain is not known for his healthcare expertise, though he would get briefings on those policies in his capacity as a campaign strategist for Gore and the Democrats' 2004 presidential candidate, John Kerry.

“I wouldn't call him a policy wonk by any means, but he was someone who got you couldn't formulate good strategy without understanding the policy,” said Chris Jennings, who served as a top White House health policy adviser under Presidents Clinton and Obama.

Klain navigated the legal and political worlds with ease, Jennings added. “He wasn't just an analyst. He was a strategist.” [The Washington Post, 10/17/14]