Let's get this out of the way: the reason Sunday's op-ed by Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell calling on President Obama not to seek another term is getting a lot of play is that The Washington Post helped them present themselves as mainstream Democrats selflessly acting for love of country. This portrayal is simply inaccurate.
I've already pointed out how the Post neglected to mention that Schoen has repeatedly served as the pollster for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a position he would likely continue to enjoy if Bloomberg were to run for president in 2012. Thus, the Post gave him space to try to push his potential client's opponent out of the race.
To their credit, the Post has now acknowledged that they should have disclosed Schoen's ties to Bloomberg. But that wasn't the only problem with how the Post characterized the pollsters.
The Post also didn't disclose that Caddell and Schoen both work for Fox News, which spent the last election cycle pulling hard for Republicans, up to and including providing millions of dollars in donations from its parent company to GOP-linked groups. Indeed, today Fox reported on the op-ed from “two leading Democratic political analysts,” with Schoen appearing to discuss opposite Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell:
(Did you catch Schoen give a shout-out to Rendell's efforts with Bloomberg to “get together to reconcile our problems,” without disclosing his own interest in the advancement of Bloomberg's career? Schoen's good.)
The biographical information that the Post provided seems geared toward making the pair seem like model Democrats:
Patrick H. Caddell, who was a pollster and senior adviser to President Jimmy Carter, is a political commentator. Douglas E. Schoen, a pollster who worked for President Bill Clinton, is the author of “Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System.”
The strategists note in their op-ed that "[i]t is no secret that we have been openly critical of the president in recent days." That isn't close to an adequate description of what they've been up to in recent days.
Schoen donated to one GOP congressional candidate this cycle, and headlined a fundraiser for a second. In February, Caddell was fired from the campaign of Colorado Democratic Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff after video emerged of Caddell at a conservative retreat saying that "[t]he whole idea of the environmental movement" is “to basically deconstruct capitalism.”
We're shown how on issue after issue, it's difficult to find daylight between the commentary of Schoen and Caddell and that of Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing figures. Caddell has accused Obama of conducting a “Potemkin village presidency” and “Chicago gangsterism.” Schoen has claimed that the “real question” raised by the White House's actions is “Is this a democracy?” And on, and on, and on.
In their last three Post op-eds, Schoen was identified as “a pollster” and “the author of 'Political Fix.'” Caddell was identified as “a political commentator and former pollster.” These identifiers, while vague, at least do not suggest that the authors' work for their most liberal clients is representative of their careers.
Asked for comment on the shift, a Post spokesperson told Media Matters that while Sunday's piece was in the Outlook section, the previous op-eds “appeared on our editorial pages, which follow their own style and rules for content on their pages.”