Appearing on CBS Sunday, Senior White House advisor David Axelrod declined to attack Fox News but responded to criticism from Rush Limbaugh, calling him an "entertainer."
Partial transcript courtesy Media Research Center:
SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this, Mr. Axelrod. Last week when casualties in Afghanistan hit a new high, President Obama went to Dover Air Force base to take part in a ceremony honoring the return of some of those who’ve been killed there. Well, this morning on Fox News Rush Limbaugh had this to say about that.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, ON FOX NEWS SUNDAY: It was a photo-op. It was a photo-op precisely because he’s having big-time trouble on this whole Afghanistan dithering situation. He found one family that would allow photos to be taken. None of the others did. And of course when you have a sycophantic media following you around, able to promote and amplify whatever you want, then he can create the impression that he has all this great concern.
SCHIEFFER TO AXELROD: So what’s your reaction to that?
DAVID AXELROD: My reaction is that I think that the President of the United States went to Dover to represent the American people and pay his respects to the families who had made so much of a sacrifice to those brave service people who made the ultimate sacrifice. It was the appropriate thing to do. And I think most Americans appreciate that.
SCHIEFFER: On this broadcast back in March the White House Chief-of-Staff said this about Rush Limbaugh. He said “he is the voice, the intellectual voice and the energy behind the Republican Party.” Do you believe that what he said today– and we’ll have some more quotes from him here — represents what the Republican Party believes?
AXELROD: I don’t know. That’s for the Republican Party to decide. I think we’ve seen an interesting development over this weekend in a special election up in upstate New York in a congressional district. The Republican candidate withdrew because of the strong third-party movement behind a very right wing conservative. And certainly Mr. Limbaugh and others were behind that. And I think it sends a clear message to moderates within that party that there’s no room at the inn for them and that’s why you see Republican identification in polls at a historic low. So that may be where the energy is in the Republican Party, but it’s certainly not a view on which you can build a majority party.
SCHIEFFER: One of the things he said today was that the President is “narcissistic,” “immature, inexperienced” and “in over his head.” Reaction?
AXELROD: Well, I think it’s a surreal day when you’re getting lectures on humility from Rush Limbaugh. And I’m not going to respond to that. The fact is that he is an entertainer. The President has to run the country. He’s the commander in chief. He has huge responsibilities. I think he does them thoughtfully, he does them well and they’re difficult problems. We walked into a difficult situation. I think he’s handling it very, very well and most people believe that. So, we’ll let Mr. Limbaugh fulminate, but I think the American people are well served and believe they’re well served.
SCHIEFFER: I want to go to other things, but let me ask you one final question. Last week your man Robert Gibbs met with the folks at Fox News, declared a truce in this war you’ve been having with them. Was the truce broken this morning?
AXELROD: Look, I’m not – first of all, let me dispel something. We’re not at war with anyone. We’re at war only with people who represent mistruths as truth and that’s true of any network whether it’s Fox, CBS or any other network. When errors of fact are stated or when opinion is offered as fact, we will challenge that, and that will be our policy going forward and the American people deserve that. We have to do that for the sake of the administration. But we’re not at war with anyone and certainly it’s no surprise that Rush Limbaugh espouses the views that he espouses. He does it every day on radio. He’s marketing the outrageous and he does very well with it. But as I said he’s an entertainer. We’ve got bigger responsibilities and we’re going to discharge those responsibilities.
Mediaite's Colby Hall asks, "Did Rush Limbaugh’s appearance on Fox News Sunday break the alleged 'truce' between the White House and Fox News? Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer suggested as much during an interview with Obama’s Senior Adviser, David Axelrod."
Huffington Post's Sam Stein complained that the Fox interview with Limbaugh was anything but "hard-hitting."
The interview did, at one point, turn personal. Wallace managed to sneak in a few questions about Limbaugh's addiction to painkillers and allowed the talk show host to go off for a bit on the NFL (for denying his bid to purchase a football team). But for thirty minutes, it was an exercise in turning the White House a punching bag. What are your thoughts on Vice President Biden, Wallace asked at one point.
"Pompous, a bit of a windbag, and wrong," Limbaugh replied.
"About?" said Wallace, with the slightest of amused grins on his face.
"Pretty much everything," Limbaugh concluded.
The Hill's blogger Bill Press called the interview a "big wet Fox kiss for Rush Limbaugh."
This video is from CBS' Face the Nation, broadcast Nov. 1, 2009.