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NY Times edits Tea Party article after White House complains

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The Bush administration spent years feuding with The New York Times but the Grey Lady hardly ever backed down.

Most would agree that the media’s honeymoon with the Obama administration appears to be over, but the relationship isn’t as contentious as under Bush.

Perhaps one reason why President Obama seems to get more satisfaction is that he never referred to any Times reporters as “major league assholes.”

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“The White House is pushing back hard against a New York Times report that the president’s political team is considering a national ad campaign that would cast the GOP as taken over by tea party extremists,” Mike Allen and Andy Barr report for Politico.

One unnamed White House official claims the story was “100 percent inaccurate,” but “Times Washington bureau chief Dean Baquet counters that the ‘piece is accurate.'”

But White House complaints have had some effect. Although The Times has not posted a correction or otherwise acknowledged making changes to the piece, it dialed back its claims over night, changing the headline and the lead sentence of the story to de-emphasize the notion that the White House is weighing an anti-GOP ad campaign.

The initial headline read, “Obama Advisers Weigh Ad Assault Against the GOP,” and the first sentence reported that “President Obama’s political advisers, looking for ways to help Democrats and alter the course of the midterm elections in the final weeks, are considering a national advertising campaign that would cast the Republican Party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists, people involved in the discussion said.”

As Politico notes, the Times article’s headline was changed to “Obama Aides Weigh Bid to Tie the GOP to the Tea Party.”

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However, Allen and Barr add, “Those changes were not enough to satisfy the White House, according to sources.”

The Times article had also reported,

Late Sunday night, White House advisers denied that a national ad campaign was being planned. “There’s been no discussion of such a thing at the White House” or the Democratic National Committee, said David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser.

Proponents say a national ad campaign, most likely on cable television, would complement those individual campaigns and give Democrats a chance to redefine the stakes. The Democratic strategist said voters did not now see much threat to them from a Republican takeover of Congress, even though some Tea Party-backed candidates and other Republicans have taken positions that many voters consider extreme, like shutting down the government to get their way, privatizing Social Security and Medicare and ending unemployment insurance.

So far, Mr. Obama has largely limited his campaigning to fundraisers and small events. That will change soon as he plays a bigger role to rally the flagging faithful, officials said.

To mobilize younger voters who supported him in 2008, Mr. Obama will hold four big campaign-style rallies, the first Sept. 28 at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, with satellite transmission to campuses in other states. The later rallies will be in Ohio, Philadelphia and Las Vegas. He also will send e-mail and record robocalls to spur voters, and conduct a national “town hall” Webcast in October.

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Over the last year, the New York Times has become increasingly more critical of Obama, calling him out for breaking campaign promises and criticizing his administration’s handling of crises ranging from the BP oil spill to controversial war on terror arrests.

Last year, the Obama administration appeared to take a back-handed swipe at the Times for its Israeli, Palestinian coverage, according to the American Thinker.

Obama gets the Times every morning and the Times prides itself on the fact that it sets the news agenda for many other media. So when the president publicly airs his chagrin at deficient coverage of his road map prescriptions for ALL players — not just Israel — it’s clear to whom he’s principally referring. He didn’t have to single out the Times by name, just as he didn’t have to single out Ahmadinejad by name when he excoriated Holocaust deniers. In each case, the culprit is self-evident.

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But for some conservatives, the Times isn’t as tough on Obama as it should be.

Say Anything criticized the paper for giving Obama a pass on allegedly “bowing” to foreign leaders. The blog mentions that former President Clinton once drew heat, but ignores the fact that President George W. Bush and many other presidents did, too.

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