Opinion: A Democratic A-list conference call: Emanuel, Carville, Stephanopoulos and little Paulie


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Thanks to John Harris over at Politico for his fascinating window into how the incestuous political/media world of Washington really operates and how careful TV viewers of American politics need to be these days.

His piece today is about a morning conference call among four Democratic operatives that has been going on most workdays for 17 years now, since the end of the Clinton campaign and the start of the Clinton administration that brought them all together.


They are George Stephanopoulos, James Carville, Rahm Emanuel and Paul Begala.

You see them all on TV regularly commenting -- Stephanopoulos as an alleged newsman on ABC, Carville and Begala as Democratic strategists, and Emanuel in recent years as a Democratic congressman from Chicago and now as the new White House chief of staff for President Obama.

We’ll let Harris’ fine piece speak for itself. Basically, the calls are quick consultations among friends who’ve endured countless political days and struggles together driving Bill Clinton to the White House and, most recently, Obama. These battles are bonding experiences, and the lasting camaraderie is not surprising.

Many political operatives of both parties participate in such daily or weekly calls to ensure they’re all on the same talking points page and to exchange gossip and tips and anticipate what the opposition is going to say that day.

What’s different in the revelation about this group, however, is that one of them (Emanuel) is a key operative in the current administration with a huge political stake in getting its message out its way, and the other three can go on TV as alleged observers and pass along the talking point line that best benefits their pal Rahm. All free, until now, of any apparent conflict or caveats.

Something to keep in mind the next time you watch George ‘reporting’ on ABC or Carville and Begala ‘commenting’ on CNN or somewhere.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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