Wash. Times columnist Birnbaum wastes no time writing about industries he represents without disclosing ties

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

In his first column since reportedly accepting a job heading public relations for a Washington lobbying firm, former Washington Times digital managing editor Jeffrey Birnbaum wrote favorably about industries he represents -- health insurance, health care, pharmaceutical, and oil and gas -- without disclosing his ties to the industries.

Birnbaum reportedly joined a lobbying firm as a PR executive

Birnbaum joined Washington lobbying firm BGR Group. As Media Matters for America noted, according to The Washington Examiner's Tim Carney, Birnbaum accepted a job at a Washington lobbying firm, BGR Group (known as Barbour, Griffith & Rogers), to head its PR division. The firm's clients include foreign governments, defense contractors, and pharmaceutical companies, and oil and electric companies.

Birnbaum's latest Times column criticized Obama's treatment of industries he represents

Birnbaum criticized the Obama administration's actions against insurance and pharmaceutical companies, the oil industry, and lobbyists. In a January 20 column about how President Obama "didn't carry through" on "bipartisanship, transparency and broad-based cooperation," Birnbaum criticized Obama for taking a "populist" stance against pharmaceutical companies, the oil and gas industry, and lobbyists. From Birnbaum's column:

But the president saw a chance to deliver a populist appeal and stuck the pitchfork in. Banks are primed for such vilification because many of them have rebounded impressively and are shelling out billions in bonuses to top executives and recording profits of billions more.

It's easy to demagogue Wall Street fat cats in prosperous times. During hard times like these, it's a layup. So Mr. Obama took the expedient route and proposed a "responsibility fee" that will be difficult for even stalwart Wall Street backers to oppose.

His decision is part of a pattern. He has tried repeatedly to inflict pain on the moneyed interests that average Americans can readily be incited to resent.

Indeed, Mr. Obama has chosen his enemies with care. During the election of 2008, he routinely bludgeoned health insurers and drug companies. He stopped berating the pharmaceuticals when they pledged millions to back his top priority, health reform. The insurers remain a convenient whipping boy, disliked as they are by anyone who's ever had a claim rejected.

Lobbyists also have been on the president's bad-boy roster. And why not? Almost no one has sympathy for people who are paid to represent narrow interests before the U.S. government.

Other groups and industries have or will soon feel this same populist wrath. If the cold winter continues to push up oil and gasoline prices, oil companies are sure to report massive profits, which, in turn, will lead to renewed calls for a windfall profits tax.

To the extent the Obama administration opens offshore sites to oil and gas drilling, royalty payments also could be beefed up by opportunistic Obama allies.

The drug companies also are likely to return to the bad list as soon as health reform is resolved. Any group that is rich and generally disliked will almost certainly be eyed for a tax increase by the president.

[...]

Mr. Obama has erred in pitting interest against interest. He will wind up the loser if he continues down that path.

Jeffrey H. Birnbaum is president of BGR Public Relations, a Washington Times columnist and a Fox News contributor.

Times identified Birnbaum only as "president of BGR Public Relations, a Washington Times columnist and a Fox News contributor." Despite identifying Birnbaum as a public relations executive, the Times made no mention of the clients Birnbaum's firm represents.

Birnbaum's firm represents numerous pharmaceutical, health insurance, health industry, and oil and gas clients. BGR Group represents several health and pharmaceutical companies, including Comprehensive Neuroscience, Fresenius Medical Care, IMS Government Solutions, Res-Care Inc., XLHealth, The Medicines Co., Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, Clarian Health Partners, Orlando Regional Healthcare System, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance, Eli Lilly & Co., GlaxoSmithKline, Kinetic Concepts, Pfizer Inc., Select Medical Corp., and Wyeth. BGR Group also represented Reliance Industries Ltd., which produces oil and gas.

Posted In
Government, The Presidency & White House
Network/Outlet
The Washington Times
Person
Jeff Birnbaum
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