“The biggest bunch of crybabies” has launched a counterinsurgency campaign against FOX News.
If FOX News had aired a White House infomercial on healthcare, would the White House have declared war on FOX News?
If Chris Wallace had decided FOX too would run a factcheck on a comedy skit, would FOX be in the White House cross-hairs?
If FOX had joined the rest of the MSM club in ignoring the Van Jones story and not aired the undercover videos of ACORN,
But no…instead, FOX does a good deal of what the other star-struck networks have failed to do: Provide a critical look at the Obama Presidency and act in the role of a watchdog press.
62% say that criticism of political leaders is worthwhile because it keeps those leaders from doing things that should not be done, while 22% say such criticism keeps leaders from doing their jobs.
What if the MSM gave proper coverage vetting of candidate Obama in ’08?
Posts to reflect upon:
Excellent commentary by Jim Pinkerton:
what is so striking to me about this is the number of liberal journalists or liberal observers who have said the white house is making a huge mistakes not just on the politics of it, but the first amendment issues.
John nichols at the nation magazine and camille polly at salon and megan garner columbia review, on and on and on saying to the white house this is a bad thing to do just on the constitutional principle of it let alone the politics.~~~
I think what you just heard from jim is more typical people say, thinking back to president nixon and his attitude towards the new york times and “the washington post,” that no matter which side of the political aisle you’re on, to see people in power acting in this way really invites corruption, corruption of a kind that would, you know, impede our democratic principle, our democratic values.
Former Clinton aide David Gergen:
“It’s a very risky strategy and not one that I would advocate. If you’re going to get very personal with the media, you’re going to find that the animosities are just going to deepen. And you’re going to find that you sort of almost draw viewers and readers to the people you are attacking. You build them up in some ways. You give the stature. The press always has the last barrel of ink.”
Even though almost all the critiques contained a kernel of truth, in each instance the folks who had the barrels of ink, and now pixels, seemed to come out ahead. So far, the only winner in this latest dispute seems to be Fox News. Ratings are up 20 percent this year, and the network basked for a week in the antagonism of a sitting president
It could all be written off as a sideshow, but it may present a genuine problem for Mr. Obama, who took great pains during the campaign to depict himself as being above the fray of over-heated partisan squabbling. In his victory speech he promised, “I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.”
Or not. Under the direction of Ms. Dunn, the administration has begun to punch back. On Sept. 20, the president visited all the Sunday talk shows save Fox News’, with Ms. Dunn explaining that Fox was not a legitimate news organization, but a “wing of the Republican Party.”
The one weapon all administrations can wield is access, and the White House, making it clear that it will use that leverage going forward, informed Fox News not to expect to bump knees with the president until 2010. But Fox News, as many have pointed out, is not in the access business. They are in the agitation business. And the administration, by deploying official resources against a troublesome media organization, seems to have brought a knife to a gunfight.
The Obama administration’s war on Fox News is dumb on multiple levels. It makes the White House look weak, unable to take Harry Truman’s advice and just deal with the heat. It makes the White House look small, dragged down to the level of Glenn Beck. It makes the White House look childish and petty at best, and it has a distinct Nixonian — Agnewesque? — aroma at worst. It is a self-defeating trifecta: it distracts attention from the Obama administration’s substantive message; it serves to help Fox, not punish it, by driving up ratings; and it deprives the White House, to the extent it refuses to provide administration officials to appear on the cable network, of access to an audience that is, in fact, broader than hard-core Obama haters.
Where the White House has gone way overboard is in its decision to treat Fox as an outright enemy and to go public with the assault. Imagine the outcry if the Bush administration had pulled a similar hissy fit with MSNBC. “Opinion journalism masquerading as news,” White House communications director Anita Dunn declared of Fox. Certainly Fox tends to report its news with a conservative slant — but has anyone at the White House clicked over to MSNBC recently? Or is the only problem opinion journalism that doesn’t match its opinion? On “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace replayed a quote from an Obama interview: “I don’t always get my most favorable coverage on Fox, but I think that’s part of how democracy is supposed to work. You know, we’re not supposed to all be in lock step here.”
Maybe he should tell the rest of the team.
Curt linked yesterday to The Nation. Even those diversity of free speech-lovers from the left are floored by the White House strategy to go after a media outlet (perhaps taking notes from Hugo Chavez who muses Obama may end up further to the left than himself?).
An administration that won the White House with an almost always on-message campaign and generally friendly coverage from old and new media is now frustrated by its inability to control the debate and get the coverage it wants.
President Bush was supposedly the one accused of stifling dissent and free speech. But here, we have a thin-skinned, intolerant White House that has declared open war against a major news outlet. They may have found their sacrificial lamb in the form of Anita Dunn:
Dunn brags that the Obama campaign controlled the media rather than allowing the press to determine the narrative.
DUNN: So it was very much we controlled it, as opposed to the press controlled it. And it did not always make us popular with the press. But we increasingly by the general election very rarely did we communicate through the press anything that we didn’t absolutely control.
That certainly explains why the Obama White House is so hostile toward FOX News.
The White House fall gal and attack dog had company over the weekend:
White House officials to appear on Fox News
October 19, 2009
The Front Page
“White House officials to appear on Fox News”
Krissah Thompson, Washington Post, October 19, 2009
“Finding a new model for news reporting”
Leonard Downie Jr. and Michael Schudson, Washington Post, October 19, 2009
“New Age Journalism”
Howard Kurtz, Washington Post, October 19, 2009
“Northwestern University’s Medill Innocence Project is in a standoff with Cook County prosecutors”
Jeff Long, Chicago Tribune, October 19, 2009
“Back on the frontline but without a flak jacket”
Stephen Foley, The Independent, October 19, 2009
“Obama aides say Fox News should not be treated as a news organization”
Ann Sanner, Chicago Tribune, October 18, 2009
“A Newsroom Subsidized? Minds Reel “
David Carr, New York Times, October 18, 2009
Axelrod defended Anita Dunn’s comments about Fox News saying “They’re not really a news station” and “it’s really not news, it’s pushing a point of view.” Axelrod went on to say “other news organizations, should not treat them that way.”
it is not a news organization so much as it has a perspective. And that’s a different take. And more importantly, does not have — the CNNs and others in the world basically be led and following FOX, as if that — what they’re trying to do is a legitimate news organization in the sense of both sides and a sense of value (ph) opinion.
But let me say this. While it’s clear what the White House and what Anita said, I mean, the concentration at the White House isn’t about what FOX is doing.
And even White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs can’t avoid weighing in:
Q: Chris Wallace called you the “biggest bunch of crybabies I’ve seen in 30 years …
GIBBS: I thought it was “whiners.”
Q: … in Washington.” That was in the New York Times. What’s your reaction?
GIBBS: I haven’t cried yet. (Laughter)
Rather than allow me even one follow-up – as he had done to a dozen other reporters – Gibbs went to another reporter on another subject. After that three-part exchange, I called out my second question:
Q: The Times also quoted the president – (laughter) – as saying, “I’ve got one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my administration.” My question: Did he mean to say one television network, or was he informing this opinion watching one station, a Fox network station?
GIBBS: I think the president was clear in what he said, and I think based on your question you understand the answer too.
Another reporter followed-up by asking:
Q: How do you respond to criticism that the administration’s posture toward Fox News constitutes some sort of bullying or chilling of speech?
GIBBS: We get questions throughout the day, seven days a week, about policies here at the White House, questions that you guys want answered. And our goal is to make sure you have the facts to do your job. That’s what we do for everybody.
Q: Well, specifically, the comments by Anita Dunn about Fox not being a real news network.
GIBBS: I have watched many stories on that network that I’ve found not to be true. I think everybody in this room has been likely on the other side of a phone conversation with me when I’ve had issues with your stories. I don’t think that’s new.
Despite Gibbs’ claim “That’s what we do for everybody,” the number of reporters at every Gibbs press briefing who are not recognized for questions continues to average 40 percent, while he gives multiple question time to a chosen few. And the Obama White House war on Fox News continues unabated.
Dunn went on CNN to announce:
“Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party.”
Tony Blankley, who once served as press secretary to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, noted on CNN:
“Going after a news organization, in my experience, is always a loser. They have a big audience. And Fox has an audience of not just conservatives – they’ve got liberals and moderates who watch too. They’ve got Obama supporters who are watching. So it’s a temptation for a politician, but it needs to be resisted.”
Last week, Fox News was informed by the White House that Obama would grant no interviews to the channel until at least 2010. The edict was relayed to Fox News by a White House official after Dunn discussed the channel at a meeting with Gibbs and other Obama advisers.
Even that left-wing journal The Nation ridiculed the Obama press operation for turning Obama into “whiner in chief.”
Tapper: It’s escaped none of our notice that the White House has decided in the last few weeks to declare one of our sister organizations “not a news organization” and to tell the rest of us not to treat them like a news organization. Can you explain why it’s appropriate for the White House to decide that a news organization is not one –
Gibbs: Jake, we render, we render an opinion based on some of their coverage and the fairness that, the fairness of that coverage.
Tapper: But that’s a pretty sweeping declaration that they are “not a news organization.” How are they any different from, say –
Gibbs: ABC -
Tapper: ABC. MSNBC. Univision. I mean how are they any different?
Gibbs: You and I should watch sometime around 9 o’clock tonight. Or 5 o’clock this afternoon.
Tapper: I’m not talking about their opinion programming or issues you have with certain reports. I’m talking about saying thousands of individuals who work for a media organization, do not work for a “news organization” — why is that appropriate for the White House to say?
Gibbs: That’s our opinion.
Pass me the popcorn!