Free Markets, Free People

White House Losing War On Fox News (updated)

The Obama administration is not doing well in two wars right now – a shooting war and a shouting war. Afghanistan continues on a downhill course while the president dithers, apparently incapable of making a decision. And on another front, he and the White House are looking both petty and foolish as they attack Fox News (one of the few things they’ve actually done during their time in office).

Tom Bevan makes some interesting points covering the latter war. Quoting Rahm Emanuel who said “The way the president looks at it – we look at it – it’s not a news organization so much as it has a perspective”, Bevan says:

And MSNBC doesn’t push a certain “perspective?” What about the New York Times? The idea that FOX News’s perspective disqualifies it as a “legitimate” news operation lays bare the manipulation and hypocrisy at work here. The White House is all for news organizations taking certain “perspectives” – so long as they’re favorable to the administration’s agenda.

The current presidency, as much perhaps as any in history, is built upon the foundation of the President’s personal popularity. President Obama has, out of necessity, become the Salesman-in-Chief for his progressive agenda. But as the White House continues to struggle adjusting to the reality of governing versus campaigning, it is either unwilling or unable to brook criticism of the President or his policies. Thus FOX News is targeted as the enemy.

As Bevan points out, it is a qualification without exception. All news organizations that I’m familiar with push a perspective – that can be found daily on their editorial pages or nightly on their opinion shows. The only difference between MSNBC and Fox is the “perspective” is favorable on the former and not as favorable on the latter.

And for most of America, who aren’t buying into the White House argument, there is no difference between MSNBC and Fox but their “perspective”. They’re quite aware both have them even if the White House enjoys pretending they don’t.

The second part of their ill conceived strategy is to try to delegitimize Fox News among other news organizations:

Axelrod went out of his way to suggest to Stephanopoulos that ABC News adopt the White House strategy and not treat FOX News as legitimate. “The bigger thing is,” Axelrod said, “other news organizations, like yours, ought not to treat them that way. We’re not going to treat them that way. ”

Emanuel suggested the same to John King later in their interview: “And more importantly is not have the CNN’s and others in the world basically be led and following FOX, as if what they’re trying to do is a legitimate news organization, in the sense of both sides and a sense of valued opinion.”

That approach brought a reproach from the grand old dame of the White House news corps, Helen Thomas, who makes no bones about her liberal “perspective”. And Jake Tapper from ABC was unimpressed as well. Both find the strategy to be offensive, petty and inappropriate.  So do most Americans.

The entire effort here is to cut Fox from the herd and isolate them (please review Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals“, specifically rules 5, 8 and 12) and destroy their legitimacy.  It isn’t working.  In fact Fox is enjoying a surge in viewership and the White House is losing face by appearing petty and vindictive.

Bevan concludes:

Such tactics may not be frowned upon by brass-knuckle operatives working for the political machine in a one party town. But it’s different when you’re the President of the United States. Most Americans of all political stripes don’t want to see the President using the majesty and power of his office for heavy handed attacks on any organization simply because it has been critical of the President.

Time for the White House to wave the white flag, call off the dogs and try to resurrect their flagging credibility. Meanwhile, Fox News should send Emanuel and Axelrod a nice little thank you note.

UPDATE: Allahpundit at Hot Air notes that this may all be about “containment”:

This seems so obviously correct that I feel embarrassed for not having figured it out sooner.

The rationale of the White House offensive against Fox News has been a topic of much puzzlement lately. Is this just the White House lashing out? Are they trying to rally the base?

But I think Mike Allen and Josh Gerstein nail the real explanation in their story today: The White House is working to prevent stories born on Fox from crossing over into more widely-viewed media. Most Americans still haven’t heard of Van Jones, for instance; and the strategy is now all about containment…

This makes sense in the wake of the Van Jones story and the fact that some talking heads at Fox are emboldened by the success of forcing Van Jones out of his position (consider the suddenly surfaced video of Anita Dunn praising Mao after she attacked Fox).

That sort of a strategy at least makes more sense than the trying to question the organization’s credibility because of their “perspective”. However it will most likely fail as well, since even to those organizations whose perspective they like, news is news and they are the ones who lose credibility if they don’t cover it (regardless of who uncovers it).

UPDATE II: Heh … “It’s a quagmire!”:

Despite the President’s promise of a swift and decisive victory, Obama’s War on Fox News has developed all signs of an unwinnable quagmire, making the White House even more isolated in its unilateral attempts to crush the growing media insurgency. As the war continues to grind on for a second month, public opinion is shifting towards a quick and complete withdrawal. While many observers still agree that the “War on Limbaugh” is a “just and necessary war,” even the former supporters of the war effort are now labeling the War on Fox an “unnecessary war of choice” and claim that the cable channel had nothing to do with Obama’s falling approval numbers.



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16 Responses to White House Losing War On Fox News (updated)

  • McQThe entire effort here is to cut Fox from the herd and isolate them… It isn’t working. In fact Fox is enjoying a surge in viewership…

    I hope this is true. Have you got any data on this? I saw some recent viewer numbers that shows Fox dominating cable news in the late afternoon / primetime markets; IIRC, more people watch the blowhard O’Reilly than watch the other cable networks COMBINED. However, I don’t know whether this is due to TAO’s attacks on Fox or simply that cable viewers increasingly prefer FNC.

    McQThat approach brought a reproach from the grand old dame of the White House news corps, Helen Thomas, who makes no bones about her liberal “perspective”. And Jake Tapper from ABC was unimpressed as well. Both find the strategy to be offensive, petty and inappropriate. So do most Americans.

    So far as I know, Thomas (who was probably off her meds and now regrets what she said) and Tapper are the only MiniTru big guns to protest what the White House is doing. The silence from the rest of the White House press corps, and indeed MiniTru as a whole, is thunderous.

    As for the White House looking bad… sure: to an objective observer. But I suggest that they look “bad” in the way that a school bully looks “bad” when he picks on the kid that everybody hates. What do you expect MiniTru to do? At best, they will simply ignore TAO, Rahmbo, Tubby, and the rest of the hoodlums in the White House and continue to cover the news in the same way they’ve been doing, which is to say, grossly biased in favor of TAO and against his opponents. They’ve pretty much ignored anything broken by FNC (Van who? Isn’t ACORN some sort of nut?), and they will continue to do so. In short, the White House already has much of what it wants; they’re just making sure that everybody knows it.

  • {chuckle} You dense righties just hate it when Obama is right about something, don’t you. Fox News is so biased that what they report is nothing more than propaganda, and only thick and ideological righties like the ex-military basket cases that post here could be taken in by it.

    Thank goodness Obama, who has a Christlike visage and thinks like me, understands what Fox is and is prepared to take them on. They need to be completely marginalized because of their distortions. And don’t you dare bring up anything about faked memos, non-existent quotes, exploding pick-ups, or plagarists at major, totally respectable new organizations! Don’t you dare! Those were just minor mistakes.

    I’m sure Fox has done just as bad, and even worse, but of course I wouldn’t know because I’d rather be caught unprepared for a lecture to my adoring undergraduates than to watch Fox. But we in the faculty lounge all know just what Fox is. None of us watch them, but it’s enough that our wise, beneficent leader Obama has ostracized them.

    And that Tapper fellow better watch out, or he will tar ABC with the same brush as Fox. It would be much better to be like the New York Times, CBS, and especially MSNBC, whose objectivity and loyalty to the president never waver. Thank goodness we have such paragons of journalistic integrity to properly inform our citizenry of the wonder and joy of wise leftism.

  • Remember when they wanted a special shield law for journos? LOL. You know, to protect them from undue government pressure.

    If the Dems were the GOP, the headline every single day until he resigned would be about Rangel. EVERY DAY. Like during that stupid attorney thing. They could make even a boring scandal so obnoxiously over-covered that you would just agree to the idea just to get it off the air, though feel resentful of such BS.

    Oh, and we’d have #2 and #3 daily headlines of unemployment numbers (including discouraged workers) and the “grim milestone” from Afghanistan.

    The progressives are all about fairness in society. Hey, even criminals are that way because they have been unfairly treated. But they ever wonder what happens to those on the right who feel that they have no media voice? There’s a big wellspring that FOX, Rush etc. tap into. Its going to get stronger as independents join in.

    That Nobel Peace Prize is a big “clue in” for a lot of folks. Everyone heard about that, and large percentages said “huh, WTF?”

  • McQ: “Time for the White House to wave the white flag, call off the dogs and try to resurrect their flagging credibility.”

    There has never been any credibility. The whole thing has been a deception, multiple deceptions, from the beginning.

    These people don’t know how to tell the truth. It doesn’t even occur to them that there is such a thing. The truth to them is the lie they can establish in someone else’s mind.

  • I keep waiting for that little car packed with clowns to come out. Oh wait, … Gibbs.

  • To me anyway, Fox News is a legitimate Comedy Channel. I enjoy their news people, many of whom are caricatures, like a Foghorn Leghorn, Homer Simpson, or any number of others. And likewise the folks at MSNBC and other left leaning shows are as well. Guess what, that is what garners interest and improves ratings. They don’t report news, they exaggerate the news, from the left and from the right.

    All guys like Rush, Imus, Glen Beck, Olbermann (sp), need to further viewership are things like lot’s of gold bling, bullwhips, a talking parrot, and do their shows from the very center ring of a circus tent.

    “The function of the press in society is to inform, but its role in society is to make money.” A.J. Leibling

    • Kevin! Dude!

      Put the bong down and step back from table.

    • The funny thing is I can see Beck putting on the bling and the parrott VERY easily. Rush probably not so much.

      Fox is indeed enjoying a surge in viewers. Recently, the ratings showed that Fix had more “demo” viewers watching Red Eye @ 3:00AM as opposed to CNN primetime shows.

      I don’t know why Obama opened this war up anyway (besides being a whiny, thin-skinned b*tch). Most of the other media has proven to be VERY compliant and malleable to their suggestions.

    • Which begs the question, just exactly where do you get your news?

  • SS,

    We don’t smoke Marijuana in Muskogee.

    Besides what’s a bong, dude?

  • Presidents are expected to face criticism from a skeptical press corps. That’s how our system works. Some presidents take more of a beating than others; LBJ and W come immediately to mind.

    Johnson had two humorous comments.

    He said “being president is like being a jackass in a hailstorm, you just have to stand there and take it.”

    His second comment was that if he walked across the Potomac the headline would read “President Can’t Swim.”

    Even Jack Kennedy who was adored took criticism. I’m not a Kennedy fan, but he gave a 5 minute talk to the media that is worth hearing. Obama should listen to this very reasoned audio.

  • Shark,

    A guy walks into a bar (nuance doesn’t work with some here)

    You are too kind with your description of Obama but Ott Scerb will skin your sorry hide for your remarks. I kind of like his thinking.

    Of course the rest of the media is civil to all Presidents, even Bush always got rave reviews and was treated with kid gloves from the likes of CNBC and other right wing news organizations. McQ needs to quit focusing on issues and lighten up a bit, so “the ex-military basket cases that post here” could do some deep breathing exercises before they acutally do post.

    This Fox news bashing is hogwash. The ones that love it the most are the pundits that work there.

    Hey, Pogue Mahone, just because we are the incestual capitol of the world (no, universe) here in Muskogee doesn’t mean we shouldn’t participate in a cash crop that is bigger than all soybean and wheat production in the US.

    M.Haggard made us famous.

  • The idea that the White House can marginalize the leading cable news/entertainment channel is so laughable that the logic is something that only Möbius could enjoy.

    • The ability for the White House to achieve any success in the “War with Fox” is roughly equivalent to the “War on Team America” that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il attempted after it’s creators made him look like a fool in the movie, “Team America: World Police“.

      It was said that Kim Jong Il had ordered that the writers, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, be assassinated, a step that I don’t think Obama is ready to take.