Since its inception in 1996, none of the opponents of Fox News knew what to do with the network. It slowly grew, then it took over the ratings lead in 2004. Since then it has grown in ratings nearly non stop and continues to not only be number one but increase it ratings into the present.
Its opponents have done what everyone does to news outlets. They tried to marginalize and pigeonhole the network as a shill for the Republican party. While this has done absolutely nothing to stop their ratings juggernaut, it has made Fox News a lightning rod in the political world.
Often liberal politicians use Fox News as a punching bag to score points with appropriate constituencies. This was best characterized in the last election when during the Democratic Party, John Edwards lead all the major Democratic candidates in boycotting Fox News' debates.
The President has been doing something similar since even before being elected. What's peculiar is that he has continued to make Fox News a punching bag even after he was elected. He did it again today.
In politics, as often in life, perception is reality. The perception in most quarters is that Fox News is a Republican shill. The president said that Fox News is devoted to attacking him and that you couldn't usually find even one positive story about him on the network in any given day.
Like I said, perception is often reality, but the president should make sure that the perception is reality. Fox News probably leans right, but it also has plenty of left voices. Its contributors include Bob Beckel, Susan Estrich (both former presidential campaign managers), Juan Williams, Dr. Mark Lamont Hill, Kirsten Powers, Geraldine Ferraro, Geraldo Rivera, and Ellen Ratner. In fact, whatever failings Fox News has in objectivity, it is much less severe than any of their opponents. At some point, an objective analysis will be done and I would bet that Fox News would be seen as much more fair than any of their competitors.
There is a much more important point here. Republicans have often made the New York Times, NBC, and the MSM in general as a similar. The difference is that all those outlets were losing power. Republicans attacked a fading power.
President Obama has decided to make his political enemy a rising power. By November 2010, Fox News will likely be even more powerful than it is now. By making them his punching bag, he is also taking on a growing audience. After all, any loyal viewer of Fox News is attacked by extension. Is it really wise to take on the media outlet that stands out as the one and only that continues to grow. Elections are decided by only a few million people often and that may just be the growth of Fox News in the next two to four years.
The other troubling part of all of this is that the president continues to make a habit of calling out opponents, real and perceived, by name. Everyone from Rush Limbaugh, to Sean Hannity, to Rick Santelli, to Jim Cramer, and most recently the American Medical Association, have been demonized after butting heads with the president. This appears to be a sign of someone with awfully thin skin. He can't seem to accept criticism and rise above it. He must challenge each and every bit of it. That doesn't bode very well for him over the next four years.