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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Axelrod Escalates the War With Fox News

At the end of a long interview that covered everything from health care to the economy to the deficit, George Stephanopoulos interviewed President advisor David Axelrod. At the end of the interview, Stephanopoulos asked Axelrod about the previous weekend's statements by Anita Dunn about Fox News. Here's how Alexrod responded.

The only argument that Anita was making is that they are not really a news organization, if you watch even its not even their commentators, but a lot of their news program. It’s really not news, it’s pushing a point of view and the bigger thing is that other news organizations like yours, ought not to treat them that way. And we’re not going to treat them that way, we’re going to appear on their shows and participate, but understanding that they represent a point of view.

Now, at moments like this, administrations have two options. The first option is to diplomatically walk their comments back. There are ways to signal that an official (in this case Dunn) spoke out of turn without seeming too weak or putting down the official. The other option is to ramp up the position. Clearly, the administration has chosen the second.

I'd love to know what the administration hopes to accomplish by escalating this self created war because I am at a loss. First, the first sign of a weak argument is the vague and unspecific language used by Axelrod, much like Dunn herself. What Axelrod said could be said by anyone about anyone or anything. It's a series of inflammatory rhetoric with absolutely no evidence or facts behind it. That's the sort of childish rhetoric that one would expect of a blogger. The White House should be held to a higher standard and if they're going to make a statement like this, they should have evidence behind it.

Furthermore, if, in fact, Fox News is NOT a news station like other networks, then why show up. The president is NOT required to come on the Daily Show, the late night shows, or any other entertainment network. If Fox News isn't even news, why come on. This is that much more ironic given that the administration isn't coming on Fox News. So, while they claim they'll show up, they aren't actually showing up.

This is all cheap and it's obvious. The White House is taking pot shots at Fox News but they're doing it in front of more sympathetic media. That way they aren't challenged when they make these sort of nonsensical statements. For instance, Anita Dunn claimed that Fox News didn't cover the affair of Senator Ensign. Well, Terry McAuliffe was on Fox News Sunday this morning and Chris Wallace played McAuliffe tape of Fox News talking about that scandal. If the administration ever showed up on Fox News, they would be challenged and their rhetoric would be exposed for nothing but empty rhetoric. This is the sort of thing that we did in high school. Rather than confronting someone, we talk about about them to one of their friends, or, more likely, one of our friends. It's the sort of stunt that's beneath the office and it accomplishes nothing but cheapen the office.


Jeremy Nicoll said...

Eh, if they keep talking about it more people will watch Fox News. Abuse is the highest form of flattery. Not that I'm a big fan of Fox News but it's a bit refreshing to see something other than Obama-god worship on the other stations.

Anonymous said...

Fox takes the facts and then interprets and reports them using inflammatory ideas and words which are unacceptable to a large potion of Americans. IF it were to be more impartial it would gain in status beyond the way most citizens view it as an example of Limbaugh TV.

mike volpe said...

That last comment is typical of the ad hominem attacks on Fox News. If you have evidence of your assertion, then bring it forward. If not, then you're just a propagandist.

Anonymous said...

The admin. is quite happy to engage every one of America's foreign enemies, and yet they want to disengage from what is perceived to be their main domestic enemy?

No sense in that is there?

Anonymous said...

The thing about cheap political points is that they're cheap. Its entirely possible the administration is going after Fox because they need to do something to keep the faith with their base as they prepare to abandon the public option.