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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Obama Steps Into the Fox News Fray

When pressed by an NBC interviewer, President Obama stepped into the fray over the growing war between the White House and Fox News.

President Obama spoke publicly for the first time Wednesday about his administration's portrayal of Fox News as an illegitimate news organization -- only to say he's not "losing sleep" over the controversy.

Obama, in an interview with NBC, at first attempted to deflect a question about the White House's criticism of Fox News, saying "the American people are a lot more interested in what we're doing to create jobs or how we're handling the situation in Afghanistan."

The interviewer then pressed, noting that Obama's advisers have targeted the network openly.

"I think that what our advisers simply said is, is that we are going to take media as it comes,"

Obama said. "And if media is operating, basically, as a talk radio format, then that's one thing. And if it's operating as a news outlet than that's another. But it's not something I'm losing a lot of sleep over."

This feud is fascinating to me because it's so absurd for the White House to do it. How can so many political operatives with political experience simply do something this self destructive? The only thing I can come up with is that the President has too many Chicago pols and they think that Chicago style politics will transfer in D.C.

This interview is important on two levels. First, it's clear that the rest of the media believes this is a story. So, the administration is put into a position to over and over try and demean Fox News. Second, the president is now on record comparing Fox News to talk radio. Of course, this is absurd. Fox News, for the most part, has straight news reporting. That's nothing like Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham. The whole thing is so petty it's stunning.

It also means that this story isn't going away for the time being. The media, in general, seems to have found a point of interest. They will continue to ask administration officials about this. Unless the administration boycotts all media they will have to answer this. As such, we will get the kind of ridiculous ad hominem attack that we just saw from the president. Without providing any evidence or data, he compared the twenty four hour broadcasting of Fox News to the opinion format of talk radio. Of course, no one can believe this is accurate.

So, what does it say about an administration that 1)picks a fight with one media and 2) mischaracterizes that media over and over in that fight? The longer this goes on the worse it is and yet the president, rather than cutting it off, added fuel to the fire. So, now, there is another week's worth of material for this story. Of course, when they're available for Sunday talk shows on every network but Fox News, some may ask again. Those answers will get filtered even more. The more this escalates the worse it will get. At this point, it will only escalate and the only way to stop it is for a mea culpa from the administration. Otherwise, this story will never go away, and that's just political suicide for the administration.


Anonymous said...

And who exactly is the President committing political suicide to? Fox News viewers? Who voted 88% for George Bush in 2004? He's supposed to lose sleep over alienating those people?

I guess the Beltway media could take offense to an attack on one of their own and rush to Fox's defense, but they were already doing that by parroting Fox News nonstories as front page material. Oh wait, they were already doing that before the White House antagonized Fox News, its the reason they antagonized them in the first place!

mike volpe said...

George Bush wasn't on the ballot in 2008, so I am not sure why you came up with that statement. Furthermore, I don't know that your number is accurate for 2004. In fact, a pew study found that Fox's audience was the most balanced of any of the three cable news networks. The president is playing into the stereotype of Fox news but in reality Fox News has an audience that crosses the spectrum.

It's about more than Fox News. This interview happened on NBC, and you hear a news network being described as a talk radio network. What happens if one of those people turns on Fox News and hears them do a news report. They're going to wonder if the president is crazy. They're doing this not on Fox News but on all the other stations. Jake Tapper has challenged them. Now, this reporter has challenged them. Soon, a lot of media will be challenging them. The reason this is political suicide is because their justifications are absurd. There's nothing real about them. They are nothing but ad hominem attacks.