In Defense of Fox News

Journalists explain why the White House should stand down

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In the White House's war of words with Fox News, some journalists have sided with the administration line that the network isn't a "real," fair-minded news organization. But in the last day, a surprising number of journalists from rival media organizations are speaking up in Fox's defense, saying that the White House war against Fox News is puzzling, misguided, and self-defeating.

  • Fox News Is Not 'Public Enemy No. 1'  At Politics Daily, David Corn--a liberal who used to appear on Fox News--says the White House is spending to much effort on an unimportant distraction:
Whatever Obama and his aides are attempting, they're doing it with a heavy hand. That's probably a mistake. Fox is a distraction, an irritant. It's true that Beck has been scoring boffo ratings -- topping 3 million watchers on special nights -- which is good for cable but still not a gigantic audience in a country this size. Tom DeLay had seven times or so that amount of viewers when he did his "Wild Thing" on "Dancing With the Stars." (There's no solid figure for Rush Limbaugh's audience, but a decent estimate is that he draws about 14 million listeners a week.)

Rather than react in a huffy manner to Fox -- which provides an alternative reality to outraged conservatives who feel lost in Obama's America -- the White House ought to opt for what I'd call strategic derision.... Fox is not important enough to be treated as Public Enemy No. 1.
  • The White House Looks Weak At The Atlantic, Matthew Cooper says attacking Fox News makes the Obama administration look small. "Engagement has been the mantra of the Obama years. Talk to your enemies. If the White House can reach out to the Iranians and North Koreans, for gosh sakes, they can talk to Shepard Smith. As for me, I'll keep watching Rachel Maddow."
  • Don't Bully the Press  Josh Gerstein and Mike Allen at The Politico say the media's reaction to the White House attacks on Fox "has been less outrage, and more puzzlement as to what Obama's aides hope to gain by taking on the network so forcefully." Gerstein and Allen say that while Fox isn't beloved by everyone in the press corps, the Obama administration should understand that "White House grudges against news outlets and individual journalists have a long and storied history." They note that many journalists are rightly skeptical when politicians stick their nose in the fourth estate.
  • An Attack On One is an Attack on All  As the Atlantic Wire noted on Tuesday, ABC's Jake Tapper took on White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, referring to Fox News as a "sister" organization. "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," Tapper said. "Can you explain why it's appropriate for the White House to decide that a news organization is not one?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.