What's The White House War Against Fox News All About, Really?
What's The White House War against Fox News all about, really? And could it backfire?
I've tried to ignore the questions because I'm pretty sure that no one outside the Beltway and outside Fox's audience could care one Don Whitman about it.
Journalists, even those not aligned with Fox, tend to think the White House is being immature. Fox is reveling in the issue. Liberal activists are shaking their fists in excitement: finally, finally, an institution is admitting that the emperor has no clothes, that Fox, which has so discredited journalism, is now being discredited on a major scale. Media commentators wonder why, if Obama can talk to Iran, his administration refuses to talk to Fox. Bob Carr suggests that even if Fox News is babyish, the President ought to act like an adult. House Republicans and the talk radio crowd see "Chicago style politics" at work. The Atlantic Wire's Max Fisher believes that Allahpundit has uncovered what the White House is really afraid of:
The White House must be panicking at the thought that the "legitimate" media will only ignore these stories for so long before the lure of bigger, Foxier ratings finally proves too much. Ideological solidarity only goes so far; as Axelrod himself acknowledged about FNC, ultimately the news nets are in business to make money. So here he and Emanuel are, leaning on them not only to ignore Fox but to ignore stories that Fox covers, as if the underlying facts are somehow tainted by association ("Let's make sure that we keep perspective on what are the most important stories"). Creepy.
Forget all this for a second. Here's why the White House thinks it's at war with Fox. It's not that there aren't good journalists at the network; it's not that Fox features the opinions of Republicans, it's simply that, at a certain point, White House officials believed that it was no longer tactically sound to treat Fox as a news organization that, despite a quirk or two, pursued the truth with any reasonable detachment from the passions of the day. That is -- all of these larger arguments about whether the White House is an institution, whether the President should be mature -- none of these matter. What matters is: can the President's political standing be diminished because his administration decides not to pretend that, for the most part, Fox News opposes its agenda? The White House brain trust has answered: no. Since Fox's audience, in this age of atomized media, is fairly large, is the president missing an opportunity to talk to people that could find their minds changed? Maybe, but the White House has calculated that the benefits of calling Fox what they see it is -- is worth the small number of undecided folks who get their information from the channel. Finally, in uniting Fox with Republican talk radio, the White House is helping to prove what they're asserting: that Fox is an ideological advocacy group with access to cable.