Despite campaign pledges to use diplomatic channels to solve conflicts, the Obama administration continued this week to escalate and return fire in its war of words with Fox News Channel. While receiving support from some on the left, the media fell silent and pundits increasingly looked on the conflict as ill-conceived and distracting for the White House as it continues to attempt a soft landing for the healthcare bill. Politico, the Huffington Post, RedState, and Daily Kos all parachuted onto the battlefield and in the process perpetuated the story long past its expiration date.
Leon Wolf over at Red State wrote in his post “Dear President Obama: Please Continue the War on Fox News”:
“Now that Obama has shown the way; to wit, that a President is perfectly free to blackball any news organization that says anything he doesn’t like, the next Republican President will have a much easier time kicking MSNBC off Air Force One. In fact, I wish we could just speed up this entire kabuki dance and develop a set of permanent political blacklists; Republicans refuse to go on MSNBC and CNN, Democrats refuse to go on FoxNews, etc. etc. At long last the media will have shed the last vestiges of being the objective arbiters of truth and reporting and it will be evident to the whole world which side a given “news” organization is a mouthpiece for based on which politicians will grant them interviews. When that day comes, everyone will look at all news reports examining them for agendas and biases with a critical eye that has been deserved for decades. And since the media is still overwhelmingly left-wing, the aggregate result of their collective defrocking will be a bonus for our side.”
Jed Lewison at Daily Kos took an obviously different view from RedState and linked to a video from Media Matters in his post “It’s not the White House War on Fox, stupid”:
“Only in Roger Ailes’ strange little world is the White House ‘declaring war’ by stating the simple and obvious fact that Fox is a media outlet with an agenda.”
Politico’s Michael Calderone blogged Friday that cracks were beginning to show in the White House’s attempts to wall out Fox News from coverage of the administration in his post “Bureau chiefs band together for Fox”:
“After the White House got involved with Treasury’s decision whether or not to allow Fox News in a round robin of interviews with “pay czar” Kenneth Feinberg, the five networks bureau chiefs banded together until Fox was permitted in. The joint action shows one of the difficulties if the administration tries to marginalize Fox, especially when that disrupts the network pool.”
Finally, Danny Shea rounded out the week of Executive Branch-Fourth Estate media wars by blogging on the Huffington Post in his article “Fox News Exec on Attempted Feinberg Interview Snub: We Requested Feinberg Interview, Gibbs Acknowledged Mistake”:
“A Fox News executive told the Huffington Post Saturday that the network ‘absolutely” did request an interview with Obama administration “pay czar” Kenneth Feinberg and that the White House acknowledged a mistake on the part of a Treasury department staffer in failing to initially include Fox News in the round of interviews Feinberg conducted Thursday.”
This kind of sparring between the president and media is nothing new and in fact, goes back for decades. Despite Fox News’ slanted coverage in favor of conservative causes and MSNBC’s spin in favor of liberal causes, the systematic targeting of a media organization simply because the administration does not agree with its coverage contradicts the politics of “hope” and “change” that Obama integrated into his campaign message. Both Fox and MSNBC are personally embarrassing yet equally humorous to watch. While their “reporting” of the “news” leaves much to be desired, the president does not have the privilege of media targeting. What say you? Was this a real story or an attempt to distract both the media and administration from the real issues the United States must face?