Media revolts against Obama's attempt to blacklist Fox News
October 23, 1:34 AM
Des Moines Conservative Examiner
The Obama administration's war on Fox has turned the usually fawning media against the President. Thursday's attempt to exclude Fox News from a round of network interviews with a White House official backfired. Very badly.
One of Obama's three dozen czars was made available to the network pool members, which include Fox, CNN, NBC, CBS and ABC. However, in yet another attempt to attack de-legitimize Fox News, the White House told FNC they would not be allowed to participate in the interviews.
Thankfully, the Washington bureau chiefs for the other networks rallied to Fox's defense. They told the Obama administration that none of them would do the interviews if Fox was excluded. Obama's minions relented.
The support of the other networks was more about protecting the First Amendment, and their own hides, than it was about helping Fox News. The networks are smart enough to realize that excluding one particular media member from White House coverage sets a dangerous precedent.
The moment also provided a nice push back against the bullying tactics Obama's top two advisors tried on CNN and ABC last Sunday. It also comes in direct contradiction to a statement made by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday, when he claimed he would not dictate who belongs in the media pool. That is exactly what Gibbs' office attempted to do three days later, by excluding Fox.
Barack Obama and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel also flat-out lied to us this week when they claimed they were not focusing on Fox News. That is exactly what they are doing. Three senior staffers, the President, and the White House website are all using our tax dollars to go after one specific member of the media, because FNC airs stories that do not always jibe with Obama's liberal agenda.
Obama even whined about Fox News during an off-the-record meeting with the most liberal members of the national media, including MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. Fox's commentators are certainly no worse than Olbermann and Maddow in terms of expressing their point of view. The only difference is MSNBC's hosts are liberal, and tend to support Obama. Fox's are more conservative, and tend to oppose him. You cannot claim Fox is not a legitimate news organization because they express a point of view, without doing the same to MSNBC. But Obama would never attack MSNBC. He needs them to boost his ever-dwindling poll numbers.
Fox News is the least of Obama's problems. Between growing job losses, a record $1.4 trillion deficit, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Al Qaeda, Russia, rising gas prices, and health care, you would think this administration has plenty of things to occupy its time. Instead of fixing problems, they go after their critics.
If really he wanted to know who to blame for America's woes, Barack Obama should take a good look at the face that stares back at him in the mirror. But the narcissistic president is simply too much in love with what he sees.
Fox News relishes Obama administration scorn
By Matea Gold
October 26, 2009
Reporting from New York - It's been a long time since Fox News, which avidly cultivates its outsider status, got to play the underdog. But after White House aides recently labeled the top-rated cable news channel "a wing of the Republican Party" and argued that it is not a news network, Fox News found itself back in a spot it relishes: firing back at a more powerful adversary.
The salvos by administration officials have rallied liberals who complain that the channel has a conservative agenda. The activist group MoveOn instantly jumped in the fray, urging Democrats to stay off Fox News programs.
But the White House's stance also gave extra lift to the network at a time when it is on track to record its best ratings year ever. This year, Fox News has averaged nearly 1.2 million viewers across all its programming, a 16% increase over the same period last year, according to Nielsen. In the two weeks since aides to President Obama took after the coverage, the audience has been 8% larger than the previous two weeks.
If anything, the Obama administration has succeeded in reinforcing Fox News' identity as a thorn in the side of the establishment -- a role the network loves to play.
"We may be No. 1, but there is sort of an insurgent quality to Fox News," said senior political analyst Brit Hume. "And that's kind of our attitude: 'Hoist a Jolly Roger, pull out our daggers and look for more throats to slit.' This is tremendous fodder for us. My lord, we've been living on it."
Glenn Beck, the network's newest star, gleefully unveiled a red telephone on his set, saying it was a special line for the White House to use to correct any mistakes he makes. Sean Hannity proudly labeled his program "Not White House approved." And Bill O'Reilly repeatedly hammered the White House in his nightly editorial.
"There is something very disturbing about the Obama administration fighting harder against Fox News than against the Taliban," he said last week.
Administration officials said they anticipated that Fox would try to capitalize on their remarks but felt they had to push back against the network's torrent of criticism.
"They were misrepresenting our programs and policies," said White House Communications Director Anita Dunn. "They were attacking members of the administration. And they were organizing political opposition on their shows. We wanted to set the record straight."
Fox News executives said the administration is failing to distinguish between their commentators and news programs.
"They talk about the opinion shows and they say, 'See, you're not doing journalism,' " said Michael Clemente, the channel's senior vice president of news, calling the contention that Fox News is not a news organization a "smear."
"I think it reinforces the fact that on the news side, we're the people that will ask the right questions, whatever those questions are," he added.
The back-and-forth is the latest chapter in a tortured relationship between Obama and Fox News. Early in the 2008 presidential campaign, he mostly steered clear of the channel amid pressure from liberal activists, forcing the cancellation of two Fox-hosted debates. But as the Democratic primary race moved to swing states such as Indiana, Obama stepped up his appearances on the network. He even granted O'Reilly a sit-down in September.
Tensions returned after Obama's victory. The network gave ample coverage to the "tea party" rallies protesting the administration's spending, with its hosts urging viewers to participate. Beck called Obama a racist and doggedly went after White House aides such as "green jobs" advisor Van Jones, slamming him for signing a petition questioning whether the U.S. had a role in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Jones ultimately resigned. The story was belatedly picked up by the rest of the media, prompting editors at the New York Times and other news organizations to say they needed to watch the network more closely.
The idea of Fox News setting the news agenda alarmed White House officials, who decided to vocalize their criticism of its coverage to try to dissuade other reporters from following the network's lead.
"I think the mainstream media has to ask themselves at a time when there are wars, when there is a bad economy, when there are huge challenges facing this country, whether they want to chase a narrow political agenda," Dunn said.
It's unclear whether the tactic will be effective. Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, said that "if someone else breaks a good story, and if -- important if -- our own reporting backs it up, we'll run it. Even if it's Fox."
Los Angeles Times Editor Russ Stanton took a similar stance, saying, "We would follow any news story -- after confirming the facts and figuring out a way to advance it -- if we believed it was important to the readers of the Los Angeles Times, regardless of the organization or individual that broke it."
News executives at the other broadcast and cable television networks declined to comment on the dust-up. But there are signs that some in their ranks are uncomfortable with the White House's tack. Last week, ABC senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper quizzed Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about the appropriateness of the White House determining what constituted a news organization.
On Thursday, the Washington bureau chiefs of the networks balked when the Treasury Department sought to exclude Fox from a series of interviews with executive pay czar Kenneth Feinberg that was being filmed with a pool camera. The bureau chiefs insisted that Fox be included because it was part of the five-network pool, said CBS bureau chief Christopher Isham. "There was no debate," he said.
A senior administration official said the White House had not told Treasury to exclude Fox, and Gibbs told correspondent Major Garrett it had been a mistake.
On NBC last week, Obama tried to play down the dispute.
"What our advisors have simply said is that we are going to take media as it comes," he 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, then that's another thing. But it's not something I'm losing a lot of sleep over."
Mr. President, please grow a pair
Published: October 28, 2009, 12:00 am ET
By Mike Padovano
During the past two weeks, the apparent war between the White House and Fox News has become more than just a minor blip on the political radar, but a major story. Each day there are numerous articles, from multiple news sources – CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Bloomberg, the Huffington Post and just about every newspaper and blog imaginable. Some will claim this whole debate is a waste of time, which might be true. This is why it’s important to remember who it was who forced us to have this debate to begin with: White House officials.
This whole spectacle began a few weeks ago when White House officials called out Glenn Beck for confusing the facts on the Olympics, and since has turned into a back-and-forth cat fight, with three senior advisers to Barack Obama calling Fox News “illegitimate” and calling on other news outlets to no longer treat Fox as legitimate journalism. Since then, Robert Gibbs has pointed to Beck and Sean Hannity as the real problems with Fox.
Now it’s obvious that White House officials and Fox have never had a great relationship, but what has happened recently is something that has not been seen since Richard Nixon was in office. It’s pretty funny, and sad at the same time, that the Obama administration feels so threatened by Fox News. After all, as the president’s approval ratings have been falling, Fox News’ ratings have been climbing, and it now attracts more viewers than all the other cable news networks combined, so maybe it is something to fear.
This has forced the administration to realize that its policies are not flying in mainstream America. With Fox as its most vocal opponent, it figures that by forcing the country to re-examine Fox, people will see the light and go crawling back into the arms of Obama. Unfortunately, this debate has fired up the right even more than it already was. By claiming Fox News is illegitimate, do the people watching it have illegitimate concerns? Furthermore, if Beck and Hannity are reasonable enough to claim Fox is illegitimate, shouldn’t Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow be enough to make MSNBC illegitimate? No, because MSNBC doesn’t criticize the administration at all.
Unfortunately for White House officials, this is yet another issue to blow up in their faces. Once again, Obama has shown his willingness to get sidetracked on trivial, stupid matters. Just like the professor Gates situation, and flying to Europe to petition for the Olympics, Obama is wasting critical time when decisions have to be made.
That there is no strategy for Afghanistan, yet Obama and his administration feel they can waste time on TV talking about Fox, is something that worries me, and should worry you. Obviously, Fox has a certain bias; the only people who don’t think so are those with Fox itself. But, people who want to watch Hannity and Beck are going to do so, regardless of what the administration says.
By getting involved, the administration is showing it’s willing to get involved in the media. Whether it be to regulate, there is no place for government interference with the media. That Fox’s ratings are growing every day means concerns about taxes, deficit and government intervention are real and spreading.
Rather than wasting time attacking people who share different views, White House officials should address these issues and prove them to be false. Beck frequently points to the government’s ever-growing role in our lives. By its willingness to take a position in the media, the administration has only shown these allegations to be all the more true.
Imagine if George W. Bush made a fuss every time he was treated unfairly by a news organization. He probably would’ve been impeached for violating the Constitution. Obama won’t be able to change the views of Hannity or Beck; but that doesn’t matter because they aren’t journalists, nor do they claim to be. They are entertainers who get high ratings by saying ridiculous things, so the best way to deal with them is to ignore them.
As the president, Obama’s duty is to rise above these entertainers and other negative press, and focus on doing his job. If Bush could put up with multiple networks calling him names for eight years, Obama can handle it from one network.
I hope the American public will soon realize that once again a distraction has been created for it. But before we move past this, as we had to do with the Professor Gates fiasco, who keeps bringing these ludicrous things into the public eye? Not Fox News, but Obama. If he is so focused on having a meaningful debate on the issues, why is he saying his opposition is illegitimate and why is he wasting precious time debating things that don’t matter?
If this is how the administration reacts when it is afraid, or in the face of someone who opposes it, I am afraid to think about how it will handle a real crisis or emergency. Will it go on different channels and complain that someone is being unfair or work toward proving its critics wrong? I guess only time will tell
Obama's war on Fox News provides big ratings boost
October 26, 11:54 PM
Des Moines Conservative Examiner
Barack Obama's war on Fox News Channel is paying huge dividends. For Fox News. While Obama's approval numbers are sinking below the 50 percent mark, FNC's ratings are higher than ever.
Two weeks ago, the Obama White House began its assault on Fox News Channel, with communications director Anita Dunn calling the channel a "research arm of the Republican Party." Since that time, FNC's ratings are up almost 10 percent. Even more important, the ratings leaped 14 percent in the coveted 25-54 year old demographic.
Glenn Beck, who is particularly despised by the thin-skinned Obama administration, now owns the second highest rated show in all of cable news. Beck's show airs at 5 pm eastern, three hours before prime time viewing even begins. Altogether, FNC has the top 11 highest rated shows in cable news, and 13 of the top 14. Thanks in part to Obama's inadvertent help, FNC is on pace for its best ratings year ever.
The Obama administration has used its heaviest hitters to attack Fox News. The President's top two advisors tried to bully ABC and CNN into not following up on stories first reported by Fox. The networks pushed back when the White House tried to exclude Fox from network pool coverage. Then, when the Obama administration lied and claimed they did not try to block FNC, CBS News exposed their fraud.
Obama joined the fray by saying the channel is more like talk radio than a news outlet. This statement exposes the President's extreme hypocrisy. MSNBC is every bit as opinionated at Fox News. But since MSNBC is liberal, they receive praise, not scorn. In fact, their two most boisterous hosts were invited to the White House last week to listen to Obama whine even more about Fox News.
Even Obama's liberal supporters believe this war with Fox is a losing strategy for the White House. Fox, on the other hand, hopes the White House fires more ammunition. They are laughing all the way to bank.
Oct. 23, 2009
President Obama's Feud with FOX News
After Months of Taking Heat from FOX News Stars, the White House is Firing Back
White House Takes Aim at Fox News
(CBS) After months of taking incoming fire from the prime-time stars of Fox News, the Obama White House is firing back, charging that FOX News is different from all other news.
"FOX News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican party," said Anita Dunn, White House communications director.
"If media is operating basically as a talk radio format, then that's one thing, and if it's operating as a news outlet, then that's another," Mr. Obama said.
And the White House has gone beyond words, reports CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield. Last Sept. 20, the president went on every Sunday news show - except Chris Wallace's show on FOX. And on Thursday, the Treasury Department tried to exclude FOX News from pool coverage of interviews with a key official. It backed down after strong protests from the press.
"All the networks said, that's it, you've crossed the line," said CBS News White House correspondent Chip Reid.
Tension between presidents and the press is as old as the Republic. FDR was so incensed by the war reporting of one New York Daily News correspondent he tried to present him with an Iron Cross from Nazi Germany. John Kennedy tried to get New York Timesman David Halberstam pulled out of Vietnam; and Vice-President Spiro Agnew's assaults on the network press is legendary.
"We have more than our share of nattering nabobs of negativism," Agnew said.
What gives this dust-up special irony is that FOX News success comes in no small part from its ability to convince its viewers that the "mainstream" media are slanted to the left. Now, the White House is arguing that the network is not a real news organization at all, and that has brought some mainstream media voices to its defense.
There's no question that FOX's prime-time voices come from the right. Moreover, its owner, Rupert Murdoch is a staunch conservative, and its first and only CEO, Roger Ailes, is a veteran of Republican media wars.
But MSNBC in prime-time has its own lineup of commentators - all of whom are on the left side of the spectrum, some of whom met with the president the White House this week.
So why is the White House out to "de-legitimize" FOX? Not because it has opinions, but because its opinion voices are so hostile to Mr. Obama - and because FOX News is, as it has been for a decade, by far the most watched of the cable news networks. In fact, its ratings have increased 13 percent this summer. So if FOX is feeling any pain from the White House's stance, it's crying all the way to the bank.
Fox News Feud
October 26, 2009 04:29 PM ET
It does not matter what Fox says about the president, it is the freedom of a true democracy to allow the voice of opposition ["White House: Fox Pushed Team Obama Over the Brink," usnews.com]. It is not the leader's position to say which opposition is accurate and which isn't; in fact, this is entirely irrelevant to the position of a leader. Furthermore, it is not the place of any leader of a "free nation" to muffle the sounds of a voice; no matter how inaccurate it is. That is not freedom of speech. It is the leader's freedom to choose not to listen to that voice, and that is exactly what President Obama should have done.
Fox News Channel, Obama administration talking
By DAVID BAUDER (AP)
NEW YORK — Fox News Channel and the Obama administration are talking.
The network confirmed a Politico report that Fox news executive Michael Clemente met at the White House on Wednesday with Robert Gibbs, President Barack Obama's press secretary. There were no details given about the meeting.
Fox has been battling with the administration, which contends the network operates more like a wing of the Republican Party than a news organization.
The meeting came a day after Fox anchor Shepard Smith apologized for a "lack of balance" following a political report where the Republican candidate for New Jersey governor was interviewed and the Democratic incumbent wasn't.
Fox correspondent Shannon Bream had wrapped up a live interview with GOP candidate Chris Christie on Smith's afternoon news show Tuesday when the anchor asked, "When will you be interviewing Jon Corzine?"
Bream replied that despite "multiple requests," Corzine hadn't made himself available for an interview.
"I didn't know that was about to happen," Smith then said. "My apologies for the lack of balance there. If I had control, it wouldn't have happened."
Smith is the network's chief news anchor and has even angered Fox viewers with some of his stories, including expressions of anger at the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina.
During Smith's second newscast on Tuesday evening, a New Jersey report included a Corzine sound bite given to the Fox broadcast network's New York affiliate.
The race in New Jersey is one of two marquee contests in 2009, along with the gubernatorial campaign in Virginia. Corzine trailed Christie in the early stages of the campaign, but recent polls show the governor has closed the gap.
Meanwhile, Fox received support Wednesday from an unlikely source: CNN's prime-time host Campbell Brown. She interviewed Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and asked whether the White House considered left-leaning MSNBC biased as well. Jarrett wouldn't speak about the network.
She "seems loathe to admit that MSNBC has a bias," Brown said. "And that is where I think the White House loses all credibility on this issue."
If the White House wants to talk about bias in the media, officials "should elevate the conversation and talk about bias on the right and on the left," Brown said. "Because when you just target one side, you reveal your own bias — that you are only critical of those who are critical of you."
Fox, White House Said To Agree To Truce
by Charles Cooper
(CBS)Looks as if Fox News and the White House caught the holiday spirit a couple of months early. Not exactly peace in our time, but at least it's a start.
A report late Wednesday by FishbowlDC (and subsequently confirmed by Politico,) brings word of a truce following a meeting between Fox News senior vice president, Michael Clemente, and White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs.
From my (admittedly narrow) perspective, I must confess that I'm sorry to see the abrupt end of what was turning into a prime-time novella. For a blogger looking for easy pickings, this ridiculous cat fight was simply too easy to lampoon. But let's acknowledge the obvious: both sides wised up and did the right thing. (The biz dev guys would describe it as a win-win.)
From the get-go, there was little upside for the Obama administration. After being singled out as unfair, Fox easily turned the tables on the White House and played the role of plucky underdog to its advantage. The ruckus also gave the unholy trinity of Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck more fodder than they knew what to do with. The Fox freeze-out also left the White House seeming petty and prickly. When Barack Obama started getting mentioned in the same breath as Richard Nixon, the PR geniuses counseling the president ought to have recalibrated the White House media strategy in a big hurry.
Meanwhile any temporary ratings boost, notwithstanding, Fox didn't come out of this episode smelling like a rose. The network's protestations that it accorded a fair shake to a liberal Democratic administration invited a new round of complaints that Rupert Murdoch's minions sorely failed to live up to the network's professed standard of being `fair and balanced.' That may not bother the red meat eaters who comprise the network's core audience. But the legions of journalists and producers who work at Fox aren't any different than the folks who go to work at the other electronic media outlets. They want to get stories first and they want to get them accurately - a big enough job by itself. Having to defend themselves from charges of reportorial bias was not something they signed up for.
Of course, a cease fire isn't worth the paper it's written on if the two sides fail to find common ground. Let's see how long the truce lasts. Think it will last through Christmas?