Monday, October 19, 2009

Don't Tread on Fox

I've been thinking about the Obama administration going after Fox News. When David Axelrod took to the airwaves this weekend and said, "A lot of their news programming, it's really not news. It's pushing a point of view," why didn't George Stephanopolous ask Axelrod about Ed Schultz getting a front row seat to an Obama prime time press conference? Cleary the White House doesn't mind people who push a point of view, so why hasn't Sean Hannity been invited to a press conference? Why hasn't Bill O'Reilly? Or Glenn Beck?

And when Rahm Emanuel said, ""It's not a news organization so much as it has a perspective," then why didn't John King ask about Obama's appearance on "The Daily Show" or Michelle Obama's appearance on "The Colbert Report"? Certainly hosts like David Letterman and Jay Leno have their own unique perspective. That's one of the reasons we watch them, and Obama's made multiple appearances on both programs.

The White House is now declaring that America's most watched news network isn't news at all. Administrations dating back to Adams have declared certain members of the press to be enemies, but you may have to go back to the second presidency to find a case of an administration declaring war on (arguably) the most popular press. John Adams wasn't sold on the idea of the Alien and Sedition Acts, but he still signed them, and it very well may have cost him re-election. Declaring war on a portion of the press is a statement that you no longer want to hear from them or the people they represent. People don't like their government telling them that they're not worth listening to, and that's exactly what's happening these days. Representatives don't want to meet with constituents because they don't like what they're going to hear. A presidential administration says Fox News is faux news, and asks the other networks to light their torches and storm the castle. Those aren't the moves we expect our elected officials to make. We expect them to listen to us, and we are not being heard. Now the administration wants shut out what is arguably our loudest voice.

I have a feeling by the time this all plays out, the Obama administration will have created a million more fans of the network, and Obama will have lost further standing among the American people, at a time when he needs public support more than ever. Obama's personal approval ratings have been relatively stable, and much higher than the ratings on his handlings of issues. Now he's getting personal against the popular press, and I suspect that his popularity will take a hit as a result. Is there no one in the White House pragmatic enough to tell the president: Don't Tread on Fox?

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