This past week, Fox News executive Michael Clemente met with President Obama’s press secretary Robert Gibbs at the White House. While no footage of a meeting that supposedly lasted twenty minutes was provided, it wouldn’t be ridiculous if you said two grown men in suits exchanged a series of hot and vicious slaps before taking their seats at the table.
It’s been such a wonderful love affair between Fox News and the Obama administration.
This latest saga began a couple of weeks ago, when White House communications director Anita Dunn, appearing on CNN, took the opening shots at the network.
“Let’s not pretend they’re a news network,” she said. “Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communication arm of the Republican Party.”
And this was soon followed by other aides in the administration joining the assault front. White House chief-of-staff for instance, Rahm Emanuel, appearing on CNN, said the President considers Fox News “not a news organization so much as it has a perspective.”
And Mr. Clemente for his part vehemently defended his network: “Surprisingly, the White House continues to declare war on a news organization instead of focusing on the critical issues that Americans are concerned about like jobs, health care and two wars.”
It is no secret that there’s been a feud between the Democratic Party and the Fox network. Feelings that are now only brought back to daylight with the presence of a Democratic administration in the White House.
Sure, it’s hard but not impossible to find a news channel or network in the nation without any ideological or political leaning.
Inasmuch as the White House attacks Fox on being insanely partisan, the Obama administration also has an insanely partisan ally in MSNBC.
Both networks boast stars that shamelessly advocate their ideologies, distorting and polluting news analysis in the process.
But the White House, in trying to rationalize its assault on Fox does make a valid point. And that is, in spite of the love or scrutiny the administration can expect from other channels, Fox News not so subtly seem to be on a war path. It seems employees and affiliates of the organization live for one single purpose – seek and destroy all Democratic initiatives.
So in a sense, I can’t blame the president and his aides for eschewing the network in their rounds of interviews promoting the administration’s agenda. I know when I watch Fox News, it’s Democrat-bashing all the way and it will be stupid for a Democratic president to expect a fair shake from openly antagonistic interviewers.
Fox, up until the meeting this past week, had not shown any incline to relent. The president had a prime time news conference in July and a Healthcare Reform address before Congress in September; Fox alone failed to televise both on its staple channel. Instead, it showed “So You Think You Can Dance” on both occasions.
If this is not an affront to a sitting president, what is?
And of course, the White House has received so much flak for its stance on Fox. Rogue Fox contributor, Karl Rove, who was at the center of virtually every indecency during the Bush years chastised the president. Speaking on “Fox News Sunday” — “This is a White House engaging in its own version of the media enemies list. It is unhelpful for the country and undignified for the president of the United States.”
And right there, I believe, is another tragedy of this whole melodrama. Where were Mr. Rove and like-minded folks when George W. Bush made it official state policy to not engage the press? At least, Mr. Obama has reversed such course and is now only seeking “fair-shake” journalism from those who seek to engage.
I do not remember Fox News or Mr. Rove for that matter, lambasting Mr. Bush when for almost six years he repeatedly turned down the invitations of the NAACP to speak at its convention. He finally did in 2006, when it became clear it was a repudiating eyesore.
What about his meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus only once during his eight years in office? It seems clear that for a network that has “fair and balanced” as its slogan, its only care for foul cry is when its cheeks are not being pampered.
I cannot stand to watch Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, just as I do not blow kisses at Sean Hannity on Fox. But the saving grace for MSNBC is that it does have less radical points of view on its network who have a discernible voice. One will be hard-pressed to say the same about Fox, where the motto ought to be “United We Stand.”
I cannot forecast how this shakes out in coming days and weeks. But this much can be said, the Obama administration has exercised its right and has done due diligence in bringing Fox to task. Until Fox can show it not only thrives on Democratic flesh and blood, it deserves the boycott it continues to get from this administration.