Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Maybe I should watch the Sunday-morning news shows... they seem to be getting more and more entertaining:
Attacking the news media is a time-honored White House tactic but to an unusual degree, the Obama administration has narrowed its sights to one specific organization, the Fox News Channel, calling it, in essence, part of the political opposition.(Later: she's doubling down on that comment.)
“We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent,” said Anita Dunn, the White House communications director, in a telephone interview on Sunday. “As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”
Uh, Ms. Dunn, it's called journalism. In this case, that means holding the President to his promises and announcing things that seem newsworthy, even if they could hurt the President's standings in the polls.
(Or perhaps that should be "because they could hurt the President's standings in the polls"... which certainly seemed to be the policy of the major networks in the six years or so before Mr. Obama became President. Remember the slogans of those years? "Speaking truth to power"... "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable"... "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism". I'd think those slogans would apply just as firmly to a Democrat President as to a Republican, no?)
The funny part is that while the Obama Administration treats Fox News as an "enemy", Fox News is laughing all the way to the bank:
Fox’s senior vice president for programming, Bill Shine, says of the criticism from the White House, “Every time they do it, our ratings go up.” Mr. Obama’s first year is on track to be the Fox News Channel’s highest rated.The un-funny part, of course, is that the White House would declare an American news channel the enemy, and have the gall to do it publicly. (Doesn't the United States have actual enemies to fight? Remember the war in Afghanistan and Iraq that Obama spoke about so earnestly, and so often, on the campaign trail? This isn't a good time to get distracted with petty grievances, Mr. President.)
Dare I ask what might have happened if, for example, President Bush had declared CBS, or the New York Times, an enemy of his administration? (And he had reason to do so. The New York Times published stories of secret security operations, from CIA safehouses to warrantless wiretapping, thereby blowing existing operations and placing Americans directly in jeopardy. CBS released a transparently bogus story, clearly with the intent of influencing a Presidential election, only a month or so before voting day. All Fox has done is to publish complaints about President Obama's policies, details about the backgrounds of his political appointees, and stories on the public record that might prove embarrassing to the Administration -- all of which was routine, at the very least, during the Bush years.)
Even if this were not an incredibly arrogant thing to say -- declaring Fox to be an "enemy" that is "at war with the White House", unlike the way "legitimate news organizations behave" -- it's still an incredibly stupid thing to say. Does the Obama Administration truly believe that fewer people will watch and listen to Fox News now? Do they not understand, as they watch Fox's ratings soar, that doubling down on a losing strategy will get them nowhere?
We were told during the election that Barack Obama was the smartest candidate for President in a generation, if not more... while his opponents pointed out repeatedly how inexperienced he was. I'm seeing a lot more evidence of the latter than of the former.
More and more, this is looking like an Administration of amateurs.
UPDATE: And now, as though Afghanistan and Iraq were not difficult enough, the Obama Administration is picking more fights. First Fox News, then edmunds.com?!? This is worthy of the attention of the White House?