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White House goes Fox(News) hunting

October 9, 2009

The White House was at it again Thursday, questioning the journalistic integrity of Fox News.

“[Fox News is] opinion journalism masquerading as news,” said Anita Dunn, White House Communications Director.

Ms. Dunn is not incorrect: Glenn Beck won’t be winning a Peabody–ever; Sean Hannity is not the next Murrow or Cronkite.

But the target on Fox News is still troublesome. MSBNC’s Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann could be confused for White House Press Office spin-masters, but they are not criticized; they are not lambasted for a lack of integrity.  Yet they are just as much “opinion journalism masquerading as news.”

The White House–instead of encouraging reputable journalism–is simply attempting to discredit its enemies.  Glenn Beck single-handedly ousted Van Jones (and created quite the debacle), so why wouldn’t they?

But whether you call Fox “journalists” or “media” or “the number one cable news channel” (surely the last is the real cause of concern for Gibbs, Dunn & Co.), they have a right to spew whatever they like.  And the White House, by criticizing, does not remain where it belongs: above the fray.

Instead, it enters the fight; it descends to their level.   (It boosts Fox’s ratings.  Don’t believe me?  Just wait.)

No good comes from this for the Obama team (which owes its election to the media).  They seem petty.  They seem insecure.  And they seem just as “Fair and Balanced” as Fox.

For a sense of the cable news ratings landscape, check out the primetime Nielsen ratings for last Wednesday–an ordinary weekday by any account.  Yep, you read that right: O’Reilly > Olbermann > Nancy Grace > Campbell Brown.  (Can any of that–except perhaps CNN’s Campbell Brown–even be called “news”?)

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