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White House: Unfair, Unbalanced

October 25, 2009
White House Enemy no. 1

White House Enemy no. 1

Fox is not fair and balanced — at least not after 3pm — but one would expect the White House to be.

Recent days have found the White House continuing its attack on the network, even as liberal media stalwarts — Olbermann, Maddow, Dowd — are invited to a special off-the-record meeting in the Executive Mansion.

From WSJ:

The White House has berated Fox News for days now for purportedly pushing an agenda and calling it news. So Americans may have been surprised when, as reported by Noel Sheppard, Obama invited two of MSNBC’s most divisive liberal pundits — Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow — to the White House for an off-the-record briefing.

And last week, when ABC’s Jake Tapper pressed Robert Gibbs on the justification for the Fox hunting, he couldn’t justify it.

Tapper: I’m not talking about their opinion programming or issues you have with certain reports. I’m talking about saying thousands of individuals who work for a media organization, do not work for a “news organization” — why is that appropriate for the White House to say?

Gibbs: That’s our opinion.

And yet, what ground has the White House made?  Fox News ratings are higher than ever; other networks are coming to their defense; and the White House seems more concerned about a war with a cable station than the ones in which lives are at stake.

So what gives, Gibbs?

Either the White House is naive (don’t rule it out), or this is not about journalistic integrity at all.  They’ll convince very few to switch from Fox to CNN.  After all, where’s the excitement in “no bias and no bull”?

This is politics, Chicago politics.  As they attack Fox, they coddle MSNBC and liberal columnists. It’s not to change the minds of Americans; it’s a signal to a left wing that is growing wary of its new standard bearer.  He that so easily can throw the public option under the bus, may soon throw their other pet causes under, too.  But chat with Keith and Rachel and cozy up with Maureen while hurling insults at Glenn, Sean, and Bill — well, they might just receive some leftist good will.

It’s not without cost though.  The White House seems more desperate than ever, more conniving, more political, less hopeful.  They appear careless, hapless, clumsy.  The Office of the President of the United States of America has picked a fight with a television station.  It tarnishes the prestige of the office, and it belittles the administration that holds it.

And once down in the mud, there’s no cleaning themselves off anytime soon.  Unable to articulate any principled reason for the attacks, they have to keep at it.  It’s even less justified — and more undisciplined — if it’s just the fad of the week.

All the while, the GOP base is energized, the liberal base lukewarm.  And as independents quickly peel away from him, Obama has to do something to fire up the base again.  And if clean energy, public health care, and gay rights are political landmines, he takes the easy option: War on Fox.

If only they were so keen to plan for the War in Afghanistan.

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