I watched Fox News a few nights ago and they were practically chortling over the fact that the Obama administration had singled them out for censure.
They couldn't have bought better advertising.
The White House is upset that Fox covered such topics as the tea parties, the town hall protesters, the ACORN scandal, and Van Jones' background.
The problem is, all these stories should have been covered. The real scandal is that the other media basically ignored them because they weren't good for the Democrats. Fox neither made up these stories nor lied about them. They simply committed the unpardonable sin of reporting them.
This prompted Barack Obama to say, in reference to Fox, "If media is operating basically as a talk radio format, then that's one thing. And if it's operating as a news outlet, then that's another."
When Obama made the rounds of the talk shows in mid-September, he very visibly shunned Fox. More recently, the White House made pay czar Kenneth Feinberg available to all the major television networks -- except Fox News.
Yes, Fox does lean right. But no more so than MSNBC leans left. Yet strangely, the White House has not thought to restrict MSNBC's access, even though it is at least as "talk radio"-like as Fox.
Anita Dunn, White House Communications Director, said, "We're going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent. As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don't need to pretend that this is the way legitimate news organizations behave."
Actually, Anita, this is exactly what legitimate news organizations do: they uncover stories which might put an administration in a bad light, and which are of interest to the public. This is why Fox News' ratings are so far ahead of MSNBC. In fact, much of the mainstream media is doing what Tass did back in its heyday: act as government mouthpieces. That is what is not legitimate.
Anita Dunn might as well have announced, "If you want the real scoop and not just the White House press releases, please tune to Fox News."
David Axelrod pretty much gave the game away when he said, "Our concern is that other media not follow their lead." (i.e., report stories like the town hall protesters and ACORN which don't cast us in a favorable light).
This is the closest I've ever seen to an administration trying to stifle the free press in America (other than on issues directly relating to national security). Yes, Nixon had an enemies list. But he never tried to muzzle them.
Now even ordinarily sympathetic commentators are saying that this incident is making the administration look petty.
Roger Ailes, President of Fox News, must be rubbing his hands in glee.