White House communications director Anita Dunn's comments Sunday that the Obama administration views Fox News as the opposition, research arm of the Republican party — and not a legitimate news network — continued to make waves throughout the week.
Fox News received some surprising defense earlier in the week from the likes of MSNBC and CNN personalities, as well as a TV critic often harsh on Fox News.
Now, even The Nation has come out against the strategy:
"The Obama administration really needs to get over itself," John Nichols wrote at The Nation>
To suggest that Fox is not a news network simply because Sean Hannity echoes RNC talking points would be like suggesting that the Aurora was not a newspaper because it took cues from Tom Jefferson or that the Tribune was not a legitimate member of the fourth estate because it was sweet on Alf Landon. ... Presidents are supposed to rise above their own partisanship and engage with a wide range of media -- even outlets that are hard on their administrations.
As for the Obama administration, whether the grumbling is about Republicans on Fox or bloggers in pajamas, there's a word for what the president and his aides are doing. That word is "whining." And nothing -- no attack by Glenn Beck, no blogger busting about Guantanamo -- does more damage to Obama's credibility or authority than the sense that a popular president is becoming the whiner-in-chief.
Elsewhere, the strategy has been met with similar reactions, many of which critique the administration for abandoning its promise of unity and hinting that the strategy will not work. A poll of TVNewser readers said 84% think "These tactics backfire. And Ailes knows how to fight" while only 16% believe "It will solidify their base and make Obama look tough." A sampling of the commentary below:
If the White House were truly, then, as it seems to be suggesting, to exempt itself from its unifying role--if it were to continue along on its Fox-o-phobic path--it would be doing a grave disservice not only to the huge swath of Americans who watch Fox News, but also to Americans more generally. It would reinforce informational divides, rather than narrow them. It would implicitly reject the notion of an American community itself, abandoning the promise of togetherness that electrified so many on election night in favor of the pettiness of partisanship.
I find the White House's decision to critique and dismiss Fox News Channel...to be misguided and foolish....Maybe the White House should get out of the press-critiquing business. It's never been a wise move for any White House. The complaints come off as whining.... The White House certainly should stop condescending to Fox News, which is a slap against that channel's fans....The smarter move would be for Obama to engage. Why doesn't he put his smooth, unflappable style to the test on Fox News?... If you can't take the heat from Fox News, why are you in the mass-media kitchen?
Cutting off a media outlet can be a risky strategy. It can reduce the voice and effectiveness of a politician or a party. But the Obama administration chose a riskier strategy--to ostracize and attack a media outlet and its viewing audience.... It's not likely to work, however. The far-left may love potshots at O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, but it loves a healthcare public option, card check, and closing Gitmo even more.
So if Team Obama ignores Fox, it just gives the network's talent the chance to further caricature him as a socialist, foreign, effete, America-hating Other. It isn't a racist portrayal, necessarily, but is certainly one that gives actual racists a lot of comfort....Recognizing Fox as an enemy worth fighting is an admission of weakness for a president whose appeal has been partly predicated on the promise of unity.
Dunn's attack ran contrary to her boss's earlier actions of engaging Fox. And over the long haul, any hint of a bunker mentality from the White House is good for no one....Sending out a taxpayer-paid partisan to attack a network, and by extension, its viewers, is not presidential. If you want to get in the mud with Glenn Beck, do it on your own dime and time, not ours.