In a parting shot at Fox News, White House Communications Director Anita Dunn mocked the conservative-leaning network on Friday and laughed off its controversial host Glenn Beck for calling her a Mao enthusiast.
The outgoing administration spokeswoman took a clear and enjoyable dig, first at Sean Hannity for recently airing spliced footage designed to make a crowd of anti-health care protesters seem bigger than reality.
"A fun fact from this week is that an opinion show on a certain news network was using edited footage to make it appear that a rally last week, and political opposition to the president, was much larger than it appeared," said Dunn, during her appearance at the Bloomberg News Washington Summit. "Some of you may have heard about it. The people who went in and did fact checking on that, and actually exposed the spliced edited was... Jon Stewart of the 'Daily Show' on Comedy Central. Well that is where you are getting fact-checking and investigative journalism these days folks. It is a different media environment."
Showing an even greater appreciation for the "Daily Show"'s Fox News fact-checking abilities, Dunn referenced another Stewart triumph later in her question-and-answer session.
"Jon Stewart actually did one of the most amazing pieces of journalism last week or a couple of weeks ago," she said, "in which he looked at the way Fox, on their opinion shows, raises some issue that then gets reported on by their news division as 'a controversy.' ... Now, that's a point of view. That's fine. That's entertainment. It helps their ratings. But I think if you go downstairs and walk through the Newseum that's not traditionally what you think of as traditional news -- to some extent inventing the story."
Approached in the halls outside the forum, the Huffington Post asked Dunn to put Glenn Beck's recent theatrics into the context of her critiques of Fox News's coverage. She chuckled. For the past few weeks, Beck has insisted that the outgoing communications director considers Mao Zedong a political hero and has put a red telephone on his set begging for her to call and explain her political dispositions.
"I think it was news to everybody who knows me," she replied. "You know, most media consultants usually are accused of other things, but that's not one of them."
Last month, Dunn got caught up in a war of words between the White House and Fox News when she made the rather bland observation that the network carries a Republican agenda. On Friday, she was asked whether she considered MSNBC to have a counter-balancing bias -- a common retort offered by Fox's defenders. Dunn replied by noting that for three hours every morning that network handed over its programming to "a former Republican congressman who was a member of Newt Gingrich's revolution": Joe Scarborough.
Elsewhere in her remarks, Dunn acknowledged that her decision to go after Fox News was not an example of her "going rogue." White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and perhaps even the president himself gave her the green light. She also mocked Fox for proclaiming that it had secured an exclusive sit-down interview with President Obama during his trip to Asia when, in actuality, it was simply part of a rotating pool of reporters.
"We have on past foreign trips done what are called round-robins where there are short interviews with all of the networks that travel with us," she said. "We have not made a decision network on whether or not we are going to do those. There are no confirmed television interviews in china. And if, oh, some network sent out a press release announcing that was going to happen you'd have to ask about that network and whether or not they really had their facts confirmed before they leaked that."
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