WASHINGTON (CNN) – Far from backing away from its recent slam at 24-hours cable news outlet Fox News, the White House is stepping up its criticism of the cable news network.
“The reality of it is that Fox often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party,” White House Communications Director Anita Dunn said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”
Dunn said that Obama had recently chosen not to appear on Fox because of the administration’s belief that Fox is ideologically predisposed against Obama and his agenda.
But Dunn pointed out that during his presidential campaign and since being elected, Obama has been interviewed by Fox News, and will be again in the future.
“He’ll go on Fox because he engages with ideological opponents,” Dunn told CNN’s Howard Kurtz. “He has done that before and he’ll do it again.”
But Dunn was quick to add that the White House does not consider an interview with Fox comparable to interviews with other media outlets.
“When he goes on Fox, he understands that he’s not really going on it as a news network, at this point. He’s going to debate the opposition. And that’s fine. He never minds doing that."
“They’re widely viewed as a part of the Republican Party – take [the GOP’s] talking points, put’em on the air, take [the GOP’s] opposition research, put’em on the air.” Dunn also told Kurtz.
“But let’s not pretend that they’re a news network the way CNN is,” the White House communications director added.
In a written statement given to CNN, Fox News said its programming was comparable to the editorial page of a newspaper.
“An increasing number of viewers are relying on Fox News for both news and opinion,” Fox News Senior VP Michael Clemente said in the statement, “and the average news consumer can certainly distinguish between the A-section of the newspaper and the editorial page, which is what our programming represents.
“So with all due respect to anyone who might still be confused about the difference between news reporting and vibrant opinion, my suggestion would be to talk about the stories and the facts rather than the attack the messenger . . . which over time has never worked.”
In an interview with Time Magazine released late last week, Dunn said Fox News was “opinion journalism masquerading as news.”
"They are boosting their audience. But that doesn't mean we are going to sit back," also told the magazine.