October 11th, 2009
08:29 PM ET
12 years ago

WH aide: Fox News operates like an arm of the GOP

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.

Filed under: Extra • Fox News • GOP • Obama administration • Popular Posts • State of the Union
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Barry In Las Vegas

    That is one against 5, CNN, msnbc, nbc, cbs and abc are the arm of the Democrats – but even when it's 5 to 1 Fox is beating them all because when the American people want the real news – they go to Fox.

    October 11, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  2. Darren

    Hilarioius comments from Dunn – did she at some point talk about how NBC and especially MSNBC is nothing more than the Democratic party on air? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

    October 11, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. 59 yr white woman

    Dunn is right on. I wish I could remember the story that Fox claimed that Cnn, Cbs, Nbc, ect, ect didn't report on in a full page add. I know that wasn't true because I saw it reported on all all those stations.

    October 11, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Fox News was the only network that carried the ACORN story for the first week until it went viral and all the left leaning networks, including CNN, had to pick it up. Funny how the WH didn't mention Keith Obermann and MSNBC, which are their lapdogs.

    October 11, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. Right wingnuts live in their parent's basement.

    It does make you wonder. Only in America can a foreign billionaire who is fond of China and supports their abuse of human rights controls the media to so many, and he allows 24 hours a day/ 7days a week to trash anything that Obama, or any democrat, does with official republican talking points. Then put in anti American anchors like Beck and Hannity who could not report the truth even if it bit them in the butt.

    October 11, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |

    so, what;s the big deal?

    cnn, msnbc, nbc cbs and all the rest are propaganda outlets for the obama administration..lol

    it is all fair and balanced after all isnt it?

    October 11, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  7. johny

    its obvious, only a fool will deny that, its a straight up propaganda machine 24/7 with republican talking points with Juan William parading as a liberal just for the money { at least he tries }

    October 11, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  8. WB

    Yep, Fox news is to the GOP as ACORN is to the Democrats. Which do you think is more corrupt?

    October 11, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. kd

    Fox is a joke. Pure propaganda. The 'message' they peddle is misinformation, hate and fear – in other words, Republican talking points and values.

    October 11, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  10. Sandra, Atlanta

    Since I try to review all news sources to get opinions on all the different sides, it has been really obvious to me that Fox News will only report things in a very negative way if it concerns anything about the President. I found it very interesting that they did not even have a headline about him winning the Nobel Peace prize. Whether you thought he deserved it or not, it was news.

    I also found it very interesting that from the interview with Robert Gates, they made zero mention of what Gates willingly said on the CNN interview and that was that President Obama's strategy in March was the first time the US had come up with a strategy.
    To say they are not biased is being deliberately obtuse.

    I don't intend to listen to anyone who is negative or warm & fuzzy all the time. I don't watch Keith Olberman nor do I watch, read, or listen to the Glenn Becks, Rush Limbaugh's, etc. of the world.

    October 11, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  11. Drew

    It's about time someone said what Fox News really is. Fox News is a joke.

    October 11, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  12. Jay T.

    I'll still don't understand why the WH is attacking Fox News for this stuff. The people who pay attention already know this and those that watch it for their political information, aren't going to believe it from the WH anyway. All in all, waste of time.

    October 11, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. Aaron Crespo

    It's very irresponsible for the White House Communications Director Anita Dunn to criticize Fox News for not agreeing and celebrate President Obama's agenda. When President Bush was in power the majority of the main news outlets acted like ideology opponents rather than a fair and honest news networks. Fox News leans to the right. It's very simple and practical. If you like the left point of view watch CNN. If you like the right [GOP] point of view, watch FOX NEWS.
    The White House is complaining because one, only one news network would not agree with them when the rest is practically their voice. It seems they will speak out and criticize whatever source of information doesn't act like they wish they acted.

    October 11, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  14. Rich in FL

    It is and has been an arm of the Republican party. Russia has Pravda – the Republicans have Fox News. Not much difference. Fair and balanced? Just a slogan, an illusion.

    October 11, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  15. Chas

    AS if we didnt' already kn w that FOX IS an arm of the Republican party ! duh!

    October 11, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  16. Marie Laveaux

    Sadly, Mr. Clemente, distinguishing fact from opinion is not a skill the average news consumer necessarily possesses today. We are too used to television telling us what to eat, wear, drive, and so on. The issue here is truth in journalism, not the right to editorialize. Perhaps Fox News Network should make the same disclaimer John Stewart does on the Daily Show.

    October 11, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. Debbie

    I agree that FOX does act in an un-official capacity for the GOP, just as Beck, Limbaugh, and Lou Dobbs are.

    One of the biggest issues is that these people and stations state they are independents and are giving analysis. In truth through their statements and actions are only giving their sided opinion.

    Analysis is taking unbiased facts and examining each. The conclusion or perspective of that analysis is opinion.

    A true journalistic piece would provide facts and analysis but leave the opinion or conclusion to the viewer.

    October 11, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  18. Ken in NC

    The number of viewers at FOX NEWS is on the rise. The drop out rates from high schools is on the rise. Watching FOX NEWS is increasing because it is easier to understand the pictures than it is all those funny words.

    October 11, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  19. Simmy

    So true......FOX is to the GOP what Komeni was to the Taliban.......Chilling......

    October 11, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. Annie, Atlanta

    Fox News is a right wing propaganda machine. I've sat it medical waiting rooms and been subjected to out and out lies. I want to know how an Australian with an agenda can control so many forms of media in the United States. If there aren't laws against this there should be. We have enough problems without Murdoch inciting violence. Why? Why are we allowing this?

    October 11, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  21. Tammy

    what do decent normal thinking Republicans think?

    October 11, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  22. Roger in CA

    I'm glad that the Fox News exec at least tacitly admits that it is an opinion forum, rather than news. And that would be fine, if that is how they marketed themselves. But they call themselves "Fox News", not "Fox Perspectives" or "The Fox View", so he is full of baloney as far as how they are presented and try to position themselves, especially with their Orwellian double-speak "Fair and Balanced" slogan. "News" implies that the editors of the outlet at least TRY to achieve an objective, balanced presentation of the facts–FREE of spin–allowing the thoughtful viewer to reach his/her own conclusions.

    I admit, I cannot make myself watch more than a couple minutes of that network, but the fact that a Jon Stewart is able to find so many examples PER DAY of simply outrageous right-wing rantings and explicity anti-Obama cheerleading on an alleged "news" network is downright chilling.

    October 11, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  23. windfall

    If FOX admits they're the equivalent to a newspaper's editorial page, perhaps they should stop calling themselves FOX "NEWS".

    October 11, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  24. Paul H

    And the rest of the media acts as the body of this Obama administration.
    Come on guys stop playing patty cake back and forth, and just deliver the news.

    October 11, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  25. Tracy-Oakley

    The White House is absolutely correct. Fox News is NOT a news channel it is for the Republican right-winged agenda and quite frankly that's their choice. But they shouldn't call themselves a news channel, that's false advertising.

    I've never heard a fair point-of-view of anything the Democrats nor Obama has done on Fox News. NEVER!! How can everything this man does or the Democrats do be against American ideals & what is best for the Country. Fox, which owns CNN, should take notes. True everything on CNN is not unbiased but CNN does not come out and repeat almost verbatim the Republican daily talking point.

    October 11, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
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