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. Will

    I can see the future.

    I see a comment war full of people who can see the obvious and people who continue to pretend that Fox News is actually news because they are unable to differentiate fact from loaded political opinions.

    October 11, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. achit

    President Obama WH does not like Fox News because it does not work like part of WH public relation department unlike CNN,ABC,NBC etc.
    Thats the truth....

    October 11, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  3. READY99

    The only reason I look at is sports. Other than that its a garbage station with all the hate they spread. FOX NEWS should be boycotted until they correct themselves. Also sponsors who advertise on this station should also be boycotted against. This way i bet they will report the news more fairly.

    October 11, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  4. Dave from CT

    That's because if FOX didn't give both side of an issue, all the liberal media like MSNBC (FAR LEFT) and the rest of the media only tell the liberal democratic side.

    October 11, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. TC

    Fox News, Microsoft Works...few of the many things in life that don't make sense.

    October 11, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  6. Clint

    I've noticed more and more businesses have flipped the switch off Fox News. Maybe those years of telling companies to either turn off the propaganda or lose business has paid off.

    October 11, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  7. T Mckinley

    While I am a firm believer in our Constitutional right to freeedom of speech, I also believe that freedom of speech has to work BOTH WAYS.

    If the Fox "news" channel is going to continue being a propaganda machine for the conservative right, then people who disagree with them, including the White House, have every right to call them on the carpet for it.

    Exposing the truth about a rightwing conservative propaganda network masquerading as a "news" channel has absolutely nothing to do with the suppression of free speech.

    October 11, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  8. Lee Kaplan

    As someone who voted for Obama, I find Anita Dunn's comments to be nonsense. I really hope the President know that's nonsense. He's got to; he's smarter than that. Fox may be tougher on this Administration than the "national" networks, MSNBC and the New York Times, but the President has immense tools at his disposal to get out his views. And if he really wants to persuade the country that he's right, rather than "triangulate" a la Clinton, or create wedge issues a la Rove, then he'll "cowboy up" and answer questions posed by Fox at least as often, if not more often, than those posed by his mostly-uncritical admirers elsewhere.

    October 11, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  9. Mindy

    Wow, they actually admit they're not news! That's huge!! They are just like the editorial section of a newspaper, where editors give personal opinions and nothing has to be based on truth. That's pretty much exactly what the white house is saying when they say opinion journalism. I've never heard Fox admit that before though. They continue to say they're fair and balanced, when we all know that's a joke.

    October 11, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  10. Dave from CT

    Bill O'reilly has consistently out done ALL the other networks for the past 8 years – that means someone is watching – the American public. Maybe this white house should start treating FOX and the American people with some respect. Start telling the truth and not try to deceptively cram unwanted liberal policy down our throats.

    October 11, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. New Yorker

    So what? all the other "News" outlets operate as arms of the liberal democrats. The only problem is that the liberals have way too many arms, or shall we say tentacles.

    October 11, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  12. D. Tree

    The sad thing is many uneducated people watch Fox "News" and they don't know the difference between opinion journalism and real journalism.

    Its really sad that people cant tell the difference between news and opinion.

    October 11, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  13. No Hillary = No Obama

    THis is rich. All the liberal news churners got Obama the ticket to the White House. Brian WIlliams and Chris Matthews have a love affair with OBama and they are boo-hooing about Fox News? Actually, in a democracy, it is now a good thing to have Fox News around so people can hear the other side of the story and decide for themselves where the truth may lie. I never thought I would be hooraying Fox News – but that's what happens when so-called neutral news organizations play favorites.

    October 11, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  14. Ted Tartaglia

    Fox News Senior VP Michael Clemente seems to be confused about the news function. As I understand it, reporting the news is to present the facts leaving the reporter's opinion out of it.

    Faux News presents opinion as fact which is a perversion of the news function. If Faux News wants to offer opinion, it should advertise itself as Fox Opinion and quit pretending to be a news source.

    Hannity, O'Reilly, and Beck should be presented as entertainers rather than analysts or news reporters. They are in the same business as Rush Limbaugh.

    Newspapers clearly label their opinion page as the editorial page and readers understand that the opinions presented on the Editorial Page are not news.

    October 11, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  15. E. Walters

    Anyone that would rely on Fox News as their sole source of news is simply just afraid. They do not want to know the truth.

    October 11, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  16. Jonathan

    I agree. They torture truth by waffling often times. They lack the balanced objectivity that I exppect of a typical news channel. I am a conservative christian but if you arm-twist the truth in order to feel right about doing the will of God , then you aren't doing the will of God. Euphemistic hate propaganda isn't right! Believing that blood shedding other than that of Christ means liberation from bondage and spreading of the gospel isn't right. Believing that looks determine authenticity of one's citizenship isn't right: I could go on and on about what is wrong with fox news.
    Give balanced reporting . Tell both sides of the story and let the viewers discern the truth to set themselves free.

    October 11, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  17. Vocal Majority

    It's not even a masquerade, it's just a flim-flam. You can't believe anything on False News any more than you can believe anything that comes out of the mouth of any GOPer – which is to say, nothing at all.

    October 11, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  18. galaview

    Sensible people should boycott FUX News until they start fair and factual reporting. Not opinions, just the truth!

    October 11, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  19. Adalbert

    Fox News is no news at all. It should be called what it is, the right- wing's poison machine.

    October 11, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  20. Dan, TX

    LOL, Fox does not deny this. So what if Fox is a part of the Republican party. Why shouldn't the republican party have its own news channel?

    October 11, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  21. RIchard L

    "Fox News said its programming was comparable to the editorial page of a newspaper"

    I respect their honesty about that and for admitting that they are presenting editorials rather than unbiased news.

    October 11, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  22. Jack in GA

    It is time to enforce the Patriot Act and start rounding up these domestic terrorists Rush Limbaugh , Glenn Beck, Michelle Bachman,
    Sean Hannity and the rest of the right wing lunatics who are inciting
    violence with their lies and propaganda for the RNC. There is no freedom of speech to defame our President. Nor is their freedom of speech to incite rioting and terrorism. Send them to Guantanamo for enhanced interrogations....after all it's "not torture" right??

    October 11, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  23. Anthony McMahon-Illinois

    They're not a news netowrk. That's painfully obvious. But neither is MSNBC. It's not like one side is right and the other is wrong. Although I will posit that FOX has a far greater number of complete lunatics it parades out as commentators, along with their absolutely bizzare opinions.

    I stick with NPR, a few newspapers and the Jim Lehrer News Hour. I mean you'd have to be an absolute moron to listen to Hannity or Beck. Just absolutely stupid. yet, our country is large and, yes, there are really dumb people in it who crave being used as tools by being spoon fed disinformation or other nonsense.

    As far as MSNBC, it's not as bad, but after awhile you would get sick of the obvious slant of that reporting as well. The simple solution is not to listen to either one. They just feed into what you may or may not want to hear. The wrost thing is having some organization provide you "facts" that are slanted or incorrect on such important issues as healthcare, foreign policy, etc. I listen to neither and seem to know more. try it some time.

    October 11, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  24. StevieB

    Well, duh. Next you'll be telling us fire is hot and night follows day.

    October 11, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  25. John

    who cares.....

    Why is the White House so scared of FOX News?

    It makes the White House look so weak when you complain about something as trite as this......

    If you don't like Fox...then don't turn them on.... If you are scared of someone being critical of the administration..... you have a lot to be scared of.....

    Of course they are different than any other cable network....that's why they're #1 in all ratings catagories....

    peole like provacation..... deal with it and stop complaining about a cable network that has little to do with you....

    you're embarrassing yourself and the administration.....

    October 11, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
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