October 18th, 2009
03:07 PM ET
13 years ago

Emanuel explains White House's view of Fox News

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A week after White House Communications Director Anita Dunn said Fox News operates like a wing of the Republican Party, President Obama’s Chief of Staff provided another window into the administration’s thinking on the cable news outlet.

“It’s not so much a conflict with Fox News,“ Emanuel said Sunday during CNN’s State of the Union, “I suppose the way to look at it and the way the president looks at it and we look at is: it’s not a news organization so much as it has a perspective. And that’s a different take.”

Emanuel also told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that it was important to the White House that other media outlets not take their cues from Fox.

That said, Emanuel said the White House wasn’t preoccupied with its ongoing differences with Fox News Channel. Instead, the administration is focused on reviving the economy and determining the right course of action in Afghanistan, Emanuel said Sunday.

In a statement e-mailed to CNN after Emanuel's interview on State of the Union, Fox News said it was open to having a discussion.

"Surprisingly, the White House continues to declare war on a news organization," Fox News Michael Clemente said in the statement, "instead of focusing on the critical issues that Americans are concerned about like jobs, health care and two wars. The door remains open and we welcome a discussion about the facts behind the issues."

In an interviewed that aired last Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” White House Communications Director Anita Dunn slammed the cable news outlet. “The reality of it is that Fox often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party,” Dunn told CNN’s Howard Kurtz.

“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 said.

And Dunn also shed some light on the president’s decision to forego recent opportunities to be interviewed by Fox News and instead sit for interviews with a number of the cable outlet’s competitors including CNN.

“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,” Dunn said.

Dunn’s remarks last Sunday only provided more fuel for the already tense relationship between the White House and Fox News. Late last week Dunn traded barbs with Fox News anchor Glenn Beck, who moved to that network last year after a stint with CNN sister network Headline News.

Updated: 1:58 p.m. with Fox News statement

soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. mark in Atlanta

    Anyone with any sense can see that Fox is hard right, MSNBC is hard left, and CNN and the big 3 networks are somewhere in the middle. Obama's assessment of Fox is totally reasonable. And he is in no way saying that they don't have a right to articulate their perspective. They are free to do so. But fair enough to point out that this is not news. If you want to say the samething applies to MSNBC, fair enough. But please note here that the administration is not using Fox rhetoric (words like "idiots", "fascist," "nazi," anti-American." They are just saying, in a civil and modulated way, that Fox is not news. Good for them.

    October 18, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  2. Judy

    Too many people don't realize the difference in fact and opinion. I've noticed that most of the folks who follow Fox religiously think that what they hear is factual proof of what they already believe. While some people are able to tell fact from opinion, many cannot or do not. Have schools stopped teaching about propaganda and how to think critically for oneself? If so, it needs to be reinstated in our curriculums.

    October 18, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  3. Creatrix

    I just hope they also take this stance with MSNBC, too.

    October 18, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  4. Archie Grine

    Fox has every right ot exist. I however have a problem calling themselves "news", –and especially when they say its "fair and balanced". What is really difficult for me to comprehend is the many bigots in the Republican party. I can understand several thousand-but 20+ mmmmmillion???????? What is worse is that it is not only "the fringe". It also includes most of the elected Republicans.

    October 18, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  5. jon

    What the Foxers posting here don't want to admit, is that FoxNews has a distinct agenda in its News coverage.
    CNN & MSNBC tend to be more even-handed in their News coverage.
    That's not to say that CNN & MSNBC don't have shows with an agenda.
    MSNBC has Olbermann, Schultz & Maddows, but also Scarborough & Ratigan. CNN actually, often professes to be non-biased, but even on John King's show, his questions seem to be through a GOP prism.

    As a middle-of-the-roader, I try to get my info from different sources, often overseas, since the US Media is generally on the right side of center.
    As an example, the coverage of the Health Care debate.
    4 bills included a Public Option, one doesn't. 99% of coverage focuses on that one bill... and continues to report that the Libs will have to compromise, even though all coverage is of a bill that favors a more right-wing agenda.

    October 18, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. America Shrugged

    I watch my local Fox affiliated news station for my local news and weather. Network news (ABC, NBC, CBS) are still leading the pack. Fox's Cable station is purely entertainment and uses it's political power to take down any administration they don't like. To say Fox Cable isn't biased is crazy. I use to watch them all the time right after 9/11 and they were constantly blaming Pres Clinton and his adm for it.. I just got tired of the slant when they couldn't bring themselves to questioning whether or not the Bush adm could have done more to prevent 9/11 or any other important events during the Bush adm years. At this point, I'd say that only Sheppard Smith is worth watching on that station. He is so unbiased, his own loyal viewers were sending him threatening email when they didn't like a stance he took on the Holocaust museum shootings. That tells me everything I need to know about those who take Fox Cable a bit too seriously.

    October 18, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. Dave

    The real problem here is that with things like TEA parties, birthers and Sarah Palin, current conservative ideology has not only left the mainstream, it has also left common sense and often reality itself. Any news agency that is honest and intelligent will appear to have a liberal bias because those are things conservatives have left behind. On the other hand, pandering to those conservatives has caused FOX to leave behind real news.

    October 18, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  8. On the other hand...

    Fox News does an excellent job of debating issues critical to the country right now. They always have both sides well represented. You will not find this kind of honest reporting on NBC, CBS or ABC.

    Of course the administration hates that. Their activities can not stand up to honest debate, especially in front of the Americans they were able to bamboozle in November 2008.

    October 18, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  9. Sensitive soul

    It's really not about Fox News.
    It's about the way the Obama White House deals with criticism.

    October 18, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. mikeg

    I just love reading all of this. During the campaign MSNBC, CBS, NBC, CNN and other were all in the tank for the Mr Obama and his campaign. One sided all the way. But that is ok, just one view. But if Fox does it they are called out. It just shows you how much politics is screwed up. I like to watch all the channels. Not one channel has my vote of confidence

    October 18, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. Hilary

    Fox is nothing more than talk radio captured on video. Fox News programming regularly promotes an extreme Right-wing policy agenda: privatization, deregulation, tax-cuts for the wealthy and the elimination of social programs for the poor. Their perspective is classic social Darwinism.

    And don't try to push the debate to the Right by telling me that CNN or MSNBC are the Left's equivalent of Fox News. I haven't heard them advocating the abolition of private property or a worker take-over of the workplace.

    October 18, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  12. Lee Kaplan

    Forty years later, this White House chooses its words more carefully, but this reminds me of Nixon's "enemies list." What a bunch of crybabies!

    October 18, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. Shannon Willey

    For the White House to be engaging publicly with Fox news is a sad state of affairs. Once again they are showing that they do not understand strategy. CNN has also been called for biased reporting. For Mr Emmanuel to come to CNN to tell their woes, when we have numerous crisis going on in this nation – it is just bad form.
    The "atmosphere of dishonor" was alive and well when President Bush was in power and President Obama and many politicians were able to say whatever they wanted....however they wanted. Of course now this atmosphere is "negative" and "counter productive to change".
    This was a very poor strategy of the White House and only makes them look petty. Let the free press do their job and you do yours.

    October 18, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  14. William

    It it were not for FOX News America and numerous state and city law enforcement agencies would not know about the ACORN organizations. That is why Obama and the White House is so upset with FOX – the tell the public (those that are open-minded at least) what is going on. The other news organizations can not claim to do that.

    October 18, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. NVa Native

    Only a complete idiot or a liar would claim Fox media is legitimate news.
    Fox is conducting the "Dumbing of America" for political gain.
    Fox should be treated as what they are – a very active and successful part of the "radical right". They are not vicitms, but are the villan.

    October 18, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  16. Jim Dale

    I don't think it's a news org place to put their opinion on national networks, no matter what thier views are. I've watched FOX News, and it is very one-sided in their coverage. I have no problem with a Democratic or Republician pundit expound their opion, but I could care less about the views hels by a reporter. FOX is extremely bad about getting, which i hope is their own, not the network out.

    Report the news, let me decide what is the facts.

    October 18, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. Patriot

    Everyone except the ignorant minority knows that Fox is a Republican Propaganda channel and not about real news.

    Of course Fox is entitled to free speech–that is not the issue. The problem is that Fox is pretending to be a fair and balanced news source when in fact it has a neo-con agenda.

    October 18, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. francine

    Fox News? Are you crazy? The only programs I listen to on Fox are "So You Think You Can Dance" and Hell's Kitchen..I certainly would not trust them with bi-partisan news..Leave it alone Mr. President, listeners are anchored in their beliefs and would never listen to news that might have an intelligent slant..Fox is a perfect fit for those people.

    October 18, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. Mike

    Fox news is not the "Voice of descent" so much as they are the voice of Rupert Murdoch. They are a pile of dreck and should be treated as such. For those of you whining about MSNBC hosts being too liberal, they were simply a knee jerk reactions to Fox's absurd and child like behavior over the years. The people at Fox are cooperate suits, not the leaders of some petty prepackaged revolution. So, all you fox news loyalists, keep drinking your patriot-in-a-can, the rest of us will actually be working to make this country a better place despite your angst about a President who is actually trying to build a sustainable for our country and all its citizens.

    October 18, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  20. silverfalls

    The biggest problem with Fox and most other media outlets is that they thrive on stirring up controversy and dividing people, as opposed to adding anything constructive to the debate about the important issues of the day. All in the name of ratings and advertising revenue. The pyrotechnic-like special effects that accompany their newscasts are probably meant to make them cool and interesting and relevant; for me, they symbolize the organization's playstation/X-box approach to presenting the news.

    October 18, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  21. Army wife

    If Fox News is so bad, why are their ratings higher than the other

    October 18, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  22. Vocal Majority

    False News doesn't lean right... it flat falls over right, every time. Its deliberate and planned. It's not a news organization at all. Never watch it, it's utterly undependable and unreliable (except to the extent it can be relied on to lie right). It is nothing more than a right-wingnut, ideological noise maker.

    October 18, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  23. Robbie Phelps

    Sometimes I agree with Fox news, sometimes I don't – but I will freely admit that they are very biased overall and represent more of a political outlet than a genuine news station.

    That said, CNN and MSNBC aren't looking like genuine news stations either a lot of the time – thanks to them being slaves to a rating system no doubt.

    We should set aside some public funds – that can't be easily tampered with – and allocate it to real journalists in order to free them from depending on ratings. Something like what Britain has done with the BBC.

    October 18, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  24. Barb

    It is a totally correct to say that FOX(news?) is right-wing slanted. So what? HOWEVER.... a slant is a measured angle... 360 degrees is a total. When you resort to lies, name calling, refusing the President one iota of respect, challenge him on everything, wish for his failure (and thereby that of the country), – that my friends is overtly propagandist and WRONG!

    October 18, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  25. Diane

    Fox News is PROPAGANDA. Nothing more, nothing less.

    October 18, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
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