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. Jennifer

    Fox must try and counter all the Liberal slant on the other networks, including many of the CNN programs.

    But the 5pm (cdt) program is balanced and the 6pm news program with Shep Smith is balanced. Opinion programming takes place in a different part of the building from the news operation.

    Many of us see rampant Liberal bias in the networks and at CNN. Democracy requires all voices be heard.

    October 18, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  2. Bob Stout

    Look at Murdoch's long history of using his media properties to infuence governments...the Australian Labor Party, Britian's Tony Blair, and his infamous conversion to being an "American" so he could own U.S. broadcast licenses. He had to push the Republican agenda to get the FCC to approve it. What we have with FOX proves the danger in allowing non citizens to own U.S. media. Leni Riefenstahl would feel right at home at FOX.

    October 18, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. Doug

    How balanced for John King to have at least one conservative on his show! Bill Maher used to do the same thing – invite one conservative and 3-4 liberals to gang up on the one person with a different viewpoint. Isn't that why they have Elizabeth on the View?

    October 18, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  4. James of Denver

    Finally, yes Fox is not a news network. They are a 24 hour opinion column. They provide no objectivity and to those who watch the shows, they are only feeding their own narrow perspective.

    Yes, I agree CNN is very often guilty of lazy journalism and has opinion sections also, but it's not the only thing they do.

    Come on people, get more than one perspective; read a couple of newspapers in addition to what ever you watch on TV. It's the only way you'll truly get "FAIR and BALANCED" information.

    October 18, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. Dennis

    The real problem Rupert Murdoch (a foreign interest) controls too much media in this country. He manipulates this country.

    October 18, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  6. Warrior

    For 8 years prior to Obama's election, the Dems and the media were spineless when it came to standing up to the right wing. I'm glad the President is showing some backbone and calling out Fox for the neo-con agenda it promotes.

    This is not censorship- no one is denying Fox's right to say what it wants. What is being called for is HONESTY about what Fox truly represents.

    October 18, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  7. Barb

    FOX is a right wing commentary. The views they express are for the extreme right. I prefer to get my news from a more reliable source. The folks they have on that station are crazy. Please note if you really look at the comments made by people defending it you will see how extreme they are. They result to throwng insults and have no clue what an actual fact is. They have the right to do as they wish just as much as I have the right to turn off the tv whenever they open their mouths. I suggest anyone else who has even half a brain do the same and that will take care of the problem. Just Say No To FOX!!

    October 18, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  8. Joan

    Fox News Shows are very fair and objective. Their "opinion" shows are just that – "opinion." Hannity and Beck are opinion. The others are news.

    October 18, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. BILL, WI

    Sounds an awful like the propaganda machine is calling for censorship. Let people read, listen, watch and opine based upon what is best for them. MSNBC and CNN attack FOX News for market reasons, the WH should just shut up when it comes to the press and expression of opinion. Whats next an enemies list.

    October 18, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  10. Galen

    As Fox News makes very clear, they have hard news programs AND opinion programs like O'Reilly and Beck.

    If advisers in the administration can't tell the difference, they are not bright enough to be in positions of power. They make the President look like a whiner and a wimp.

    Slamming one media outlet makes the administration look fearful, petty, and weak. I'm really, really tired of hearing Robert Gibbs sneering at the Fox reporters when they try to ask questions at press conferences. The reporters are just trying to do their job.

    Several independent surveys have proved that the Fox NEWS programs really are more balanced than the other networks. The administration should pay attention.

    October 18, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  11. Scott

    Fox news is like Hollywood. They like to put spin on things. Half- truth and mostly opinion.

    October 18, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  12. taysirk

    I don't watch fox news, I think the Whitehouse should move them off the air since they are reporting false non accurate and fearing news.
    take them off the air!

    October 18, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  13. Joshua College Station Texas

    When I listen to Fox News, I always feel like I am being fed an agenda, a perspective. Sometimes I agree, but mostly I don't. But the fact that the
    items reported there always seem to be delivered with some slant, some angle, rather than agnostically, is bothersome and offensive. So, I would agree with Mr. Emanuel. For me, though, I just choose not to tune in. But it does bother me that so many folks in this country regard Fox News as an unbiased news source. So I can understand why the White House would be frustrated, particularly if they are pursuing an apolitical approach to some issue and their efforts are immediately misinterpreted by Fox News or any agency to be political in nature.

    October 18, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. mary ann newton

    if it had not been for foxnews, we never would have learned of the illegal doings of acorn.........

    October 18, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. S Callahan NYS...get some real news, please

    Every news organization should be outraged that their cousin in the news is being attacked regardless of criticism of content. Just like family , you discern the truth from your take on many sources. I find it appaling that a Presidential group would attack any media in America...differences are what make this country great...where is the 'real' outrage in the media???

    October 18, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  16. Stephen Matthews

    Two points. First, the popularity of Fox News is like movie box office figures each week. The best movies as far as content and clarity rarely receive the biggest box office attendance because people like loud special effects. Case in point, Fox News.

    Second point, when Fox News correspondents and political pundits comment on democrats and President Obama they color their commentary with words like "socialism" and phrases like "Obama is leading the country on a path to destruction". That's not valid critcism.
    PBS, NPR and other networks critcize without hyperbole.

    October 18, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  17. moderate

    Fox is a right wing arm just as other network channels get their directives from the left. I really am disgusted with the state of "balanced" news reporting in general, and need to weed through the political bent of every news report I see on TV or text (web or paper) nowadays.... That being said, I do lean more towards trusting CNN, but that may be because I'm more liberal than conservative on issues, while aiming towards moderate...

    October 18, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. Death Panel Sarah

    Its amazing how many people are that "stupid" to believe the "FAIR AND BALANCED" crap.
    If a network has to say it, then they are trying to convince people it is true. Why would they have to convince someone if it WAS true?

    October 18, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. Texan2112

    Should the President of the United States be above this type of behavior? Chavez has been doing this in Venezuela to those organizations that dare to speak out against him. The American people need to hear the pros and cons of each argument, not just what the President wants us to hear. If we don't agree with what is being said then we just change the channel or stop buying from the products from the companies purchasing the ad time. I don’t agree with what other networks might say but I don’t need the President helping me make the choice.

    October 18, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  20. Mike in MT

    I total 'agree' with the White House. FOX News and their talking heads are the Republican Party and the far-right. FOX News couldn't give an un-bias news report or story without being bias. Murdock should let some people go on FOX News and talk shows. Mike in Montana

    October 18, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  21. Larry

    Wow... no matter what your views, does ANYONE think it is good for a President and his administration to attack ANY media outlet for ANY reason?!?

    This is ridiculous and bad "news" for the current administration.

    October 18, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  22. Tony Rosario

    Fox News among other news organizations plays the slant for ratings and do not report news objectively. No Drama or b.s. = not competitive with the other news organization. Obama's just calling it the way it is.

    October 18, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  23. Amanda

    I never watch Fox News exactly for the reason that they are not an objective news media. Beck and O'Reilly are clowns with an agenda: destroy the Obama Presidency.

    October 18, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  24. Yael

    It's funny how much time and emotion people will spend defending Fox News, and suggesting that any maneuvers by the administration to call them out for their heavily biased reporting is a direct threat on "civil liberties."

    It's not an attack on civil liberties, it's leveling the playing field. Fox News is, and always has been a mindless propaganda machine, so they should expect to be treated as a threat. They do not get the benefit or the courtesy of better, more objective news networks.

    October 18, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  25. Chappy

    The people censoring the news is Fox. They only put on the air stories that advance the GOP political agenda. That is pure censorship by design. So you can stop the Government censorship false argument.

    October 18, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
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