October 18th, 2009
02:00 PM ET
10 years ago

Reliable Sources: WH vs. Fox News … the saga continues

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Obama administration's feud with Fox News continued on the Sunday morning talk shows, with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel saying on CNN's State of the Union that Fox News "is not a news organization" and Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace venting on his program that "the White House refused to make any administration officials available to Fox News Sunday."

Fox News Senior Vice President Michael Clemente said in a statement after both shows aired, "Surprisingly the White House continues to declare war on a news organization 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."

Emanuel told CNN's John King that the issue with Fox News is not a priority for the administration.

Much of this tension stems from an interview Howard Kurtz did with White House Communications Director Anita Dunn on CNN's Reliable Sources last week, in which Dunn refered to Fox News as "opinion journalism masquerading as news." Fox News's high profile anchors harshly criticized Dunn, and one contributer called her comments "an abuse of power."

Kurtz addressed the accusations of both parties on Reliable Sources with a panel of top of journalists.

Marisa Guthrie, programming editor for Broadcasting & Cable Magazine, said that when administration officials target Fox News, it doesn't help the President's image or message, and magnifies publicity for the Fox News brand.

"[Obama] can talk to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but he can't talk to Chris Wallace? So, I think it really undermines his unity credibility. And if he's not on the network and administration officials aren't on the network to counter some of the stereotypical caricatures, then, you know, where do you go from there?" Guthrie asked. "Fox News doesn't thrive on access from the administration. They're the opposition. They thrive on agitation... [Fox News President] Roger Ailes said, 'don't pick a fight with people who like to fight.'"

David Brody, the White House Correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network, said Fox News certainly drives stories that are unfavorable to the President and said that battles between administration officials and specific media outlets could become a trend in the future.

"This is the big media story going forward. Has the White House, by doing this, in essence created a new frontier here? In other words, if there's a Republican administration in 2012, 2016, or beyond, will that Republican administration call out MSNBC on the other side?"

John Aravosis, founder of the left-leaning blog AmericaBlog.com, said that Fox News, and specifically Glenn Beck, forced the administration's hand by crossing the line with a joke about poisoning Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and comparing the administration to the Holocaust on his radio show.

"Fox opened a can of worms by finally going too far. Even opinion journalism on the other networks doesn't get into this," Aravosis said.

Brody said the White House will have to walk a fine line if officials are going to continue to call out Fox News.

"If you're in the White House's shoes, if you will, what are you going to do here? I mean, you've got three million-plus folks watching Beck every night, as well as O'Reilly. And, of course, a couple of million and change in the middle with some other folks. I mean, look, they understand that they've got to have some sort of strategy to combat this," Brody said.

Kurtz weighed in from the media strategy standpoint.

"We appreciate Anita Dunn coming on this program," Kurtz said. "She was delivering a message which we saw reinforced this morning by Rahm Emanuel. And if they want to punch back against [Fox News anchor Sean] Hannity or Beck for certain things they've said, absolutely, that's their political right. But by going after the channel as 'the opposition,' as Anita Dunn put it, I question what the White House gets out of that."

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. victim of republican greed

    I don't think that the White House sends many officials to "The Daily Show" on the Comedy Channel either. Fox is comedic in their own perverted way.

    October 18, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  2. Four and The Door

    The administration's worst nightmare: Honest debate and truth being played out in front of millions of Americans.

    The Bush administration encouraged honest debate.

    October 18, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  3. Debby

    Its so sad to see us lose our right to Freedom of Speech and become a dictatorship under the Obama Presidency.

    October 18, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. wood

    I quess the emperor and his court have no clothes
    don't critize me or I will cry that is what it sounds like

    October 18, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  5. Chris

    Supporters of Fox News like to say that other networks have a liberal bias, so what Fox is doing is no different from them. The problem is that the other networks dont devout their entire 24 hours to a particular agenda the way that Fox does. The other networks offer a mix of perspectives and give part of their day to objective journalism. Every minute of Fox is either opinion or heavily biased news stories followed up by Conservative commentators analyzing the news with a Right Wing slant. The very rare time they have a liberal on, he's proceeded to be vicisouly attacked and shouted down by the Fox crew.

    Why is it when Liberals point out Fox's skewered journalism, the Right accuses them of oppression and attacking free speach – but when Conservatives constantly attack the "Mainstream Media" they are righteously "exposing the truth"?

    October 18, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  6. ted

    Its not a surprize, FOX is the only station left that has real journalists, who ask the tough questions of our government on behalf of the American people. I remember the days when i could count on the MSM to keep us informed and the administration in check (all admins, ive been around awhile.) But alas, journalism died during the primaries, replaced by ,HES THE ONE and tingles up the leg. But this country has been on the wrong road for a loong time. Big money and special interests have tainted our election proces to the point that now i believe anyone, with enough money could buy the U.S. Presidency.

    October 18, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  7. erika

    It is outrageous to me that a PRESIDENT is going after a news organization like this. What, is Fox News an "enemy of the state" now??? Is this America 2009, or is it USSR 1978?? Obama needs to wake up and realize his WH is sounding more like the Nixon WH every day. Obama was voted in on his promise of a "new" type of america – not divisive, let's all come together. And then he sends out his top admins to go after a news organization for daring to say mean things about him??? So Beck and Hannity say outrageous and mean things about Obama. I watched Olbermann, Maddox, Schuster, Ambrams, Schultz say just as outrageous and mean things about Bush. What would the left – and specifically Obama – have thought if the Bush WH had publicly gone after MSNBC like this and refused to speak to any of their reporters? They would have said that was a typical, Bush-like abuse of power. I think Obama has lost all perspective – he is turning into the very thing he used to revile and campaigned against. Talk about the "you're either with us or against us" mentality. At least Bush applied that to foreigners – the Obama WH is applying it to American citizens!!

    October 18, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  8. vic nashville , Tn

    FOX never appreciate other network or Democrats

    They always brag about them and Republicans

    No facts in the factor

    Hannity’s America only conservatives are real Americans

    Fair and balance network never balance never fair

    News headquarters become propaganda headquarters

    I am happy that Obama’s administration attacking FOX

    October 18, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. We Won Get Over It

    Drown out the noise from Fox with the million voices of truth from the American People. CLEAN THEM UP OR SHUT THEM DOWN.

    October 18, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  10. Ray

    Faux News IS opinion journalism masquerading as news. It has no credibility and no validity. It's basically tabloid television. Where's the tension?

    October 18, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  11. Starlight

    Fox News is no more a news station than the Walt Disney channel. It is anything but "fair and balanced" and often sounds exactly like an arm of the ultra-conservative right wing. Get real guys. The Prez isn't picking on them, he's merely stating facts.

    October 18, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  12. 4 Palin

    If you would just listen when President Obama speaks about Fox News!!!!! He has made several comments on the TV stations about "the one that doesn't like him". Why is he worried about who likes him or not–as long as he does the job that he was elected to do–he shouldn't care. I don't watch any other channel but FOX news and I find that they do have a Conservative opinion but they also invite opposite opinions on their shows. I see Bob Beckel on there everyday–and his certainly a liberal. He gets to speak his mind–so President Obama and the White House needs to wake up to the fact that FOX News is not in their back pocket like the rest of the news channels. GET OVER IT!!!!!

    October 18, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. Jaxson

    FOX News has gotten to be sooo obsurd that they are exposing themselves for what they really are.....nothing but propaganda carriers.

    October 18, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. Larry

    It's not a feud with or a war on Fox

    The White House has simply expressed their honest opinion about the organization

    News is based on FACTS

    Nothing spoken on Fox has anything to do with facts

    Can we all just accept reality and move on, the White House has bigger issues on it's plate

    Truth is truth ... which is something else Fox does not like ...

    October 18, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  15. German,Irish American

    There is no doubt that the WH cannot refute the news from Fox, so they will now slander and demonize Fox News. Just what is this administration trying to hide that they would attempt to silence any opposition to Obama. It is pretty sad, and scary, that Obama would send out his spin masters, Axelrod and Rahm, to beg the other news outlets that are in the tank for Obama, to not follow Fox's lead and ask the tough questions, or investigate his unvetted czar appointments.

    October 18, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |