White House Attack on Fox: Everybody W(h)in(e)s?


A cynical person might ask how much Rupert Murdoch is paying the White House. This weekend Communications Director Anita Dunn told CNN “Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party,” that the network is “undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House,” and that when Obama goes on the network (which he has no plans to do) he is doing so to “to debate the opposition.”

Fox News continues to play the conflict up on its web site, with quotes from “Tony Blankley, who once served as press secretary to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich,” and discussions of ACORN, Bill Ayers, and Obama’s Fox News joke at the White House Correspondents Dinner. They also provide an interactive poll asking fans if it’s “appropriate” to “use the stature of the office and a taxpayer-funded blog to wage attacks on the press.” Unsurprisingly, the poll runs heavily against the proposition.

Rightblogger reaction to Dunn has been ongoing and as expected (“a childish, whining little hole”). “Has the waahmbulance arrived at the White House yet?” asks Michelle Malkin. “Obama wants to shut down Fox News,” cries Wetwired, which also compares Obama to Hugo Chavez.

The conventional wisdom is that, in the spirit of his FightTheSmears fact-checking web site, Obama is just furthering his struggle to get his side of the story out among the media which, despite its well-promoted reputation for liberal bias, nonetheless credulously promotes suspect conservative sources and memes. But we suspect the White House attack will also have the effect of shoring up brand loyalty among Fox users who may be presumed to endorse the organization’s contentious attitude toward Obama, which represents a stark change from its approach to Presidential coverage prior to January 20, 2009.

By this reasoning, at the very least the White House’s new aggressiveness is an everybody-wins policy, in which supporters are encouraged to learn that the President shares their distaste for Fox, and opponents are encouraged to learn that Obama shares his supporters’ distaste for Fox. Either that or Obama just lost a bet with Murdoch, perhaps over the Olympics, and owed him a favor.