White House officials took off the gloves by denouncing FOX News’ legitimacy as a news organization.
The White House’s first punch came in mid-September, when FOX News was excluded from a round of presidential interviews with Sunday morning news programs.
In late September, the White House used an official blog post to directly contradict what it called “disregard for the facts.” The post named “Reality Check: Turning a Moment of Pride into a Moment of Shame,” lists false statements quoted from Glenn Beck’s September 29 program.
On Oct. 10, White House communications director Anita Dunn characterized FOX News as “opinion journalism masquerading as news” and an “arm of the GOP.”
Whatever your opinion of FOX News or the current administration, it’s a terribly distracting issue at a time when both involved parties should be focusing on real issues like health care reform and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
FOX News seems to be enjoying the attention, devoting numerous hours of news coverage and commentary to the feud.
White House officials say they are happy to have at least started a public debate about FOX. But what has the administration really achieved?
No fair-minded person actually believes FOX News isn’t biased. It may be the most heavily biased mainstream news organization in the United States.
Sure, every news organization has a bias – some more obvious than others – but nobody misrepresents opinion, or even blatant falsehoods as fact the way FOX News often does.
As an aspiring journalist and COJO major, it’s disheartening to see FOX News’ disregard for real journalism smear the discipline’s already tarnished name.
Real journalism values objectivity above all else, something that is conveniently ignored by many of FOX News’ “reporters” with a few notables exceptions such as Major Garrett and Shepard Smith.
FOX News embodies the biggest problem with today’s U.S. political system; shameless partisanship that is more about rooting for a particular political party than resolving issues and moving forward as a nation.
But what the White House has done is no better – it has brought itself down to FOX News’ level. By engaging in these attacks, the White House has mistakenly implied itself as FOX News’ equal.
While government can and should debate opposition views, the White House’s tactics go beyond that. By singling out a single news outlet, it has alienated the network’s viewers and given opponents a convenient opportunity to criticize the White House of stifling dissent.
And it’s never a good idea to antagonize the people with barrels of ink – now armed with pixels and film too.
This term’s administration is not the first to take on the media. Administrations in the past haven’t achieved much success and I highly doubt that it will this time.
FOX News will continue to be FOX News, and News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch certainly isn’t complaining.
“All I can tell you is that it’s tremendously increased their ratings,” Murdoch reportedly told shareholders about the controversy surrounding his network at an annual meeting last week.
Perhaps the White House should keep this in mind the next time it attempts to manhandle a media giant.
Brent Fischer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org