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The Obama war against Fox News: Risky business?

The Obama White House is making no secret of its distaste for Fox News.

In a round of Sunday talk show appearances, the administration escalated its war against the network that likes to call itself "fair and balanced" but that happens to feature quite a few conservative voices.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said on CNN that Fox News isn't even a news organization.

And White House political guru David Axelrod, who had coffee a few weeks ago in New York with Fox News founder Roger Ailes, told ABC that Fox News is "really not news. ... Other news organizations like yours ought not to treat them that way. We're not going to treat them that way."

But some are wondering if this is smart politics. Given that Fox News boasts a far larger audience than cable competitors CNN and MSNBC, and given that most elections are decided by independents who might occasionally watch FNC, the strategy could backfire.

“It's a very risky strategy,” perennial presidential advisor David Gergen said recently on CNN. “It's not one I would advocate.”

For its part, the administration seems content to keep the battle going, even though the wars have already claimed a few victims. Glenn Beck pounded the lectern relentlessly about green jobs czar Van Jones for signing a petition suggesting government conspiracy in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Jones resigned.

Now Beck has turned his furor on White House communications director Anita Dunn for saying that China's Mao Tse-tung was one of her favorite philosophers. Firing back, Dunn said she picked up the line from renowned Republican strategist Lee Atwater and that it was meant as irony.

"The use of the phrase 'favorite political philosophers' was intended as irony, but clearly the effort fell flat -- at least with a certain Fox commentator whose sense of irony may be missing," she said. Keeping up the White House attack, Dunn also charged that Fox serves as "the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party."

Now Beck is charging that the White House attack is akin to media genocide, like going after the Jews during the Holocaust.

I dunno, don't these folks have something better to do?

-- Johanna Neuman

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Given the liberal nature of other media sources and their continuous attempts to make news rather than report it, I welcome a conservative voice.
The media in general should review the definition and origin of the term "Yellow Journalism".

As far as im concerned this is just the precursor to the state run news (propaganda machine) they would like to put in place. Get this sorry commy and his sorry commy friends out of office while we still can people.

No, they don't have "anything better to do." Fox uses the time honored tactic of The Big Lie: repeat something enough times - i.e. "Obama's Death Panel Would Kill My Downs Baby" - and people begin to believe there must be something to it. History has shown that the ONLY way to combat this is to call it for what it is, early and loudly. When you don't...well, just ask John Kerry how that Swift Boat thing turned out. The only embarrassing thing here is how passive the rest of the media is to the wolf in its fold. The administration is doing your job.

Yes, nothing that is critical of The Won could *possibly* be news!

Wake up America!

Glen Beck is certifiable.

The White House versus Fox News smacks too much of Hugo Chavez and how he is attempting to silence critical media in Venezuela. Fortunately for us, the current White House is not experiencing the success that Hugo is...so far. Better keep a close eye on this one, folks. It is troubling indeed.

I think Americans should be very concerned with our President and his staff to spend their precious cycles (time and energy) on criticizing TV networks vs. solving National Issues (rising deficit, declining job opportunities being lost to more cross border outsourcing, and national security). The bottom line is we are wasting massive amounts of tax dollars by have our president and his staff focus on critisim and commentary vs. real national issues. Is this what we all voted for? So much for feeling comfortable about change. This isn't the change I voted for...

This unwarranted attack against a legitimate news organization smacks of sour grapes and is a bare knuckled attempt at censorship. Americans may have voted for President Obama, but they got Richard Nixon!

Let's go hypothetical and leave behind for a moment whether Fox "deserves" this treatment or whether Washington is right or wrong. Hypothetically... let's say Fox is destroyed or cowed into submission. What does this say about Washington's power? The gross misuse of it? Suppression of speech and press? What does it bode for other news outlets? Does Fox provide a good example of "what will happen to you" by Chicago thug politics? Answer honestly... after Fox, who next?

The White House is running scared because Fox News is exposing their hidden radical agenda. The truth is never popular!

The White House is beginning to really concern me, not so much for it's stumbling approaches to broken campaign promises, but it's appearing as if it is run by the local high school debate team. Do we want this as our representative to other nuclear welding powers around the world in life or death matters? I don't think so!


Well, the bottom line is that Emanuel and Axelrod are correct. If one wants right-wing editorializing and slanted coverage, then Fox is the place to go. As a non-affiliated independent, I long ago was turned off by Fox's blatant Republican bias and as a result quit watching them (or at the very least cast a skeptical eye at their assertions). I prefer the facts so that I can make up my own mind, so I'll stick to CNN and other legitimate news outlets.

Fox news is to the right, most of the other news is to the left. The White House just dislikes fox because they exposed acorn and acorn is Obamas pals. I have less respect for the administration than ever.

This is an interesting editorial slant. The Obama administration 'declares war on fox news.'

Right.

Because Fox was a totally neutral party before the White House randomly started attacking them. Seriously, is this what we, your readers, are expected to believe?

Fox news is to journalism what the WWE is to sports, and to pretend otherwise is an insult to your readers.

It's a sad day when the President of the U.S. goes to "war" with a news organization.

I never bought into the Messiah image, but nevertheless I had a fairly positive image of Obama. He at least seemed fair and reasonable -- someone who would listen to both sides of an argument. I am sad to see how quickly power corrupts....

I think it prudent to get one's news from a variety of sources, including FOX. But what is this I read....? The Obama administration is bent out of shape because Fox did a fact check on the stuff that one of its officials spouted...?

Shouldn't ALL media be doing such fact checks...? Does this mean the media HAVEN'T been fact checking -- and have been just taking the words of POLITICIANS (!!!) at face value...?

Time for ALL media to ramp up those facts checks -- and do some critical thinking about what comes out of this guy's mouth.

So does the the Obama regine want to run are news media now, or just get rid of one's that do not agree with him.

If we had no religion or Fox News the world would be a better place.

Here we go, now foxnews is the victim. Everybody knows that the republicans have been clamering for an all republican-rush limbaugh-like news network for years. I also know that the only people who beleive that foxnews is fair and balanced are republicans. I also know that the republcans need those upcoming democratic seats in 2010. Any normal independant thinker who watches foxnews for 1 day can tell you it is republican leaning. And as for Obama going to war with foxnews---ITS ABOUT TIME! Foxnews has been "picking" on obama since last year. relentlessing beating him up on almost every issue, celebrating his failures and hating his successes. Foxnews we are not fooled, lie if you want to, but you're no victim.

I think that FOX should escalate!

Bring up legit questions about Admin. policy ( perhaps questions from a public poll )and ask:

" why won't the administration answer these questions, WHAT ARE THEY HIDING?"

When Obama has a Press Conference ask what he is hiding that he won't let his people on FOX!
Embarrass him in the public's eye!
IMO the ONLY thing he cares about is his EGO!

I watch a number of talking head during the week but I've found myself gravitating to the FOX NEWS Network because:
They present all the news and facts.
They don't try and taint the news like CNN and CMBC did on the Rush Limbaugh story over the last few weeks.
They aren't so damed bias as the LEFT Wing Media.
I'am just one of the millions who would rather listen to FOX then the other so called media stations. The only thing they are good for is corrupting our youth and disgracing our country and what we were founded on.

So I was expecting some insane comment from Glenn Beck after this article and the headline above the clip, " Like going after Jews at the Holocaust" and then it ended and I thought...wtf? Really? I listened...twice...and all he talked about was when you let censorship start and people don't do anything because it doesn't affect them it will come back to haunt them. Like in Germany when they started rounding up the Jewish community and people sat by because they though, "I'm not Jewish" until the Germans came back and said how about the gypsies, etc... So sad the White House has to play this game, it's so juvenile and does not reflect well on the professionalism of the staff.

Go Fox News we independents are behind your news service
100 %. How else will we know what the government is
doing. The other news station never report about
the government actions. So keep up the great work
and don't let the White House control you also.

I don't think the Fox position is being portrayed accurately by anybody but Fox. Glenn Beck is saying Obama is a Marxist and Communist by nature of the fact that he surrounds himself with professed and outspoken Communists in his governmental appointments and political affiliations. If this charge is false, it is the duty of the White House and of the "free" media to question Fox's false position. This has not happened yet -- only avoidance, from everyone. You can say you are not going to play Fox's game and so avoid the serious questions, but that is not what a real journalist does. They address truth, even if it is unfriendly. So, ask the questions and get to the bottom of our government. Keep us a free society, and earn your "first amendment salt". Ask boldly.

I guess a polital agenda among news channels is OK as long as it suits Axelrods agenda....what a joke.

Back at Beck: if people actually listen to this guy and think it's news, "You've missed the point. Check out the TV archives for shows like The Three Stooges, The Keystone Cops, Archie Bunker News networks."

Can You Say, ”Enemies Of The People”? Do You Remember Nixon’s “Enemies List”?

The Obama administration's attacks on Fox News, banks, “greedy” medical specialists, Wall Streeters, Glenn Beck, medical insurers and auto company bondholders should remind us that its populist/socialist programs and its political and media tactics echo those of Italy's Falange in the 1920s, the Peronistas in Argentina in the 1940s and, the Chavezistas in Venezuela today.

This is the kinda of stuff that hardens me against Obama and the WH. It's so obviously stupid and un-presidential, that it's not hard to wonder what's wrong inside this WH. They always seem to be close to being out of control. Based on his performance to date Obama best get used to criticism.

Are you saying the Obama White should just roll over for the propaganda mouthpiece of the Republican party? Hell No! It is time to quit playing like Fox is a news channel. Like all good propaganda sources it mixes some news in with the message it is trying to deliver but it is not a real "news channel."

Thought Obama sold us he would communicate and open up government to transparency. He has met with our enemies but not Fox news? Why? Sara did.

I can not understand why the American people have not calmly impeached Obama, and his socialist fascist party. God help America from the communist from within our government.

Enough with Fox.
Castro closed conservative newspapers.
Chavez nationalized conservative media.
Stalin sent anti-government media to Gulag.
Mao sold anti-communist journalist's body organs.

We won! Close Fox News! Yes, we can!

Looks like the Obama administration only likes and favors the "other" liberal media. Of course! because they are also liberal! They will attack any organization that would differ from their views. Sound like communist China.

Glenn Beck is simply what is known in some circles as a dry drunk. Recognizing that makes it a lot easier to understand him, even if, unfortunately, that does nothing to mitigate the damage he does to society as a whole.

I guess when you say fox is not a news org. you then have to include your paper in that same category considering the number of liberals on your staff. When in a glass house don't throw stones at others.

Every other news network has "quite a few" bleeding-heart liberals running the show, so that's an irrelevant argument coming from, what a surprise, another liberal news source, LA Times. It's a war America and the liberals control 90% of the news you're watching, wake up! Go Fox!, true patriots of this country.

If FOX wants to act as an activist arm of the GOP, then fine. Just quit with the play at being impartial when called on it. I personally think most news now is less than informative and fails to ask good questions with a decent follow up to nonsensicle answers.

These men like Beck used to travel the US selling hair tonic and elixiers to local rubes. Only difference now is that they have a camera trained on them.

Walter Cronkite was a news man. These are baffoons with an agenda that they won't admit.

You said: "Given that Fox News boasts a far larger audience than cable competitors CNN and MSNBC, and given that most elections are decided by independents who might occasionally watch FNC, the strategy could backfire."

Should I give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you were joking in suggesting that independents watch Fox ? How many Fox watchers voted for Obama last time?

Obama is doing what Kerry failed to do - confronting and calling out the people, including Fox, who spread distortions and half truths, instead of objective, verifiable facts. In my opinion, that is more than sound strategy.
Fox watchers are not seeking information - they seek affirmation of their existing views.

I hope journalists from other organizations are following this story. The administration is attempting to censor Fox News. Who/What news organization will be next?

My issue with the behavior of the Administration is not that they're wrong. But rather that they are tilting at a windmill. And that, while noble, their efforts at taking on Fox News are likely to have as much benefit for the American people as Don Quixote's crusade.

"Fair and Balanced" is a DoubleSpeak joke, that most people with half a brain can see right through. All one needs to do if flip channels during coverage of anything that the Democrats do. But, perversely, by revealing Fox News for the Orwellian mouthpiece that it is, the Administration has made them into a martyr.

Those that respond that MSNBC is no better are also correct. But at least they don't usually wrap themselves in the flag and cry "foul" when called to account.

No, this "debate" is nothing more than a distraction. A waste of time and breath. And, while it's nice to see the Administration attempt to speak Truth-to-Power, they can better spend their energies elsewhere.

This is a stupid and biased assessment. I am watching CNN and MSNBC as often as I can to be able to "balance" my info. I see many more left wingers on Fox News than conservatives on CNN, MSNBC et al. together. FNC is indeed fairer and more balanced than all the others. Stop this nonsense.

I'm a moderate that leans to conservative and even I think that Fox News is BS! esp people like Beck, how dare he insult the Jewish community by trying to make that comparison!

Thw White House opposes Fox News because it does not want to hear the common sense truth about Obama's moronic fiscal policies, the horrific appointees, and the president's own inept and inexperienced approach to leadership. He is moving us away from our historical and demoncratic form of government. He is enslaving future generation with massive debt and unworkable policies. I think Obama is a traitor in every respect to America. And, unbelievably, his democratic cohorts are enabling him. My hope and prayer is that 2010 and other future elections will send many of them home.

Just another example of how vindictive and thin-skinned the Obama administration really is. Axelrods recent interview with Bill O'Reily didn't go well... it portrayed David as a weak, shaky voiced, partisan.
Why would anyone ignore the only news media outlet that puts forward opposing views? If the Obama administration isn't strong enough to debate little Fox News, how can they debate our nations enemies?

It is perfectly fair for the White House to take on Fox since Fox programming is frequently showing views that are at odds with the White House. But that is also the key role for the press is to take different views from the current administration so that the public can have a range of views. I think it is also fair to say that CNN, ABC and NBC and the NY Times are clearly expressing the "other side" of the discussion as they have during several administrations.
Multiple views are at the heart of democracy and a very rich part of our American heritage. So yea for all of the press, print and broadcast!

Sure Fox News is for conservatives and republicans, but MSNBC is for liberal democrats. Bush Jr. hated MSNBC just as much as Obama hates Fox. THAT MAKES SENSE.

I actually think CNN is the worst for the stupid Balloon Boy fake "breaking news" story. They ignore important stories for crap reporting that they help create. Desperate and without backbone, CNN is the dumbest not knowing which side to even take.

If Fox News would like to be regarded as a "news" channel then they might start actually presenting news. Whenever I stop on the station all I hear is screaming and yelling and hatred and derisiveness. I NEVER hear things like that on CNN or MSNBC or other news channels.

This latest comment on genocide and holocaust is so silly and redicuclous I wonder at the IQ of the person who said it. Beck. Do you really think these things or is this a "show" to get people to watch you? You trash mouth like a kid. Grow up and start being a human being rather than a screamer and yeller and a person who puts other people down in order to feel better about himself. Or that's what I assume you are doing, bucause I can't anything productive about what you do. You just rip and smear and tear.

If I were your mother I'd wash our mouth with soap and tell you to only say positive things, even about people you hate.

Fox is my favorite TV channel for dramas and programs because the quality is excellent. But I won't watch a braadcase of so called news until the presenters learn to speak kindly of other people and deal faily with people they disagree with.

If you want to watch hatred and yelling and screaming and distortion - watch FOX NEWS. If you want to watch NEWS and hear what's actually going on in the WORLD and what other countries think of us, rather than what's in Rush Limbaugh's disturbed mind, then watch any other channel.

Sure, Fox News has a bias, but then so does MSNBC. And the opinion shows are just that - opinion shows. What exactly is the white house advocating, anyway? Censorship? I'm a socially liberal libertarian, but I find the WH's attempt to shut up/shut down a cable channel because its personalities disagree with them more than a little creepy.

The real header should be: " Do you leftists want civil war or not"?

Well, do you?

I really don't see the danger to the Obama administration in going after FOX news. I used to watch FOX news almost every day but over the past several years the conservative Christian right (nuts?) bias of the organization has become so intense that there is no way that any mainstream, or heaven forbid liberal, candidate or idea would get a fair review. FOX is never going to support anything that Obama is promoting (or Obama himself) so what good does it do for him to give access to FOX. Essentially all that FOX will do with it's access to moderate and liberal politicians and advocates, is to use any misstep as an oportunity to mock them.

In going after FOX news the Obama administration is announcing to the public what everyone but the hard core FOX viewers already understands, that FOX is a mouthpiece for the Republican agenda. Perhaps a few FOX viewers will actually begin to question the objectivity of the network, but certainly none of the viewers that will not question FOX's version of the "news", were going to vote for Obama anyway. Essentially FOX is doing what the Republican party has done, which is to entirely move away form any moderate possition.

One needs to understand that though FOX News has the most viewers, the numbers are only about 2 million, not enough to make any difference in an election or when attempting to further a policy. Think of FOX as a place for the last few people who supported GW during the final days of his presidency. Those guys aren't ever going to support anything that the Obama administration wants to do. In fact I believe that many of the talk show guys and guests on FOX news are promoting the idea of making sure that nothing that Obama tries to do should succeed, even if the failure would hurt the USA.

So by alienating FOX news viewers (if he in fact even does that) Obama is alienating the one group that would never support him anyway.

By the way, I was talking to one of my most conservative, die hard Republican friends the other day. This guy supported Bush to the end, Palin from the beginning to end, and loved McCain, but he actually volunteered to me that FOX news is anything but fair and unbiased. So it would seem that even conservatives realize that they can't get real news at FOX, they just go there to get patted on the back for being real patriots.

 
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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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