Broadcast news stands up for Fox, rebuffs White House

Posted on October 25, 2009

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There was a heartening turn of events on Thursday that doubled as bad news for the White House in its ill-advised war on Fox News. As part of its petulant campaign against Fox, the Obama administration tried to exclude Fox News from participating in a press pool interview with “pay czar” Kenneth Feinberg. To their credit, the Washington bureau chiefs of the other television news networks told the White House that if Fox was to be excluded, none of the rest of them would attend. The White House was forced to back down and allow Fox to be part of the interview.

No one could say it better than Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik:

“I’m really cheered by the other members saying “No, if Fox can’t be part of it, we won’t be part of it,'” said Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik, calling the move to limit Feinberg’s availability “outrageous.” 

“What it’s really about to me is the Executive Branch of the government trying to tell the press how it should behave. I mean, this democracy — we know this — only works with a free and unfettered press to provide information,”

Needless to say, it’s a big win for Fox. Ed Morrissey is absolutely right when he sees this as validation of Fox News by its peers that, yes, it’s a real news network that deserves to be part of the coverage of the goings-on in our nation’s capital. Whatever complaints one might have for slant or bias in coverage by the mainstream media, they deserve a lot of credit for standing on principle with a competitor that has a different slant than they. In that respect, it’s also a victory for freedom of the press.

I have my doubts on whether or not the Obama administration will stand down in its aggression towards a network that has the audacity to *gasp* run pieces critical of the White House’s agenda. Fox News is too easy a target for Democrats and liberals, and the “legitimacy” of its news operation will inevitably come up again. It’s rather ridiculous, as whatever one thinks of Fox’s opinion shows, it has a lot of great reporters and journalists that are doing a fine job: Major Garrett, Wendell Goler, Brit Hume, and Chris Wallace spring immediately to mind.

In the meantime, the administration, in attempting to paint itself as aggressive toward supposedly unfounded criticism, has instead wound up looking petty and thin-skinned. When it comes to describing their tactic of marginalizing their critics, a few words come to mind: petulant, arrogant, immature. One might even call the trend dangerous if one contemplates an executive branch that has no compunction about keeping out in the cold press agencies that don’t drip with praise for its action items.

Just as it would have been a huge mistake for Bush to try to kick out CNN or MSNBC, Obama has made a blunder with approving the war on Fox. After only ten months, his administration can hardly claim to be the post-partisan unifying force it was touted to be. Indeed, the administration’s idea of unity is to ignore and silence anyone that disagrees with it. That’s not unity or bipartisanship – that’s tone-deafness and arrogance on a grand scale.

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Posted in: News, Politics