Unless you don’t watch television news, I’m sure you’ve been keeping somewhat of an eye on the battle started by the White House against FOX News. The folks in the White House have suggested that FOX News isn’t a real news outlet and they’ve even begun to cut them out of interview opportunities. The New York Times ran an article on this struggle this morning which does a great job of covering what, exactly, the White House’s beef is and the FOX News response.
There is a lot to write about this particular issue. I could write about how one of my liberal professors is touting the White House’s opposition to FOX News strictly on ideological grounds. One could also write about how Chris Wallace from FOX News Sunday hit the nail directly on the head when he suggested that this White House is filled with a bunch of crybabies. Or one could write about how other news stations are sticking up for FOX. In fact, directly from that New York Times article comes this:
In a sign of discomfort with the White House stance, Fox’s television news competitors refused to go along with a Treasury Department effort on Tuesday to exclude Fox from a round of interviews with the executive-pay czar Kenneth R. Feinberg that was to be conducted with a “pool” camera crew shared by all the networks. That followed a pointed question at a White House briefing this week by Jake Tapper, an ABC News correspondent, about the administration’s treatment of “one of our sister organizations.”
Pretty respectable for the competition to honor the unfair treatment that FOX News has been receiving, huh?
However, I want to focus on two things regarding this issue – the White House’s intentional blur between what is news and what is opinion on FOX News and the game that the White House is playing with FOX News.
First, anyone who studies media or watches a great deal of CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News while reading a diversity of newspapers can tell you that there are only so many ways a company can report a story. When a tornado hits Kansas, you don’t often hear FOX News reporters saying, “A tornado hit Kansas today and the lousy liberals are to blame.” Just like you don’t hear any legitimate reporter on MSNBC blaming conservatives for acts of God. When it comes down to reporting events from around the world, you’re going to read or watch the same report no matter where you go.
However, when it comes to commentary, you’re going to get a divergent approach to “reporting.” Bill O’Reilly calls himself a “humble correspondent.” That’s part of his approach to opinion journalism and there is nothing wrong with that at all! O’Reilly takes a very traditional view on the issues, but that’s okay because he’s hosting a program that is rooted in commentary. Glenn Beck has a staunchly libertarian point of view. Now, those who are not well-versed in political ideology would suggest that Beck is a conservative, but he’s not. So the next time you hear a mass media report or read in a newspaper that Beck is a conservative, then you need to second guess that source of news. Sean Hannity, on the other hand, is a hardcore conservative and there’s nothing wrong with that, either.
FOX News clearly labels these programs as commentary and anyone who knows anything about social interaction beyond “Hello, my name is…” can tell that these programs are NOT news-based! The White House isn’t filled with dummies, they understand that these programs are opinion programs. However, their strategy is to lump the legitimate news departments in with these opinion programs to paint FOX News with a broad, anti-liberal, anti-Obama brush. They know that by doing this, there will be a certain percentage of the population that completely agrees with them and will eventually take over this fight now that it has been brought up at a higher level. It’s a shame that such easily influenced, non-critical thinking people exist to do the White House’s prolonged dirty work.
My second point is that the White House actually managed to do something that they hadn’t been able to do up until they began attacking FOX News, i.e. get the FOX News commentators to STOP digging into the backgrounds of Obama’s staff. Think about it. Glenn Beck single-handedly led to Van Jones’ downfall, which opened up the door for other media organizations to wonder what they had missed out on (read the New York Times article linked above). This, frankly, scared the hell out of the White House and led to them attacking FOX News. If the media is covering itself, then they’re NOT digging into the people who maybe shouldn’t be sitting around the table with the President, right?
Hopefully, people will begin to notice this on a large scale and begin to demand that their White House stop engaging in partisan attacks on the media and, instead, get back to the job of running this country.