Tapper to Gibbs: Who are you to decide what constitutes a news organization?

posted at 12:55 pm on October 20, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Sheer comedy gold from one of the most honest White House correspondents in the business.  Jake Tapper used his time in the Briefing Room to challenge Robert Gibbs on the Obama administration’s attempts to brand Fox News as something other than a news organization.  Gibbs sputters but never answers Tapper’s essential question:

Tapper: It’s escaped none of our notice that the White House has decided in the last few weeks to declare one of our sister organizations “not a news organization” and to tell the rest of us not to treat them like a news organization. Can you explain why it’s appropriate for the White House to decide that a news organization is not one –


Gibbs: Jake, we render, we render an opinion based on some of their coverage and the fairness that, the fairness of that coverage.

Tapper: But that’s a pretty sweeping declaration that they are “not a news organization.” How are they any different from, say –

Gibbs: ABC –

Tapper: ABC. MSNBC. Univision. I mean how are they any different?

Click over to Tapper’s blog to hear the answer.  Ultimately, though, Gibbs thoroughly misses Tapper’s point.  The White House is not just some political 501(c)3 issuing opinion statements on policy.  They’re the executive branch of government, who exist to enforce laws and are accountable to the people, at least in part (one hopes) through the media.  It’s entirely inappropriate to make pronouncements on the credibility of those organizations holding them accountable, especially when they try to wheedle other news organizations into ignoring them.

What do they have to fear from Fox News, after all?  It makes them look petty and craven, instead of simply responding on each story and letting other news organizations tell their side of the story.  After all, they have no lack of volunteers for that task.

It’s the difference between campaigning and governing.  Gibbs et al still haven’t learned it, and they look like Amateur Hour as a result, or worse, Nixonian.  At the moment, no video of the exchange is available, but I’ll update this post with it as soon as its available.

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Watch your choice of adjectives.

Isn’t “Rooseveltian” more appropriate than “Nixonian”?

Stepan on October 21, 2009 at 7:32 AM

If Fox News are infidels, what does that make hot air?

long_cat on October 21, 2009 at 12:11 AM

Purveyors of truth, justice, and the American way.

In addition, Ed and Allah are also more powerful than locomotives, faster than speeding bullets, can leap tall buildings in a single bound, and see through women’s clothes – which, if I had super powers and had to give up all but one is the one I’d keep.

Rod on October 21, 2009 at 8:00 AM

Interesting that the enemy of the White House is the most popular news and opinion source by a huge margin.
Keep it up, Donks.

PaddyJ on October 21, 2009 at 8:01 AM

They tell you to watch, you watch religiously; they tell you to march, you show up on 9/12 chanting Fox News. Do any of you think it’s okay for a Fox News a “Real” News Organization to promote any kind of protest? N

Stone, do you think any Fox news reporter talks about having tingles up his leg like Chrissy does? That\’s embarrassing…. but sounds as if you have your mind made up and slammed shut…

chai on October 21, 2009 at 8:04 AM

It’s the difference between campaigning and governing.

Ha, there\’s no difference anymore these days. Haven\’t you been paying attention since 1995? After it was perceived that Clinton \”lost\” the midterms, Presidents are on a permanent campaign.Since Fox News is the one conservative news outlet out there, that\’s the one they\’re going to focus on. Not really surprising. Kind of sad, but not surprising. I don\’t think we\’ve had a person who appreciated the dignity of the White House since George H.W. Bush, and since he was a one termer, I doubt we\’ll ever have one again.

Proud Rino on October 21, 2009 at 8:11 AM


Cybergeezer on October 21, 2009 at 9:18 AM

Looks like we have ourselves a democrat nixon.

erakis on October 21, 2009 at 9:48 AM

The Administration’s arrogance is now at proceeding full speed ahead, no one at the controls, speeding over freedoms edge, to full fill their death wish.

Being a conservative with a constructive vision sees liberalism in the final throws of its downfall.

My words of advice are simple, stop following the Messiah who wants you to drink Rev. Jones “Kool Aid” recipe.

MSGTAS on October 21, 2009 at 10:29 AM

I’m confused. The Obama administration tries to portray, as all Democrats do, that they are the party of the working men and women. Since this is supposedly the greatest portion of the country, they should have no problems with their issues and bills because the bulk of America wants them. In addition, IF the Democrats are as popular as they claim, then those networks that are “in the tank” supporting Obama would have soaring viewership numbers. Hmmm..but strange as it seems, the opposite is true and the networks of the “radical right fringe”, is cleaning the other network clocks in viewership, even if those Obama network numbers are COMBINNED.

Jeff from WI on October 21, 2009 at 10:41 AM

It’s not like this is something new


Fed45 on October 21, 2009 at 12:06 PM

Ya know, I’m so impressed by Bagdad Bob Gibbs that I nominate him for the first annual Scott McClellan Award of Excellence.

thebookkeeper on October 21, 2009 at 12:17 PM

Everyday there is a post about The Fox News Whitehouse “Blackout”. Get over it. Fox ISN’T real news. They actually said ‘terrorist fist jab’ when talking about The Prez and the First Lady on a NEWS program. They actually allowed Glenn Beck to keep his job even after calling the President a racist. Are we just going to ignore these things and attack the President? Fox has some of you guys brainwashed. They tell you to watch, you watch religiously; they tell you to march, you show up on 9/12 chanting Fox News. Do any of you think it’s okay for a Fox News a “Real” News Organization to promote any kind of protest? Name another news channel that has done this.

StoneKrab on October 20, 2009 at 6:48 PM

Geez! For someone that “could care less about Fox News…” (sic), you sure seem to watch a lot of it. Why is that? I guess you are right; you apparently “could care less”, but you don’t (BTW, the proper phrase is “couldn’t care less”

It also seems you and Gibbs, have the uncanny inability to be unable to distinguish commentary from news. Hannity, O’Reilly (whom I loathe), Beck, et.al. all are commentators….much like Olberman, and that dyke that is on before him. Reporting the news and commenting on the news are two different things. All these cable outlets are news organizations. But when it comes to editorializing, that’s where the WH gets cranky because many of Fox’s commentators don’t want to fall in line.

Fed45 on October 21, 2009 at 12:20 PM

StoneKrab, get back under your bridge, don’t you have some billy goats to molest?

nelsonknows on October 21, 2009 at 3:30 PM

Isn’t “Rooseveltian” more appropriate than “Nixonian”?

Stepan on October 21, 2009 at 7:32 AM

No. I think Ed has it right, at least for the present. And Karl Rove did too when he said it. Besides, no one readily recalls Rooseveltian excesses.

But many sure as hell remember Nixon!

From the look of things, these Obama folks are very likely to quickly take it well beyond anything Nixon ever did, or even thought about. The early attempt with the “fishy e-mails” was a good indication of their willingness to abuse the system.

It’s because they approach politics from an entirely different perspective — they feel they’re “enlightened.” The Obama folks and many of their followers, including many in the press, have displayed a very disturbing and dangerous sort of worship of him. And they seem hell-bent on fostering a fringe cult of the personality kind of attachment.

Remember . . . back as recently as June, Newsweek’s Evan Thomas was spouting that insane nonsense, claiming that Obama was “above America” and even “above the world” — that he was “sort of God.”

And just listen to Anita Dunn talk. She is the Director of Communications — one of the top five! She now has Rahm Emanuel, Axelrod and Gibbs all touting this crazy line, trying to single out a media outlet as an “enemy.” Dunn said Fox had declared war on them. And she touts Mao as her political hero!

Let’s face it . . . that woman is a complete loon.

So, sooner rather than later it may become common knowledge that Nixon was a “piker” compared to this guy.

But for right now, it seems to be a fair comparison to ring a warning bell about abuse of power, one that most can readily understand.

Trochilus on October 21, 2009 at 6:44 PM

One term wonders

OSUBuciz1 on October 21, 2009 at 8:44 PM