Halloween on “The View” brings us both Joy and Barbara dressed as … what? Elvira, maybe? I don’t even want to know. Count O’s going to take a beating in the comments for his pleasantness towards The One, but more interesting is the fact that even he doesn’t have a theory for the White House’s dopey anti-Fox offensive. I still think Politico had it right a few weeks ago, but let me give you two more possibilities to chew on. One, via Mediaite: He’s trying to shut Fox up about ObamaCare by giving them something juicier to talk about.
Since that fateful moment [when Anita Dunn attacked them on CNN], Fox News has spent a vast amount of their resources on covering the White House criticism. That’s a smart business decision — not only is it a huge story, but it helps their ratings. It puts FNC’s competitors in a tricky wicket of having to cover a story that not only involves their chief rivals, but also invites their viewers to change the channel and see what could possibly be making such a fuss! Yes, covering this story whole-heartedly was, without question, a win-win for Fox News.
But more importantly, Fox News’s coverage of the “feud” came at the expense of their coverage of the health care debate. Suddenly, there was much less hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth over death panels and town hall protests. According to the television monitoring service TVEyes, the term “health care” was mentioned by Fox 2361 times in August. In October, it was only mentioned 1558 times. Meanwhile, Anita Dunn — who wasn’t mentioned once in August — has been referenced 121 times this month.
It’s a fine theory, but wasn’t August the month when the bulk of the health-care town halls happened and the Democrats went all-out on their anti-conservative demagoguery? That was the top story on HA for weeks on end; no surprise that Fox was covering it heavily too. Plus, August was a slow month for other news. Since then, Iran negotiations have heated up, The One won the Nobel, and he flamed out at the Olympics. No wonder ObamaCare’s being mentioned a bit less these days.
Second theory, as a further thought to last night’s post on perceptions of media bias: Maybe the White House is trying to increase Fox’s visibility among the public. Why do that when it only boosts their ratings and drives more viewers to Beck? Because the larger Fox looms as a “threat” to, or foil for, the White House, the more license the rest of the media has to “balance” Fox by skewing its own coverage. Who cares if five million people watch Beck making jokes about Anita Dunn and his red phone if a combined audience of tens of millions are watching CBS, NBC, CNN, etc. report news that’s subtly biased in Obama’s favor? This goes back to that point in the Politico piece: The goal, ultimately, is to stop the other networks from following Fox’s lead on stories that hurt the White House by framing Fox as illegitimate. It’s not Fox’s audience Obama cares about; it’s everyone else’s. And the more he can convince the rest of the media to orient itself as an answer to Fox, the more that’s going to lead them towards favorable coverage. Anyway, food for thought.
Update: Speaking of “balancing” Fox, today we got the news that TPM will be joining the White House press pool. And then there was this from Paul Krugman in this morning’s NYT, openly beseeching his friends in the media to dive face-first into the tank for ObamaCare at this crucial moment.
As a result, everyone in the political class — by which I mean politicians, people in the news media, and so on, basically whoever is in a position to influence the final stage of this legislative marathon — now has to make a choice. The seemingly impossible dream of fundamental health reform is just a few steps away from becoming reality, and each player has to decide whether he or she is going to help it across the finish line or stand in its way.
Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity are standing in the way. Which impartial media patriots will rise to the challenge of standing against them?