The White House war on Fox News hasn’t stopped at all, writes liberal Fox contributor Kirsten Powers today in a column published by the network. After getting rebuked by other news agencies for ham-fisted attempts to exclude Fox reporters from coverage of the Obama administration in 2009, the White House seemed to give up on their one-sided war. Not so, says Powers — they’ve just become more subtle at their attempts to delegitimize Fox:
In a recent interview with The New Republic, President Obama was back to his grousing about the one television news outlet in America that won’t fall in line and treat him as emperor. Discussing breaking Washington’s partisan gridlock, the president told TNR,”If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News…for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it.”
Alas, the president loves to whine about the media meanies at Fox News. To him, these are not people trying to do their jobs. No, they are out to get him. What other motive could a journalist have in holding a president accountable? Why oh why do Ed Henry and Chris Wallace insist on asking hard questions? Make them stop!
The president seems more comfortable talking to “real journalists” such as Chris Hughes, who asked the question in the TNR interview that elicited Obama’s reflexive Fox hatred. Hughes is the new owner of TNR and is a former major Obama campaign major campaign donor and organizer who was featured on the cover of Fast Company, with the headline, “The Kid Who Made Obama President.” You can’t make this stuff up.
Well, it’s easy for the President to whine about getting tough questions from reporters when being interviewed by a former campaign volunteer and major donor, isn’t it? And when reporters from other networks are bragging about giving a politician an easy ride, as CBS’ Steve Kroft did on CNN last night, well, it’s a bit difficult to tell who the real news outlets are without a scorecard.
That’s not to say that the Fox News Channel has been a bastion of unbridled objectivity. Of course not, but the same can be said about CNN, especially lately with Piers Morgan. And unlike MSNBC, both Fox and CNN have straight news programs that aren’t overly infected with partisan point-of-view issues. Fox’s White House correspondent Ed Henry has been a well-respected journalist for years, as was Major Garrett before him. And yet, lately, Ed Henry hasn’t been given the opportunity to ask questions on the rare occasions that Obama deigns to allow the press to pose them, even though FNC has the largest audience of all the cable-news networks.
What makes this interesting, of course, is that Powers is a liberal contributor who spends a significant amount of screen time defending Obama and the liberal agenda. Nevertheless, Powers writes that this kind of immature gamesmanship should concern everyone:
Whether you are liberal or conservative, libertarian, moderate or politically agnostic, everyone should be concerned when leaders of our government believe they can intentionally try to delegitimize a news organization they don’t like.
In fact, if you are a liberal – as I am – you should be the most offended, as liberalism is founded on the idea of cherishing dissent and an inviolable right to freedom of expression.
That more liberals aren’t calling out the White House for this outrageous behavior tells you something about the state of liberalism in America today.
It should concern everyone … but obviously, it doesn’t. Too many people are too invested in short-term partisan victory to see the long-term dangers of — to borrow a phrase from the hysteria of yesteryears — an imperial presidency. And while conservatives rush to pat Powers on the back for making this point against her short-term political interests, perhaps we should keep this in mind when the shoe is on the other foot … assuming we can win a national election in the future.