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.