On September 20, 2009, Obama appeared on five Sunday morning news shows in one day — Fox News Sunday was not included. Two weeks later, following what the New York Times referred to as a “Fox Summit” between Roger Ailes, chairman of Fox News, and David Axelrod, senior adviser to President Obama, Fox News was told they wouldn’t get to conduct any Obama interviews in the foreseeable future and all members of the administration, from the top down, were ordered to stay off Fox News.
When it was learned that the reason for the administration’s animosity toward Fox News was based in part on the network’s coverage of Obamacare and Glenn Beck’s opposition to bringing the Olympics to the Chicago, Fox News’ Chris Wallace called Obama a “crybaby” and the battle began.
The last time such a war raged between the White House and a media outlet, Richard Nixon was President, and his V.P, Spiro Agnew, was doing all he could to blackball the New York Times over their unflattering coverage of the Vietnam War. This time, the war is between a President whose skin is at least as thin as was Nixon’s, but whose motives are far more self-serving.
To put it bluntly: Obama doesn’t like the fact that Fox News personalities like Glenn Beck point out dichotomies between what the President says and what he does, between what he promises and what he delivers. Obama and his administration actually equate such critical journalism with warfare.
Of course Obama, ever the victim, wants to paint this as a war someone else started. This much was clear from the words his point person, Anita Dunn, used when she popped up on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” over the weekend: “[Fox News is] undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House.” i.e., “Fox News started this, we didn’t.”
As a consequence of what Fox News has supposedly started, Dunn said the administration was “gonna treat [Fox News] the way [the administration] would treat an opponent.” And why shouldn’t they? Since, according to Dunn, “Fox News often operates…as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party.”
Can this administration get any more petty?
Sure they can — and they have.
On September 30, 2009, on the tax-payer funded WhiteHouse.gov, the administration devoted a full page to pointing out Fox News’ “continued…disregard for…facts in [the network’s] attempt to smear the Administration’s effort to the win the Olympics for the United States.” The post centered on quotes from Glenn Beck, which appeared under the heading “rhetoric,” and were countered by quotes from the administration, which appeared under the heading “reality.”
The big problem for the administration is that some of what Beck said is irrefutable, such as his claim that Obama’s fellow Chicagoan and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett would “benefit financially” from the Olympics. While the administration dismissed this as rhetoric, Michelle Malkin contends that if the games had come to Chicago, Jarrett would have received an “untold windfall” because she owns a portion of the land on which the Olympics would have been held.
To be “fair and balanced,” I should point out that Obama and his administration are not the only ones who currently handle probing questions, factual assertions, and honest journalism in this way. Rather, it is a common tactic taken by many Democrats.
Al Gore, resident global warming expert and inventor of the internet, recently took the same approach when questioned about factual inconsistencies discovered in his propaganda film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” At a gathering of 500 “environmental journalists” in Madison, Wisconsin, on October 9, 2009, Irish filmmaker Phelim McAleer dared to “[ask] Gore to address nine errors in his film identified by a British court in 2007.” When Gore sidestepped the court’s findings with his answers, McAleer pressed further, only to have his microphone turned off.
In other words, McAleer’s role in the discussion was ended in Madison just as Obama and Dunn want Fox News’ role in their discussions in D.C. to end. But the problem with trying to silence an outlet like Fox News or a personality like Beck is that they’re not limited to one microphone in Madison, Wisconsin.
Barring Fox News from the White House and administration officials from Fox News will do nothing to diminish the network’s ongoing, thorough examination of the chasm that exists between what Obama promises and what Obama delivers. And as Fox senior VP Michael Clemente points out, this attempted strangling of what remains of a free press in this country only drives their viewership higher. Clemente believes this “year…[will] be the Fox News Channel’s highest rated.”
To make matters worse for Obama, Europe’s newspapers are increasingly more critical of the administration as well. Days ago — October 12, 2009 to be exact — the UK’s Telegraph outlined 10 pledges Obama made on the campaign trail which he has already broken as president.
What will Obama do in response to this? Will he ban members of his administration from accessing the Telegraph on the web or taking calls from its reporters?
It really doesn’t matter what he does next. Ever since September 20th, when he went out of his way to send Fox News a message by avoiding their Sunday show but appearing on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and Univision, it’s clear that he’s petty and too weak to handle criticism.
There’s only one word for President Obama — “crybaby.”
Cartoon by Brett Noel.