We now know that the Justice Department kept exceptionally close tabs on Fox News reporter James Rosen in 2010, following his trips in and out of the State Department, hacking his personal emails and phone calls. Normal newsgathering activities are being treated as criminal activities by the White House. But consider what the same White House had to say about Fox News back in 2009.
You might remember the concerted effort by White House officials to brand the right-leaning Fox News as a bogus news outlet, unworthy of attention. I???m not talking administration partners like Media Matters or Think Progress, but high ranking officials.
There was Anita Dunn, then communications director, who attempted to defang Fox coverage of the White House by claiming:
They are — they’re widely viewed as, you know, part of the Republican Party. Take their talking points and put them on the air. Take their opposition research and put them on the air, and that’s fine. But let’s not pretend they’re a news network the way CNN is.
(Does it really matter how Fox is “viewed” within the Beltway? Using Dunn’s formulation, one could argue that since network is more ???widely viewed??? by Americans than its competitors, it should have legitimacy.)
Then there was White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who, in a “State of the Union” interview with CNN’s John King, said: “It’s not a news organization so much as it has a perspective.” (see video below.)
White House senior advisor David Axelrod also claimed that Fox is “not really a news station” and that much of the programming is “not really news.”
“I???m not concerned,” Axelrod said on ABC’s “This Week” when George Stephanopoulos asked about the back-and-forth between the White House and Fox News.
Mr. [Rupert] Murdoch has a talent for making money, and I understand that their programming is geared toward making money. The only argument [White House communications director] Anita [Dunn] was making is that they???re not really a news station if you watch even ??? it???s not just their commentators, but a lot of their news programming.
“It???s really not news ??? it???s pushing a point of view. And the bigger thing is that other news organizations like yours ought not to treat them that way, and we???re not going to treat them that way. We???re going to appear on their shows. We???re going to participate but understanding that they represent a point of view.
My question is this: If Fox wasn’t real news, or any outlet displaying a right-of-center ideological disposition was to be treated as a Republican Party agent, why didn’t anyone inform the Department of Justice?
Follow David Harsanyi on Twitter @davidharsanyi.