Over the past few weeks the White House has made it clear which news outlet is their rival and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs used the jargon of baseball to describe their attack on Fox News: “The only way to get somebody to stop crowding the plate is to throw a fastball at them. They move.” Considering their tactic is much more brutal, the Oval Office using an oval ball, engaging in a contact sport, yet without any set rules, it is no surprise that many are perplexed. Even though tensions developed between Fox News and the White House over the denied interview with President Obama during his Sunday Show media blitz last September, “game on” became evident with Anita Dunn’s verbal kickoff — getting the ball rolling by publicly discrediting Fox News. “It’s opinion journalism masquerading as news”.
Continuing the more appropriate sports metaphor, the White House offensive linemen, David Axlerod and Rahm Emanuel, were quick to protect their quarterback, Obama, against criticism by attempting to brand Fox News as an “illegitimate” team in the game of news. And in an effort to score an early touchdown, this administration has been trying to influence public opinion against Fox News, going so far as to include an effort to persuade other news organizations to “not be led in following Fox.”
Meanwhile, this week, in an interview with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, President Obama compared Fox News to “talk radio,” yet stated that he’s “not losing any sleep over it.” And yesterday, October 22, 2009, the White House stepped up its game with an unprecedented maneuver: a 63-yard field goal attempt. “The administration contacted the White House pool, a five-network rotation, that has for decades shared the cost and duties of daily coverage of the presidency and to which Fox News has belonged since 1997.”
The White House made available for round-robin interviews the Executive Pay Czar, Kenneth Feinberg, however, the administration specified, “all members of the pool were welcome,” but for Fox News: ACCESS DENIED! However, unlike Jason Elam, of the Denver Broncos, who actually scored with an amazing 63-yard field goal, this one was blocked, and it is quite astounding by whom. The Washington Bureau Chiefs of the five pool TV news networks, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News and NBC, consulted, and “decided that none of them would interview Feinberg, unless Fox was included”. The administration relented and made Feinberg available to all five pool members and Bloomberg TV –– Major Garret got his interview.
No points scored in this quarter of the game because the collective media dared to stand up for the press. Kudos! While it is difficult to determine which team is winning this match, we do know that it has improved Fox News’ ratings and many politicians, pundits and citizens are criticizing this new White House strategy. So where does it go from here? With an administration that has more important things to deal with, such as our troops and the Afghanistan war, the economy, unemployment, health care, our environment and all the other issues facing our nation, let’s hope we will soon see –– GAME OVER!