Last night on Fox News, Sean Hannity interviewed Karl Rove about ABC’s upcoming special “Questions for the President: Prescription for America,” which will feature President Obama answering “questions offered by audience members ‘selected by ABC News who have divergent opinions in this historic debate'” on health care. Hannity and Rove — echoing a recent Washington Times piece — raised questions about what they called the “unprecedented access to the White House” granted to ABC for their “infomercial” on health care reform:
HANNITY: Karl, it seems rather unprecedented. You were there in the White House for the better part of eight years. Did this ever happened while George W. Bush was president?
ROVE: You know, look, it’s normal for the networks to want to come in and do an interview inside the White House or to get a glimpse behind the curtain as to what goes on there. This is an unprecedented access to the White House and more importantly an unprecedented use of the White House. I can’t remember a time when the network came in and was going to devote a significant block of time to covering an issue that was on the president’s agenda.
As Media Matters first noted, when Fox News’ Bret Baier was granted “unprecedented access” to the White House in Feb. 2008, the network billed it as a “documentary,” not an “infomercial.” Further, Fox was not only welcomed into the White House, but aboard Air Force One, to Bush’s ranch in Texas, and into the Oval Office. Baier introduced the “documentary” saying, “Fox News has been granted unprecedented access inside the President’s world. … It’s a President Bush you’ve never seen before.” Watch a compilation of Hannity last night and Baier’s special:
Prior to airing the Bush special, Baier hosted a special on the famously-reclusive vice president entitled “Dick Cheney: No Retreat.” Fox billed it as “a rare glimpse into the life of the vice president” and aired the program Oct. 13, 2007. Similarly, on Oct. 30, 2007, Fox’s Greta Van Susteren was granted what she called “unprecedented access” to First Lady Laura Bush’s tour of the Middle East.
In the period leading up to Fox gaining such access to the Bush White House, former Fox News Sunday host Tony Snow was serving as White House Press Secretary, leaving office just weeks before Baier’s first documentary aired.