Last October, then-White House communications director Anita Dunn chastised Fox News, saying it operates as “either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party.” Yesterday in an interview with the New York Times, her successor, Dan Pfieffer, agreed. “I have the same view of Fox that Anita had which is that Fox is not a traditional news organization,” he said.
Pfieffer’s comment has sparked outrage with at least one Fox News host. Writing on her blog this morning, Greta Van Susteren challenged the White House to appear on her show to “prove” that it is not a traditional news program:
I challenge the White House to come on ON THE RECORD at 10pm and debate ME about ON THE RECORD at 10pm. If they are certain about their swipe (which includes ON THE RECORD at 10pm since they say all of Fox) — they should have the courage and strength to prove it. I am responsible for 10pm so I am eager to talk to them about our work at 10pm — an hour included in their swipe. I will be fair, polite but strong. I expect them to be the same. I will be armed with facts about ON THE RECORD at 10pm — not swipes.
But if Van Susteren is going to challenge anybody on the “fair and balanced” merits of her program, she may have to debate those at her own network. The New York Times reported that Fox itself doesn’t consider Van Susteren’s time slot — 10 p.m. on weekdays — to be “news”:
Fox argues that its news hours — 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on weekdays — are objective. The channel has taken pains recently to highlight its news programs, including the two hours led by Shepard Smith, its chief news anchor. And its daytime newscasts draw more viewers than CNN or MSNBC’s prime-time programs.
“[They’re] not news!,” Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart said reacting to the Times report at the time, adding, “This is according to Fox News! Those people, the ones featured in promos about how fair and balanced Fox News is are not news!”