Recently, White House Communications Director Anita Dunn escalated the tensions between the Obama administration and Fox News when she publicly declared that the network is “opinion journalism masquerading as news” and “often operates as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party.” Fox has responded with surprise and contempt. “It is extraordinary that the White House would go and target a news channel,” said Fox and Friends’ Steve Doocy, comparing Obama to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
In a Special Report piece on the controversy, Fox correspondent James Rosen compared Obama to President Nixon. On his Fox show last night, Sean Hannity made a similar comparison, adding that he thought the media would freak out if a Republican White House did the same thing:
HANNITY: We have a White House that has now set up a Web site specifically to attack the FOX News Channel because we ask tough questions and they do not like that. They’re not used to that with the fawning news media.
So — I mean is this an enemies list? It seems like it to me. I can’t imagine a Republican doing this without, you know, a media outcry.
The website that Hannity is referring to is most likely the White House blog, which has mentioned Fox News twice, including one post that directed readers to Politifact for the truth about more “Fox lies.” Watch it:
Fox’s incredulous reaction to the White House is somewhat ironic, considering the supportive response of the network’s personalities last year when the Bush administration attacked the credibility of NBC News. In May 2008, then-White House counselor Ed Gillespie publicly sent a scathing letter to NBC News President Steve Capus, accusing them of deceptive editing and blurring the lines between “news” and “opinion.”
In fact, two Fox News contributors, filling in for Bill O’Reilly, suggested that the Bush White House should have considered freezing out NBC and MSNBC all together:
— INGRAHAM: Now Karl, why would the White House agree to do an interview with Richard Engel? I mean, this is the guy who, you know, really didn’t want to give the surge any credit and NBC, an organization, obviously that’s called this a civil war. Now it’s kind of not gone back and changed his view on that. We’re in a recession, etcetera, etcetera. I mean, why bother really at this point? [The O’Reilly Factor, 5/19/09]
— E.D. HILL: You know, I’m sure you know from watching this program that, you know, Bill has, you know, has been reporting for more than a year on a pattern suggesting that NBC News basically panders to the left and is, in essence, in the pocket for Barack Obama. Why go on a venue like that to begin with?
GILLESPIE: Go on a venue like MSNBC?
GILLESPIE: I don’t know. It’s — you know, the — you know, there are elements there who are clearly advocates for a candidate or a point of view, not even commentaries or commentators really or analysts. So I don’t know why he would. [The O’Reilly Factor, 5/22/08]
Gillespie appeared to be supportive of freezing out NBC at the time. On his radio show, Glenn Beck asked Gillespie about Democrats “trying to blackball Fox,” adding, “You don’t see Republicans doing that to NBC, do you?” “No, and sometimes I question why,” replied Gillespie. “It is beyond me frankly.”