Bob Franken

The White House Vs. Fox: Fox Wins

Is it me or does anyone else have an impression that White House Communications Director Anita Dunn has a second job…that she is a public relations spokesperson for Fox News? What else would possess her to declare that FNC is not a news organization at all but “…often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party”.

What else could she possibly utter that would cause the right wingnuts and any others not enamored of the Obama administration to lock their TV remotes on the network’s channel wherever they live? It’s hard to imagine a siren song more seductive to them. Rupert Murdoch and/or Roger Ailes surely sent her flowers after she said that.

The only other possibility is that the Obama group is so bent-out-of-shape when someone doesn’t follow the message-of-the-day that its members don’t realize that they are downright petulant

It doesn’t matter that Fox is generally slanted toward the right…shamelessly so. Even though there are many fine journalists who work there, the story selection and tone during straight news reporting is almost always conservative, to say nothing of the bulk of its “personalities”, guests, and most blatantly, its strategy of becoming a megaphone for the partisans who organize contrivances like the so-called “Tea Parties”.

That’s what happens when news business becomes show business. That’s what happens when the corporate decisions have nothing whatsoever to do with a responsibility to adequately informed those who vote and everything to do with currying favor with one mass of true believers or another. Those of the conservative persuasion are just as convinced that other media, particularly MSNBC, are nothing but shills for the Democrats, and they too can make a persuasive case.

Here’s the problem: A White House of either party can seriously inhibit a news organization by freezing it out. The way the Washington reporting game is played requires access to the newsmakers. Obviously, the bulk of those come from the people in power. When one network or another, or one paper or another is frozen out, or ostracized it can seriously inhibit its ability to play the game. And when the motivation that it isn’t part of the administration’s team we have a situation comparable to the Nixon “Enemies List”, where the power of government was turned on those who didn’t follow orders.

That’s one reason why Anita Dunn should abandon the campaign against Fox News. But it’s not the best reason. The best reason is that it’s a dumb strategy, it’s counter-productive, it plays right into the hands of Fox News, which thrives on victimhood. Don’t we all.

The only thing that might work is some sort of popular movement that holds news organizations accountable for the reporting they do. Before that can happen, we’ll need to decide if we’re even interested in getting substantive information about our government and society or if we prefer the fluffy entertainment and simple-mindedness we’re fed today.

As for the politicians, they need to acknowledge that their public opinion manipulations take full advantage of the triviality which news organizations dole out instead of news these days. On both sides they should stop whining about them. They only encourage them.

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