At first, there was little reaction from other media. Then on Thursday, the administration tried to make them complicit in an actual boycott of Fox. The Treasury Department made available Ken Feinberg, the executive pay czar, for interviews with the White House "pool" news organizations — except Fox. The other networks admirably refused, saying they would not interview Feinberg unless Fox was permitted to as well. The administration backed down.
This was an important defeat because there's a principle at stake here. While government can and should debate and criticize opposition voices, the current White House goes beyond that. It wants to delegitimize any significant dissent. The objective is no secret. White House aides openly told Politico that they're engaged in a deliberate campaign to marginalize and ostracize recalcitrants, from Fox to health insurers to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
There's nothing illegal about such search-and-destroy tactics. Nor unconstitutional. But our politics are defined not just by limits of legality or constitutionality. We have norms, Madisonian norms.
Can you believe it? Krauthammer, a Fox News regualar, preaching about Madisonian norms?!
We should acknowledge certain recent facts as we discuss Mr. Krauthammer's editorial. For instance, Mr. Krauthammer endorsed Barrack Obama for President in 2008. While this does not disqualify him from rigorous dissent, we must admit that this is the devil he chose.
President Obama has always shown a public disdain for the journalistic style attributable to Fox News' management. The organization uses a completely different code of ethics and style than any other major news organization in America. Born from the same part of the world whose philosophies gave us the theory of Evolution, Rupert Murdoch's philosophy for Fox news is married with the ideals of both conservatism and the Republican Party. Because we are dedicated to freedom of the press in the U.S., there is nothing about our system that excludes the right of Fox News to take this perspective.
There is equally nothing wrong with President Obama, a Chicago politician of extraordinary skill, making a political move against a political machine. Is there anyone reading this chat that believes Fox is NOT designed to appeal to conservatives and Republicans?
President Obama is making the point that Fox News has been stepping beyond the bounds of journalistic ethics for some time now. It is one thing to report the news, both as fact AND as opinion, as an independent outsider who is looking in. It is another thing entirely to report either news OR opinion as an insider looking out. When you do that, news and opinion, especially the two combined, becomes useful rhetoric for the political opposition.
Presidents have often if not always criticized elements of the Press. While President G. W. Bush criticized and shunned the press relentlessly, especially in his first term, he gave unprecedented access to Fox News.
President Obama, when he was candidate Obama, refused to participate in a debate that was hosted by Fox News. He later conceded and participated, but he had made his point: Fox News is run by insiders looking out. It's business philosophy is to trumpet well-coordinated Republican talking points and to highlight News stories that emphasize and/or re-iterate these issues. Obama thinks Fox News is a political tactic by Republicans, not an independent News station.
It's fair to point out that the Obama administration does go on Fox News. They do engage with them and do interviews, but they are much more selective and deliberate than they are with all other news organizations.
In other words, they treat Fox News like a political arm of the Republican Party, because the channel uses much of its programming to reinforce if not directly state Republican political objectives at the exclusion of any other. An interview with Fox News is like being interviewed by the Republican Party. It's not like an interview with independent journalists.
All they are doing now is letting us in on what their policy is toward Fox News and we are watching Fox News trying to make big news out of this. The more noise they make, the less people are likely to understand what Obama is trying to say. We're even watching other journalists rally to their support. But, this is just a political move.
Obama and his administration will continue to engage with Fox News. The never said they wouldn't. They've simply said how they view Fox's philosophy as having a major political component, which makes them treat Fox News differently. Sometimes, they will exclude Fox News from a round of interviews, like during the Health Care weekend. Why would you go on Fox News? Not one Republican supported it. The Republicans had lied openly about "death panels" and set up protests like 9/12, all of which could not have been done without Fox News. To allow an interview on Fox News at that time was to invite your political enemy to attack.
At other times, they may favor questions of less political organizations, especially when Fox News has already shown an open bias.
If the press, which was once composed of independent parties covering the government, is now to become insiders whose message is controlled by the political wings of the elected officials these people are supposed to be interrogating, then it must be perfectly fair thar the opposition party's elected officials treat that press differently than an independent press organization.
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