• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • What is the White House's Fox News End Game?

    It has been an interesting and puzzling couple weeks watching the White House communications office at work. First, on October 11, Anita Dunn publicly rebuked Fox News on Howard Kurtz’ CNN show calling it the “research arm of the Republican Party.” Then, we learned Ms. Dunn counted Mao Zedong as a “favorite philosopher” and it seemed like a score was settled and everyone would move on. But the White House stepped up their attack on Fox News last Sunday by sending Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Senior Advisor David Axelrod on the morning shows to continue this confusing line of attack, that Fox News is not a “legitimate news organization” by White House standards. And even worse, President Obama then joined the fight.

    This week, President Obama said Fox News was “operating basically like talk radio.” Missing that millions of Americans listen to and trust “talk radio,” this was meant as another jab at Fox’s credibility. Jake Tapper of ABC News courageously questioned Robert Gibbs on the White House anti-Fox policy. And now yesterday, the White House decided to try and ban Fox News from a briefing with Obama’s Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg. Entering into potentially unconstitutional territory, the White House press office did not expect what came next. The White House press corp united against this behavior and demanded Fox is included, or nobody goes.  The White House relented. So the question today is, what is the White House end game here?

    It escapes no viewers that there is a difference between commentators on Fox, such as Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly and their news gatherers and reporters such as Carl Cameron, Shepard Smith and Major Garrett. This point has been made repeatedly, and most people outside of the White House get it. Most Americans don’t judge NBC’s Brian Williams by how inappropriately Rachel Maddow acts, or how Chris Matthews gets a special feeling up his leg, or for Keith Olbermann being…Keith Olbermann. Americans are smart enough to separate news and commentary. But here are some other alternative theories for this odd, baffling, weird and bewildering attack on a news organization.

    Press Conference Retribution: One popular theory that the White House seems to favor is that this is all because Fox’s Broadcast Network chose not to air the President’s non-news-making, fourth prime time press conference. Instead, Foxed aired a ratings bonanza reality TV show and carried the President’s press conference on the news channel only. Let’s forget for a moment that most of the other networks probably wish they had made the same decision in hindsight. Even if the White House wanted to settle the score, ignoring the difference between the news and entertainment channels, wouldn’t a couple weeks of freezing out some hosts and quietly calling on them last in press briefings have made the point? Is that enough reason for this war on Fox? It’s doubtful.

    Teach Other Media Outlets a Lesson: This theory is plausible. It’s possible the White House knows it will lose this battle with Fox but in a Machiavellian move, decided to wage the battle to show less powerful, and less resourced media members that if they try reporting on stories like ACORN, Van Jones, Anita Dunn, and Kevin Jennings they’ll get treated the same way. This theory holds well because it seems to be working. The other major networks and print outlets are, in large part, relegating the major scandals of the Obama Administration to the back burners. Fox News is left carrying the weight alone. Which in turn makes these stories seem like one network’s axe to grind.

    A Publicity Stunt? Since Fox News is enjoying a rating bonanza, and the next interview they get with a Senior Administration Official will be must-see TV, maybe this was all coordin…nah, that’s impossible.

    Make Every Other News Organization Look Managed: By attacking the news organization that has caused them angst, the White House is making the rest of the press corps seem well managed by Obama’s brass. Anita Dunn’s original tirade occurred on CNN. How does CNN feel that the White House is complaining about tough questions from another media outlet on their network, thereby implying that no such tough investigative reporting comes from them?

    America expects the press corp to ask the White House and the President tough questions. America expects investigative journalism in the Woodward and Bernstein sense. Digging for stories, getting the facts and reporting them. This is systemic check and balance on the power of the Presidency and one of the primary reasons a “free press” was so important to the founders of our nation. And this is why the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) was created under President Wilson, specifically to keep the White House independent of deciding who is and who isn’t “legitimate” in their eyes. And this is why the WHCA is now uniting behind their colleagues at Fox.

    Certainly no news organization wants to be next on the White House enemies list. But more importantly, no news organization wants to be exposed for being less investigative than another. Journalists take pride in their role as the “fourth estate” and the more Fox is called out for being a thorn in the side of the President, the more it is revealed that the rest of the press corps causes them no problems to begin with.  All journalists are “research arms” of the public regardless of party, because if they’re not researching, who is? No White House should have a problem-free relationship with the press because no White House is perfect in every way.

    So what does the White House get out of calling a news organization the “opposition?”  Even Howard Kurtz who originally broke this story says: “...I question what the White House gets out of that.”  Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik said this morning: “What it’s really about to me is the Executive Branch of the government trying to tell the press how it should behave. I mean, this democracy — we know this — only works with a free and unfettered press to provide information.”

    So what is the end game for a White House bent on kicking Fox News out of the briefing room? The reasons listed above? A health care reform package that goes unread and unchallenged? A huge energy tax that goes unread and unchallenged? A scandal free administration? This not only misjudges Fox’s ability to weather these attacks but it misjudges a journalist’s instincts to not be considered pawns, to protect their colleagues, and to protect their constitutional rights.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    42 Responses to What is the White House's Fox News End Game?

    1. Jim says:




    2. Mike, Chicago says:

      odd, baffling, weird and bewildering attack on a "news" organization?. . . ACORN, Van Jones, Anita Dunn, and Kevin Jennings (are) major scandals of the Obama Administration? . . .White House enemies list? Digging for stories, getting the facts and reporting them? Anita Dunn’s original tirade?. . .tough questions? To even mention Woodward and Bronstein in a story about Fox – Ay yi yi. Thanks for the laugh of the day but boy do you not get it. Fox and facts? Oh, brother.

    3. Jose, Los Angeles says:

      "It escapes no viewers that there is a difference between commentators on Fox, such as Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly and their news gatherers and reporters such as Carl Cameron…"

      Are you talking about the same Carl Cameron that covered the 2004 Bush campaign by giving him fawning softball interviews and not disclosing that his wife was involved with the re-elect Bush campaign? Are you talking about the same Carl Cameron who wrote an article full of quotes he made up and attributed to John Kerry.

      Oh yeah, that guy's not partisan at all.

    4. BrooklynGirl says:

      Ummmmm….but aren't we "discussing" rather or not Fox is a legitimate news organization? Let's be honest for a moment, you honestly believe that the WH doesn't want this to be a part of the political discussion? The WH put a big red X on the forehead of Fox…and the best you guys can do is croak about ratings that certainly didn't help conservatives in 2006 or 2008.

      Let Fox keep their ratings….we'll keep the WH.

    5. Pingback: ADF Alliance Alert » What is the White House’s Fox News End Game?

    6. kent, fort wayne says:

      do tell what is unconstitutional about them not allowing fox to interveiw a csar? stop playing the same games the left plays. giving more meaning to the constitution to further your end is wrong no matter what side does it. so please leave those little tidbits out of your pieces.

    7. Bobbie Jay says:

      I would be honored to have my name on the enemies list! I am an enemy of racism, socialism, communism, fascism, marxism and dictatorship, oh and dishonesty and corruption.. Thank you FOX, conservative radio, heritage for your strength in honesty for the truth to be revealed by the people's freedom of choice to hear and see. YOUR DEDICATION IS LOOKING OUT FOR US AND WE DESERVE THE TRUTH. THANK YOU FOR IT. Keep the enemy government OUT!

    8. justsaying..pennsylv says:

      some of you can keep your WH…I rather have our freedom back without being fined/put on the X list/whatever the WH feels will get FREE AMERICANS to shut up..we are not shutting up and we are not going away..keep THE CHANGE AND YOUR WH..

    9. Bobbie Jay says:

      If any MEDIA is illegitimate it is the ones pandering to the dishonest government running AMERICA! One sided. Obama loves you! Keep covering for him. And we'll keep going to the truthful.

    10. Roscoemt, ER, Alaska says:

      One sided vision, which side are we talking about? Listening to these left wing hate mongering progressive windbag echo chamber Newscasts is as painful as fingernails across a chalkboard. Oops, gotta go, the situation room is on right now on CNN and the Sheeple are tuning in. That Wolfy is fair and balanced in his journalistic views. Campbell Brown might be a blowhard echo chamber for CNN, but I can tell you she can dance almost as well as Wolfy. So far she and Wolfy have done the Cha Cha, Electric Slide, Lambada and the Mashed Potato, in an unbiased-ly kind-a way of course at every move Obama makes. These two are almost as unbiased as the blowhard’s Maureen Dowd (disdainful), Amy Goodman (hate America first), Katie Curic (snarky), Brian Williams (condescending & drowning in the lib tank), David Gergen (WTF?), Larry King (do I need to say more), Keith Olbermann (drunk on cool-aid or just a plain dope head), Jack Caferty (clearly has Alzheimer’s ), Chris Matthews (man-crush on Obama) and Rachel Maddow (rolls her eyes unbiased-ly after every republican statement w/ no real political background herself). Heck, they practically elected a president on there own and we are actually having this conversation about Fox News? WoW!

    11. kathleen croaker, ma says:

      It's Woodward and Bernstein, not Bronstein. Facts are facts.

    12. Concerned, Raleigh, says:

      Regardless of what party is in control. To shun a media outlet is political suicide (or should be). The WH doesn't like snitchers. I do hope they'll focus on the economy, health care, immigration, foriegn policy and the ilk. The rest of the world is getting a pretty good chuckle out of the pettiness.

    13. Pingback: Reasonandjest.com » Paranoid-In-Chief

    14. Keep up the Fight... says:

      Also, what is the news about our President going back to Copenhagen , in a few weeks, to sign a treaty that would give our Country, our Sovernty, and our Freedom away forever? One World Government…I do Not Want this to happen to this country. What do you know about this? Please tell us the Truth about this…thank You.

    15. kristine New york says:

      Keep the white House? You think its a done deal? Kep dreaming……

    16. Chris - Covington, G says:

      This attack on FOX News is also being used as a backdoor attempt to shut down not just FOX News, but ALL of FOX. Earlier this month, Rush Limbaugh was forced out as a minority owner of a group that is bidding on the NFL's St. Louis Rams. The main opponent of this bid other than Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton was NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, a member of President Obama's transition team and who served as counsel to Attorney General Eric Holder before his selection as NFLPA Executive Director earlier this year in the wake of Gene Upshaw's death in August 2008.

      The attack by the NFL PA is warning shot to the owners given that the Collective Bargaining Agreement is up next year between the NFL owners and players, mainly with the salary cap. It is also an attack on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell who is married to FOX News correspondent Jane Skinner. This attack could be used as a backdoor attempt to shut down FOX News. Let us also take into account that the Obama administration has a history of breaching contracts whether it be with banks, insurance companies, and automotive firms. In 2005, the NFL signed television contracts with ESPN, CBS, NBC, and network FOX that started in the 2006 season and will run until the 2013 season.

      If Obama succeeds in shutting down FOX News, they can use it to shut down FOX Sports on the NFL, and later extend those contract breaches with NASCAR, MLB, and college football at the regional level. Problem is that FOX has people also employed by the state-run media, most notably Time Warner who would benefit especially from the NASCAR and MLB breaches if they happen. The people that work for News Corp and Time Warner are Joe Buck, Chip Caray, Dick Stockton, Pam Oliver, Bernard Goldeberg, Nina Easton, Adam Lashinsky, Leigh Gallagher, Adam Alexander, Kyle Petty, Ralph Sheehen, Matt Yocum, and Larry McReynolds.

      This is a sinister end game that is all about power and control.

    17. Charles-Odessa says:

      When it comes to facts-I trust Fox and talk radio much more than the the President. and his stoolies.

      The later group has never gotten a number right or total cost of any bill they have tried to ram thru the system. They always leave out the loss of freedom and personalresponsibility.

    18. Dale, Cincinnati says:

      As of late, Obamacare is faring badly in congress. Some watered down, expensive piece of legislation will get passed and Obama, who can do no wrong will need a scape goat. If not for Fox News and their tea partiers, U.S. citizens would already have proper healthcare legislation passed.

      The same goes for Cap and Trade. It is becoming obvious that many of Barack's and Nancy's programs are going south and killing the trillion dollar recovery. Even his own staff is saying that the stimulus benefit will be zero by mid-2010. Not good.

      A decision on Afghanistan goes unmade because he is in a no-win scenario. If he sends in more troops his base begins to crumble. If he doesn't, the war transforms into a Vietnam. Troops die because of his micromanaging and lack of support for sound military strategy and he has to take responsibility. Right now he is waiting for some event to save him.

      With these legislative failures and no good times lingering on the horizon he will soon need a distraction, someone to blame. Enter stage right, Fox News. If not for them we would all be singing KUM BY YA.

    19. Karlee California says:

      When you elect a baby no creds, how surprising is it that he acts like a baby? Change? Chump change and lots of it, is what we got!!

      Sure wish we had some one working on getting our employers back in the ball game. While in Copenhagen, why not try to get some companies involved in coming here with clean jobs? While jetting around the world on a regular basis, why not get the immigration situation under control, by offering to send educators to their countries and help promote jobs there? Doing nothing but patting yourself on the back regularly…for nothing…is a waste of 4 years!!

    20. Sandy Logsdon Dallas says:

      Why is it so hard for the people of the US to see what is happening right under their noses? I just cannot believe that the country I love and have loved is drowning here because people don't want to open their eyes and see that this administration wants to control us not lead us. What happened to what a president and our government is supposed to be? They work for "We the People". We don't work for them. "We the People" own this country. This our our country. It is not the country of a "ruler". If the people of this country do not wake up and take back this country and let our president and government know what we want them to do instead of them deciding our lives for us, then we will wake up one day and we will be the old Soviet Union or Iraq or one of those countrys that we try so hard to help free.

    21. k anne NY says:

      I just wonder if anyone has told Mr.Obama that he'll no longer be the messiah in our new One World Government?? Perhaps then he'd back down a bit… Our problem is that half our country is still sleeping, waiting for their next episode of Dancing w/the Stars… Wake up, America, and smell the Kool-Aid!

    22. Mike Dodson, Midland says:

      While we're busy watching this little vignette, what is the White House doing that we're not noticing? Political misdirection is as old as government — we need to be on our guard.

    23. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      I don't understand why the above comments do not reflect the reason Obama is attacking Fox. He is "sending a message" to the other news media outlets. The number of unAmerican policies, and socialist that surrond Obama, can no longer be ignored or lies about. It is very difficult, even for the left-wing media, NOT to report the truth,

      without running the risk of appearing to be incompetent. Regrardless of their ideology, if they continue to loose viewers and/or readers, they loose their propaganda delivery system.

    24. Jeanne Stotler, Wood says:

      We need reporters that go out and nose around and get the whole truth, Fox has done that, and it'd days later you will here about it on ABC,NBC and CBS, and it usually is pas off as not important. We need mor investigative reporters that are willing to did out the truth no matter what and no matter who is involved, the American people who pay to hear the news deserve this and more. Watch out America our freedoms are dwindling and if this administration has it's way more will be lost, they think we as citizens are too dumb to see it and too dumb to know what is good for us and our families, this is what happened in Nazi Germany and in Communist countries. Stand up NOW, join the tea parties and go to meetins and most of all VOTE in EVERY ELECTION.


      this white house is full of corruption,dishonesty!
      i truly believe this white house is trying to take the united states down road to socialism !!!
      all americans should say a pray every day thanking god for fox news,for without fox news the american people would never know the truth
      concerning the real agenda of this white house
      god bless america

    26. Tim Az says:

      Mao-Bama is the old medias waterloo. Both of these entities are drowning in their hope for a change to evil.

    27. Jerry from Chicago says:

      It's obvious why the White House and Mr. Obama don't like the Fox Cable News Network. Glen Beck and Sean Hannity don't like what Mr. Obama stands for and what he is doing. They see his attempts at "change" as trying to turn America into a socialistic country.

      They investigate the Backgrounds of people whom Mr. Obama surrounds himself, like Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayres and his other Chicago political connections. They point out his reversals of campaign promises, his tax plans, his world apology tours, his deceptions about national health care, global warming and his inability to deal with criticism.

      O'Reilly they dislike because he is a conservative and because he de-bunks the discrepancies between Mr. Obama's rhetoric and his actions. He points out that the majority of the media are highly supportive of Mr. Obama, his policies and actions and refuse to publish anything that may even slightly discredit the President. The other news outlets never dug into the ACORN debacle, or the Van Jones story, or the story of other "Czars" like Cass Sunstein (who professes that animals should the right to sue humans), or like Mark Lloyd, the "Diversity Czar" who wants to tax syndicated talk radio shows critical of Mr. Obama out of existence, or like Mr. Jennings, the "Safe School Czar" (who openly promotes the acceptance of homosexual lifestyles as subject matter in schools, who has as a personal hero a 'man' who supports NAMBLA, and who as a school principal counseled a 15 yr. old boy who confessed to having sex with an older man, to use a condom).

      Yeah, I guess if I had put people like these in positions of power within the government, I wouldn't be too happy with a news organization making all of this public either.

    28. Dennis Idaho says:


      I agree we need to know more about the G-20 conference in Copenhagen. If Obama signs that treaty we are stuck with it. We must share wealth with all the world according to what THEY think is right. The U.S. has done more to help the poor of the world than any other country yet we are called "greedy". If we can't do business we will have nothing to give.

      If a doctor becomes ill he cannot help the sick.

    29. Ted Two Rivers, WI says:

      Interesting that the Obama supporters who commented can only scoff at the story and not answer up to or comment on what has been said. Why don't you comment on what the WH did by actively excluding Fox. You can't, because you know it is wrong but are too cynical and partisan to say it.

    30. Ross writes from Bra says:

      Pawns? Of course! A much too large of a majority of the Press/Media is in financial trouble. Why? They've created their on crisis by not questioning, not researching, not verifying, not demanding answers, and not reporting the news…unfettered. The print news is all dead(with few exceptions), death by suicide…the electronic ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, etc are soon to follow by the same method as the public continues to lose confidence in their reporting the news.

      Media, the vast majority of the American people are not as stupid as you think we look. Some of us are a little slow, but we eventual "get it".

    31. Bobbie Jay says:

      Obama and his administration won't accept truth or the people that reveal it. Truth and those that know it or reveal it are their enemies.

      It is pretty immature and makes him look pathetic and dangerous, to have an "enemies" list of people in this country, he acknowledges a threat to his horrid agenda.

    32. Linda, Yorba Linda, says:

      I would remind Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik that in his statement, "….. This democracy — we know this — only works with a free and unfettered press to provide information,” is technically inaccurate. The United States of America is a REPUBLIC, not a democracy. But I do applaud Mr. Zurawik's speaking out against the attempt by some "democrats" to bypass the First Amendment of our republic's Constitution.

    33. philip says:


    34. Boyce Robbins Easley says:

      The media elected Obama after doing their level best to destroy the Bush Presidency and the Iraq War. There is no truth in them- contrast the coverage of the deteriorating Afghanistan situation with their gleeful recounting of U. S. problems in Iraq. When unemployment goes up, it is "not as bad as expected." Conservatives cannot get a fair chance with any of them. Fox clearly identifies their guests as conservative or liberal. unlike the others who treat far out liberals as mainstream.

    35. Benjamin Marcoux says:


    36. Don Mehus/Minnesota says:

      Obama Perhaps only understands gutter politics, he views his administration as solving the world issues by attempting to tip the scale at the tax payers expense, to crush commerce, it is a Bolshevik game plan from the get go. He is not an inexperienced with this attempt, he has formulated the game plan, appointing questionable czars, bulling the financial market, employing the Apollo group an anti American organization to write the tarp, cap and trade and the health care bill, is by design, to overs stuff the congressional body with details, to keep the their eye off the ball, to pass bills that are designed to cripple the economy.

    37. Donna Shepherd, Ohio says:

      The other journalists who are so in love with Obama should open their eyes to what Obama is trying to do. Justloo k at what Chavez is doing in Venezuwalyais doing; closing down any media that is not favorable to the government. Is this what they want in the U.S.A.? The mainstream media no longer go out and investigate or break any news- they only repeat what is in the New York Times and the left wing blogs without any idea if the facts are true. They are cutting their own throats and rapidly losing ratings because they don't do professional jobs, regardless of personal feelings or political leanings. Any story you see on their T.V. programs or any columns, two words in, you know they are going to be in the tank for Obama. At least on Fox, you always have someone for each side of any issue presented.

    38. Bob Sellers, Michiga says:

      Information management and relational truth rather than real truth is what this administration is all about. Fox News is about exposing exposing the lack of freedom in the press and how that disease will spread and result in the lack of all freedom.

    39. Dante,Long Island,Ny says:

      I'm curious why no one has come to the defense of Michael Savage talk show host, AMERICAN CITIZEN and PATRIOT who was banned from entering ENGLAND for his free speach.Banning free speach anywhere is the beginning of the end.

    40. Millie A. Portsmouth says:

      I find it so coincidental that all these moves appear to be right up George Soros' alley. He is the puppet master behind all this "ban Fox" move!! Don't you remember how he hates America and how he is financing all these organizations…MOVEON.org and others? He doesn't understand the REAL AMERICA…that is what was being heard in all of the TOWN HALL MEETINGS and that fantastic movement to send PINK SLIPS TO THE SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN/WOMEN! They need to hear from AMERICA that we are not going to take it anymore…in louder volumes. Call your Senators and Congressmen/women..is it true that we aren't having CHRISTMAS TREES in the WH this year? I heard that they are going to be holiday trees. WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THAT? oh..another slam AGAINST AMERICA AND WHAT SHE STANDS FOR!!!!!

    41. John Wilkinson, Dubl says:

      I do get it. Fox news… is…. entertainment. Like the National Enquirer… its all about fun with facts.

      Shame on the President for taking their poking and jabbing seriously!

      I think everyone should make stuff up – hey it happens all the time on blog sites.

      Keep up the fair and even coverage guys.

    42. cantueso Spain says:

      The problem with Fox news is that it draws and fosters an incredibly dull audience. At home, the US was always advertised as the country where common decency is the basis of success. In Tocqueville I read that the US would be great thanks to the common decency of its citizens.

      What follows is a sequence, not a selection, of comments from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/08/03/afghan-po….

      3. Lowest form of life. No souls

      4. Level that country and start over. Evolution did not succeed in these regions. I think apes have more sense than these Afghans. Snake and Nape'em baby, until nothing moves or grows, that is a solution.

      5. Let's stop f**king around and let the AFGHANIS FIGHT FOR THIER OWN FREEDOM… Get Bon Laden and get the f out…

      4. At least they are true to their islamic faith.

      5. I got your f–ing code right here you camel smoking pigs.

      6. Sounds like Soetoro and his international Soci@list cronies are running a social test over in Pakistan using the Taliban …

      7. This story was originally posted with the guards having been beheaded. Why are they sanitizing this part of the original story line?

      8. What is wrong with those people??? No regard for human life whatsoever. It is just sick!

      9. Nothing like the peaceful nature of this religion. The practice of Islam should be illegal in the western world.

      10. Ah, Islam! The religion of piece!

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.