Media and Obama have first fight of marriage; Obama will be sleeping on the couch tonight

The Treasury recently attempted to exclude Fox News from a network pool interview of Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg. Apparently, when Fox was not invited to the session, bureau chiefs from the usually liberal ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC (Yes, NBC!) collaborated and eventually decided to not allow their reporters to interview Feinberg without Fox being permitted to attend.

This is just the latest in an ongoing feud between the Obama administration and the cable giant. Some claim the network revolt to be a huge victory for the press and a major embarrassment for the president. Others, however, have pointed to the pool’s contractual agreement in which all members must be invited for the pool to be interviewed.

Whether out of outrage or technicality, the media stood up for their counterpart, even though Fox is largely their nemesis. Whiny rhetoric about Fox News has been spewing from the White House since January, but attempting to keep out a representative of the most-watched news agency in the country is crossing the line.

The major networks put aside their ideological differences and behaved like Americans should on Thursday. Regardless of your views on the state of the nation or the opinions of certain political commentators, we should never wish to see a group of people silenced. Fox may not be as “fair and balanced” as they claim, but they undoubtedly deserve a place at the table.

The media has long been a check on government. This fact may not be supported by the Constitution, yet it is clear every time we turn on the television. It is the job of Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs and Rachel Maddow to be critical. People want to be alerted when their government is out-of-bounds. So when the Treasury tries to prohibit the press from holding them accountable, we should be appalled. Thankfully, other networks saw the injustices of such actions and responded accordingly.

I am reassured by this story; it makes me feel good deep down. This was not a question of the trivialities of health care or troop numbers in Afghanistan, but instead a direct attack on one of our most sacred rights: the ability to be informed. The people of the United States won here. We will not stand for this Nixon-like assault on our freedom. Let’s hope this sends a message all the way to Obama himself. Censorship has no place in America today.

16 comments

  1. Seems the story didn't happen quite the way it's being described here; FOX didn't ask to be included in the pool:

    The network pool crew noticed Fox wasn’t on the list, was told that they hadn’t asked and the crew said they needed to be included. Treasury called the White House and asked top Obama adviser Anita Dunn. Dunn said yes and Fox’s Major Garrett was among the correspondents to interview Feinberg last night.

    Simple as that, we’re told, and the networks don’t want to be seen as heroes for Fox.

    TPMDC spoke with a network bureau chief this afternoon familiar with the situation who was surprised that Fox was portraying the news as networks coming to its rescue.

      1. Yeah, take this article as an example:

        http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/10/24/suprem

        The Supreme Court justices will only appear at the opera in the trippy imagination of right-wing lunatics across the country implanted with the Fox News RFID-activated brain modifying device. LIES!

        Also, this article about a tsunami has LIES! http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,569408,00.htm

        And what are those opinion commentators on Fox doing commentating with opinions? They're so opinionated, unlike Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews, who are entirely unbiased, objective journalistic sources.

      2. Yeah, CBS and Fox have such a cozy relationship…

        When the vast majority of sources point to the exclusion of Fox, and the White House press release is the only major criticism, I am going to side with CBS, Fox, Politico, Washington Examiner, Huffington Post, etc.

    1. HOW?! Don't generalize. If you're going to use the word "censorship," use a specific example.

      "preventing a massive group of people from hearing relevant news… "

      HOW?!!

      1. by excluding fox from a network pool, the news that is covered will not reach all of fox's audience. it is therefore limiting the amount of people who will hear the story, but more importantly, working to control the content of the most watched network in cable news. shouldnt fox have equal access in this "transparent" administration?

  2. "Fox may not be as “fair and balanced” as they claim, but they undoubtedly deserve a place at the table."

    No, they don't; if they are yellow journalists, then why legitimize them? It's the same reason the president doesn't give interviews to Democracy Now or other left-wing outlets. It's not censorship to give them the cold shoulder, either. A public official is not obliged to sit down with any news agency, especially one that they believe is going to slant the story against them.

    The gist of the story from the print edition of USA Today — I'd link it but I can't find it on the site — was that the White House gets that commentators are going to do their job (no matter how counterproductive they are to facilitating reasonable public debate), but that Fox News made little to no effort to make distinctions between what the commentators say and the newsroom. Major Garrett was singled out by the White House as a reporter who does an honest job. and he has been able to get stories that other Fox News reporters cannot. David Axelrod and some rep from the newsroom side of the Fox News network met yesterday to smooth things over.

    "Whiny rhetoric about Fox News has been spewing from the White House sense [sic] January, but attempting to keep out a representative of the most-watched news agency in the country is crossing the line."

    Animosity between the two camps goes back further than that. Remember the whole "Madrassa" controversy? Fox, Fox, Fox. The Tea Party Protests as well were being addressed by Fox commentators and then reported on by Fox as "spontaneous" grassroots efforts, which they weren't. Dick Armey and FreedomWorks bankrolled, promoted and organized most of the "movement."

    Tony Snow, prior to being W's Press Secretary, worked for guess who: Fox. He also wrote speeches and was the Deputy Assistant for Media Affairs for George H.W. Bush. But, in being completely fair, Snow was a hell of a journalist. He would correct the grammar of other reporters during press briefings. He commanded respect from people on both sides; he guest-hosted for Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, but also contributed to CNN and NPR. He was one of W's better appointments.

    This whole "feud" I think is half true and half made up by Fox to hype itself to its viewers as some intrepid team of muckrakers. But they aren't; none of these media outlets are. Our media sucks, and a more competitive market with diverse ownership (to clarify: diverse in number) would serve to inform us better.

    I don't watch Fox News because it's not even aesthetically pleasing. That soft-focus thing they do makes it look unprofessional. Maybe it looks good that way in the back of a gas station restaurant. I don't watch TV much anyway. Give me my Drudge Report 2010 (!) over Fox News anytime. Hell, give me Human Events over Fox News.

  3. There's absolutely no first amendment or censorship issue here. Ask a lawyer. The Nixon comparison is exceedingly silly and ahistorical as well. Do you even know what Nixon did? It wasn't anything to do with access to an interview. By comparing Obama to Nixon you're trivializing Nixon's crimes and attempting to smear Obama…. by comparing him to perhaps the only Republican President who is even less popular than George W. Bush? It's just funny to see conservatives bloviating about poor FOX after Bush spent 8 years attacking the press at every opportunity and McCain and Palin spent all last year doing the same. Hell, conservatives have been attacking the press with spurious accusations of "liberal bias" since the Nixon administration. It's a simple but effective lie, that plays to both the conservative feeling of victimization and the press' ongoing contempt for anyone with an actual left-wing opinion.

    Also: I retract my previous comment about this foofaraw being good for FOX's ratings — their ratings have actually fallen. Could the right wing be experiencing hysteria fatigue after more than a year of anti-Obama delirium?

    It's doesn't work out to be that often since I don't own a TV, but I watch FOX every chance I get. I find it fascinating and repellent. Their partisanship is plain and consistent across all of the news and opinion programming that I've seen. The news anchors use the same partisan language and approach that you hear from the talk show hosts. Here's a recent, graphic example: Glenn Beck and Chris Wallace both used the same clip from Untouchables to attack "what some are calling the administration's Chicago way of doing business." Most damning, though, is that FOX has regularly been driving the news more than reporting it: promoting "tea parties" and inflating their numbers and importance; attacking ACORN for years over bogus vote fraud charges; and, of course, Glenn Beck is completely nutso, pathological, on a really amazing collision course with with sanity. Either that or he thinks his audience is really really stupid. I don't think I've seen any of you crdaily folks say this directly, but I get the feeling you think GB is pretty OK, maybe someone to look up to?

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