Fox hunt­ing

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Let’s face it. Fox News runs sto­ries that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion would rather ig­nore — from the sleazi­ness and cor­rup­tion in the As­so­ci­a­tion of Com­mu­nity Or­ga­ni­za­tions for Re­form Now (ACORN) to the bizarre views and ac­tions of se­nior pres­i­den­tial ap­pointees such as Van Jones and Kevin Jen­nings.

Over the Oct. 10-11 week­end, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion de­clared war. “We’re go­ing to treat [Fox News] the way we would treat an op­po­nent,” said Anita Dunn, White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor. She claimed, “We don’t need to pre­tend that this is the way that le­git­i­mate news or­ga­ni­za­tions be­have.” The ad­min­is­tra­tion has be­gun us­ing a gov­ern­ment blog to reg­u­larly at­tack what it calls “Fox lies.”

The ad­min­is­tra­tion al­ready was boy­cotting the net­work. In late Septem­ber, Pres­i­dent Obama had time to an­swer ques­tions from CBS’ “Face the Na­tion,” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” ABC’s “This Week,” CNN’s “State of the Union” and Univi­sion’s “Al Punto,” but not “Fox News Sun­day.” There is irony in Miss Dunn com­plain­ing to the New York Times about Fox News be­ing “an op­po­nent” and that “peo­ple who watch Fox News be­lieve it’s the home team.”

Al­though the Obama team doesn’t trust Fox News, a sur­pris­ingly large num­ber of Democrats do. A new Pew Re­search Cen­ter for the Peo­ple & the Press poll re­leased on Sept. 13 shows that Fox News is more trusted — even by Democrats — than the New York Times. While 43 per­cent of Democrats have a pos­i­tive view of Fox News, 39 per­cent feel the same way about the Times. Among Repub­li­cans and in­de­pen­dents, Fox News does have huge 56 and 26 per­cent­age point leads.

As the sur­vey in­di­cates, Fox’s au­di­ence is not just com­posed of con­ser­va­tives but in­cludes plenty of lib­er­als and mod­er­ates, too. This prob­a­bly is be­cause view­ers ap­pre­ci­ate hard-hit­ting news that is dif­fer­ent from the ad­min­is­tra­tion line re­gur­gi­tated ev­ery­where else on TV. Its in­de­pen­dence helps ex­plain why Fox News reg­u­larly has more view­ers than CNN, MSNBC and CNN Head­line News com­bined.

Data il­lus­trates that Fox is more even­handed than its com­peti­tors. A Pew anal­y­sis showed that 40 per­cent of Fox News sto­ries on Mr. Obama as well as 40 per­cent of those on Sen. John McCain were neg­a­tive dur­ing the last six weeks of the 2008 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. By con­trast, CNN had a 22 per­cent­age point gap and MSNBC a 59 per­cent­age point spread in fa­vor of Mr. Obama. The White House is so pro­tected by soft-fo­cus cov­er­age that any­thing not tilted its way is con­sid­ered an act of war.

With Democrats con­trol­ling both Congress and the pres­i­dency, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is try­ing to squash dis­sent. The ad­min­is­tra­tion is not con­tent with at­tack­ing crit­i­cal press. It is boldly pro­ceed­ing with plans for the Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion to med­dle in con­ser­va­tive talk ra­dio. It threat­ens in­sur­ance com­pa­nies with not be­ing able to par­tic­i­pate in fed­eral pro­grams if those com­pa­nies at­tempt mildly to warn cus­tomers about how new health care leg­is­la­tion will af­fect them.

Mr. Obama walks a danger­ous trail fa­mously taken by Pres­i­dent Nixon when he at­tempted to freeze out The Wash­ing­ton Post. That strat­egy didn’t work so well.

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