With Fox dispute intensifying, White House pledges to cooperate

Ansley Schrimpf | Content Regulation | Quicklink | October 20, 2009

Just days after the White House excluded Fox News from the roster of networks that hosted senior aides on weekend news shows, administration officials have pledged to book representatives on the network going forward, the Associated Press reported.

The move was a conciliatory gesture towards Fox News, which Pres. Obama avoided during his tour of five Sunday morning news programs last month on CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS. For months, the Obama administration and Fox personalities have thrown punches about czar appointments, health care, Chicago’s Olympics bid and other political issues.

The dispute began to ramp up in June, when Obama appeared on CNBC, saying, “I've got one television station entirely devoted to attacking my administration.” He said the network had a “big megaphone” and that “you'd be hard-pressed, if you watched the entire day, to find a positive story about me on that front.”

Fox was the only major network that refused to broadcast Obama’s health care address in September. Instead, Fox broadcast a dance program, former Democratic Party chairman Terry McAuliffe said this weekend on “Fox News Sunday.”

Later in September, the White House’s Briefing Room blog said Fox’s Glenn Beck lied during his coverage of Chicago’s Olympic bid. The Web post referred readers to Politifact “for even more Fox lies.”

About a week later, Time Magazine reported that White House Communications Director Anita Dunn regularly follows conservative media and fiercely criticizes Fox’s coverage. She told the magazine Fox’s coverage is “opinion journalism masquerading as news.”

On Oct. 11, Dunn appeared on CNN and criticized Fox for being “a wing of the Republican Party.” Days later, the Washington Post profiled Dunn and quoted a “source inside the White House, who was not authorized to speak about strategy meetings” who “said Dunn went out front against Fox first and foremost because it was her job, but also because it potentially gave the administration the opportunity to distance itself from the flap with the Roger Ailes-led news channel once she leaves the communications job.”

White House officials joined the fray on Sunday but conceded they would cooperate with the network in the future.

The Wall Street Journal reported that when White House adviser David Axelrod appeared on the ABC News program “This Week” he said Fox is "not really a news organization" but "we're going to participate, but understanding they have a point of view."