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President Obama - Running the Ground Game on Fox News

Reported by Julie - October 20, 2009 -

Don’t you just hate it when that happens? You’re the class bully, thinking you’re a 900-ton gorilla. You pick on this kid all year – you know, pin notes to his back, put garbage in the hood of his hoodie, steal his lunch money. You’re all cocky, yucking it up with your buddies, getting all your friends in on the act, just won’t leave this kid alone . . . until one day, this kid turns around and friggin’ cleans your clock. You’re laying there in the dust, nose bleeding, dazed and confused, wondering what the hell happened. And instead of manning up, you start whining to everybody who will listen that the kid pulled a cheap shot, what’d you ever do to him, that he really did you bogus. Hello President Obama. Hello Fox News. Fox News is getting its clock cleaned – and shows no sign of manning up. With video.

So yeah, President Obama and his Administration are in full Fox News snub mode – and who can blame ‘em? (You can’t see me, but I’m doing cartwheels in the front yard.) I guess it pretty much started when President Obama snubbed Fox on his Sunday morning news rounds in September. Fox didn’t take it too well (kind of like the kid not invited to the party who says she would really rather stay home and read a book anyway – well, except we feel sorry for that kid). Then we had White House Communication Director, Anita Dunn, commenting that Fox News is either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party (see Ellen’s post here). Neil Cavuto had a minor melt-down last week, kind of doing the best-defense-is-a-good-offense thing (see Brian’s post here). Oh, Fox Newsies were all a-twitter last week, even hauling out Brit Hume and dusting him off to rise to the defense of his little chicks (see my post here). Fox has leaped head-first into denial defending itself, whining about how it’s been so mistreated. Boo f’ing hoo.

And here’s the beauty of it: The White House isn’t finished dissing Fox yet. According to Bret Baier (video below), “Aides are asking other news organizations to change the way they treat Fox News Channel. Correspondent James Rosen reports on the latest volley in the Administration’s War of Words.”

Cut to David Axelrod in an interview on ABC – roll the clip.

“A lot of their news programming, it’s really not news, it’s pushing a point of view, and the bigger thing is that other news organizations like yours ought not to treat them that way.”

Cut to Rahm Emanuel in an interview on CNN – roll the clip.

“The President looks at it, we look at it is it’s not a news organization so much as it has a perspective and that’s a different take. And more importantly is not have the CNNs and the others in the world basically be led and following Fox.”

Rosen reported that senior aides to the President on Sunday continued to campaign against Fox News, moving beyond last week’s “name calling” to calling for “unspecified action” by other networks. On Monday, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs commented that Fox News’ bias is a “corporate lust for profit.”

Cut to White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs’ press conference – roll the clip.

“I would say sometimes programming can be tilted toward accentuating those profits”

The White House strategy hasn’t evolved accidently. According to Rosen, in early October the White House formally notified Fox that President Obama wouldn’t be gracing its studios until the end of the year. And then, along came Anita Dunn, bluntly accusing Fox of being tucked pretty snugly in bed with the Republican Party. (Of course, since Dunn made those comments, Fox has been engaged in a full court press to discredit Dunn, the beginning of which – playing a clip of a speech she gave and insinuiating that she admires Chairman Mao -- is shown in both the Baer and O’Reilly videos below . . . yawn.)

So we’ve got all this drama going on within Fox studios – whining, crying, gnashing of teeth. And last night on The O’Reilly Factor, in O’Reilly’s Talking Points Memo, he rolled out his theories about the story behind the story behind the story of why the White House is pounding on Fox (the part of the story he missed was the fact that Fox shovels right-wing propaganda and acts like it gets paid per Obama-bashing session), and how it doesn’t really help the White House to do that. His first analysis was that this just gives Fox more exposure – along the lines, I suppose, of the theory that bad press is better than no press. But the real story, according to O’Reilly, is that President Obama just doesn’t like being associated with the left-wingers (such as Bill Ayers, Reverend Wright, and now the newest player in the Triad of Right-Wing Terror, Van Jones). O’Reilly created an opportunity to work on discrediting White House Communications Director, Anita Dunn, by saying she praised Chairman Mao (well, he admitted that she also praised Mother Theresa, so she’s got that going for her, which is nice). But really, I’ve got nothing on this – I heard the clip, and didn’t think it rose to the level of praise. Or admiration. Or feet-kissing. But hey – they report, they decide. Moving on . . . according to O’Reilly, there are a few more left-wingers President Obama doesn’t want to be thrown in with, including those with “far left pedigrees” such as Climate Czar Carol Brown, Science Czar John Holdren, and, of course, Safe School Czar, Kevin Jennings. Wait, I’m confused . . . didn’t President Obama appoint these folks? And now he wants to disassociate himself with them? How does that work?

And then we get to O’Reilly’s “ah-ha” moment: “You have a pattern . . . President Obama believes Fox News is being unfair by reporting all these far-left associations . . . .”

Fox News Senior Political Analyst Brit Hume is being kept really busy on Fox – I mean, he seems to be largely regarded as a “real” journalist, so I guess he’s the go-to guy when the shit hits the fan. O’Reilly trotted him out to lend credence to his own theories and lend legitimacy to Fox.

They led off talking about Anita Dunn, with Hume denying Dunn admires “Mao the man,” and stating that her comments were about Mao’s philosophy. O’Reilly made the comparison between Dunn talking about Mao and talking about Hitler. Hume stated, “Well, it has something to do with Hitler . . . you have to be extraordinarily careful about using it and I think the rule of thumb has to be . . . never compare anyone . . . to Hitler . . . .”

O’Reilly noted that the mainstream media hadn’t picked up the Dunn hearts Mao story, “So maybe . . . the strategy of the White House to isolate Fox News is working.”

Hume agreed this was an effort [by the White House] to “quarantine” Fox News and to “discourage other media outlets from picking up on stories that originate here. "My guess is it won’t work . . . It takes the mainstream media a while already to pick up on stories from Fox News . . . They’re not gonna be in any hurry anyway . . . How do the rest of the media feel about being patted on the head by the White House and told that they’re good little media organizations and we’re the bad guys? I mean, I think it’s kind of embarrassing . . . my sense is it isn’t working very well.”

If the White House’s strategy isn’t working very well, then Fox is wasting a lot of energy and air time talking about how this strategy isn’t working very well.

O’Reilly blustered, “I think the motivation is that Barack Obama himself just hates to be put in with Ayers and Wright and Jones . . . he hates it. And since we’re the main news organization that does that, that’s why he doesn’t like us.” This isn’t a brilliant deduction; isn’t that the point here? Which media outlet made a big deal about President Obama’s “associations,” regardless of how tight or loose, with Ayers and Wright and Jones? Who is it that has made a point of President Obama’s ties, however loose or tight, with ACORN? Who is it that has made a point of President Obama’s ties, however loose or tight, to Chicago corruption? Fox hasn’t reported these things – it has instead spent hours and days and weeks and months creating these associations; and now it wants to whine. It appears to me that Fox News has been bested by a better player. It's not President Obama's style to come out swinging . . . he's lured them in and, voila, they took the bait.

Hume agreed, saying, “If you look at the things that have happened to Barack Obama in the news media . . . The first bump he ever hit in the road was the Reverend Wright controversy . . . The Bill Ayers controversy, I think we were almost alone on that for a long time, that didn’t go as far . . . they hated that story.”

Sheesh, are they really gonna wheel out that tired old cart again? Reverend Wright? Bill Ayers? News flash, Fox: President Obama was elected despite your attempts to make him the poster child for radicals.

But old Bill, he just wouldn’t abandon it.

“It’s hard to gauge,” he said, “What kind of a relationship Barack Obama had with Bill Ayers . . . but the President has always maintained, he didn’t know this guy, he was around. . . . Maybe Obama had a beef . . . .”

Hume insisted, “This remains a center right country, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that . . . this is a center left or left of center presidency . . . I think he’s left of center left . . . .” Really, Hume, no doubt at all that this is a center right country? Then how come the political map of the U.S. is blindingly blue? As noted by the Daily Kos, “We may have a Center-Right Media. We may have a Center-Right Punditry-ville. But our Country, and the majority of the American People in our "Two America's" are NOW decidedly a deeper shade of Blue!” Keep in mind, Hume -- just because you say it with conviction, doesn’t make it so.

“Based on his appointments,” O’Reilly agreed, “And based on who he’s got with him . . . he’s the most left President that I’ve seen in my lifetime.” Hmmm . . . “based on his appointments” – you mean the ones you just said, in this segment, that he wants to disassociate himself from? First you claim he wants to disassociate himself from the “radicals;” now you say these “radicals” he associates with are what makes him radical. Jeez, O’Reilly, make up your mind.

Hume wrapped it up, saying, “Reporting that continues to remind people of his leftish sensibilities and background and associations has got to be something that they don’t appreciate . . . I just question this strategy . . . .”

O’Reilly insisted, “These stories are worthy, it’s not like we’re making them up. When your White House Communications Director points to Mao as a philosopher she likes, you know – hey, what’s next, Mussolini?”

I noted something in a previous post and it bears repeating here in response to O’Reilly’s insistence that “these stories are worthy.” These stories may be worthy of taking note, a tidbit here, a fact there. Fox, on the other hand, and its guests and “analysts” and “contributors,” spend hours and days and weeks and months supporting and even promoting anti-Obama propaganda and killing – absolutely killing – a story for the sake of discrediting our President. Take, for instance, ACORN and Bill Ayers and the birthers, the Tea Party protests and the Tea Party Express I and, now, the Tea Party Express II, Glenn Beck’s goofy 9/12 Project, bunkers and death panels and ACORN and abortion field trips and Bill Ayers and palling around with terrorists and Reverend Wright and ACORN and Bill Ayers and buying a purebred dog instead of a mutt and date night and indoctrination camps and Reverend Wright and teleprompters and bad Obama for promoting the U.S. by traveling to Copenhagen for the Chicago Olympics and ACORN and Bill Ayers and Michelle Obama baring her arms and he’s not one of us and he’s got too many Czars and he’s an apologist for the U.S. (but he’s bad for accepting the Nobel Peace prize and honoring the U.S. – and let’s not forget, the Chairman of the Nobel Prize Committee may have “socialist ties”) and ACORN has him in its back pocket and he’s a Muslim and a socialist and he took a book from Hugo Chavez. And then there’s Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers. And ACORN.

Let’s not forget President Obama’s skill at the ground game. Let’s not forget President Obama’s skill at campaigning. Let’s not forget President Obama’s cool calculation. Let’s not forget he’s got Rahm Emanuel. The Fox Newsies have been strutting around like the cocks of the walk, thinking they’ve got President Obama on the run, while President Obama has been planning his ground game. The Fox Newsies have been working overtime on Obama-bashing while President Obama has been quietly slipping into anti-Fox campaign mode. The Fox Newsies have been breaking their arms patting themselves on the back at bringing down Van Jones and gloating about ACORN’s demise while President Obama has been coolly calculating a master strike. President Obama reeled Fox in, knowing that a snide comment here and a critical comment there about Fox would force Fox News to “go to the mattress.” Fox has been so gleeful in its little victories that it completely missed the bigger strategy.

I think Fox just got punked.