On Sunday, the White House escalated its war of words with Fox News calling the cable network a de facto "wing of the Republican Party." White House Communications Director Anita Dunn pointedly said, "let's not pretend they're a news network the way CNN is." The remarks provoked a backlash from conservative pundits. Now John Nichols, a writer for the liberal magazine The Nation, has joined in calling Obama the "Whiner-in-Chief." He castigates Obama in three crisp points for failing to understand the executive branch's always-uneasy relationship with the media:
- News Outlets Have Always Been Partisan "Fox hosts do go overboard in their savaging of Obama and the Democrats -- sometimes ridiculously so. But their assaults on the president are gentle when compared with the battering that Benjamin Franklin Bache's Philadelphia Aurora administered to John Adams... To suggest that Fox is not a news network simply because Sean Hannity echoes RNC talking points would be like suggesting that the Aurora was not a newspaper because it took cues from Tom Jefferson.
- Rise Above It, Engage All Sides "Presidents should go out of their way to accept invites from media that can be expected to poke, prod and pester them. The willingness to take the hits suggests that a commander-in-chief is not afraid to engage with his critics. It also reminds presidents, who tend to be cloistered, that there are a lot of Americans who get their information from sources that do not buy what the White House press office is selling.
- Don't Pull a Cheney "When Dick Cheney kept giving 'exclusive' interviews to Fox 'personalities,' there were those of us who ridiculed both the personalities and the former vice president for going through the ridiculous exercise of lobbing softballs and swinging at them. Obama should be better than Cheney. But aides are not helping the president prevail in what ought to be an easy competition...If the Fox interviewers are absurdly unfair, the American people will respond with appropriate consternation."