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Obama Takes a Page from Richard Nixon

October 19, 2009

President Barrack Obama is once again showing that the theme he campaigned on in the 2008 elections - namely that he would be a different kind of President - one that would bring meaningful political change to the White House - was just that - a theme.

First he asked Americans to report to the White House the names of persons who may be overly critical of Obama policies - and now his political operatives have engaged in a battle with the Fox News Network - solely because they believe the news organization is too critical of Obama policies.

This is a White House that seems to be taking its cue from the tactics of Richard Nixon - and as with Nixon - the strategy has no chance of being successful. We all remember that Nixon had a media ‘enemies list’ and now so does Obama.

This is not the first time the Obama White House has been upset with the news coverage of its policies. The White House initially took on conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh and tried to make him the face of the Republican Party. That idea failed and Limbaugh’s daily radio show soared in popularity.

Fox News is now the White House target. The President snubbed the network when he gave interviews to all the Sunday talk shows except Fox News - which drew a response from Chris Wallace, anchor of Fox News Sunday, when he called the Obama White House "the biggest bunch of cry babies" he had ever seen.

The Obama political team is now engaged in an attempt to marginalize Fox News - telling other networks that Fox isn’t a news organizations at all. This is an unsavory media strategy. It makes President Obama look very small - even to his dwindling cadre of supporters - after all - like Richard Nixon - Obama has signed off on this scheme.

The job approval ratings of the President continue to slide as Americans see exactly what kind of president Obama plans to be. Amid the sliding poll numbers the Obama team is desperately looking for a political scapegoat - and they have set their sights on Fox News - the one network that brings a balanced approach to its news coverage.

The simple fact is the public makes up its own mind on presidential policy and does not listen to the pundits on the "left" or the "right." The President should simply do his job as he sees fit and not worry about Fox News or any other news organization. This is called having "thick skin" and all great Presidents have had it.

But Obama seems to be overly worried about his slipping poll numbers - especially among Independent voters - where the latest poll shows a decrease in his job approval rating among this group from 65% in June to 49% in September - a staggering fall for any politician.

Yet, picking a fight with Fox will not help. Never mind that Fox is far and away the most- watched cable news network - with a larger viewing audience than its rivals CNN, MSNBC, and CNBC combined - it is also packaged in a powerful, effective, and entertaining format that can leave a lasting impression among its viewers.

The staid and stuffy White House communications team is simply no match for the persuasiveness of Fox. Independent viewers are also well aware that other cable networks - and the mainstream media - report very favorably toward President Obama - thus, they do not embrace the argument that the media is somehow unfair to the President’s policies.

On election night 2008 - in a victory speech to thousands at Chicago’s Grant Park (and watched by millions) President-elect Obama said, "To those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President, too."

It seems he wasn’t talking to those voters who watch Fox News Network.


Robb can be reached at