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ROBB AUSTIN'S TURN

Obama Attack on Fox News Enters Week Two

October 27, 2009

The Fox News Network continues to critique President Barrack Obama and his henchman (don’t like the term but it’s the one that fits) for their scheme to neutralize the effectiveness and power of the nation’s leading cable news network - namely Fox News.

Night after night - during each Fox News broadcast hour - there is a segment featuring Fox commentators and analysts commenting on the worthiness of the Obama media scheme - which by all accounts has failed miserably.

Politicians need to have thick skin - and ignore what the critics say. A President must serve and treat all persons the same - whether they are supporters or opponents - and while this is difficult at times - that's what makes our system work.

While all politicians want to be liked - it is Nixonian to develop an "enemies list" such as the one the Obama team has been putting together. Many will remember that former President Richard Nixon went to great lengths to discuss ways the White House could use the apparatus of the federal government - namely the IRS and the FBI - to investigate and harass those who did not support their policies. 

Nixon also discussed ways it could use the Federal Communications Commission to revoke the broadcast license of a Washington Post television station because of its Watergate reporting. Now we have a White House which has targeted a major news network (Fox) simply because it believes the network is too negative in its reporting of the Obama presidency.

For his part, President Obama looks small in the Fox News matter. The President went so far as to tell an NBC reporter who asked about the controversy that it was "inside baseball" and tried to marginalize the questioner for asking him about the matter.

He went on to say the "people care more about health care and Afghanistan," adding, "I don’t lose any sleep about it." The disingenuous part of this remark is in the connotation that the Fox controversy is somehow a "distraction" brought upon him by others from the outside. When in fact, it was the President himself - through his aides - that instigated the public debate.

But the disingenuousness doesn’t end there. The public is concerned about health care, Afghanistan, taxes and the like - and they are shaping their opinions by watching Fox News. This is frightening to the Obama White House and explains why they so desperately want to marginalize the network by saying its not a news organization.

Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly had it right when he stated that the Obama ploy may be acceptable during a political campaign - but coming from the White House - it’s an abridgement of the freedom of the press. The O’Reilly comment came on the heels of a White House attempt last week to exclude Fox News (one of the five network pool reporters) from interviewing a White House spokesperson on corporate compensation.

The White House didn’t want Fox to be part of that press pool discussion - and it was a blatant attempt of government censorship - and perhaps was close to violating his oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States (i.e. First Amendment, abridging the freedom of the press). We don’t know where this would have led if the other networks had not protested this action to exclude Fox.

The White House has backed off - for now - or maybe for good.

Mr. O’Reily and others saw it for what it was - media manipulation and a signal to other networks that if they don’t "play ball" with the White House - this same kind of punishment could happen to them. "You can’t have the President of the United States dictating who covers the news," O’Reilly said.

The White House would have a far different take on their actions - although in this instance they did not provide one. No one was fooled - everyone understands the adage - "if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s probably a duck."

The Obama team is very close to the edge of conceit, contempt, and manipulation for its own personal gain - with possible retaliation against those who voice disagreement over their policies.

We haven’t seen this conduct since the White House days of Richard Nixon.

 

Robb can be reached at RbbAustin@aol.com