ABC’s Jake Tapper Challenges Gibbs On Fox News Attacks

tapper_10-20Guess who: “It’s escaped none of our notice that the White House has decided in the last few weeks to declare one of our sister organizations ‘not a news organization’ and to tell the rest of us not to treat them like a news organization.”

That would be ABC’s Jake Tapper pressing White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today on their war on Fox News – in what may be the first very public challenge from another news organization over the White House’s tactics.

Earlier today Glynnis MacNicol asked “Why isn’t the MSM complaining about White House attacks on Fox?” The answer – now they are.

Tapper writes about his question, and follow-ups of Gibbs at today’s morning gaggle. Gibbs’ response to the first question, “We render an opinion based on some of their coverage and the fairness that, the fairness of that coverage.”

“But that’s a pretty sweeping declaration that they are ‘not a news organization,’” countered Tapper.

When asked how Fox is any different than “ABC, MSNBC, Univision,” Gibbs said, “You and I should watch sometime around 9 o’clock tonight. Or 5 o’clock this afternoon.”

Here’s the next exchange:

Tapper: I’m not talking about their opinion programming or issues you have with certain reports. I’m talking about saying thousands of individuals who work for a media organization, do not work for a ‘news organization’ – why is that appropriate for the White House to say?

Gibbs: That’s our opinion.

If this is really the White House’s opinion, this goes far beyond whether the White House is elevating Fox News by engaging a news organization in a fight. It is almost incomprehensible that an administration would put themselves out on a limb so much that they would diminish the livelihood of, as Tapper notes, “thousands of individuals who work” at Fox News in some capacity. The White House is irked by a few dozen people at most – the opinion hosts, the execs, maybe a few anchors. That’s enough to throw the entire organization under the bus?

This is a dangerous path being taken by the White House – one that is wrong, and raises serious questions about their motive here. There are not undercutting Fox News and their viewers, they are undercutting their own credibility on this issue. Expect Tapper’s line of questioning to be just the beginning of the backlash, albeit delayed, at this press intimidation tactic.

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The Evolution Of The Fox News News Response To The White House

fnc_10-20A fresh round of attacks by White House officials aimed at Fox News took place last weekend, and with it came another batch of people writing how this is not a winning strategy – and over the line.

The Fox News official response to all this has evolved over the past couple weeks, and now serves in an interesting dual role.

The White House should expect a strong fight from the opinion hosts on Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, who all made the White House battle the main story on their programs last night. But the White House hasn’t just been attacking these outspoken hosts – they’re cutting to the news core, downplaying FNC as a news organization as well.

The response has changed over time in statements, and yesterday FNC debuted a splashy new ad touting the news chops (on the next page). But let’s take a look at the statements first.

Fox News’ Senior Vice President for News Michael Clemente has been the main representative for the news department for this. His first response, to Time magazine early this month, was very diplomatic. “In terms of the relationship, I think we are doing our job. And they [the White House] are doing their job,” he said.

Next, Clemente was driving home the point that news and opinion are separate at FNC: “An increasing number of viewers are relying on Fox News for both news and opinion. And the average news consumer can certainly distinguish between the A section of a newspaper and the editorial page, which is what our programming represents.”

To the New York Times, we started seeing a shift last week. “Instead of governing, the White House continues to be in campaign mode, and Fox News is the target of their attack mentality,” said Clemente. “Perhaps the energy would be better spent on the critical issues that voters are worried about.”

fncad_10-20And finally, the most recent statement, put out in response to what Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod said on the Sunday shows: “Surprisingly, the White House continues to declare war on a news organization instead of focusing on the critical issues that Americans are concerned about like jobs, health care and two wars. The door remains open and we welcome a discussion about the facts behind the issues.”

This is a major shift from Clemente’s first statements. Clemente’s use of the word “instead” implies a judgment being made about the White House – and their lack of focus on “critical issues” like “jobs, health care and two wars.” No matter how you parse the words, this clearly shows the head of FNC’s news division making an opinionated statement about the Obama administration. Are we to believe that the Fox News official news division position is that the White House is focusing on Fox News while abandoning these other issues? That’s not something FNC wants to get into – it’s a point that is better suited for their opinion hosts.

The FNC news division position was only made more clear by a new, highly-produced ad that debuted yesterday, with the tagline “Hard News. Real Reporting.” It shows FNC reporters in war zones, natural disasters and more, and anchors touting the “fair and balanced” nature of the network. The point is clear – we do do news. And for anyone who is even a casual viewer of Fox News knows, this is 100% accurate. And that’s why the White House attacks seem so pointless – FNC does have a news department that covers real news. And they have people like Beck and Hannity that hammer the White House. Do you get a tougher interview if you’re a Democrat than if you’re a Republican during daytime hours? Probably. But you could make that argument the other way with MSNBC, where David Shuster, who fills in on Countdown, is seen as an “anchor.” It’s a continuous losing fight for the White House.

>>> NEXT PAGE: The new promo, and the latest Fox News ‘news’ report on the fight.


Why Isn’t The MSM Complaining About White House Attacks on Fox?

alg_obama-oreillyWhat if, for argument’s sake, the government of the most powerful country in the world declared “war” on one of its biggest news operations and no one in the rest of the press batted an eye. Worrisome, no? Not something you’d ever expect to see here in the U.S.A. And yet…

Politico reports today on the (mostly!) eerie silence of the White House press corp. with regards to the West Wing’s war on Fox News. Shouldn’t a move by the government to delegitimize an entire news operation be cause for concern, as in, the fourth estate is worth protecting even if Glenn Beck resides there. Perhaps not. Or perhaps the press is suffering the same malady as Washington in general: partisanship.

To some media observers, it’s almost the definition of a “chilling effect” – a governmental attempt to steer reporters away from negative coverage – but the White House press corps has barely uttered a word of complaint.

That could be because of the perception among some journalists that Fox blurs the line between reporting and commentary – making it seem like not the most sympathetic victim…The Obama White House appears to have concluded that the media is now so splintered that an attack on one is no longer an attack on all.

Of course, as the article points out, this is not the first White House to take out its frustrations on a specific arm of the press. Still, try and imagine anyone keeping this quiet had, say, Dick Cheney had appeared on Meet The Press and not only declared war on MSNBC because he didn’t like Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann, but encouraged the rest of the press to cease treating it as a bona fide news operation. Of course, considering Fox’s soaring ratings perhaps all the other cablers are secretly hoping to become the White House’s secret target.


Why Isn’t The MSM Complaining About White House Attacks on Fox News?

alg_obama-oreillyWhat if, for argument’s sake, the government of the most powerful country in the world declared “war” on one of its biggest news operations and no one in the rest of the press batted an eye. Worrisome, no? Not something you’d ever expect to see here in the U.S.A. And yet…

Politico reports today on the (mostly!) eerie silence of the White House press corp. with regards to the West Wing’s war on Fox News. Shouldn’t a move by the government to delegitimize an entire news operation be cause for concern, as in, the fourth estate is worth protecting even if Glenn Beck resides there. Perhaps not. Or perhaps the press is suffering the same malady as Washington in general: partisanship.

To some media observers, it’s almost the definition of a “chilling effect” – a governmental attempt to steer reporters away from negative coverage – but the White House press corps has barely uttered a word of complaint.

That could be because of the perception among some journalists that Fox blurs the line between reporting and commentary – making it seem like not the most sympathetic victim…The Obama White House appears to have concluded that the media is now so splintered that an attack on one is no longer an attack on all.

Of course, as the article points out, this is not the first White House to take out its frustrations on a specific arm of the press. Still, try and imagine anyone keeping this quiet had, say, Dick Cheney had appeared on Meet The Press and not only declared war on MSNBC because he didn’t like Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann, but encouraged the rest of the press to cease treating it as a bona fide news operation. Of course, considering Fox’s soaring ratings perhaps all the other cablers are secretly hoping to become the White House’s secret target.


Maddow And Olbermann Team Up For Top Non-FNC Hour Friday Night

Cable news ratings, October 16, 2009: Check out the highlights, and see the full ratings below:

Rachel Maddow’s 9pmET hour Friday night had the most total viewers of all non-FNC cable news shows. The hour was helped by a phone interview from MSNBC’s 8pmET host, Keith Olbermann, as the pair chatted about former Pres. George H.W. Bush’s comments about them. Olbermann’s Countdown the hour before was a repeat.

• The top show of the night was Glenn Beck’s at 5pmET, in total viewers and the A25-54 demographic. Beck had demo viewers than his competition had total viewers.

• The top non-FNC show in the demo was HLN’s Nancy Grace at 8pmET.

Check out all the ratings below, and leave your own thoughts in the comments:

TV NEWS RATINGS: 25-54 DEMOGRAPHIC (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

681

Blitzer

111

Matthews

144

Prime

111

6 pm Baier

495

Blitzer

138

EdShow

122

Prime

121

7 pm Shep

415

Dobbs

105

Matthews

172

Issues

160

8 pm O’Reilly

583

Brown

103

Olbermann

169

Grace

256

9 pm Hannity

497

King

148

Maddow

238

Behar

190

10 pm Greta

433

Cooper

206

Olbermann

139

Grace

118

11 pm O’Reilly

398

Cooper

174

Maddow

161

Showbiz

181

TOTAL DAY 385 152 110 140
PRIME TIME 504 152 182 181
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.
TV NEWS RATINGS: TOTAL VIEWERS (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

2620

Blitzer

640

Matthews

491

Prime

227

6 pm Baier

2222

Blitzer

578

EdShow

430

Prime

262

7 pm Shep

1916

Dobbs

423

Matthews

583

Issues

499

8 pm O’Reilly

2490

Brown

496

Olbermann

688

Grace

734

9 pm Hannity

2000

King

691

Maddow

937

Behar

536

10 pm Greta

1673

Cooper

677

Olbermann

410

Grace

410

11 pm O’Reilly

1327

Cooper

459

Maddow

489

Showbiz

388

TOTAL DAY 1477 552 374 316
PRIME TIME 2055 622 678 548
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.


Morning Joe On Media Bias: Deutsch Bashes White House; Mika Talks CBS

joe_10-19There was another discussion of Glenn Beck and the Fox News vs. White House battle today on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and disagreement on the set brought some new angles to the debate.

Donny Deutsch talked about message – and the White House’s mishandling of it. And Joe Scarborough brought up some unnamed liberals who went after the Bush administration.

“They are elevating Fox,” said Deutsch. “Think about this, it’s the President of the United States, the commander of the free world, versus a television network with a couple million viewers. It’s a ratings bonanza, it’s insane. They should just be dismissive about it.”

Co-host Mika Brzezinski disagreed with the assessment, but then Scarborough made a Bush administration comparison while discussing the charge that Beck and others like him are “dangerous”:

I heard that about certain TV people on the left, every day, from Republicans. What did the Bush White House do when they were compared to Nazis or Fascists? We heard every day that they hated the constitution, that they were evil people. The Bush white house did nothing, they were quiet. They didn’t elevate them.

(Fascists? I wonder who Scarborough could be referring to…)

Newsbusters reports on a different part of Morning Joe, when Brzezinski got very real about bias. Even though she said NBC and CBS (her former employer) “try their best to be objective,” she could only “think of one” fan of George W. Bush out of all the producers and anchors she encountered during 10 years at CBS News. Check out the clip on Newsbusters.

Scarborough took to Twitter to defend Brzezinski’s comments today.

Here’s the Deutsch segment:

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy


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Newsweek: “Fox News Un-American;” Calls For Journalist Boycott

weisberg_237-thumb7With Fox News and the White House at each other’s throats, it’s tough to get a word in edgewise. Fox, with its typically boisterous hosts and collected anchors, seems to be guiding the conversation, while much of the administration’s talking points are being viewed as whiny. But it’s the result of an echo chamber, according to Jacob Weisberg in Newsweek.

The network’s coverage of the White House’s remarks proves their leanings, he writes, in “a textbook example of a biased journalism.” In his view:

Any news organization that took its responsibilities seriously would take pains to cover presidential criticism fairly. It would regard doing so as itself a test of integrity. At Fox, by contrast, complaints of unfairness prompt only hoots of derision and demands for “evidence” that, when presented, is brushed off and ignored.

Weisberg continues to call the debate “phony,” because “five minutes’ random viewing of the channel at any hour of the day demonstrates its all-pervasive slant.” He cites the usual cast of characters including Glenn Beck and Karl Rove, and insists that sloppy swine flu coverage leaves Fox “to become the first network to actively try to kill its viewers.”

What’s to love about the American press is its independence, Weisberg claims — “that it serves the public interest rather than those of parties, persuasions, or pressure groups.” His solution? A boycott of Fox News:

Respectable journalists—I’m talking to you, Mara Liasson—should stop appearing on its programs. A boycott would make Ailes too happy, so let’s try just ignoring Fox, shall we? And no, I don’t want to come on The O’Reilly Factor to discuss it.

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