The White House vs. Fox News: Politics vs. Principle

Much has been written recently about the confrontation between The Obama Administration and Fox News.  The White House doesn’t like the slant of Fox’s coverage, and the Administration is retaliating.  Fox  has been frozen out of interviews, and it has been criticized for being more of a mouthpiece and research arm of the Republican Party than a news service.  Fox’s response has been that their channel is just doing its job and the White House is too sensitive to criticism.

The President’s response has been a little surprising to me.  Occasionally, everyone makes mistakes when things come up, and the President is no exception.  When the white police officer arrested the African American professor, President Obama said he didn’t have all the facts then bashed the cop anyway.  What the President has shown is a knack for handling these awkward moments well.  Obama invited the officer and the professor to spend time with him at the White House, and–presto–an awkward situation is resolved.  Anyway, this time, he seems a little less smooth. As quoted by the Orlando Sentinel, the President said regarding the fight with Fox, “It’s not something I’m losing sleep over.”  I get that.  He’s not backing down, so his supporters are happy, but he’s also not piling on, so he appears to be above the fray.  Basically, he looks presidential.  But right before that, the President had said, “If the media is operating basically as a talk-radio format, then that’s one thing. And if it’s operating as a news outlet, then that’s another.”  The President could have taken the high road, but he chose to get a little jab in there.

Is Fox News generally right-of-center?  Yep.  But to single them out for criticism and freeze them out of some interviews, as the White House has done, seems more politically partisan than principled.  Did anyone in the current administration complain about the left-of-center perspective that MSNBC had on George W. Bush?  Speaking of which, do administration officials complain about MSNBC’s slant now?  And, really, CNN and the broadcast networks all have a left-of-center tilt, too, they just aren’t as obvious as MSNBC.

There was also a complaint by somebody in all of this that Fox was driven by the profit motive.  But all of these networks are businesses–they all need to make money.

The notion of a neutral media is actually kind of silly.  All of these people in the press have risen to the top in their profession.  Why would they work so hard to get there if they didn’t care about the issues?