Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Jake Tapper of ABC asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs this question:
It hasn’t escaped our notice that in the last few weeks the White House has decided to declare war on one of our sister organizations saying it’s not a news organization and tell the rest of the news media to not treat them like a news organization. Can you explain why it’s appropriate for the White House to say one of them is not a news organization and the rest of the media should not treat them like one?
Peter Wehner at Commentary:
The term “sister organizations” is important because it shows solidarity with a news organization under fierce attack by the White House. This is the kind of question one would hope to see when a president and his top aides target a news organization and then, for good measure, try to dictate to other news organizations what they should do, how they should act, and which stories they should follow. But so far, stunningly, the media — including the White House press corps — have mostly been quiescent. One might have expected more in the face of these extraordinary efforts at media intimidation and media control. If the situation were reversed, and a Republican White House were targeting an entire network in a similar fashion, criticisms, condemnations, and thundering editorials would be pouring forth; terms like “abuse of power” and “chilling effect” would be on the lips of virtually every reporter in America. Instead, the reaction has been, for the most part, uncomfortable silence (with a few, like Jacob Weisberg, siding with the White House).
According to Jim Vanderhei and Mike Allen at Politico:
President Obama is working systematically to marginalize the most powerful forces behind the Republican Party, setting loose top White House officials to undermine conservatives in the media, business and lobbying worlds.
With a series of private meetings and public taunts, the White House has targeted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the biggest-spending pro-business lobbying group in the country; Rush Limbaugh, the country’s most-listened-to conservative commentator; and now, with a new volley of combative rhetoric in recent days, the insurance industry, Wall Street executives and Fox News.
Obama aides are using their powerful White House platform, combined with techniques honed in the 2008 campaign, to cast some of the most powerful adversaries as out of the mainstream and their criticism as unworthy of serious discussion.
I’m no fan of the Rupert Murdoch/Roger Ailes operation. In fact, I’m on record telling people to turn off FOX News. But I’m a lowly member of the Order of Liberal Basement Bloggers, not the President of the United States or one of his henchmen.
I think the White House War on FOX is both politically stupid and a bad precedent. First of all it’s a bad idea because as Mark Twain said:
“Never pick a fight with someone who buys their ink by the barrel.”
When Mr. Twain said that newspapers were the dominant media, but if he were alive today he would probably say:
“Never pick a fight with someone who owns their own television network.”
Whether Teh Precious likes it or not, FOX News is the top rated cable news network, and their ratings are up 20% this year. Their gleeful attitude towards the war against them is best described by the old adage, “Never wrestle with a pig – you both get dirty and the pig enjoys it.”
Does FOX put a right-wing spin on their stories? Oh you betcha! They got their start during the Big Dawg’s administration (October 7, 1996) and have been a key part of the GOP Noise Machine ever since. Their commentary programs (Glenn Beck, The O’Reilly Factor, etc.) range from hardcore conservative to lunatic fringe wingnut. You can also count on their “news” programs to spin and distort whatever they report.
But guess what? CNN and MSNBC are no better, nor are the news divisions of the major broadcast networks (NBC, CBS and ABC) any different. Every media outlet spins and distorts what they report. They also have a bad habit of ignoring certain stories. They are all owned by major corporations and/or filthy rich individuals, and they serve their masters, not the public.
Now personally I don’t give a shit if the Obamacrats take careful aim and shoot their toes off. I expected them to fuck up royally once he was in office and they have. But I have a big problem with the WATB White House declaring who is and is not a member of the press. If they are granted that power it will be a major infringement of the First Amendment.
As Larry Flynt said:
“If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, it will protect all of you.”