Fox and Enemies

Is the Obama administration right about Fox News?

The Obama administration hasn’t made much of a secret of its displeasure with Fox News. In June, the president said that there was “one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my
administration,” a claim so obvious in its target he needn’t name names. And in September, Obama skipped an appearance on Fox Sunday Morning, on the same day he found time to visit with all the other
major networks—and Univision, too.

Both incidents, and some other background, were recounted over the weekend by The New York Times’s Brian Stelter. The article is particularly notable because it is part of a series of outings where the White House has ratcheted up its harsh tone towards Fox.

“We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent,” Anita Dunn, the White House’s communications director, told Stelter, elaborating that “we’re not going to legitimize them as a news

“Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party,” said Dunn during an appearance CNN. “Let’s not pretend they’re a news network the way CNN is.”

At the same time, Dunn has acknowledged that she has no beef with the network’s White House correspondent, that the President would likely appear on the network in the future, and that the White House’s press staff would continue to respond to queries from the network’s news staff.

While that implies that the White House’s attacks are more of a war of words than action, we’re wondering what you think of the administration’s attacks. Is the White House right that Fox—in all or in part—is almost tantamount to a Republican communications wing? Have they ceased to be a legitimate news organization? And what are the implications of the White House’s strategy of—if not by deeds, then certainly by words—of isolating Fox and its large audience?

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The Editors are the staffers of Columbia Journalism Review.