The White House is making a profound political mistake by targeting Fox News and deliberately deciding to exclude them from interviews and access to the administration. And not only that, they are making a mistake on both a practical and a political level.
Frankly, it just doesn’t make sense.
On a practical level, targeting a news organization only redounds to one’s detriment. I have no doubt that Fox News will not change its coverage, nor should it, in response to statements from White House Communications Director Anita Dunn. Nonetheless, indicating that five separate Fox News programs will not have access to White House personnel simply raises a red flag.
Richard Nixon tried to do this in the 1970’s with The New York Times, and it backfired. I have no doubt that with regards to how to practice communications and how to access the diversity of different media in America, this is not a salutary development for the Obama administration.
Moreover, it represents a profound political misjudgment. It is a misjudgment to believe that because a network has opinion programs that present a different view from the administration that the network itself and its viewers are unabashedly hostile.
Fox News’ news programs are straightforward. Most importantly, Fox News’ audience involves a substantial number of independents and moderate Republicans who should have access to, and might be persuaded by, some of the administration’s arguments. To simply believe that you can target Democrats and some of the independents through the rest of the mainstream media, and write off an audience of between two and four million people, is just plain illogical.
Even boycotting Fox News opinion programs, which consistently take positions that are of variance to the White House or Democratic Party stances, is a mistake. Getting a point of view across, even in a forum that is less hospitable and congenial than preferred, is an unabashed positive. Put another way, it simply is a mistake to cede all of the air time to people who present a different view.
On a personal note, I have been a Fox News contributor for over five years. Throughout this time, I have certainly disagreed with the political positions of many of the people who have interviewed me. But I have always found that I have been given a fair opportunity to get my point across, and to make an argument from a centrist-Democratic point of view that most Americans and many Fox viewers find agreeable.
It would be a bad judgment for America, and for the White House, if the administration sticks to its policy and maintains an effective boycott of Fox News.
Doug Schoen is a Democratic pollster, author and Fox News contributor.