Published October 18, 2009
Senior Obama administration officials took to the airwaves Sunday to accuse Fox News of pushing a particular point of view, one week after the administration fired its initial salvo to try to isolate the news network by accusing it of being a GOP mouthpiece.
"A lot of their news programming, it's really not news. It's pushing a point of view," senior adviser David Axelrod said on ABC's "This Week."
"The way we -- the president looks at it and we look at it, is, it is not a news organization so much as it has a perspective," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel added on CNN's "State of the Union."
The open assault on Fox News began last weekend when White House Communications Director Anita Dunn accused the network of being a "wing of the Republican Party."
"What I think is fair to say about Fox -- and certainly it's the way we view it -- is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party," Dunn said on CNN. "They take their talking points, put them on the air; take their opposition research, put them on the air. And that's fine. But let's not pretend they're a news network the way CNN is."
Despite calls to the White House this week, the administration did not offer a guest for this weekend's "Fox News Sunday" to talk about Dunn's comments, although administration officials appeared on all four Sunday morning shows to speak on various issues.
President Obama has had interviews with all of the other Sunday talk shows except "Fox News Sunday," including a whirlwind weekend in late September where he appeared on all other Sunday talk shows.
Michael Clemente, Fox News' senior vice president of news, said the administration's strategy appears to be misdirected.
"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," Clemente said in a written statement.
Former Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove said Fox News' commentators have been tough on Obama but the White House appears to be confusing the news and opinion that appears on the network.
"They're conflating the news side and the opinion side in order to -- in order to attack a media outlet. Again, it's undignified for the president of the United States to be doing" Rove said on "Fox News Sunday." He added that it is the administration's practice to attack its critics full-throttle.
"I think this White House is dominated by Chicago- style politics, so if you don't like the questions that are being asked by Major Garrett or Wendell Goler or Chris Wallace, then you try and demonize Fox News," he said.
Though Fox News has won the cable news ratings race consistently for years and is closing in on network news numbers, Axelrod and Emanuel both encouraged other news outlets to not treat Fox News as a news organization.
"The bigger thing is that other news organizations, like yours, ought not to treat them that way, and we're not going to treat them that way." Axelrod told ABC.
Axelrod was quick to point out that though the White House views Fox News as biased, the administration would continue to interact with Fox News. "We're going to appear on their shows. We're going to participate, but understanding that they represent a point of view."
"President Obama's going to talk to all the networks," said former Clinton adviser and administration confidant Terry McAuliffe, who appeared with Rove on Fox News. "He's going to go out there. He loves competition. He loves being engaged in the battle."