Fox News as White House Bogeyman

The unprecedented presidential policy and efforts by the White House to undermine Fox News and legitimate critics of the president and his administration are dangerous and unsettling.

President Obama had a chance last night in an interview with NBC News to distance himself from this controversy. He was asked about the policy of taking on Fox and he dug in. He gave his stamp of approval to taking on a major news network, marginalizing their work and limiting access to him and his administration. For a president of the United States to lower himself and his high office to the level of an FCC Commissioner is very strange indeed. The president said the following, “if media is operating basically, as a talk radio format, then that’s one thing. And if its operating as a news outlet that’s another.....” Every major cable and broadcast news channel operates as both at different times of their broadcast day day. Clearly the public is smart enough to know the difference between news and opinion programming. Why then pick on Fox?

The fact is that we live in a divided country. You need to look no further than the last few national elections and you will see how evenly divided our nation is. President Obama did not win in a landslide, if over 47% of the country voted against him. The president set the tone early on when he sought to silence any opposition or legitimate inquiries as to his motives and ability when he said this, “hey, I won the election, not you, we are in charge and we are going to do this, either you are going to jump on board and help us, or you are wasting your time, and ours. The American people have chosen us to lead”. Why with everything that he's got on his plate, the president would choose to demean his office and take the time to go after Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the U. S. Chamber of Commerce and others as a presidential initiative is beyond rational behavior.

President Obama's attacks only seek to galvanize support for those he is attacking and further divides an already polarized population. This was supposed to be the administration that reached across the aisle. It was to be the most transparent in history. The attacks by those opposed to the president’s policies are based mainly on the complaint that this administration has been everything but transparent or inclusive. Bills are not available to the public online, as promised, before lawmakers vote. The process of making legislation is made behind closed doors not on C-Span as promised. Republicans are not allowed to participate in the process of crafting legislation unless they agree to support it in advance. Legislators are asked to vote on major pieces of legislation without the benefit of reading the bills they are called to vote on. Policy "czars" have been selected to oversee important government agencies and help setting policy within the executive branch without Senate confirmation, legal and financial disclosures or even FBI background checks.

The White House needs to get out of the bunker and shed its defensive posture towards the opposition. -- If you are taking significant time to defend your administration then you are not leading. This administration has it all, they have the presidency and their party won both the House and Senate with historic majorities. The White House should be able to do what they want, whenever they want, but they can’t. They can’t govern effectively, not because of Republicans, but because of Democrats who are obstructing their agenda.

They can’t turn on their own party members so they need bogeymen. It is a terrible strategy and one that has and will continue to hurt Democrats. In a few weeks Virginia will elect a Republican Governor and New Jersey might as do so as well. This will be a blow to Democrats and a warning of what might come to for the party all across the country in the 2010 midterm election. Then who will they blame for that? Fox News?

Bradley A. Blakeman served as Deputy Assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04.