Any one who has ever spent any extended amount of time with children knows that if you put something in front of them and tell them not to do it, the "not to do thing" becomes enticing. So, the best thing to do is not to give credence to something and just ignore it.
That is exactly what the White House has not done in their battle with Fox News Channel. It has raised the level of rancor higher than it should be.
The White House hasn't asked my advice but I will give it here:
Ignore your issues with Fox News Channel unless something that's being reported on a news segment is wrong. Ignore pretty much everything that is being said on the opinion side as it is just opinion. The White House does not make a habit of addressing the various protests in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue so why should it spend valuable time and energy addressing opinion shows? -- By addressing your beefs with talk radio and talk television shows that you think are slanted against you, you just give them more and more legitimacy.
I have been working for Fox News as a confirmed liberal contributor for twelve years.
I know from the inside of the Fox News Channel operation that they are clear about the dividing line between reporting and opinion. They don't like to mix the work of reporters and the show hosts nor should they. I sit at the White House with Fox's White House reporters and they have asked the same questions as other reporters -- both during the Bush administration and the Obama administration.
As a liberal commentator on Fox News Channel I have never been told what to say and have only been asked to restrain myself once in twelve years. And when was that? -- It was on the day that Michael Jackson died and the producer asked me to keep my negative views to myself till some time had passed. That's a concern I can respect. They welcome my thoughts and views and they would welcome President Obama's views as well.
The president needs to reach out to all Americans -- even the ones who completely disagree with him. His communication staff should suggest he do interviews with Fox News Channel and let his message be heard directly by Americans who did not vote for him or don't like his polices. The White House should also know their numbers. One study done by an independent media group found that almost a third of Fox's viewers were Democrats and independents.
The Obama communications strategy needs to let the criticism of the president and the administration roll off their back. It's a mistake to spend valuable communications capital on upping the ante and continuing the fight. What you resist persists.
Ellen Ratner is Washington bureau chief of Talk Radio News Service and a Fox News contributor.