It’s only been a little more than a week since Anita Dunn made her initial remarks about Fox News being “the communications arm of the Republican Party.” At the time I regarded it is a purely positive development that exhibited courage and honesty. It seemed to me that inciting a discussion of Fox’s journalistic legitimacy could only do harm to Fox. Their unprofessionalism and ingrained biases would do them in and the formerly reluctant media would find their spine:
“For some reason, the targets of Fox’s attacks never seem to fight back. Well now they have an opening to do so in the form of addressing the allegations from the White House. If they miss this opportunity they are either incompetent or have a death wish.”
Much of the reaction by media pros to Dunn’s comments were a kneejerk condemnation of the White House for expressing what is a fairly non-controversial observation. Rather than conceding the obvious, they appeared to be taking a position that protected their own interests in some future administration when they may be on the outs. But so long as your reporting is honest, you have nothing to worry about. That’s where Fox goes off the rails – they lie.
Well, now some of the Conventional Media stalwarts have re-thought their original assessments:
Eugene Robinson (Washington Post): [I]t bothered me that virtually everyone I knew felt the same way. And then I came across a piece by media writer Michael Wolff in which he posits an interesting theory: That this might be a shrewd gambit to draw bright lines around the Fox ‘no to everything’ line. If the ideological struggle can be defined as Fox viewers vs. everybody else, the White House wins.
Michael Wolff (Newser): So I am revising my theory of what the Obama administration is doing in its frontal assault on Fox: I think they want us to take sides. Are you a Fox person or not a Fox person? And I think they want to identify Fox as the standard bearer of American conservatism. If you’re a conservative, you’re for Fox (ie, is that who you want to be?).
Peter Roff (US News): Now the White House is drawing conservative attention off onto other things […] And now, thanks to the White House’s provocation, there are those who are spending time trying to motivate the public to act in defense of Fox.
Each of these views recognize that by having a discussion about the proposition that Fox is not a news organization inures to the detriment of Fox. A network whose anchors air doctored video clips, read RNC talking points complete with the original typos, and take every opportunity to disparage their ideological opposites, is going to lose that argument every time.