ABC’s Jake Tapper Challenges Gibbs On Fox News Attacks (Update)

tapper_10-20Guess who: “It’s escaped none of our notice that the White House has decided in the last few weeks to declare one of our sister organizations ‘not a news organization’ and to tell the rest of us not to treat them like a news organization.”

That would be ABC’s Jake Tapper pressing White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today on their war on Fox News – in what may be the first very public challenge from another news organization over the White House’s tactics.

Earlier today Glynnis MacNicol asked “Why isn’t the MSM complaining about White House attacks on Fox?” The answer – now they are. (Update: Our own Tommy Christopher was the first to challenge Gibbs on this topic.)

Tapper writes about his question, and follow-ups of Gibbs at today’s morning gaggle. Gibbs’ response to the first question, “We render an opinion based on some of their coverage and the fairness that, the fairness of that coverage.”

“But that’s a pretty sweeping declaration that they are ‘not a news organization,'” countered Tapper.

When asked how Fox is any different than “ABC, MSNBC, Univision,” Gibbs said, “You and I should watch sometime around 9 o’clock tonight. Or 5 o’clock this afternoon.”

Here’s the next exchange:

Tapper: I’m not talking about their opinion programming or issues you have with certain reports. I’m talking about saying thousands of individuals who work for a media organization, do not work for a ‘news organization’ – why is that appropriate for the White House to say?

Gibbs: That’s our opinion.

If this is really the White House’s opinion, this goes far beyond whether the White House is elevating Fox News by engaging a news organization in a fight. It is almost incomprehensible that an administration would put themselves out on a limb so much that they would diminish the livelihood of, as Tapper notes, “thousands of individuals who work” at Fox News in some capacity. The White House is irked by a few dozen people at most – the opinion hosts, the execs, maybe a few anchors. That’s enough to throw the entire organization under the bus?

This is a dangerous path being taken by the White House – one that is wrong, and raises serious questions about their motive here. There are not undercutting Fox News and their viewers, they are undercutting their own credibility on this issue. Expect Tapper’s line of questioning to be just the beginning of the backlash, albeit delayed, at this press intimidation tactic.

> Update: FNC SVP of News Michael Clemente responds: “Hundreds of journalists come to work each day at FOX News all deeply committed to their craft. It’s disappointing that the White House would be so dismissive of their fine work and continue their vengeful war against a news organization.” (And add this as the latest in the evolution of the Fox News official responses.)
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