Fox News Is Ready For Their Cage Match With The White House


beck_8-20The White House has gone on the offensive against Fox News in the past week, speaking to Time magazine and CNN’s Reliable Sources.

But in a follow-up to all the White House chatter about FNC, Brian Stelter of the New York Times writes about the fight that’s shaping up. It’s important to note, Fox News loves to fight!

Here’s part of Stelter’s story:

Fox’s senior vice president for programming, Bill Shine, says of the criticism from the White House, “Every time they do it, our ratings go up.” Mr. Obama’s first year is on track to be the Fox News Channel’s highest rated.‬‪

One Fox executive said that the jabs by the White House could solidify the network’s audience base and recalled that Mr. Ailes had remarked internally: “Don’t pick a fight with people who like to fight.” The executive asked not to be named while discussing internal conversations.‬‪

It is certainly rare that a White House and administration would go after a single news entity (or non-news entity, as the White House likes to hammer home), but it is not unprecedented. In May 2008, the Bush White House went after NBC News after it felt the network unfairly edited an interview between Pres. George W. Bush and Richard Engel.

It became a big story at the time, and furthered the rift between the perceived liberal network of NBC (mainly because of its cable outlet, MSNBC) and conservatives. But it didn’t have the sort of long-lasting impact that seems to be shaping up here. While NBC is a powerful news outlet, Fox News has separated itself so far from the cable news pack it is now in a league of its own. Still, even with its huge audience, there are far more Americans, including many conservatives, who are not viewers of FNC. While the White House boosts the network by engaging it with fact checks and harsh words, it also describes why it is disadvantageous to appear on the network.

“During the presidential campaign, Ms. Dunn said, it booked campaign representatives on Fox to try to reach undecided voters, but by mid-October, the campaign had mostly withdrawn them from the channel’s programs,” writes Stelter. Says Dunn: “It was beyond diminishing returns. It was no returns.”

There’s a sense the White House wants it both ways as it prods at Fox News – they’re wrong, but they’re not that important. But by constantly getting out and mentioning the network, which then leads other networks to mention Fox, it is only boosting the power Roger Ailes‘ network has (a point made by David Gergen on CNN yesterday). And allows for quotes like this, from FNC SVP Michael Clemente: “Perhaps the energy would be better spent on the critical issues that voters are worried about.”

Dunn says Pres. Obama will be on Fox News at some point soon – the two sides will have a lot to say to each other. And there’s likely to be a lot of people tuning in.

Also in the NYT story: is Lou Dobbs going to Fox Business Network?

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