Tipping Point? White House Press Pool Stands Up For Fox News

baier_10-23Look what Jake Tapper started. When ABC’s White House correspondent Tapper questioned press secretary Robert Gibbs over the administration’s tactic of attacking Fox News, Gibbs avoided much of an answer.

But yesterday’s round-robin pool interviews of new executive pay czar Kenneth Feinberg saw the White House trying to ostracize Fox News again – and their partners in the pool taking a stand, again.

James Rosen reported on the incident during FNC’s Special Report last night, saying the White House pool, which is a five-network rotation “that for decades has shared the cost and duties of daily coverage of the presidency, to which Fox News has belonged since 1997,” was told the pay czar would be available for round-robin interviews, but FNC would not be included. “The Washington bureau chiefs of the five TV news networks [ABC, CBS, CNN, FNC and NBC] consulted and decided that none of them would interview Feinberg unless Fox was included, and the administration relented,” said Rosen.

Yes – instead of five-minute interviews with the four networks, they agreed to two-minute interviews with the five networks, plus Bloomberg. This was the first true test for the White House press pool as the other networks start feeling the affect of the FNC vs. WH battle – and they very clearly came down on the side of their fellow media.

“I think it’s outrageous that the White House tried that,” said Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik in the report. “And I’m really cheered that the other networks said ‘no’.”

On Special Report, Fred Barnes continued a line of comment that was discussed by Anderson Cooper earlier this week. “One adjective comes up and when this adjective comes up you know you’re in trouble and it’s ‘Nixonian.'”

Not everyone on the panel agreed. NPR’s Mara Liasson said, “Access is not the same thing as free speech – the White House is not duty bound by the First Amendment to give everybody the same interview.”

The New York Times has a lengthy piece on the entire White House vs. Fox News feud, including a part about the pay czar decision yesterday. They also have the latest from Fox News’ SVP of news and editorial programming Michael Clemente:

[Clemente] said the White House was conflating the network’s commentary with its news coverage. That, Mr. Clemente said, “would be like Fox News blaming the White House senior staff for the Washington Redskins’ losing record.”

“I think we’re doing the job we’re supposed to be doing,” he said, “and we do it as well as anyone.”

This story has come to an end for the week – but if administration officials are back out on the Sunday shows bashing the merits of an entire news organization, expect this to not only continue, but escalate.

Here’s the Rosen report, and the Special Report panel discussing the pool response (via Johnny Dollar):

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