White House Warning

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that at least one Democratic political strategist has gotten a blunt warning from the White House to never again appear on Fox News Channel, an outlet that Obama and his aides have depicted as not so much a news-gathering operation as a political opponent bent on damaging his administration.  Obama, and his aides, have taken an aggressive stance against the network and may be seeking to isolate it.

“We better not see you on again,” the strategist says he was told by a White House official shortly after an appearance on Fox.  The call had an intimidating tone, he said.  An implicit suggestion, he said, was that “clients might stop using you if you continue.”

A boycott by Democratic strategists could also help drive the White House narrative that Fox is a fundamentally different creature than the other TV news networks.  For their part, White House officials appear on Fox News — but sporadically and with “eyes wide open,” as one aide put it.

Patrick Caddell, a Fox News contributor and a former pollster for Jimmah Carter, said he has spoken to Democratic consultants who have been told by the White House to avoid appearances on Fox.  He declined to give their names.

Caddell added: “I have heard that they’ve done that to others in not-too-subtle ways.  I find it appalling.  When the White House gets in the business of suppressing dissent and comment, particularly from its own party, it hurts itself.”  Caddell said he had not gotten that message himself from the White House.  “They know better than to tell me anything like that,” he said.

Fox’s viewership is not what worries the White House, though.  More troubling to White House aides is that other news organizations may follow stories that Fox has showcased.

The White House aide said: “Where some of the falsehoods[1] become dangerous is when the rest of the media accepts them as fact and reports on them, either out of a desire to tap into Fox’s news audience — which you can understand, given where circulation and viewership rates are — or as some sort of knee-jerk fear of being considered liberally biased, which is what conservatives have been saying of the mainstream media for years.”


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