Dunn on FNC: ‘Let’s Not Pretend They’re a News Network’

By Chris Ariens Comment

Dunn_10.11.jpgPRNewser reports on, and has video of White House communications director Anita Dunn’s “new, more aggressive press strategy” which she explained in a straightforward slam of Fox News Channel during an appearance on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”

“Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party,” said Dunn. “Let’s not pretend they’re a news network the way CNN is.”

Dunn added, “What I think is fair to say about Fox, and certainly the way we view it, is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party.”

PRNewser reports Dunn gave host Howie Kurtz some “homework”: “Did you see coverage of that [the Sen. John Ensign scandal] on Fox News? I’m not talking Glenn Beck, Sean, the Factor, I’m talking Fox News.” “I will have to check on that,” Kurtz responded.

Dunn first described the new strategy in an interview with Time magazine’s Michael Scherer last week. But Scherer noticed something as he watched the interview this morning.

The ironic part came later, during the commercial break. All morning, CNN has been intermittently running a promo for Anderson Cooper 360, a show that has long billed itself as a classic straight news program with an investigative front man who digs “beyond the headlines” with “many points of view, so you can make up your own mind.” The new promo, by contrast, consists of a woman’s voice, pitching Cooper’s show as, essentially, a liberal alternative to Fox News: “I’m a lifelong Democrat,” she says, “and that’s why I watch Anderson Cooper.”

> Update to the Scherer post, from a TVNewser reader: “Turns out that the woman saying ‘I’m a lifelong Democrat’ comes at the same time a man says ‘I’m a lifelong Republican.’ The on-screen graphics try to bring home the point, sort of melding the words that the man and the woman are saying. The point of the ad is that AC 360 is there for both sides because it’s a fair program. Unfortunately, the woman’s voice seems more powerful…”

> More, a statement from Fox News SVP Michael Clemente: “An increasing number of viewers are relying on FOX News for both news and opinion. And the average news consumer can certainly distinguish between the A-section of the newspaper and the editorial page, which is what our programming represents. So, with all due respect to anyone who might still be confused about the difference between news reporting and vibrant opinion, my suggestion would be to talk about the stories and the facts, rather than attack the messenger…which over time, has never worked.”

> Update refuting Dunn’s point about FNC’s news coverage of the Sen. Ensign affair: Johnny Dollar sent us links to six stories from FoxNews.com that show the network’s news programs covered the story from the beginning. They are here, here, here, here, here and here. Two are from “FOX Report”, two are from “Special Report” and two are from “FOX News Sunday”. He said it took about 10 minutes of searching.

> Related: The NYTimes’ Brian Stelter writes about the White House-Fox News “volley: “One Fox executive said that the jabs by the White House could solidify the network’s audience base and recalled that [FNC Chairman Roger] Ailes had remarked internally: “Don’t pick a fight with people who like to fight.”

> More from the Baltimore Sun‘s David Zurawik: “This campaign by the Obama administration is dangerous to press freedom, and it should concern everyone in the press, not just Fox. You have to wonder who else is on this administration’s enemies list.”