Anita Dunn, the White House director of communications, took a hard line against Fox News on Sunday. Dunn added fuel to a growing fire when she told Howard Kurtz, host of CNN’s ‘Reliable Sources,’ that Fox News behaves like “either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party.” (Video here). Her comments were in reaction to what she terms the “reflexive negativity” of conservative pundits. Dunn’s appearance on CNN followed a Time article that quotes her describing FNC as “opinion journalism masquerading as news.”
In classifying Fox News and its cast of characters as enemies of Obama, in cahoots with the actual Republican opposition, Dunn took a public relations gamble that sparked a series of critical reactions among journalists.
In a Daily Intel post for New York Magazine, Chris Rovzar wonders if “declaring war on Fox” is a strategic error for the President. “Recognizing Fox as an enemy worth fighting is an admission of weakness for a president whose appeal has been partly predicated on the promise of unity.”
The Baltimore Sun’s TV critic, David Zurawik, expressed his concern about Dunn’s stance in his column. “Whether or not you like Fox News, all of us in the press need to be concerned about the administration of President Barack Obama trying to “punish” the cable news channel for its point of view.”
Yael Abouhalkah, of the Kansas City Star, agrees that Fox is “a lapdog for the GOP.” “But let’s be fair,” he adds. “Check out MSNBC TV, and you will often see a similar kind of blind support for liberal positions and Democrats.”
Tensions have escalated since June, when the president remarked pointedly, “I’ve got one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my administration.” Last month’s sit-down between David Axelrod and Roger Ailes, reported by Politico, seems to have done little to ease tensions between the White House and the highest-rated cable news network.