The White House’s effort to target a news organization like Fox is vaguely Nixonian. The case put forward by the pro-Mao political theorist Anita Dunn is filled with errors and erroneous statements. (See Chris Wallace’s comments during this segment.) And the willingness of liberal commentators like Jacob Weisberg to act as an attack poodle on behalf of the Obama White House is both predictable and discrediting. Frankly, we’re seeing “progressives” explode in outrage at Fox not only because their previous media monopoly has ended but also because Fox is so enormously popular (it’s home to the top-10-rated cable-news programs in America and 13 of the top 15).
It is one thing to set the record straight when specific false charges are made by individual reporters and commentators. But the tactic of a blanket attack against a network like Fox will, I think, end up damaging Barack Obama. The public generally wants its president to act as an adult, mature and relatively high-minded, focused on the problems of the day rather than on targeting media outlets. And it is more evidence of the fictional claim by Obama that he would “resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long”; that “the times are too serious, the stakes are too high” for the same old political-attack tricks; and that he alone would elevate public discourse and serve as a unifying figure for America. Barack Obama is, in fact, turning into one of our most divisive political figures in memory – and he’s become that in less than nine months.
This whole anti-Fox gambit will come across to a lot of people as misguided and petty, the product of a White House that is unusually thin-skinned and somewhat paranoid – and, perhaps, as one that can’t be trusted with power.