Anita Dunn, the outgoing White House communications director who started the White House “war” on Fox News for having a conservative bias, on Friday defended MSNBC from the criticism that it is equally biased toward liberal politics.
Here’s the transcript of her exchange with Bloomberg’s Al Hunt. Below that is video of Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Obama, backpedaling when asked by CNN’s Campbell Brown if MSNBC is biased in the same way as Fox. And at the bottom is Dunn’s appearance on CNN a month ago that began this whole thing.
HUNT: Let me ask you about your famous broadside against FOX News.
HUNT: Was that just Anita Dunn talking, or was that something you and Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod planned ahead of time?
DUNN: Well, you know, Al, I am not exactly one known for going rogue, to use a popular phrase these days. You know, the reality is that the – and you know this - the media environment in this country has changed so dramatically over the last decade that what we traditionally think of as news organizations or what traditionally are news organizations, everything has changed so much.
I’ll give you one fact - actually, fun fact from this week, is that the - you know, an opinion show on a certain news network was using edited footage to make it appear that a rally last week in political opposition to the president was much larger than it appeared.
Some of you may have heard about this. But the people who went in and did the fact checking on that and actually exposed this as kind of spliced edited video that was designed to make it appear that more people opposed the president than really do, the people who exposed this, Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show,” on Comedy Central, OK?
Well, that’s where you’re getting, you know, fact-checking investigative journalism these days, folks. It is a different media environment. And the reality is that, you know, let’s face it, you know, we’re under no illusions about what the political agenda of, you know, certain news networks are.
And we, you know, will work with them when it suits - you know, when we need to. We obviously have talked to them before. We’ll talk to them again in the future. We’ve never made any secret of that.
But for mainstream journalists, it’s important for them to know that when they’re following those stories, they may be following, oh, you know, some edited footage or things that really don’t stand up to the scrutiny that you bring to a story.
HUNT: Does MSNBC have a political agenda, too?
DUNN: You know, it’s interesting, because that, of course, is what gets thrown back. And, obviously, your friend, Karl Rove, who you quoted earlier, declared war on them during the previous administration, and you may recall that FOX actually applauded Karl for doing that.
Now, I will say this: MSNBC has as their host of their morning program a former Republican congressman who was a member of Newt Gingrich’s revolution. That, I think -
HUNT: So you think they’re different than FOX?
DUNN: Well, but I also think that their opinion shows - their opinion shows absolutely have an opinion -
HUNT: But as a network, they’re different.
DUNN: - but I do regard them as different as a network, absolutely.
HUNT: Just - just - just a follow-on on this. Was President Obama aware ahead of time that you were going to criticize FOX?
DUNN: You know, the - I am not a person who is known for going rogue,
HUNT: OK. All right. I think -
DUNN: But we also don’t discuss internal decisions.
— Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times