- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 18, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Obama has declared political war on the Fox News Channel. He refuses to appear on Fox News - at least for the rest of this year - and has unleashed his administration’s attack dogs. The goal is to vilify the network’s hard-won reputation.

“What I think is fair to say about Fox - and certainly it’s the way we view it - is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party,” said Anita Dunn, White House communications director, on CNN. “They take their talking points, put them on the air; take their opposition research, put them on the air. And that’s fine. But let’s not pretend they’re a news network the way CNN is.”

Ms. Dunn’s comments are a blatant attempt by the White House to delegitimize and undermine Fox News’ journalistic credibility. The administration is seeking to portray the network as a media arm of the Republican Party.

This is false. It has repeatedly highlighted Republican Party scandals - former Rep. Mark Foley of Florida, lobbyist Jack Abramoff, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford - as well as the wasteful spending and runaway deficits that took place under President George W. Bush. When the war in Iraq was going badly prior to the 2007 troop surge, Fox News did not shy away from covering negative stories on the ground.

Contrary to its slogan, however, Fox News is not “fair and balanced.” It is clearly a center-right network, where conservative commentators outnumber liberal and centrist ones.

Moreover, Fox’s news operation also slants conservative not so much in its coverage, but in the choice of topics: fiscal irresponsibility, the expansion of big government, an imperial judiciary, the war on terrorism, radical Islam, crime, teenage out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and the culture wars. Many of these issues are downplayed or ignored by its rivals.

In other words, Fox has filled an ideological vacuum left by the likes of CNN and MSNBC. The reason its ratings are soaring while its competitors are declining is that Fox consciously - even proudly - caters to God-fearing, gun-toting, red-state viewers. It speaks to the populist, patriotic and conservative values embodied by Middle America - principles that have been consistently mocked by media elites.

Fox is despised by the Obama administration and its leftist media allies in part because of its success and profitability. Moreover, Fox is feared because its growing power stands as an indictment against the desiccated liberal establishment.

For decades, the Washington press corps has presented itself as the guardian of political order and institutional stability. They are the real “news experts” whose experience and rational judgment are necessary to preserve “fairness” and “objectivity.” The rise of Fox News and the New Media - Internet news sites, such as the Drudge Report, World Net Daily and Newsmax, along with talk radio - has ripped away that shallow, smug and self-satisfied journalistic veneer.

The emergence of Fox News is a sign many Americans no longer trust the political and media class. It is part of a larger populist revolt that is slowly reshaping our society. The American people crave government accountability and political transparency. Moreover, many in the heartland rightly sense that something has gone terribly wrong. They are slowly losing their country to globalist progressives who no longer share any attachment to traditional America.

For Ms. Dunn and the White House, Fox News’ real transgression is not its purported links to the Republicans. Rather, it has given expression to this populist-patriotic resurgence by covering the “tea party” protests and the heated town-hall meetings on Obamacare, as well as exposing the neo-Marxist radicalism of former green jobs czar, Van Jones, and the rampant corruption at ACORN (the activist Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now).

Mr. Obama occupies the White House in large part because of a sycophantic, fawning press corps. They carried him all the way to power. During the campaign, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews even declared that Mr. Obama’s speech “sent shivers up my leg.” Mr. Matthews’ statement captured the establishment media’s incestuous relationship with the president. It has abrogated its sacred duty to be critical and skeptical of political leaders - regardless of party affiliation.

It is only natural for Ms. Dunn to claim that, as opposed to Fox, CNN is a genuine news network. Mr. Obama’s team is accustomed to soft media treatment. In fact, they expect it. And it is what they have received from CNN - even to the point of appearing ridiculous. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer - I could not make this up - did a “fact check” to defend the president’s policies from a “Saturday Night Live” skit. This is how desperate CNN has become to prop up Mr. Obama’s dwindling poll numbers.

For decades, The Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, CBS News, ABC News, and NBC News have operated as a “wing” of the Democratic Party. It is a mark of how brittle the White House is that one lone news organization should inspire such fear and loathing.

Mr. Obama has a messiah complex. He is the prince of power, who does not tolerate agnosticism of any kind. To question him is to incur his wrath. That’s not presidential leadership; it is megalomania. Such behavior from an elected leader should not be tolerated in the world’s greatest democracy.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute. Mr. Kuhner has appeared on the Fox News Channel.

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