Fox, White House Said To Agree To Truce
Looks as if Fox News and the White House caught the holiday spirit a couple of months early. Not exactly peace in our time, but at least it's a start.
A report late Wednesday by FishbowlDC (and subsequently confirmed by Politico,) brings word of a truce following a meeting between Fox News senior vice president, Michael Clemente, and White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs.
From my (admittedly narrow) perspective, I must confess that I'm sorry to see the abrupt end of what was turning into a prime-time novella. For a blogger looking for easy pickings, this ridiculous cat fight was simply too easy to lampoon. But let's acknowledge the obvious: both sides wised up and did the right thing. (The biz dev guys would describe it as a win-win.)
From the get-go, there was little upside for the Obama administration. After being singled out as unfair, Fox easily turned the tables on the White House and played the role of plucky underdog to its advantage. The ruckus also gave the unholy trinity of Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck more fodder than they knew what to do with. The Fox freeze-out also left the White House seeming petty and prickly. When Barack Obama started getting mentioned in the same breath as Richard Nixon, the PR geniuses counseling the president ought to have recalibrated the White House media strategy in a big hurry.
Meanwhile any temporary ratings boost, notwithstanding, Fox didn't come out of this episode smelling like a rose. The network's protestations that it accorded a fair shake to a liberal Democratic administration invited a new round of complaints that Rupert Murdoch's minions sorely failed to live up to the network's professed standard of being `fair and balanced.' That may not bother the red meat eaters who comprise the network's core audience. But the legions of journalists and producers who work at Fox aren't any different than the folks who go to work at the other electronic media outlets. They want to get stories first and they want to get them accurately - a big enough job by itself. Having to defend themselves from charges of reportorial bias was not something they signed up for.
Of course, a cease fire isn't worth the paper it's written on if the two sides fail to find common ground. Let's see how long the truce lasts. Think it will last through Christmas?
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