A Truce? Fox News Meets with White House

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WASHINGTON -- In a move that might be a sign of a truce after publicly blasting each other for weeks, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs met this week with a top Fox News executive.

The war against Fox News started when the White House said it would treat Fox as "an opponent" and that the network is a biased organization, a research arm of the Republican Party.

"The reality of it is that Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party," White House Communications Director Anita Dunn said recently.

Ever since, Fox News has jabbed the White House repeatedly, even joking about plotting war strategy.

"I'm showing you where the enemy is. So we've got the missiles pointed right at Fox. Let's make sure everybody understands that this is the enemy America! Everything going wrong in the country happening right here," Fox Host Glenn Beck joked recently.

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly also took a few shots at the Obama administration, saying there's "something very disturbing about the Obama administration fighting harder against Fox News than the Taliban."

"Fox News has been pounding this night after night after night," said Washington Post critic Howard Kurtz. "It enables Fox to position itself as the only news organization that is holding the administration's feet to the fire."

The spat has enabled Fox's ratings to shoot up. Since this war began, ratings on the news channel are up roughly 10 percent. On the Internet, a new Facebook site is asking people to "be a Foxer' and support Fox News.

The White House was unavailable for an interview for this story.

Signs of a Truce

In recent days, White House officials have signaled a desire to get away from the back and forth with Fox and put the focus back on fixing the economy.

One well-known snub came on a recent Sunday when the president didn't appear on Fox News with Chris Wallace, but made every other major network show.

Now, other news outlets are uneasy about the battle, even coming to Fox's defense when it wasn't on a list allowed to interview White House Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg. The White House called it a misunderstanding. Fox did end up getting the interview.

"Hundreds of journalists come to work each day at Fox News, all deeply committed to their craft," A Fox News senior vice president told CBN News. "It's disappointing that the White House would be so dismissive of their fine work and continue their vengeful war against a news organization."

What about Liberal Bias?

Meanwhile, the White House has been silent about the liberal bias on MSNBC with hosts such as Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, and Chris Matthews.

"I do have to wonder why the Obama White House is so offended by the opinion meisters at Fox News but of course doesn't criticize the people who do opinion for a living at MSNBC who happen to be on the liberal side of the spectrum," Kurtz said.

The main White House strategy at this point is keeping the major networks and papers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post from paying attention to Fox. It was Fox that reported heavily on the Tea Party movement and controversial administration figures like former green jobs czar Van Jones and safe-school czar Kevin Jennings.

So how will all of this eventually play out?

"Ultimately President Obama will appear on Fox News again, but each side will have gotten something out of this," Kurtz predicted.

"The White House has thrown this brush back pitch to tell the rest of the media 'be very wary of what you see reported or trumpeted on Fox News," Kurtz said. "And Fox's ratings keep going up because it gets to revel in this perception that it is the most skeptical news organization when it comes to this news organization."

*Originally published October 30, 2009 

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