Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Strange Bedfellows

It's not often that I agree with columnist and DC press fixture Helen Thomas, but recently she made a great amount of sense. The Hill reports that Thomas was asked in an interview with MSNBC about the rising tensions between the Obama Administration and Fox News. She said, "They can only take you down. You can't kill the messenger."

They say politics make for strange bedfellows, and for once I agree with Thomas. (I'll give you a moment to get the thought of Helen Thomas and me in bed together out of your head before I move on. Okay...there.)

I can't speak to her motives, whether it be giving Obama and his staff some advice or sticking up for Fox News, but I can speak to her message. The Obama Administration going after Fox News is a major mistake for a number of reasons. Sure, it may get the Leftist base fired up, but to the rest of us, it smacks of desperation and fear. Obama's the most powerful man in the world, and he's threatened by a cable news network? Please.

What makes this strategic blunder worse is the fact that it's been done before, and it never worked out well for the President who went after a member of the media or the media in general. Richard Nixon squared off against the Washington Post and wound up having to resign in disgrace after Woodward and Bernstein exposed the Watergate break-in. Bill Clinton went up against Rush Limbaugh and wound up losing control of Congress in no small part because of his attacks on Limbaugh.

Not only do the attacks on Fox News make Obama look bad, they take focus away from his message. If a recent CNN poll is to be believed (and I'm not saying it should be), more than half of Americans polled disagree with the President's actions. That may be because they think he's doing too much or too little, but the point is still the same: Obama is losing people. With health care reform, the possibility of another stimulus package on the horizon, cap and trade, and other larger issues on his plate, Obama's focus should be on getting out his message. Fox News is not the only news source, nor does it control the bulk of the American viewing audience. With the number of sycophants in the media, Obama should have no problem getting out his message, so it's not Fox News's fault.

That's right, kids. It's Obama's fault that his message isn't getting out. And now that he's choosing to focus on a single cable news network, he's choosing to make the same mistake that Nixon and Clinton made.

For whatever reason, Helen Thomas got this one right, and I'll give credit where it's due.

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