Sunday, September 20, 2009
Unity? Equality? Harmony? Not with the Fox News Freezeout
Before I continue on, I know that people are going to say that I don't like President Obama.
That I'm jealous or some sort of a hater. Better still, I'm going to be called a "sell-out" or some "paid Negro" by "The Man" to oppose the first Black president. It's been said before (even when I complimented Mr. Obama, both both and after he became president.) It will happen again.
With all that (falsehood) said and out of the way, I do have to say that the more I see from this president, the more I just don't know...and don't like.
A lot of people are saying the same about Obama's current media blitz. I don't mind the president being in the media so much. He knows that he is his strongest brand at this time, so if he must play that advantage, so be it. That doesn't bother me.
In fact, President Obama is doing a litany of public addresses and appearances, starting with the September 9th address of Congress that became known as the Joe Wilson Coming Out Party. Since then, the president has been front and center on the issues of race, wars, and health care proposals, including a line-up of Sunday morning show interviews that, literally, included a line-up of Sunday political show hosts waiting in turn for opportunities to ask the president the same list of questions.
And everyone acquiescenced - that is, everyone that was invited.
By leaving off the White House's pet peeve - Fox News - the president's camp again loses some credibility for the long haul whenever the issues of fairness and openness come up.
That does bother me, for every time we as a nation hear about how President Obama looks to bring people together despite delineations and barriers, many of us within the nation (particularly those prone to the aforementioned name-calling) overlook things such as the Fox News Freezeout.
Now, I know that Fox personalities such as Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity have been thorns in the side of the Obama Administration. Calls proclaiming the president as a racist not only seem foul and controversial at best, but also come across a little misguided considering the president's family lineage and deft serenade of the issue of race since his presidential candidacy pre-2009. To the everyday guy on the street, a combination of open tension and controversial statements from Network Fair and Balanced would be plenty enough to keep the Fox News folks at bay, even if that includes Chris Wallace, one of the few on the network that generally attempts to hide his conservative leanings.
Then again, Mr. Wallace did (on "The O'Reilly Factor") call the Obama Administration the biggest crybabies he's ever dealt with in politics. Again, with the common man, this would be plenty enough reason to stay away.
However, this is not a common man we're talking about, is it?
Not only are we talking about the President of the United States, but we are also talking about a man that campaigned on the message of unity, harmony, and open debate, even with people that openly disagree with him.
It was a message that he delivered on "Meet the Press", "Face the Nation", and "State of the Union" Sunday - even as he shut out Fox News.
And it's a message that started on September 9, a message that called for unity and bipartisianship, even as he drew the proverbial line in the sand as he slammed Republicans for "spreading misinformation" via their campaigns of opposing universal health care.
It makes Mr. Wallace's comment seem both off-the-cuff and, perhaps, riddled with a little bit of truth.
Moves such as the Fox News Freezeout show that this rhetoric of unity and openness from the president more often than not proves hollow when the rubber meets the road. It's hard to talk about unity and harmony when you are only willing to play with the kids that look like you on the playground. It's hard to talk about openness and equality in a respectful debate at this historic time when you don't engage some players in the game for ideological reasons - or even invite them onto the playing field at all.
If ever there was a time to confront the "lies and misinformation" from the conservatives, it was now - and it was to be done on Fox News, just as it was on the other networks. Sometimes, the best way to neutralize or defeat a perceived bully is to confront him on his own turf and on his terms. Fox News - with its pundits and its stories - is conservative home turf.
By continuing this on-going battle with Fox News, the White House lost any momentum in the argument that it sides with those pursuing fair, open, and direct debates on health care and others issues impacting America at this time. Further, by shutting out Fox News, the White House has placed the presidency on the same level as the conservative media, an unnecessary move that only plays into the perception of "Obama vs. Conservative America", particularly at a time when the president is losing moderate and independent support.
Not a good move.
The presidency and any part of the media can never be seen as peer authorities by the American people on any issue. After all, one is accountable to ratings and advertisers. The other is accountable to all citizens of the nation as well as to the nation's allies. The harm of personalities doubling as legislators does not compare to the harm when legislators attempt to be media rock stars. Once the perception is cemented that any faction of the media is strong enough to champion an "us vs. them" battle (even as an underdog) with Washington or, in particular, the White House, it becomes engaged in a fight that it can never win. The White House is in the business of government. The media is in the business of...well...media.
Perhaps that is why the White House avoided "Fox News Sunday", although I doubt that President Obama and his staff saw Fox News as a foe they were incapable of dealing with. Instead, it comes across as more of a punishment for bad behavior and intolerable positions.
Of course, by the end of this latest tour by the president, Fox News will let you know that only a socialist Big Brother such as the Obama Administration would shut out one network while inviting the rest - of course, in a conspiracy to control the media and keep everyday Americans away from the truth. I'm sure Rush will chime in to say that the "state-controlled media" was used once again by the Obama Chicago Machine - and that only a few, independent patriots (including himself and his buddies on Fox News) are free of the control to give you the truth.
Unfortunately, President Obama's Fox News Freezeout ruined a chance to address these allegations and bring us closer to unity and harmony as a nation as we continue to face such a difficult time. Instead, leaving Fox News out in the cold will only serve to stoke the fire of the conservative media.