Because a (Democratic) White House isn't supposed to call out lies or push back against rampant misinformation, smear campaigns and character assassination. The White House, apparently, is just supposed to take it. At least that's the odd conclusion of a couple online essays in the wake of the Time piece that details how the Obama administration (gasp!) isn't going sit idly by while Fox News spreads misinformation 24/7. (The White House is pushing back against the mainstream press, as well.)
It's funny, because traditionally when the GOP plays hardball with journalists and denounces them as unfair, the Beltway press is deeply impressed and often in awe, as it was with the Bush White House for many of its eight years. But when Obama's team decides to, y'know, fact-check Fox News, the press doesn't think that's such a good idea. It's a “loser's strategy,” writes Jeff Bercovici.
Apparently fact-checking--setting the record straight--is beneath the White House. (Bercovici doesn't like the “public barbs.” ) Glynnis MacNicol at Mediaite.com also thinks the fact-checking route is a total loser and would prefer if the White House didn't respond to any of Fox News' false charges:
Is it really a good thing? Doesn't deciding to respond to Glenn Beck et al. in kind merely elevate much of the nonsense Beck spews and simultaneously lower the White House a few rungs down the credibility ladder? Wouldn't the more prudent approach be to figure out how Glenn Beck has out-Obama'd Obama, pinpoint what it is exactly that is so appealing about Beck and than address that fear instead (preferably with a chalk board!)? One more voice in the politico online din, even if it's the White House's, is going to end up being just that: one more voice.
Beside, all Fox News is doing is “needling” the administration, right? I mean what's so bad about that? At least that's the overly polite conclusion Bercovici draws. “Needling” ? Well, if by “needling” Bercovici means that Fox News is now in the midst of an hysterical and homophobic, two-week-long smear campaign as it falsely paints an openly gay member of the Obama administration as a statutory rape-loving "pervert," than yeah, I guess some people would call that “needling.” Most however, would label it something else.
I find the blame-the-victim press analysis to be revealing. Obama, his advisers, and his policies have been relentlessly slimed on television by Fox News the way no other administration has in American history, as the cable channel has clearly morphed itself into the Opposition Party in America. Fox News many months ago left the realm of journalism and became a purely political entity, with a broadcast day that's devoted to attacking, usually falsely, the Obama administration.
What does the press during this unprecedented transformation in American journalism and politics? The press plays dumbs and pretends Fox is still in the news business. And then when the White House advisers have the audacity to fact-check Fox News, they're tagged as the bad guys; as the bullies. It's not Fox News that's acting out of the ordinary, it's the White House.
UPDATED: This makes our head hurt, courtesy Mediaite:
How does the White House manage to become a player? Looks like they may have finally got their own Glenn Beck (sans the chalk board) in the form of a veteran campaign strategist Anita Dunn who is a “devoted consumer of conservative-media reports and a fierce critic of Fox News, leading the Administration's effort to block officials, including Obama, from appearing on the network.”
Anita Dunn is a senior communications official at the White House who's leading a push to fact-check Fox News.
By contrast, Glenn Beck thinks Obama is a racist who hates white people. Beck claims tyranny is looming and that Obama “will slowly but surely take away your gun.” Beck fears a Reischstag moment, death camps, flu vaccines, and the U.S. becoming a member of the Axis Power.
So yeah, Dunn and Beck are exactly alike.
UPDATED: BTW, we saw this same hand-wringing press reaction during the Clinton years whenever the White House publicly fact-checked some of the most egregious Whitewater-era reporting. The Village always responded with horror and demanded to know who gave Democrats the right to criticize the press?!