I disagree with my friend David Corn that Fox is just a “distraction, an irritant” from the point of the Obama administration. Writing in Politics Daily, David urges the White House, which has launched a series of ferocious attacks on Fox, to cool it. As a media counsel, I would argue that the White House is right to go for Fox. To all intents and purposes, Fox along with Rush Limbaugh and some other talk radio conservatives constitute the Opposition and whatever the GOP leadership may say they represent the leadership of the GOP and as such they have to be confronted forcefully.
It isn’t that the White House has to do this because there is a chance they might be able to convert the three million-strong diehard audience of Glen Beck, for instance. I think it highly unlikely that they would be successful in that endeavor. What is more important is that other cable news outlets tend to follow the Fox agenda, if only indirectly and Fox can generate tremendous amounts of misinformation and disinformation to skew the trajectory of coverage and debate on other channels and in the press and online. I think this was what Rahm Emanuel had in mind when he urged other outlets to stop “following Fox.”
The unfortunate reality is that because of staff cuts, a decline in media standards and the pressure of 24/7 news, too few media outlets bother to check facts and information — even when coming from Fox – and just go ahead and report even to the extent of reporting opinion as fact.
David is surely right, though, when he castigates the White House for trying to isolate Fox by, for example, deciding to withhold administration guests from Fox News Sunday. And the administration should not ignore David when he urges the White House to opt for “strategic derision”, which he describes as “good-natured belittling”. “Don’t demolish Fox, demean it.,” says David.
Ridicule is a great weapon but I am not too sure it should be that good-natured to be effective in the current political arena. Too foppish, too weak and it looks like it is just a game — as serious as Jon Stewart, say. Jonathan Swift’s ridicule or Samuel Johnson’s – two ancient masters of the craft — contained a lot of indignation