White House vs. Fox News escalates

by Mark Silva, Swamp Politics

In the ongoing struggle between the White House and the FOX News Channel, the Obama administration's direct rebuttal of what FOX's Glenn Beck and a guest have had to say this week about the administration's hand in Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games may seem like a footnote.

But it's emblematic of something bigger: An administration's refusal to play ball with a widely watched cable news network which it views as slanted is escalating to an administration's willingness to challenge commentators on the network for fast and loose foot-play with the facts - or, more specifically in this case, Glenn Beck's carelessness.

In an entry at the White House blog yesterday entitled, "Reality Check: Trying to Turn a Point of Pride into a Moment of Shame,'' the administration's online czar (the way Beck might describe him) wrote about FOX News' "continued... disregard for the facts.'' In this case, Jesse Lee was writing about the administration's attempts to secure the 2016 Olympics for the U.S. and Beck's demonstration, "once again,'' that "nothing is " worthy of respect if it can be used as part of a partisan attack to boost ratings.''

When the president sat down for a round of Sunday morning news shows interviews recently to promote his health-care plan, FOX News was cut out of the loop. At the same time, the president got his largest cable news-viewing audience the night of his address to a joint session of Congress on the FOX News Channel.

"I am Barack Obama,'' the president had noted at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner earlier this year. "Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me.... (laughter) Apologies to the Fox table.'' (more laughter)

At a press briefing in June, Robert Gibbs was asked about something that keeps him awake at night - the deficit. "FOX is what puts him to sleep,'' Gibbs replied.

Here's a wake-up call: The "Reality Check'' at the White House Web-site ought to be getting FOX's attention. Some of it has to do with Beck himself, some with assertions made by a guest:

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BLOG:

"RHETORIC: BECK SAID VANCOUVER LOST $1 BILLION WHEN IT "HAD THE OLYMPICS." Glenn Beck said, "Vancouver lost, how much was it? they lost a billion dollars when they had the Olympics." [Transcript, Glenn Beck Show, 9/29/09]

REALITY: VANCOUVER'S OLYMPICS WILL NOT TAKE PLACE UNTIL 2010. Vancouver will host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games from February 12 - 28, 2010 and March 12-21, 2010, respectively. [Vancouver2010.com, accessed 9/29/09]

RHETORIC: VALERIE JARRETT "WAS LAST SEEN WITH THE NEA." Beck's guest, FOX News contributor Pat Caddell, said, "[Obama] is going to go [to Copenhagen] with Valerie Jarrett who was last seen with the NEA pumping up their use of, you know, money." [Transcript, Glenn Beck Show, 9/29/09]

REALITY: VALERIE JARRETT WAS NOT ON THE NEA CONFERENCE CALL. Valerie Jarrett was not a participant in the August 10, 2009 United We Serve/NEA conference call.

RHETORIC: CHICAGO IS CLOSING THE GOVERNMENT SEVERAL DAYS A WEEK BECAUSE THEY CANNOT AFFORD TO BE OPEN. Beck's guest Caddell said, "Chicago is closing the government several days a week because they cannot afford to be open. They are going to go and reward -- this is the biggest scandal." [Transcript, Glenn Beck Show, 9/29/09]

REALITY: CHICAGO HAS HAD ONE REDUCED-SERVICE DAY IN 2009, AND WILL HAVE TWO MORE ON THE FRIDAY AFTER THANKSGIVING AND ON CHRISTMAS EVE. On August 17, 2009, CBS Chicago reported, "If you planned to check out a library book, visit a city clinic or have your garbage picked up on Monday, you're out of luck. The City of Chicago is basically closed for business on Aug. 17, a reduced-service day in which most city employees are off without pay. City Hall, public libraries, health clinics and most city offices will be closed. Emergency service providers including police, firefighters and paramedics are working at full strength, but most services not directly related to public safety, including street sweeping, will not be provided. That also includes garbage pickup. Residents who receive regular collection on Mondays should expect trash to be picked up on Tuesday. Some other customers may experience a one-day delay as collectors catch up. As part of the 2009 budget, three reduced-service days were planned for 2009, days which are unpaid for all affected employees -- the Friday after Thanksgiving; Christmas Eve; and New Year's Eve. The City Council recently approved moving the reduced-service day planned for New Year's Eve to Monday. The 2009 budget anticipates saving $8.3 million due to the reduced-service days. In addition to reduced service days, all non-union employees were asked to take a series of furlough days and unpaid holidays, and most non-sworn union employees agreed to similar unpaid time off." [CBS Chicago, 8/17/09]

RHETORIC: VALERIE JARRETT WILL BENEFIT FINANCIALLY. Beck asked, "Is it possible that she is going to benefit if the Olympics come to Chicago?" Caddell responded, "Well, that's the word. She has certainly had a lot of dealings going on in real estate." [Transcript, Glenn Beck Show, 9/29/09]

REALITY: UPON ENTERING GOVERNMENT, VALERIE JARRETT DIVESTED ALL HER REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT HOLDINGS EXCEPT FOR A SINGLE INVESTMENT THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE OLYMPIC BID. Valerie Jarrett divested all her investment real estate holdings upon entering government except for a single real estate holding that she was unable to sell. This single real estate investment has been determined by White House Counsel and the independent Office of Government Ethics to present no conflict of interest in performing her duties as a White House advisor. It has nothing to do with the Olympic bid.''

"For even more Fox lies, check out the latest "Truth-O-Meter" feature from Politifact that debunks a false claim about a White House staffer that continues to be repeated by Glenn Beck and others on the network.''

article originally published at Swamp Politics.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey