Video: White House takes on Fox News

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    >> the all-new subaru outback .

    >>> they're not really a news station. it's not just their commentators but a lot of their news programming, it's really not news but pushing a point of view. the biggest thing is other news organizations like yours ought not to treat them that way.

    >> it's not a news organization so much as it has a per speckive. while it's clear what the white house and what anita said, i mean, the concentration of the white house isn't about what fox is doing.

    >> all right. msnbc news white house correspondent savannah guthrie . it's so exciting to have you here. we'll talk about that but first a big event at 10:30 at the white house . tell us about it.

    >> reporter: oh, no. you know what? this is a bad one today because it's a little different.

    >> she doesn't know.

    >> i do.

    >> reporter: i do. it's a private meeting. listen.

    >> she doesn't know.

    >> reporter: private meeting. it's a private meeting, meeting with the youth entrepreneurs. the winners of the national youth entrepreneurship challenge. it's closed to press --

    >> there is no way in hell she knew that.

    >> i swear to god i didn't tell her. she looked at her notes.

    >> she is actually good what the she does.

    >> no she's not.

    >> yes she is. you say when we're off the air that she is the worst white house correspondent in the history of broadcast television.

    >> no, no.

    >> joe, don't even try it. this is "a woman's nation."

    >> yes. i'm going to support her.

    >> maria, this is outrageous.

    >> yes.

    >> attacking her so early in the morning .

    >> harold ford , i warned you if we gave them the vote this would happen.

    >> yes.

    >> i warned you.

    >> you said that during the break.

    >> he did.

    >> all right. you're just an idiot. move on. let her do the news.

    >> let's go. you think she's horrible at what she does.

    >> no. i think you are an idiot and savannah should speak. what's going on at the white house today?

    >> reporter: hey, mika . we did hear of course another shot across the bow from white house officials on the sunday shows on this issue of fox news. very interesting line of attack. one that the white house doesn't seem to be willing to drop even though it's a bit controversial whether this is effective. i can tell you i've had a lot of conversations about this, why are they doing it now? fox has not changed so dramatically. why did they decide to pick up this mantle now? the reason i'm given is because they're concerned that it's not just what fox does on its airwaves, that they're having an impact in the main stream media . one senior advisor told me, look, they're guilting you guys, the so-called main stream media , into picking up some of their story lines like the a.c.o.r.n. story, the van jones story. that's one of the reasons why the white house is going on the attack like this. the other thing is --

    >> but those are legitimate stories. i mean, we all sat around scratching our heads at the networks wondering how we missed the a.c.o.r.n. story. the "new york times" even admitted that they were slow to it. they were slow to it because it was specifically a fox story. so is the white house still fighting the a.c.o.r.n. battle and the van jones battle?

    >> not specifically but they're definitely fighting the fox battle. you heard it again. anita dunn the communications director was the first to launch that misive. now we have rahm emanuel and david axelrod repeating it on the sunday shows. granted they were asked about it.

    >> both joe and savannah, you're calling this a battle. all they're saying is they come to the table from a different perspective. i don't think those are fighting words .

    >> they say they're not a news organization.

    >> well, in some ways they're a perspective organization. that's what they're saying. they're not saying it in an attacking manner.

    >> can you give me any other perspective organization you know of?

    >> i can think of an organization that represents a lot of different perspectives. and you can see on each of those shows those perspectives. while fox is down one line.

    >> okay. all right. savannah, what else is going on with the white house today?

    >> reporter: well, the other thing that a lot of folks are talking about is this bonus outrage. we also heard that from the white house pretty strongly. it was evident they wanted to get this message out there. it really boils down to the white house kind of trying to guilt wall street into not paying these big bonuses and why? because there's frankly not a lot they can do in terms of government action to do anything about these bonuses. for the banks that haven't paid back the t.a.r.p. money they have a little bit of power here. okay? the pays are kenneth fineberg will issue his report. i'm told it could be as early as late this week maybe next week. he'll be able to tell these firms that are still on the government dole what they can pay in terms of compensation.

    >> all right.

    >> i would expect it'll feel bad to those banks but to the rest of us on main street , won't think that this is too much of a tough medicine. as for the banks that have paid it back, there is not a lot the government can do. they can pay those bonuses.

    >> savannah, they do have power. you know who else has power?

    >> hum.

    >> you. right here. i am stronger. repeat after me. i am invincible.

    >> that's right.

    >> i am woman.

    >> "woman's nation."

    >> damn straight.

    >> maybe just this week. but, maria, mika , let's all hold hands.

    >> you take what you can get, savannah. if it's a week it's a week right?

    >> it is.

    >> savannah guthrie , thank you very much. i'm sorry.

    >> you don't have to apologize. she's used to it by now.

    >> she was good.

    >> she is very good.

    >> very competent in that job.

    >> despite what mika says when we're off air --

    >> she's my favorite actually.

    >> is chuck todd going to get angry now?

    >> he might.

    >>> can you be quiet now?

    >> i'm going to work on it.

    >> thanks.

updated 10/19/2009 9:21:19 AM ET 2009-10-19T13:21:19

White House advisers have stepped up their attacks on Fox News, claiming the cable television network is a Republican mouthpiece whose programming "is geared toward making money."

Several critics questioned the wisdom of the move while one of President Barack Obama's top adviser pledged Sunday that administration officials would still appear on the top-rated cable news network.

Last week, White House communications director Anita Dunn said Fox News operates "almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party."

On Sunday, Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama's chief of staff, said, "It is not a news organization so much as it has a perspective."

In response to the criticism, Fox News executive Michael Clemente on Sunday accused the White House of continuing to "declare war on a news organization" rather than focusing on issues such as jobs and health care.

"The door remains open and we welcome a discussion about the facts behind the issues," said Clemente, senior vice president of news, in a written statement.

Tough looks at the administration
Fox News commentators Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity have been strong Obama critics, and Bill O'Reilly has taken tough looks at the administration. Obama avoided "Fox News Sunday" when he visited five Sunday morning news shows last month; three aides carried the administration's message on Afghanistan, health care and the economy this Sunday to ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC, but not Fox; and a recent White House blog post accused Beck of lying. Beck has called Obama a racist.

(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft Corp. and NBC Universal, owner of NBC News and the MSNBC cable news network.)

Karl Rove, a Fox News contributor and former White House adviser to President George W. Bush, said the Obama administration is trying to demonize Fox News for asking questions officials do not like. He compared Obama's approach to that of President Richard Nixon, who included journalists on an "enemies list."

"This is a White House engaging in its own version of the media enemies list," Rove said. "And it's unhelpful for the country and undignified for the president of the United States to so do."

Appearing on ABC television's "This Week," senior Obama adviser David Axelrod said Fox News shouldn't be treated as a news organization. "And the bigger thing is that other news organizations, like yours, ought not to treat them that way, and we're not going to treat them that way," he said.

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Still, Axelrod said administration officials would appear on the channel. He shrugged off News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch's remark to shareholders last Friday that since the White House began criticizing Fox News commentators their ratings have risen.

"You know, I'm not concerned. Mr. Murdoch has a talent for making money, and I understand that their programming is geared toward making money," Axelrod said. "The only argument Anita was making is that they're not really a news station. ... It's not just their commentators, but a lot of their news programming. It's really not news. It's pushing a point of view."

Emanuel appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" and Rove on "Fox News Sunday."

Wise move?
Several critics have questioned the wisdom of Obama's approach.

"Whether or not you like Fox News, all of us in the press need to be concerned about the administration of President Barack Obama trying to `punish' the cable news channel for its point of view," wrote television critic David Zurawik in the Baltimore Sun.

"I would think that what this reflects is a pent-up frustration or rage at the coverage they get, not only from Fox but elsewhere," said David Gergen, a CNN commentator and former White House aide.

Gergen said he understands the temptation to go on the attack — he's done it himself — but it frequently turns out to be a mistake.

"My experience has been when the White House engages in personal or organizational attacks, it elevates the other side to virtually the same level of the White House, which is not their intent," he said. "It's going to spike Fox's ratings," which are already high this year.

If the White House wants to fight back, it's better to let surrogates do the work, he said.

Among grass-roots Democrats, many think it was important for the president to put his foot down, said Karen Finney, a Democratic strategist. Many strongly believe that the president and his staff should have nothing to do with Fox, she said.

But research has shown that Fox has independents and moderates in its audience that the president shouldn't ignore, she said.

"There is room for a more nuanced strategy," she said: Stay away from Beck or the morning "Fox & Friends," she suggested, but an interview with Wallace could be beneficial.

Dunn said the administration still deals with Fox reporters such as Major Garrett in the White House. Obama "has appeared on Fox shows in the past (and) he certainly will appear on them in the future," she said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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