Friday, October 23, 2009

Obama's Fox War Front is a Bad Idea

While I agree completely with the Obama Administration’s assessment that Fox News is no more “news” than its “Fair and Balanced” slogan means either fair or balanced, I also feel that attacking Fox is a mistake.
Way back, the first time Don Rumsfeld served as Secretary of Defense, he had an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs named Bill Greener. I once heard him talk at a Defense Information School (where they teach military public affairs officers their trade) symposium. His central theme was the Greener Dictum which simply stated is “Never argue with the man who buys ink by the barrel.” Today he would most assuredly add, “or the one who has control of the 24-hour news cycle.”
Obama has nothing to gain from attacking Fox. It will simply cause more people to watch Fox to find out what he is talking about.
The thing is, since Fox News does not rely on news sources for its information (most of its stories are Republican Party talking points or the amplification of the crazies) they lose nothing in not having access to the White House sources. Major Garrett, the Fox News reporter assigned to the White House, is a credible, working journalist but please note how little air time he gets as compared to, say, Fox’s current star, Glenn Beck.
Beck and his fellow-travelers take the Republican Party talking points and amplify them with information not base on any facts what-so-ever. The rantings about “death panels” or the screams of the “birthers” and Beck’s own horror of calling the President a racist are what pumps up his far-right audience.
The Obama administration can not out-scream Fox—doing so is beneath the dignity of the office of the President of the United States. Rather than try to excoriate Fox the Obama Administration’s truth squad would do better to counter the crazies who come up with death panels and release so much information on the President’s birth, including eye witness accounts, that the birthers just slake away looking for other sources of mis-information to scream.
The Obama Administration has not yet figured out that we are in a bumper sticker world and they must learn how to state their objectives in one sentence of less than 10 well crafted words. Their last effective bumper sticker was Bill Clinton’s “It’s the economy, stupid.”
I hate it and I read as much as I can and I watch as many divergent views as I can but the fact remains that more than 95 percent of this country is incapable of internalizing any message that takes more than one sentence to explain. Every administration must learn that message.

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