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WALLACE: Well, look, there's a long history of presidents not liking individual news media. I was just thinking back, I can remember as a kid, John Kennedy canceled his subscription to the Herald Tribune, which sounds kind of quaint in this day and age.
And I think Dick Cheney threw the New York Times off his plane, although not in midair. So, you know, there is some history of that, but I can't think — and you know, and Nixon obviously went after the liberal media. But I can't think, at least in my lifetime, of a concerted effort like this to isolate and marginalize an individual news organization.
I tell you, that took a serious turn last Sunday when you had Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod go on the Sunday talk shows and in effect lecture ABC and CNN and say, we don't want you treating Fox News as a legitimate news organization, and you saw that again when they went to the White House pool yesterday and said we'll make Ken Feinberg, the pay czar, available to the pool, but not to Fox News, which is a member of the pool.
Thankfully and rightfully the rest of our colleagues in the news media, the three major networks and CNN, stood by us and said, if you don't give it to Fox News, none of us in the pool will do the interview.
What I think it's really about is, is I think after Van Jones and after ACORN, I think the White House got very upset and very nervous. There's a very interesting story in the New York Times today.
When the New York Times, of all people, said, you know what, we're not covering the conservative news media and their issues well enough, we're going to start covering it more, I think they worried that more legitimate stories that Fox News breaks were going to end up going out into the mainstream media, and I think they thought, enough, and let's try to cut Fox News down at the knees.
What gives this dust-up special irony is that FOX News success comes in no small part from its ability to convince its viewers that the "mainstream" media are slanted to the left. Now, the White House is arguing that the network is not a real news organization at all, and that has brought some mainstream media voices to its defense.
There's no question that FOX's prime-time voices come from the right. Moreover, its owner, Rupert Murdoch is a staunch conservative, and its first and only CEO, Roger Ailes, is a veteran of Republican media wars.
But MSNBC in prime-time has its own lineup of commentators - all of whom are on the left side of the spectrum, some of whom met with the president the White House this week.
Obama seems to think he can swim against that tide by persuading other news organizations to shun Fox News. "It's not really news," White House political chief David Axelrod said on ABC last Sunday.
"... And the bigger thing is that other news organizations like yours ought not to treat them that way." On CNN, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel insisted it's important "to not have the CNNs and the others in the world basically be led in following Fox."
That's way over the line. The White House is perfectly free to refuse to have its people go on Fox News shows, but it shouldn't tell other news organizations that they ought not to follow up on Fox News' reporting or that they ought to keep their journalists from appearing on Murdoch's networks. The White House, moreover, does its case no favors when it invites pro-Democratic commentators like MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow to private briefings with the president, even though their work is every bit as histrionic as Bill O'Reilly's.