The White House's high-profile feud with Fox News ended months ago, but broadcast journalist Sam Donaldson, among other observers, says the Obama administration's handling of the Shirley Sherrod controversy indicates that Fox is still on the president's mind. The administration's decision to fire Sherrod from the Agriculture Department based on a conservative website's misrepresentation of her remarks on race, Donaldson said, proved that the White House will do anything to avoid another fight with Fox's Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, and other conservative critics. "President Obama," Donaldson said on ABC's This Week, "don't be afraid of them. Take them on." Is Donaldson's advice applicable? (Watch an MSNBC report about the Fox News war.)
Yes, and it's time for Obama to stiffen his backbone: President Obama and the mainstream media have to "stop cowering before a right wing" that insists that everyone treat its "propaganda" like real journalism, says E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post. Fox News was trying to use the Sherrod controversy to convince Americans that "the Obama administration favors blacks over whites." If Obama wants to put a stop to such nonsense, he can't keep "overreacting to it."
"Enough right-wing propaganda"
This is just another attempt to blame Obama's mistakes on his critics: Obama's "attack dogs" are trying to make the Shirley Sherrod debacle about Fox News, says Andrew Zarowny at Right Pundits, but Fox merely reported the news like everybody else. What this case really revealed was the administration's own incompetence. Bringing Fox into the matter is just a way to deflect blame by conjuring up a "right-wing conspiracy."
"Howard Dean vs. Fox News"
The problem isn't Fox — it's fear of Fox: One of the people who deserves praise in this case, says Brent Budowsky at The Hill, is Shepard Smith — Fox News' main news anchor — who refused "to join the stampede and [acted] like a professional in vowing to learn the facts before pronouncing judgment in the case." The real "teachable lesson" here, though, is that whatever the facts, the Obama administration is ruled by fear. Until Obama gets past this, his presidency will be in trouble.
"Obama fears Drudge, Fox News, Breitbart"
It's time for an Obama-Fox showdown: One of the reasons Sherrod's boss made her pull off the road and resign "via Blackberry" was, he said, that "you're going to be on Glenn Beck tonight," says Jonathan Capehart in The Washington Post. The only way for the Obama administration to liberate itself from that kind of fear is to "go into the lion's den," so Obama's smartest move right now would be to send someone like Vice President Joe Biden to appear on Glenn Beck's show. Biden probably won't sway Beck's viewers, but he'll earn their respect, and he'll show the administration has the courage to fight its enemies with facts.
"Obama: Send Biden to Beck"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Syrian women know how to defeat ISIS
- Will Kobani be ISIS's Waterloo?
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The U.S. Marines are developing laser weapons. Here's why.
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The case for voting (even if America is a corrupt plutocracy rigged by the rich)
- Why the Supreme Court is allowing Texas to hold an unconstitutional election
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
Subscribe to the Week