White House lashes out at Fox News Glenn Beck for 'lies'

n the past few months, Fox News' critical coverage of the Obama administration has been the subject of scornful scrutiny by left-leaning pundits and political satirists. But now the White House appears to be willing to get dirt on its own hands, jumping into the fray by blasting the network's "disregard for facts" in a post on the official White House blog.

Written by White House Online Programs Director Jesse Lee, the post takes issue with Fox News' coverage of the president's attempts to help the city of Chicago secure the 2016 Olympics, saying that Rupert Murdoch's cable news juggernaut, which famously bills itself as being "fair and balanced," has "continued its disregard for the facts in an attempt to smear the Administration's efforts" to convince the International Olympic Committee that the U.S. should host the games.

Lee specifically takes issue with Glenn Beck, who in July accused the president of being a "racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people or white culture," for showing that "nothing is worthy of respect if it can be used as part of a partisan attack to boost ratings." Lee then goes on to "reality check" a number of assertions recently made by Beck on his afternoon program, in addition to directing readers to the St. Petersburg Times' Politifact site, which rebuts accusations made by Fox News' Steve Doocy against Patrick Gaspard, the director of the White House Office of Political Affairs.

The move by the Obama White House sets a new watermark in its seemingly escalating war with Fox News. Back in June, President Obama gave an interview to CNBC in which he criticized the network for being "entirely devoted to attacking my administration," and later promised to "call out" anyone who misrepresents him when he delivered his address on health care reform to a joint session of Congress. Taking it a step further, Obama slighted Fox News during the White House's recent pro-health care reform PR blitz, appearing on five Sunday news shows, not to mention Late Night with David Letterman, while declining to grant an interview to a single Fox News program, a move that led Chris Wallace, host of the network's Fox News Sunday, to label the Obama White House as the "biggest bunch of cry-babies I've ever seen." Some objective observers of politics and the media feel that the ire expressed by Wallace is somewhat understandable. After all, the Obama administration's frustrations stem not from non-partisan hosts like Wallace, but from Fox News' roster of unabashedly partisan hosts like Beck and Sean Hannity, who've both gone so far as to compare the Obama White House to Hitler's Germany and the communist Soviet Union.

While many are raising hay about the White House acting aggressively to combat perceived smears from Fox News, it isn't unprecedented for a president and his administration to feud openly with the media. George W. Bush and CBS came to blows in 2004 after Dan Rather alleged on 60 Minutes II that Bush had used his family's connections to manipulate his enlistment in the National Guard to avoid serving in combat in Vietnam, an incident that led to the firing of CBS producer Mary Mapes and badly tarnished Rather's reputation as an objective newsman. Prior to that, Hillary Clinton famously alleged that forces in the media were involved in a "vast right-wing conspiracy" to destroy her husband's presidency, while Nixon's infamous enemies list contained numerous names of media members and the news organizations they worked for. In short, animosity existing between the White House and the media isn't anything new.

During the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama did what many presidential candidates of both parties have done over the years: promised to "change the tone in Washington." By using the White House blog to defend itself from perceived media distortions, the Obama Administration may be unintentionally signaling that their promise to alter the nation's political discourse was a lofty notion that they might fail to fulfill, just like every past presidential Administration to make the same promise.
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