In Depth: White House Rope-a-Dope?

Mediaite’s Colby Hall offers an interesting theory on why the White House picked a fight with FNC…

But missing in all of this analysis and critique is any explanation of what the White House had to gain by the brouhaha. Many presumed that the White House intended to marginalize or delegitimize Fox News. But I think there was a more solid logic behind the White House strategy: they wanted to pass health care reform legislation, and this was the best way to do it.

I have no idea if this is true or not but it’s an interesting thought. However as evidence for the theory Hall cites this stat…

“Health care” was mentioned by Fox 2361 times in August. In October, it was only mentioned 1558 times. Meanwhile, Anita Dunn — who wasn’t mentioned once in August — has been referenced 121 times this month.

Whether picking a fight with FNC to distract it from hammering the Administration is possible or not I have no idea. But there’s another, more obvious, reason why the stats Hall cited are the way they are: Town Hall meetings. There were Town Hall meetings with members of Congress all through August and those town halls were covered extensively by many outlets, but especially FNC. Even if the White House hadn’t engaged FNC in a war, that number would have still fallen off by October because there were no more Town Halls taking place.

The open question is whether they would have fallen off by that amount if there was no spat with FNC. A clue could be found by looking at the stats for September. Unfortunately Hall doesn’t give those numbers so we just don’t know how fast things were trending down. If the September numbers were nearer the October numbers than the August numbers that would suggest the Town Halls skewed the numbers and the fight didn’t have the impact Hall thinks it did. If the numbers for September were closer to August than October then Hall may be on to something. The numbers for Dunn are really a non-sequitur. Dunn didn’t do anything to make waves in August so of course things would spike in October. But that doesn’t prove one way or another that the White House’s fight with FNC was to distract it from Health Care reform.

8 Responses to “In Depth: White House Rope-a-Dope?”

  1. I think it was to keep independent-moderates skeptical of FNC. It is well known that Fox draws non-ideological viewers who don’t necessarily agree with their hosts…but feed prpaganda long enough to anyone, they’ll eventually start to “hear” it. Obama is trying to brunt that.

  2. Your logic on the Aug/Sep/Oct stats is sound but Hall’s premise that the White House started the feud to distract FNC from the healthcare debate could still be correct. Inside their bubble, the administration begins to believe their own propaganda about Fox News being the source of their political woes instead of admitting the possibility that most people just don’t like their plan.

    The only way to prove this one way or the other is to get someone in the know to answer the question while hooked up to a lie detector.

  3. lonestar77 Says:

    That theory is moronic. It’s just an example of someone trying to put the admin. in a positive light when virtually everyone thinks their attacks on FNC were childish & stupid.

  4. missy5537 Says:

    Actually, I think there’s some merit to this. Even the libs in the White House must have some smarts, if they got that far.

    By demonizing FNC, FNC may have toned it down a little, including covering the “tea parties” less and less. However, now that we’re approaching winter, it is logical that people will not assemble as frequently. So it’s hard to tell.

  5. I said it over there, and I stand by it over here:

    ImNotBlue says:
    October 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm
    Okay, let’s assume this is true (I remain unconvinced)… but we’ll assume for argument’s sake.

    Did it work?

    That’s the big question… did it work? I think we’d be hard pressed to conclude that this was somehow a win for the White House. Let’s look at the two stories:

    1) FNC War – The WH (as the article says) didn’t win the war, came out looking foolish and petty, and FNC reaped the benefits of higher ratings, while forcing many of their competitors to defend them. So that’s a big negative.

    2) Healthcare – If they wanted to distract the public from healthcare, well the feud didn’t last long enough. We talked about the war for what, 3 weeks? Now it will be back to healthcare almost 100%, and with the “release” of the almost 2000 page document, I think we’ll be talking about it. Perhaps the plan was to fight up until the bill was about to get voted on… but that didn’t happen. Now people think the WH is petty, AND they’re skeptical about the healthcare bill… a lose lose.

    Personally, I think the WH really can’t stand criticism, and decided to go after FNC as a punishment for Van Jones, ACORN, and others. The timing in regards to healthcare is just a coincidence (a month later and it would have been to distract from the November elections… or Iran… or Afghanistan… or whatever). As the AP story demonstrated, they don’t like being told “You’re wrong,” and this attack on FOX was simply an attack on ALL media outlets, warning them to watch their tongues. It has since backfired big time… and now, limping away from a fight they should never have gotten into, they have to try to sell healthcare to the “morons and idiots” they just spent October insulting.

  6. You could certainly be right, blue. But if punishing FNC was their primary goal then how could they possibly have not seen in advance the stupidity of such a strategy? If that’s the case I sure do hope these aren’t the same brains who are crafting foreign policy… or domestic policy for that matter.

  7. imnotblue Says:

    Al Says:
    November 1, 2009 at 11:15 am

    But if punishing FNC was their primary goal then how could they possibly have not seen in advance the stupidity of such a strategy?

    It seems so “Duh,” doesn’t it? But the situation (at least as I believe), is that this is another product of “group think.” The WH has a lot of like-minded individuals working there right now, so the idea that, “Hey, we should go after FOX,” was never met with resistance or a reality check. They never thought there was any real risk, because they ALL agree… and (as the old quote-non-quote goes) don’t know anybody who watches FOX.

    This is what happens when you’re running high on ego, but running low on reality.

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