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Prof. Jeff McCall '76 Analyzes the White House "Reset" with Fox News

February 21, 2011

16157February 21, 2011, Greencastle, Ind. — "Much was made early in the Obama administration when it 'reset' relations with Russia," writes Jeff McCall, professor of communication at DePauw University, in an Indianapolis Star column. "Now the White House seems to be pushing the 'reset' button for another nemesis: Fox News Channel."

The White House was a regular critic of the cable outlet during the first two years of the Obama administration, writes Dr. McCall, with senior adviser David Axelrod stating that Fox was "not a news organization." The professor notes, "Even Obama once said Fox's approach to news was 'ultimately destructive' for the country. He further complained, 'I've got one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my administration,' leaving little doubt about which channel he meant."

In McCall's view, "The White House approach has clearly changed ... The extended, live pre-Super Bowl interview of the president with Bill O'Reilly is90946 an indicator. The president also recorded a segment that was played on O'Reilly's Monday show, giving 'The Factor' a ratings boost. High-profile administration figures are showing up all over Fox lately. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton granted a prime-time interview to Greta Van Susteren during the Egyptian crisis. A week earlier, Clinton spoke with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, a program the White House largely boycotted for months. Wallace once remarked that the Obama administration was a 'bunch of crybabies' in reference to his inability to book White House interviews."

McCall notes other recent appearances by administration officials on the cable network, and asserts, "This White House reset with Fox is good for the administration and for the national dialogue. Pragmatically, it gives the White House the opportunity to speak directly to cable news' largest audience. If the administration doesn't speak for itself, somebody else will. 1784Obama campaign strategists no doubt now see the need to get their message to the many independents and even Democrats who watch Fox. The November elections perhaps demonstrated that you can't win enough voters by just talking to media friends. Beyond the practical reasons, however, the administration reset broadens the national discussion and shows a grudging acknowledgment that a free press will certainly challenge the government. The president's comment to O'Reilly was on target when he said that point-of-view journalism is 'part of our democracy' and 'There is nothing wrong with that.' Obama also acknowledged that the Fox 'news guys . . . try to do a good job.'"

The essay concludes, "In his second inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson, who helped craft the constitutional free press guarantees, spoke of the 'artillery of the press' that had attacked his administration. He said, however, that his public duties deserved his attention, and the press problems should be left to 3961judgment by the public. Richard Nixon, however, kept a running battle with the media throughout his presidency, even putting journalists on his 'enemies list.' Jefferson's legacy on press freedom has served him well. Nixon's has not. Obama's remains to be seen."

You'll find the complete text at College News.org

Jeffrey M. McCall is a 1976 graduate of DePauw and author of Viewer Discretion Advised: Taking Control of Mass Media Influences. Frequently called upon by major media outlets to discuss media matters, McCall has been cited in articles published by more than 100 newspapers. Last week he discussed Hillary Clinton's speech on "Internet rights and wrongs" with the Christian Science Monitor.

Source: Indianapolis Star

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