In another sign that the Obama administration is increasingly willing to take on its media critics directly, the White House blog has published a comparison of Fox News "rhetoric" versus "reality" on the issue of President Obama's support for Chicago's Olympic bid.
The statement went so far as to use the expression "Fox lies."
"Last night Fox News continued its disregard for the facts in an attempt to smear the Administration's efforts to win the Olympics for the United States," the White House blog entry begins. "In the past, hosting the Olympics has been a source of pride and unity for the country, but once again Fox News' Glenn Beck program has shown that nothing is worthy of respect if it can be used as part of a partisan attack to boost ratings."
Some Republicans criticized the president earlier this week for his last-minute plan to fly to Copenhagen to help Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. While some have accused the president of hometown favoritism, on Tuesday Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said the trip was a distraction from larger priorities; Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO) said the president should stay in the US and focus on the war in Afghanistan.
Fox News' Glenn Beck picked up and expanded on those talking points Tuesday night, and on Wednesday the White House responded with a scathing debunking of numerous points the TV personality made.
The statement attacked Beck for claiming that the Olympics cost the city of Vancouver $1 billion, pointing out that the Vancouver Winter Games haven't taken place yet. It also took a Beck guest to task for claiming that Chicago has had to close its city government several days a week because of a fiscal crunch; "Chicago has had one reduced-service day in 2009, and will have two more on the Friday after Thanksgiving and on Christmas Eve," the White House retorted.
The statement concludes: "For even more Fox lies, check out the latest 'Truth-O-Meter' feature from Politifact that debunks a false claim about a White House staffer that continues to be repeated by Glenn Beck and others on the network."
The White House now appears unafraid to take on Fox's controversial coverage of the Obama administration directly.
On Sept. 20, President Obama appeared on five Sunday talk shows, but not on any show hosted on Fox. Asked why, a White House spokesperson suggested it was retaliation for the Fox network's decision not to broadcast the president's Sept. 9 address to Congress on health care.
“We figured Fox would rather show So You Think You Can Dance than broadcast an honest discussion about health insurance reform,” a White House deputy press secretary said. “Fox is an ideological outlet where the president has been interviewed before and will likely be interviewed again; not that the whining particularly strengthens their case for participation any time soon.”