Much is being written and debated regarding the White House’s continuing feud with the Fox News Network and the strategy of Obama administration officials regarding limiting their Oval Office access. George Bullard’s Detroit News article on the matter this morning is excellent.
White House Communications Director Anita Dunn has deemed Fox a “wing of the Republican party.” House senior advisor David Axelrod on ABC’s “This Week” added: “It’s really not news—its’ pushing a point of view.” But are their contentions with merit or merely playing politics?
There is no denying that Fox News leans right, yet, if one examines the numbers you will find that, far from subscribing to its “Fair and Unbiased” moniker, its viewership is 39% Republican, 33% Democrat and 22% Independent; arguably more balanced than CNN and its 51% Democratic viewer base. One also can’t argue with the power of Fox’s viewer pull, with daily average viewership at 2.1 million people, followed by MSNBC’s 699,000 and CNN’s 664,000.
At Tanner Friedman, we would never advocate ignoring or singling out any news organization or, for that matter, an editor or reporter. That only guarantees negative coverage and becomes a story in and of itself. We also always recommend our clients are available to the media to comment on good news as well as bad. No one builds media relationships by avoidance and ill-fated attempts to ward off negative press.
A better and much more subtle approach is suggested in Bullard’s story by Lansing political consultant William Rusten: “You send a message by not going out of your way to provide the exclusive stuff,” he says, adding a line that sums it all up well: “But to say a news organization is not going to have regular access of media, I don’t see what that gets you.”