How it’s Dunn

HOW IT’S DUNN…. Time‘s Michael Scherer had a piece this week about the White House’s media strategy, and the realization in the West Wing that much of the political discourse has gone mad.

Different staffers came to the realization at different times. For Roberts Gibbs, it was the NYT‘s front-page piece on “outrage” over the president encouraging kids to do well in school. For Dan Pfeiffer, it was “death panel” nonsense. “When you are having a debate about whether or not you want to kill people’s grandmother,” he said, “the normal rules of engagement don’t apply.” And for Communications Director Anita Dunn, it was the Washington Post‘s two blatantly misleading op-eds on “czars.”

The president’s team made a conscious decision to become more aggressive. “The best analogy is probably baseball,” says Gibbs. “The only way to get somebody to stop crowding the plate is to throw a fastball at them. They move.”

Dunn has led the charge on this, specifically going after Fox News. She told Scherer, “It’s opinion journalism masquerading as news.”

Faiz Shakir reported that on CNN this morning, Howard Kurtz followed up on Dunn’s assertion, and fortunately, she didn’t back down:

“The reality of it is that Fox News often operates as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party. And it’s not ideological. I mean, obviously there are many commentators who are conservative, liberal, centrist, and everybody understands that. What I think is fair to say about Fox is — and certainly the way we view it — is that it really is more of a wing of the Republican Party. […]

“They’re widely viewed as, you know, a part of the Republican Party — take their talking points, put them on the air, take their opposition research, put them on the air, and that’s fine. But let’s not pretend they’re a news network they way CNN is.”

I don’t doubt these comments will cause a stir at the GOP news network, but given how obviously, painfully accurate Dunn’s observations are, I’m actually looking forward to seeing how the channel denies what is plainly true.

I suppose that’s part of the overall frustration with Fox News. Grown-ups living in reality should be able to simply acknowledge reality — the network is an appendage to the Republican Party. The pretense is paper thin. Reasonable people should be able to acknowledge this plain fact without it being controversial.

Dunn added, “Obviously [the president] will go on Fox because he engages with ideological opponents. He has done that before and he will do it again…. When he goes on Fox he understands he is not going on it as a news network at this point. He is going on it to debate the opposition.”

Given that Fox News has described itself has the voice of the opposition, here’s hoping Dunn’s blunt and honest assessment doesn’t become too controversial.