February 25, 2017

As we already discussed here at C&L, the Trump administration has been none too happy with some of the recent reporting on Chief of Staff Reince Priebus' little stunt, where he attempted to bully the FBI into denying the recent stories about the ongoing communications between Trump's associates and Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

As Karoli explained, White House spokesman Sean Spicer banned CNN, The New York Times and other outlets, while allowing in the likes of Breitbart, The Washington Examiner and One America News Network, specifically for the purpose of pushing back on the Trump-Russia story, a story that those very outlets have been doing extensive reporting on.

So, if anyone was wondering how the talking heads over on Fox "News" were going to handle this, you don't have to wonder anymore. Obama did it too! It's apples to oranges of course since President Obama never declared all out war on the media, or facts, and wasn't filling the White House press corps full of Jeff Gannon wannabes to lob softballs at the press secretary.

Anchor Bret Baier was critical of the move, but still had to trot out the right wing pity card when weighing in on the matter on Twitter:

Fox's John Robert was busy making excuses for Spicer during the network's coverage Friday morning, pretending it was routine and completely ignoring the push back on the Russian story.

And then there was host Neil Cavuto and the Media Research Center's Rich Noyes, who claimed did their best to conflate the Obama administration's treatment of Fox back in 2009 as reported by The Huffington Post: White House’s Fox News Boycott Attempt Prompts Network Revolt [UPDATED]:

The White House attempted to block Fox News from a round of interviews with “pay czar” Kenneth Feinberg Thursday, but the Washington bureau chiefs of the five TV networks included in the White House pool refused to interview Feinberg unless Fox News was included.

Fox News says that the White House “failed in its attempt to manipulate other news networks into isolating and excluding Fox News.”

The attempt to shut Fox News out was the latest move in the administration’s ongoing battle against the cable news channel, which several senior administration officials have claimed is not a legitimate news organization.

The decision by the network bureau chiefs to stand with Fox News is one of the first instances of the mainstream media defending Fox News against the White House’s claims.

“I’m really cheered by the other members saying “No, if Fox can’t be part of it, we won’t be part of it,’” Baltimore Sun TV critic (and regular Fox News detractor) David Zurawik said Thursday.

“What it’s really about to me is the Executive Branch of the government trying to tell the press how it should behave. I mean, this democracy — we know this — only works with a free and unfettered press to provide information,” he said.

As they discussed in an update to their post, there was an uprising by the rest of the media taking up for Fox, and it's not entirely clear whether it was the White House that directed this move:

Politico reported this afternoon that it was primarily the Treasury Department that was in charge of arranging whether or not Fox News would attend the round of interviews with “pay czar” Kenneth Feinberg, as opposed to the White House. And according to Mediaite, the Treasury Department has denied any attempt to exclude Fox News, saying:

There was no plot to exclude Fox News, and they had the same interview that their competitors did. Much ado about absolutely nothing.

As for Fox’s claim that other Washington bureau chiefs came to the network’s rescue over the alleged snub, TPMDC reports that it spoke with one of the other network bureau chiefs, who apparently was surprised to learn that Fox was describing the situation that way.

That didn't stop Cavuto and his pal from pretending that one incident with the Obama administration is just like what's going on now, or from pretending that this is just business as usual, and citing presidents as far back as Lincoln in order to try to normalize Trump, Spicer, Priebus and Bannon's blatant all out assault on the press, and on the truth for that matter.

Media Matters' Eric Boehlert wondered where the D.C. press was when it comes to some collective action to stand up against the Trump administration back in January. I'd say that question remains just as relevant and more so after what happened this week. As he discussed in his post, Trump has been way more hostile to the press than the Obama administration ever was, but we don't see them boycotting and screaming to the hills like they did back in 2009.

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