With word that the Obama White House has extended the “War on Fox” to Politico, we are one more media organization away from a trend.
Before it goes any further down this road, the administration should realize that excluding or calling out media outlets is a terrible strategy. The administration’s deft handling of the press was one of its greatest assets on the campaign trail, and far too valuable to pass up for a chance to get revenge on journalists who cross them.
This should be obvious even if the outlets in question lean to the right, as Fox News clearly does and Politico did in the piece that drew the White House’s ire. The last thing you, as a politician, want to do is foster an Us vs. Them mentality, which ensures that you never get the benefit of the doubt.
Remember on the campaign trail that McCain, and even more so Palin, chose to be somewhat adversarial toward the press members assigned to their campaign because they thought they weren’t getting fair representation. That turned out to be a self-fulfilling complaint. After all, reporters are only human.
Obama, it seemed, fully understood this dynamic. Just before his inauguration he even went so far as to have dinner with George Will, Bill Kristol, David Brooks, and Charles “The Opposer in Chief” Krauthammer.
For Obama to reverse this conciliatory policy is a losing strategy.