During his September address to Congress, Barack Obama put his less-than-responsible critics on notice. “If you misrepresent what’s in this plan, we will call you out,” he said. After the wee-weed days of August, this was Obama’s way of saying he and the rest of the White House communications office was sick of playing “Reality Check” defense. He was going to start shining a spotlight on those responsible for falsehoods. (As it happened, the delivery of this message was somewhat confused, since moments later Rep. Joe Wilson screamed “You lie!”–demonstrating that the caller out can also be called out, or something like that.)
But true to Obama’s promise, the White House, in concert with the Democratic National Committee, has become more aggressive in recent weeks, with lots of tough press releases and internet videos on everything from “czars” to Republican “scaremongering.” The DNC even created a “Call ‘Em Out” template for its website, which currently features a less-than-flattering picture of House Republican leader John Boehner, with the tag line “Enough. We’re calling him out,” a full blown political attempt at a catch phrase–like Donald Trump saying “You’re Fired” or Jenna saying “That’s A Dealbreaker” on 30 Rock.
But today, the White House took the “Call ‘Em Out” game to a new level with a blog post, on the White House website (not the DNC site), targeting Fox News, an entire media organization, for what the White House calls “Fox lies.”
The lies at issue here concern the utterances of Fox News’ Glenn Beck on Tuesday night and Steve Doocey on Tuesday morning. Both Beck and Doocey said things that were false, and truth be told, this is not the first time, nor is it likely the last. What is interesting is how the White House responded by trying to discredit, or, um, “call out” the network for being less than fully patriotic:
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. 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.
Quite a twist, eh? This is just the latest public declaration in the barely-subsurface battle that has been going on for months between Fox News and the White House–which Fox is winning at least in terms of ratings. We are in new terrain here. The White House is using its official blog to go after a network. The network long ago demonstrated that its raison d’etre for the moment is organizing, chaneling and profiting from the opposition to basically anything the White House does.
Since both the White House and Fox are largely trying to rally different audiences, they can both benefit by keeping this fight going. In other words, there is a lot more “Calling ‘Em Out” to come.