At least one Democratic political strategist has gotten a blunt warning from the White House to never appear on Fox News Channel, an outlet that presidential aides have depicted as not so much a news-gathering operation as a political opponent bent on damaging the Obama administration.
The Democratic strategist said that shortly after an appearance on Fox, he got a phone call from a White House official telling him not to be a guest on the show again. The call had an intimidating tone, he said.
The message was, "We better not see you on again," said the strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to run afoul of the White House. An implicit suggestion, he said, was that "clients might stop using you if you continue."
White House Communications Director Anita Dunn said that she had checked with colleagues who "deal with TV issues" and that they had not told people to avoid Fox. On the contrary, they had urged people to appear on the network, Dunn wrote in an e-mail.
But Patrick Caddell, a Fox News contributor and former pollster for President Carter, said he had spoken to Democratic consultants who said they were told by the White House to avoid appearances on Fox. He declined to give their names.
Caddell said he had not gotten that message himself from the White House.
He added: "I have heard that they've done that to others in not too subtle ways. I find it appalling. When the White House gets in the business of suppressing dissent and comment, particularly from its own party, it hurts itself."
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Sunday, November 8, 2009
White House v. Fox
In chapter 12 of our book, we discuss ways in which political leaders try to influence the media. Under Republican and Democratic administrations alike, tactics have sometimes taken a hard edge. The Los Angeles Times reports on a recent example: