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Late Night: Elephants on Parade?

The legendary Bear Bryant (I think there is some sort of rule that says you have to write “the legendary” if you are going to write “Bear Bryant”) once said, “Offense sells tickets; defense wins championships.” That’s in football (it works for basketball, too, but I digress. . .)—in politics, however, I think it is offense that wins. Playing defense, as best I can tell, wins very little. So, in sports, I applaud good defense; in politics, I cheer for offense.

And thus, it was easy for me, and I suspect most of you, to cheer when the White House went on the offensive against Fox News, calling it (as Communications Director Anita Dunn did) “A wing of the Republican Party”:

“The reality of it is that Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party,” Dunn said.

This follows up on Dunn’s comment to Time earlier this week that Fox News is “opinion journalism masquerading as news.” . . . .

“Let’s not pretend they’re a news network the way CNN is,” Dunn said.


Even Jane was root root rooting for the home team earlier today. So, hooray, huzzah, and here here—Fox News is an “opposition political outlet” (to quote Rachel Maddow), and it is high time a leading Democratic official said so.

But while I cheer, I am also nervous. Whenever I hear or read a story, there is always a little voice in my head that asks “Why am I hearing this now?”—and the little guy has been speaking up lately. Why now? As the clips from Media Matters (above) show us, Fox has been shoveling shit on the White House since day one of the Obama Presidency, so why has this administration waited till October to call a spade a spade?

Forgive me, but as great as it feels to whack at Fox, I think I am being given a reach around. Is it possible that, as effective as this offensive strategy might be in-and-of itself, it is designed to make me feel good, to cement the administration’s liberal bona fides, in advance of the White House doing something that is going to really, really piss me off?

I’m thinking the answer to that is “Yes.” The timing of this tilt at Fox is just too close to day we are supposed to see the likes of Harry Reid, Max Baucus, and Olympia Snowe dance around the locker room with Rahm Emanuel and President Obama, spraying each other with cheap Champagne while celebrating a “bipartisan” health package that forces Americans into shitty private insurance while promising a public option sometime way off in the future if and when some complicated algorithm determines that the for-profit sector egregiously misbehaved.

You don’t get a public option, but hey, look over here, Fox News sucks! Feel better?

Think I’m a cynical sonofabitch? What about the “off the record” White House gathering of so-called liberal media heavyweights—Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich, and Bob Herbert, to name the names the New York Times names—that went down on Monday? Yes, Bush did it with right-wingers, and only with right-wingers. . . and on multiple occasions. . . and Obama has done this with both leftish and rightish groups. . . but why now? And why “off the record,” but oh, so public?

And damn if this isn’t working, too. I don’t know about you, but I actually don’t feel at all good to hear Rachel and Keith giggling about how effin’ great the peach cobbler was at the White House. Not that peach cobbler with Barack Obama doesn’t sound like a great thing (I love me some peach cobbler), but to what extent does hobnobbing with the administration’s message machine affect the reporting on this White House? It is a question we always asked of the Bush Administration and its lapdogs; we should be asking the very same question now.

Outside of some of our very favorite blogs, how many stories have you read about the Obama Administration’s secret deals with the corporate players in the health care debate? Just askin’. We like taking our shots at Harry Reid—and he deserves those shots—but weigh the balance of reports that say that Obama supports a public option against those that demonstrate how little he has done to make that option a reality. (Again, present company excepted.)

So, yes, offense is hot. I like it. . . it gets me off. Please. Don’t. Stop. But after that, I want more. I want a real relationship. I want sustained attention to my needs. I want my championship ring.

And, as good as this finger Foxing feels, I am not looking at Fox. I am looking at you, Mr. President, and I’m not playing around, I’m playing to win.

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Gregg Levine

Gregg Levine