It's not a secret that the Obama White House and media outlets like Fox News have been at odds over the past two years, but new White House E-mails revealed today show how the Fox-administration relationship foundered back in 2009.
Released by watchdog Judicial Watch, the E-mails suggest a bias against Fox News as a whole and one of its anchors, Bret Baier, specifically. "He's a lunatic," says one of the White House E-mails.
The E-mails are from a period in October 2009 when Treasury's pay czar, Kenneth Feinberg, was hotly sought after by the media. Fox claimed that it was barred from talking to him, a claim denied by the administration. Fox eventually got its interview. The E-mails seem to suggest that former Fox White House correspondent Major Garrett smoothed over the issue.
But the E-mails detail efforts to snub Fox during the episode. Judicial Watch offered these examples:
—"According to one October 22, 2009, email exchange between Dag Vega, Director of Broadcast Media on the White House staff, to Jenni LeCompte, then-Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs in the Treasury Department, Vega informs LeCompte that '...we'd prefer if you skip Fox please.'"
—"Regarding general anti-FNC bias within the Obama White House in an October 23, 2009, email exchange between Jennifer Psaki, Deputy White House Communications Director and LeCompte, Psaki writes, 'I am putting some dead fish in the fox cubby – just cause'."
--"In an email on the night of October 22, 2009, commenting on a report by Fox News Channel anchor Bret Baier noting the exclusion of the network from the pool, Psaki writes to Compte and fellow White House colleagues, '...brett baier just did a stupid piece on it — but he is a lunatic".'"
—"Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest bluntly described the White House's position on Fox News Channel in an October 23, 2009, email to LeCompte: 'We've demonstrated our willingness and ability to exclude Fox News from significant interviews…'"
"These documents show there is a pervasive anti-Fox bias in the Obama White House," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
Many Obama supporters and Democrats feel that Fox hasn't been fair to the administration, though most of those complaints are about the evening hosts, not the news staff. Obama supporter Media Matters has a Web site devoted to some of Fox's Obama coverage called DropFox.com.
This was updated at 3:50 p.m. on July 14, 2011.