White House strategists say they have no second thoughts about taking on Fox News in the biggest media feud of President Obama's administration. A senior Obama adviser says that, even though the West Wing has been roundly criticized by both adversaries and some allies for blasting Fox as an arm of the Republican Party and not a real news organization, administration insiders are pleased with how things stand.
The fuss has energized core Democrats who have wanted Obama and his advisers to get tough with Fox and other critics of the administration, the adviser says. And it has made the point that Fox is an outlier in the journalistic community, a notion that many liberals embrace.
The dynamic is similar to what used to happen when George W. Bush and his advisers took on what they disdainfully called the "mainstream media," especially liberal commentators on MSNBC. In those cases, attacking the media energized Bush's conservative base. Now Obama is doing the same, only with his liberal base, Democratic insiders say.
One drawback, which even Obama aides concede, is that Fox is using the quarrel with the White House as a public-relations tool to stir up its own support among conservatives and to boost ratings. "They're still at it," says a senior Obama aide, who adds that White House officials don't expect to fire another shot in the battle unless Fox strikes first.