Yesterday I wrote about Obama’s escalating war on Fox News.
A conversation ensued in the comments section. Some people were puzzled, asking what Obama’s goals might be, and how this could possibly further them. After all, wouldn’t this be likely to raise the viewership of Fox rather than lower it?
The answer to that latter question is “yes.” So is Obama stupid then, and will his campaign against Fox be counterproductive? The answer to that question is that it depends on what Obama’s goals are; perhaps not the obvious ones of reducing the viewership of Fox News, and/or making them more friendly to him.
As “artfldgr” writes in this comment, maybe people who don’t get what Obama is aiming at with the war on Fox are using an old template, a set of conceptions about Obama that are too straightforward, too linear, and too based on past assumptions about past presidents.
Here are my guesses as to what’s going on; they are not mutually exclusive:
(1) The war on Fox appeals to Obama’s base, which needs shoring up because he’s been insufficiently successful at getting us on the fast track to a far Left agenda.
(2) It makes him appear tough—at least about this.
(3) It solidifies Obama’s supporters (even the non-Left ones) in their own pre-existing hatred of and contempt for Fox, and also makes them less likely to watch it and learn any inconvenient truths as a result.
(4) It provides cover for his own fear of appearing on Fox, where someone might actually challenge him with some hardball questions.
(5) It angers Fox and may cause those of its pundits who are anti-Obama to take the gloves off more and more. This is turn (as commenter “Cilantro Joe” writes here) could create a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby the Obama administration aims to “provoke Fox into becoming the seething anti-Obama crusaders the administration claims they already are.” This will then give Obama more credibility with the public should the administration choose to crack down on Fox and Rush and the rest, as I wrote here, “through the mechanism of the so-called Fairness Doctrine, or through some other means such as actions resembling Chavez’s pitch for ‘democratizing’ media ownership.”
As I said, these five goals can work in concert.
Of course, there’s nothing inevitable about any of them. It might not work out this way. A substantial number of people may be driven by curiosity to Fox and end up apostates and converts, or at least frightened by some of the facts they see there about the economy, for example, enough to give their representatives a hard time. But there’s no reason to think the administration is being stupid here. Harsh, radical, and non-linear in its approach, but hardly unintelligent.
[NOTE: I happened to catch the first ten minutes or so of Glenn Beck’s program last night, which I hardly ever watch. I detected a lot of glee in his affect, and I found his constant mockery of Anita Dunn quite pointed and yet lighthearted and playful at the same time. That could backfire on Obama and Dunn, because Beck is using the Alinsky method of making them look ridiculous. I hope so, because I certainly wouldn’t want to see #5 above ever come into play.]