Why Fox had to support Acosta and CNN access to White House briefings

I respectfully disagree with Elad Hakim’s blog today, “Fox should have sat this one out,” complaining about the amicus brief filed by Fox News in support of CNN’s lawsuit demanding restoration of Jim Acosta’s White House hard pass.  

The principal reason offered is that “the decision to support CNN in this matter shows a lack of loyalty to the network’s most loyal viewers.”  I am one of those viewers, and yes, I think that Acosta’s behavior, wrestling with an intern for control of the microphone after filibustering and denying other reports the ability to ask questions during a press conference, was egregious.  In fact, I am fine with a suspension of his White House access, since CNN has other personnel with the access denied Acosta.

My opinion on why Fox was compelled to file the amicus brief in support of Acosta and CNN is based on a different reason.

Am I the only person who remembers the Obama administration’s war on Fox News? From Fox News in October 2009:

Fox News was informed by the White House that Obama would grant no interviews to the channel until at least 2010. The edict was relayed to Fox News by a White House official after Dunn discussed the channel at a meeting with presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs and other Obama advisers.

"What I will say is that when he (Obama) goes on Fox, he understands he's not going on it really as a news network, at this point," Dunn said on CNN. "He's going on to debate the opposition. And that's fine. He never minds doing that."

Dunn elaborated:

"They take their talking points, put them on the air; take their opposition research, put them on the air. And that's fine. But let's not pretend they're a news network the way CNN is."

This treatment sparked protest – even from CNN

In recent weeks, the White House has begun using its government blog to directly attack what it called "Fox lies." David Gergen, who has worked for President Bill Clinton and three Republican presidents, questioned the propriety of the White House declaring war on a news organization.

"It's a very risky strategy. It's not one that I would advocate," Gergen said on CNN. "If you're going to get very personal against the media, you're going to find that the animosities are just going to deepen. And you're going to find that you sort of almost draw viewers and readers to the people you're attacking. You build them up in some ways, you give them stature."

He added: "The press always has the last barrel of ink."

Gergen's sentiments were echoed by Tony Blankley, who once served as press secretary to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

"Going after a news organization, in my experience, is always a loser," Blankley said on CNN. "They have a big audience. And Fox has an audience of not just conservatives -- they've got liberals and moderates who watch too. They've got Obama supporters who are watching. So it's a temptation for a politician, but it needs to be resisted."

Fox News clearly is worried that the next Democrat president will deny White House access to Fox News correspondents. If Fox News remained silent about this treatment of CNN and Acosta, you can bet that when the wheel turns and Fox is being shut out – with no excuse of misbehavior by its correspondents, just the same reasoning used by Anita Dunn in 2009 – the rest of the media would chuckle, smile, and agree that it deserved it.

The old expression, “what goes around, comes around,” is the operant principle.

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