Today the White House stepped up its attack on Fox News, announcing that the network would no longer be able to conduct interviews with officials as a member of the Press Pool. The Pool is a five-member group consisting of ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News and NBC organized by the White House Correspondents Association. Its membership is not subject to oversight by the government.
Before an interview with "Pay Czar" Kenneth Feinberg, the administration announced that Fox News would be banned from the press pool. This marks the first time in history that an administration had attempted to ban an entire network from the press pool.
To their credit, the other networks objected. They told the White House that if Fox were banned, none of the other networks would participate. The White House relented, but in an apparent act of petulant retaliation, it restricted each network to a two-minute interview instead of the standard five.
Interestingly, this behavior completely contradicts an opinion rendered Tuesday by White House spokesman Robert Gibbs when questioned by ABC's Jake Tapper.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: We render opinion based on some their coverage and the fairness of that coverage.
Tapper: That's a pretty sweeping declaration that they're not a news organization. How are they different from, say another, say ABC, MSNBC, Univision?
Gibbs: You and I should watch sometime around 9 o'clock tonight or five this afternoon.
Tapper: I'm not talking about their opinion programs. Or issues you have with certain reports. I'm talking about saying that thousands of individuals who work for a media organization do not work for a news organization. Why is that appropriate for the White House to say?
Gibbs: That is our opinion.
Carol E. Lee, Politico: Does that mean the White House doesn't believe they should be part of the press pool?
Gibbs: The press pool is decide by the White House Correspondents Association.
Lee: So you have no opinion on whether they should be ...
Gibbs: I'm not going to delineate for the White House Correspondents Association how the pool is conducted. That's not my job.
So the administration contradicted itself within 48 hours. That's about twice as long as normal.
Perhaps the White House will next try to pull Fox News' press pass.
That would be entirely consistent with the Hugo Chavez-style of government that President Axelrod and his advisers are trying to install.
I'm patiently waiting for the ACLU to stand up for freedom of the press and complain to President Obama about quashing Fox's First Amendment rights.
Update: Dan Riehl: "For the first time in my life I'm actually uncomfortable knowing that this guy has control of our military and Federal police forces. If he thinks he can simply shut down a member of the press on a whim, how long before he goes full Chavez?"
Update II: Hope for America has the video report.
Update III: Memeorandum, American Thinker, Jules Crittenden, Le·gal In·sur·rec· tion, Washington Monthly, Pundit & Pundette and Sister Toldjah link. Thanks!