The White House is taking it upon itself to police the news media. The trend started of course with the Fox News Channel, but the administration has moved on to bash other organizations, most recently the Associated Press and car site Edmunds.com. It seems to believe that any criticism of its policies is worth attacking.
The White House claims, in the words of Valerie Jarret, that it will go after any organization that "spreads false news." But the attacks suggest that the administration will take on any outlet that challenges claims designed to further its agenda.
Edmunds calculated the number of cars purchased during the Cash for Clunkers program that would have been purchased without the rebates. The site determined that C4C had incentivized the purchases of only 125,000 automobiles, meaning taxpayers paid $24,000 per car purchase under the program.
The White House immediately took on Edmunds with a blog post at WhiteHouse.gov headlined "Busy Covering Car Sales on Mars, Edmunds.com Gets It Wrong (Again) on Cash for Clunkers". This blog has been ground zero for attacks on Fox as well.
Edmunds CEO Jeremy Anwyl defended his company's calculations, telling the Christain Science Monitor,
It’s shocking and somewhat troubling that this is something the White House would pick up. This administration more than any other administration is invested heavily in the auto industry, so you would hope that they would had done a little more homework than their response suggests.
The Associated Press also earned the White House's wrath after it published a fact-checking story claiming that the administration exaggerated the number of jobs saved and created by the stimulus packing. The White House called the AP story "misleading."
The folks at Mediaite see a troubling trend emerging.
Earlier this week Valerie Jarret told CNN that the White House’s was not just taking on Fox, but anyone who spreads false news. This week that apparently includes both the AP and the “highly-respected and influential car site Edmunds.com” for an analysis piece they did on ‘cash for clunkers.’ ... Starting to sound like a bit of a disturbing trend, no?
The White House is on a slippery slope, here. What’s next? A re-edit of the NYT? Perhaps a vetting of the Nightly News? The Internet has certainly made it possible for anyone to become a media watchdog, but it is not the White House’s responsibility to be approving our news for us. Ever. There are a lot of things the White House should be policing, our media is not one of them. Ten Glenn Beck’s will always be preferable to a media comprised of all the news the White House sees fit to print.
These knee-jerk reactions suggest that the White House is not accustomed to critical media accounts of its policies, and that it believes it is politically advantageous to attack any media outlet that questions its claims. The Presidency is a strong bully pulpit, and attempting to delegitimize organizations that express valid objections to its policies is not very presidential.