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Is Obama Ignoring Fox News At Press Conferences?


"Obama has called on each of the Big 3 networks at approximately twice the rate as FOX."

Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry prepares to do a stand-up December 8, 2011 in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

US President Barack Obama during a press conference in the East Room of the White House January 14, 2013 in Washington, DC. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

President Obama's administration has made no secret of its disdain for Fox News, most infamously in the case of former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn calling Fox "the research arm of the Republican Party."

There have also been the numerous testy exchanges between White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and Fox's Ed Henry.

And now, evidence is emerging that beyond that passive disdain, the White House might be actively discriminating against Fox at press conferences. Via Eric Ostermeier at Smart Politics:

Through Monday, President Obama has held 36 solo news conferences (formal and otherwise) during his first term - press conferences not held in conjunction with another foreign head of state.

ABC News reporters have been called on by the president in 29 of them - including the broadcast outlet's new Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl on Monday.

CBS comes in second with 28, followed by the Associated Press with 27, and NBC with 26.

Bloomberg is #5 with 20, then Reuters with 17, and the New York Times and CNN with 16.

FOX is all the way back at #9, with Obama calling on the outlet in just 14 press conferences during his first term or 39 percent - including just once over the last six news conferences held since May 2012.

(FOX's Ed Henry was called on and asked a question about the Benghazi fallout during Obama's post-election conference on November 14th).

That means Obama has called on each of the Big 3 networks at approximately twice the rate as FOX, although only slightly more on fellow cable network CNN.

On its face, that looks like a pretty damning number, and indeed, it's possible to see this as evidence that the White House is giving Fox the least time out of all the major broadcasting networks, and is thus biased against the network.

But shutting Fox out completely, or even treating them unfairly? There, the Washington Post disagrees:

That’s one way of putting things. Another is that Fox News is ahead of The Washington Post and just a hair behind CNN and the New York Times in terms of questions asked. Not a bad crowd there.

The real injustice in Smart Politics’s numbers? Politico! It’s tied for 20th place with two questions asked — just barely edging out BET, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Detroit News, among others. If only the White House apportioned questions of the president based on word count and blog-post frequency.

Indeed, getting the same number of questions (roughly) as the New York Times is an enviable position. At the same time, one could argue that lumping Fox in with print outlets is not a particularly enlightening comparison, given that print outlets don't rely on getting their correspondents on TV to the same degree, and thus airtime is less a vital commodity for them. Even so, the evidence on this point is mixed.

What do you think? Does the White House give Fox News a fair hearing? Weigh in below.


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