Should The White House Take On Fox News?

Read David Carr's analysis, "The Battle Between the White House and Fox News"

Some Fox News Channel commentators take a harsh line on the Obama administration. White House communications director Anita Dunn has said Fox is not a legitimate news organization. David Carr of the New York Times explains the dispute. And NPR's Ken Rudin talks politics.

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REBECCA ROBERTS, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Rebecca Roberts in Washington. Neal Conan is away.

Vice President Biden travels to Eastern Europe. President Obama fundraises on the right and left coasts, and two South Carolina Republicans issue a mea culpa, sort of. It's Wednesday and time for another edition of the Political Junkie.

President RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.

Former Vice President WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad. Where's the beef?

Former Senator BARRY GOLDWATER: Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.

Former Senator LLOYD BENTSEN: Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.

President RICHARD NIXON: You don't have Nixon to kick around anymore.

Former Governor SARAH PALIN: Lipstick.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: But I'm the decider.

(Soundbite of scream)

ROBERTS: Every Wednesday, NPR political editor Ken Rudin joins us for a roundup of all things political. This week, President Obama travels to New Orleans and New York and Hackensack, New Jersey. There will be another round of voting in Afghanistan, it seems. On Capitol Hill, more wrangling over health care legislation, and ethics investigations into Charlie Rangel continue. And there are elections coming up in Virginia, New Jersey and in New York's 23rd Congressional District.

Later, we'll talk about the administration's fraught relationship with the Fox News Channel. David Carr of the New York Times will join us, and we'll talk to Helen Thomas, the godmother of the White House press corps. She'll take your questions.

But first, political junkie Ken Rudin joins us in Studio 3A in Washington. Hey, Ken.

RUDIN: Hi, Rebecca.

ROBERTS: As always, let's start with a trivia question.

RUDIN: Okay, well, this is kind of a stretch here, but in light of the new TV series "Cougar Town" - I don't think anybody's ever mentioned that on NPR yet, but this is a show…

ROBERTS: First for everything.

RUDIN: Exactly - where Courtney Cox plays an older woman dating younger men, and so therefore, I thought of this question. Who was the last president to marry an older woman?

ROBERTS: All right. So in honor of cougars everywhere, who was the last president to marry an older woman? Our number, 800-989-8255. Or email talk@npr.org if you can think of that name.

So back to more current politics. Since you were last here, Ken, the president has been on the road. He took a trip to New Orleans. What do you think the purpose was there?

RUDIN: Well, it was to remind people, especially in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, that he has not forgotten them, although there was controversy because he did not stay long. Some people complained, maybe mostly Republicans, but they complained that he spent more time in Copenhagen trying to win the Olympics for Chicago than he did talking to the people of Katrina.

Anyway, that was a little flap, but he also did a lot of fundraising while he was traveling, and he also traveled yesterday to New York City, where he did a fundraiser for Bill Owens. He is not even a Democrat. He's a registered independent who is the Democratic candidate for a special congressional seat in Upstate New York, New York's 23rd Congressional District, which will be decided in 13 days, on November 3rd. And one of the reasons why so many people are paying attention to that election, never in history has the district ever elected a Democrat, but it could very well elect a Democrat on November 3rd.

ROBERTS: Well, the seat's open because the incumbent has gone to be secretary of the Army.

RUDIN: John McHugh, right.

ROBERTS: And it's actually a three-way race.

RUDIN: And that's what's hurting the Republican Party. This is a solidly Republican district, but the Republican nominee is a (unintelligible) woman by the name of Dede Scozzafava, who is on the liberal side of many issues - on abortion, on gay rights, on some taxes. And the conservatives, the big-C Conservatives and the small-C conservatives, are not happy with that. So they got a guy named Doug Hoffman, who tried to be the GOP nominee. They nominated him on the Conservative Party ticket, which is a major party in New York state, and so he is splitting the Republican vote.

He's gotten the endorsement of Club for Growth, of Gary Bauer, of Fred Thompson, of a bunch of conservatives saying that Scozzafava is too liberal to be the representative of the Republican party.

Newt Gingrich, for his part, campaigned for Scozzafava recently, saying this is insane. What we're doing is dividing the Republican Party. It's going to elect Bill Owens, and there's a new poll, a recent poll, by Sienna College that shows that the Democrat, Bill Owens, who is not really a Democrat on many issues, not on the public option, not on gay marriage, not on a lot of things, but he is the Democratic nominee, and he has the lead.

ROBERTS: So if that seat could potentially be a pickup for the Democrats, at least in nominal terms, the two gubernatorial races up could potentially be pickups for the GOP.

RUDIN: Well certainly in Virginia. Bob McDonnell is the Republican, the former state attorney general. He was in hot water for the longest time when a thesis he had written back in 1989, talked about - kind of dismissed working women and things like that. And the Democrats thought they had a winning issue, but the Democratic nominee they have by the name of Creigh Deeds has not capitalized that. As a matter of fact, all he's been talking about is the 1989 thesis. If you turn on a commercial if you live anywhere near Washington, that's all you see. You're bombarded with these commercials.

I think McDonnell's run a much better campaign. Most polls show him up by eight or nine points. Of course, the Democratic Party has been on a roll in Virginia for a long time. Barack Obama was the first Democrat since 1964 to carry it in the presidential race. The Republican Senators George Allen and John Warner were replaced by Democrats the past couple of years. So the Democrats have been on a roll, but I think the Republicans keep this.

ROBERTS: And in New Jersey, the Democratic incumbent is in trouble. That seems like a toss-up there.

RUDIN: Well, it is a toss-up. Chris Christie is the Republican, the former U.S. attorney. He had a large lead for most of the year, a double-digit lead. A lot of mistakes that Christie has made, a lot of errors on his part, also Jon Corzine, who's a very unpopular governor. He's a Democratic governor. His unpopularity, his job disapproval is at 56 percent, which is the best showing he's had in a long time. But one thing you can say about Corzine is he knows how to campaign, and he knows how to campaign negatively. And if he is not going to get voters to turn around to his side, at least he'll point out to voters that Chris Christie has a lot of vulnerabilities, and he does, and now it looks like it's a toss-up.

There's also a third candidate in that race, a guy by the name of Chris Daggett, who's kind of a liberal. He's taking - but he's a quasi-Republican - I had a hunch I'd say quasi-Republican - and he is, I'm sorry, and he is taking more votes from Christie in the polls, and so he could make the difference.

ROBERTS: Well, Corzine is not only negative on the issues, he's actually making fun of Chris Christie's weight in ads.

RUDIN: Well, I think that he got the idea from the NPR show WAIT, WAIT… DON'T TELL ME!. I think that's possible. But what happened is that Chris Christie is a big guy, and his girth is - you know, so there's a TV commercial that's been on for about a month now where you see a slow motion of Chris Christie getting out of a car, and basically his belly is jiggling while the narrator says that Chris Christie threw his weight around by trying to get out of parking violations. And of course, the Corzine people say, oh, no, no, no, we weren't making fun of his weight at all and blah, blah, blah.

It's silly. It's not the ugliest thing I've ever seen in New Jersey politics, but…

ROBERTS: That's a very low bar.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RUDIN: It is a low bar, and you know, I mean, yes.

ROBERTS: So the president was raising money for the New York congressional Democratic candidate. He's headed to New Jersey this week. What is his influence likely to be in those races and in Virginia?

RUDIN: Well, we always talk about, you know, it's a referendum on the president's first year, in the races for New Jersey and Virginia governor. And in the last 30 years, every president who's in the White House, that party loses the Virginia governor the next year. It has been that way for - since 1977. So if it's a Democrat in the White House, a Republican usually wins the gubernatorial race in Virginia, and if it's a Republican in the White House, a Democrat wins. So a lot of people will try to make this a referendum on President Obama, and certainly Obama's numbers in Virginia are far worse than they were last year when, as I say, he was the first Democrat in so many years to carry the state.

In New Jersey, he still remains popular. The state is still kind of a blue state, a Democratic state. But again, it could be Christie's missteps or Corzine's unpopularity that decides that race and less Barack Obama.

ROBERTS: Do you think that the Virginia-switching-parties-from-the-presidency dynamic is more about the electoral politics of Virginia or more about the fact that it's an off-year election, people are - it's sort of the first time voters have had a chance to have a referendum on the new president?

RUDIN: Well, that's true in New Jersey, too, but I also think that there's a lot of other things involved here, too. Back in 2008, the Republican Party was in tremendous disarray. We still had - it was George Bush's war. It was George Bush's economy. It was George Bush's gasoline prices. Now it's Barack Obama's war, and it's Barack Obama's war in Iraq and in Afghanistan. It's Barack Obama's unfulfilled health care promises. So with a new president in the White House, perhaps the focus is in a different way, and that's not good news for the Democrats.

ROBERTS: Speaking of Afghanistan, the White House hasn't said a whole lot about the election there. Now it seems there's going to be another one?

RUDIN: November 7th. Hamid Karzai, the president, has agreed, under U.S. and European pressure, to agree to a runoff with his opponent, Abdullah Abdullah - obviously, his parents didn't take long in deciding what his name should be. But it's interesting because it gives - theoretically it gives the White House a little more time to decide on an Afghanistan policy, which it does not have. There's still a debate not only in the country but in the administration whether to send 40,000 more troops, as General Stanley McChrystal has suggested, or as Vice President Biden has suggested, to almost pull out of Afghanistan and focus more on Pakistan. So there is still no Obama policy on Afghanistan, and perhaps the November 7th runoff election there gives him more time to sort one out.

ROBERTS: We have got a couple callers with some potential answers to your trivia question about cougar first ladies. Here's Michael(ph) in Allen County, Kentucky. Michael, who do you think was the most-recent president to marry a woman older than himself?

MICHAEL (Caller): I believe it would be Bill Clinton, wouldn't it?

RUDIN: No, Bill Clinton, of course - Bill Clinton is several years older than Hillary Clinton. So Bill Clinton is not the right answer.

ROBERTS: All right. Let's try Beth(ph) in Columbus, South Carolina. Beth, who do you think was the last cougar first lady?

BETH (Caller): Well, I'm sure of the answer that I told your screener, but I have this nagging suspicion that there's a more-recent first lady, but I will go with Bess Truman.

RUDIN: That is not the most recent example.

BETH: Oh, darn. Okay, well, I won't give it up for another caller.

ROBERTS: Well, actually we have another answer from an email from Brian(ph), who says Pat Nixon was a year older than Richard Nixon.

RUDIN: That is the correct answer. Pat Nixon was nine months older than Richard Nixon. Pat Nixon was born on March 16, 1912, Richard Nixon, January 9, 1913. Pat Nixon was the last - Richard Nixon was the last president to marry an older woman.

ROBERTS: So Brian will win a fabulous prize. We will get his email address and make sure that he is well rewarded.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RUDIN: Rebecca, you're dismissive. This is a serious prize. It's a T-shirt. It's a very famous no-prize T-shirt that people might want to wear someday.

ROBERTS: I don't mean to belittle the T-shirt, I really, truly don't. We're going to take a quick break, but I wanted to give you a chance to talk about a lion in the journalism industry who we lost today, Jack Nelson.

RUDIN: Jack Nelson, one of the most revered, most respected journalists in 20th-century history - he won a Pulitzer Prize for his investigative work on Georgia mental institutions. He joined the - he left the Atlanta Constitution to join the Los Angeles Times in 1965. Jack Nelson, who was born in Alabama, was a Southerner through and through, focused heavily on the civil rights movement, on the march in Selma, the murders and the beatings by the Klan. He was a very strong, persuasive investigative journalist. He died today at 80 years old. He will be sorely missed. He was a great guy.

ROBERTS: Political junkie Ken Rudin, NPR's political editor. He is going to stay with us here in Studio 3A, and coming up, the battle between Fox News and the White House. New York Times media reporter David Carr will join us. We're also taking your calls at 800-989-8255. You can also send us email, talk@npr.org. I'm Rebecca Roberts. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

ROBERTS: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Rebecca Roberts in Washington. If you're just joining us, NPR political editor Ken Rudin is with us for our weekly Political Junkie segment.

We turn now to a little controversy that's been brewing in the news lately. The Fox News channel hasn't been exactly kind to the Obama administration. Glenn Beck, one of the network's most popular hosts, said that President Obama has, quote, "a deep-seeded hatred for white people." Some would say that Fox News hosts encouraged the so-called tea party movement, and it's widely believed that Fox News played a role in the resignation of Van Jones, the former White House green jobs czar.

Earlier this month, Anita Dunn, the White House communications director, told the New York Times that the administration planned to treat Fox News, quote, "the way we would treat an opponent." She went on to say that: As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don't need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.

Should the president or an administration have an open adversarial relationship with a news organization? Our number here in Washington is 800-989-8255. Our email address is talk@npr.org, and you can join the conversation on our Web site. Go to npr.org, and click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Joining us now from our New York bureau is David Carr, a media reporter for the New York Times. He also writes the Media Equation column for the paper. You can find a link to his recent article at our Web site, npr.org.

David Carr, it's good to have you back on TALK OF THE NATION.

Mr. DAVID CARR (Media Reporter, Columnist, New York Times): Oh, it's nice to be with you, Rebecca. Hi, Ken.

RUDIN: Hello, David.

ROBERTS: So what do you make of this dynamic between the White House and Fox News? How has it affected either side?

Mr. CARR: I find it really surprising, given the way that Obama campaigned. I - my impression, and I'll leave the political analytics to Ken, but on a media level, I always thought of the president as sort of the king of cool. You can't get under his skin, that he is able to get rid of - you know, get things out of the way with a flick of the wrist. This seems really heavy-handed, and given the amount of assets the administration has sort of turned on Fox, it's turning it into something of a war and suggests that they are very much under his skin, I guess, which I find surprising.

ROBERTS: And has it backfired? Has Fox seen a bump in ratings?

Mr. CARR: Well, Fox would be ahead in the ratings no matter what. As people well observe, being the party of opposition in terms of media dynamics is always a great thing. Liberal magazines do it very well when there's a Republican in the White House, conservative magazines and talk shows and radio do very well when there's a liberal in the White House.

Those dynamics occur whether the White House punches back or not. In this instance, they've decided that they're not going to let a lot of these things, some of which you ticked off, Rebecca, go unanswered. And they've gone right at Fox with the kind of rhetoric, including telling other news organizations they shouldn't appear on Fox, which seems, I don't know, very aggressive to me.

ROBERTS: Ken, what do you think the political upside is for the administration to take this on?

RUDIN: Well, it's not only aggressive, it's almost Nixonesque. I mean, you think of what Nixon and Agnew did with their enemies list and their attacks on the media and certainly Vice President Agnew's constant denunciation of the media. Of course, then it was a conservative president denouncing a liberal media, and of course, a lot of good liberals said, oh, that's ridiculous. That's an infringement on the freedom of press, and now you see a lot of liberals almost kind of applauding what the White House is doing to Fox News, which I think is distressing.

Whatever you think of Fox News, whatever you think of Glenn Beck and some of the things he says, which clearly are outrageous, but at the same time, there are some things on MSNBC that I think are equally outrageous - well, I don't know about equally, but certainly outrageous. And, you know, if we had a Republican president saying we're banning MSNBC or it's not a real organization, it just gives you a weird feeling in the stomach. I think it's a mistake.

ROBERTS: Let's take a call. This is Bruce(ph) in Golden, Colorado. Bruce, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

BRUCE (Caller): Good afternoon. First, to tell you where I sit before I tell you where I stand, I am right of center, and obviously, Fox News leans right of center. But the question I would ask is: What would the comments be if George W. Bush used the same tactics as Barack Obama is using with Fox News on - or against ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, and I might add NPR. This just smacks of childishness at the White House level, as far as I'm concerned.

ROBERTS: Bruce, thanks for your call. David Carr, how do you think that parallel would have played out?

Mr. CARR: I think the mental exercise that Bruce suggests is an excellent one. I think if you switch around the dynamics of party and whose ox is being gored, I think the White House press corps and the rest of the press corps would have a reflexive disgust with a president taking the time to deploy White House resources to go on the attack against a specific outlet, regardless of what you think of their approach to journalism and/or opinion.

RUDIN: Yeah - no, I agree with David completely. I think to blame Fox News for the controversial things that Van Jones said or the controversial things that ACORN may have done is, first of all, elevating Fox News and, second, diminishing the problems that ACORN and Van Jones had, you know, did to themselves. So to blame everything on a conservative media - a right-wing media conspiracy, to paraphrase Hillary Clinton a bunch of years ago, is just, I think, is foolhardy.

Mr. CARR: It also breaks two sort of, I don't know, cliches that I think actually attain, which is number one, always punch up. Always be punching toward bigger targets. And you know, you're the president of the United States, and singling out some cable-talkers for making outrageous statements seems to beg the question of, number one, what you're paying attention to, and number two, in terms of engagement, I think the White House may be bringing a knife to a gun fight.

The Fox guys can say whatever they want to, and it will be good for business. The president is not in the same position. He and his aides have to make fact-based arguments, even against Fox. And so in a sense, there's no way they can really win because Fox can always choose a further edge to go. And it reinforces their belief that this administration is basically a partisan institution that's looking after its own interests.

ROBERTS: Let's hear from Douglas(ph) in Sacramento. Douglas, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

DOUGLAS (Caller): Hi, thanks for taking my call. It seems like political suicide to take on Fox News directly for Obama, but at the same time, ignoring Fox News and its ridiculous approach to journalism seems to undermine President Obama even further. So he seems to be between a rock and a hard place. My question is: Can he find the gentler angels of our nature, so to speak, to quote Lincoln, and perhaps argue that we need to raise the level of discourse generally in the United States, I mean, make an argument for civil discourse.

ROBERTS: Douglas, why do you say it's political suicide to go after Fox News?

DOUGLAS: For the reasons that were just brought out, that they have so much ammunition that they can always bring. I mean, it only boosts their ratings to say inflammatory things on the air. They can always come from an ideological place. And if Obama comes out and does the same thing, you know, it's considered unpresidential.

ROBERTS: Douglas, thanks for your call. David Carr, you made this point that not only is it more presidential to sort of take the high road and say you won't stoop to that level, but it's particularly Obaman-presidential to take that tone. So this is an even larger departure for him than it might be for another president.

Mr. CARR: I think that the Obama the caller describes was on broad display during the campaign. Again and again, the president said let's stay out the gutter, let's seek middle ground, and when it came time for him to turn toward his opponents, he did so deftly and surgically. He didn't just sit still, and I'm talking only of media dynamics, not political dynamics, but right now, the White House is hosting a Web site called Reality Check, and it's got this big fatwa against so-called Fox lies. Well, that to me sounds like somebody who's living in his mom's basement in Ohio and could use a job. It doesn't sound like somebody who lives on Pennsylvania Avenue. There's something not very seemly about it, especially, as the caller points out, in the context of the way this president ran.

ROBERTS: Well, it looks at the very least like campaigning, not governing. Ken?

RUDIN: Well, he's - it seems like President Obama's doing a lot of campaigning lately, everything between the Olympics and the health care plan. I mean, the campaign is a perennial campaign, and he's certainly not the first president to do that. President Bush, President Clinton were campaigning for most of their terms.

But there's also two different Fox Newses, and I think that's what the White House is also missing. There is the Glenn Becks. There is - there is the Sean Hannity of Fox News and that gets the most headlines. But there's also Chris…

ROBERTS: Major Garrett. Right.

RUDIN: …Major Garrett and Chris Wallace and Shep Smith, who seem to be if not straight down the middle, at least some sense of fairness and balance, to quote somebody. And I think you make a big mistake if you just - if Glenn Beck becomes Fox News. But of course a lot of people do see it that way.

ROBERTS: Well, there's also this interesting dynamic. And David Carr, you bring this up in your Media Equation column, that the biggest weapon the White House has is access, right? If they don't want your brand of coverage, they say you don't get to talk to the president, and they have said that to Fox News, you're not going to get an interview with him. But Fox News doesn't need access. That's not the kind of journalism they necessarily do on their talk shows. They can, as you say, David Carr, sort of say whatever they want and start a movement and generate some kind of buzz without having the president there to defend themselves. The lack of access doesn't necessarily hurt what they are doing.

Mr. CARR: Yeah. And the president, by his very presence, if you remember during the campaign, Bill O'Reilly spent a lot of time getting red in the face talking about the president. Then the president actually walked in to Fox News studio, sat down with Bill O'Reilly. They saw he didn't have horns and tails - Mr. O'Reilly did a really, really good job. You know, his chief weapon is his ability to engage. Instead, he has these proxies, some of them who have extensive, I think very prosaic political histories of going out and doing this old style. As Ken pointed out, Nixon-esque, isolate your adversaries, take them on at every turn. It doesn't really fit with his style.

I thought it was a particular mistake to put David Axelrod out there because Mr. Axelrod has a history of sort of being arm in arm with Mr. Obama and not getting that down into this nitty-gritties. He wouldn't met with Roger Ailes to talk - the head of the Fox News - to talk about whether there wasn't some middle ground. I think you've sort of damaged him as asset once you put him out there campaigning against a specific cable outlet.

ROBERTS: Let's hear from Joe in San Francisco. Joe, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

JOE (Caller): Hi. Thanks for taking my call. My theory is - and what the White House attacking Fox News is that they want to make a new bad guy basically of the right, because in 2006, 2008, they had George Bush, they're able to attack him, galvanize the left, sway the independents - well, now George Bush is gone. So instead they get huge entity, Fox News Corporation, with three crazy voices - Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly - to be the right, and thus once again independents are turned off, the leftist is galvanized, gives money, goes outs, protests, and they win elections and pass legislation a lot easier.

RUDIN: Well, there's something to be said about that, but I think it galvanizes both sides as well, because for all these - the left loving the fact that it's Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich being the enemy, you also have the right feeling that you have this president who just doesn't understand the true Americans and they feel very energized. So for all of the times you think about the left being excited about what's going to happen with Congress and legislation, you have Republican energized in Virginia, you've Republicans energized about 2010 elections and they could very well bounce back. So I think both sides benefit even if the political discourse does not.

Mr. CARR: I think that one thing that's going on here is the amorphous nature of the Republican Party right now, a bit rudderless, a bit leaderless. This large blob and they're still having trouble getting - the Democrats are still having trouble getting the Democrats, are still having trouble getting major pieces of legislation. So they want to put a head on the Republican Party, a face on them. And by using Fox News as a kind of proxy for the Republican Party, it's a way for them to demonize their opposition and make them seem unreasonable. That is a political calculation. But once you turn it toward a media organization, I think you're in very different territory.

ROBERTS: You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

Let's hear from John in New Town, Pennsylvania. John, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

JOHN (Caller): Hi, thanks for talking my call. Wanted to make a couple of quick comments. First of all, it's the Obama - I'm sorry, Fox News attacked Obama first. And let's also be clear the Fox News has been pretty much discredited. At least it seems to be that the previous caller said that, you know, if MSNBC were being attacked, there would be outrage. There's not that outrage. Also want to make the point that it's not necessarily Fox News that Obama is attacking but the coverage that Fox News's coverage gets out of this that's becoming a problem for Obama.

ROBERTS: Why do you see that as different, John, the coverage of the coverage?

JOHN: I see that because it's not just - Obama is never going to win over the Fox News viewers. However, the coverage of Fox News's coverage has become a problem for his administration.

ROBERTS: Thanks for your call. We also have an email from Chris in St. Louis. He says, I think it's time that organization such as Fox, MSNBC and others that display a clear bias, be it for the right or left, stopped being called news organizations. They do not provide news. They provide a biased analysis. There's a clear distinction between the two. On one hand, I applaud Obama for calling them out. On the other hand, I'm disappointed that he is not gone farther by attacking all of these 24 hour cable news networks. David Carr?

Mr. CARR: Well, I think if you're going to say that we live, you know, in a media, a media age in which outlets are increasingly partisan, you're stating something that is, it's just a fact going forward. In the presence of the Web, in the presence of multiplying cable outlets, that ideology is one thing to sell. I do think that there is value in broadening out the discussion to other news outlets, because journalists - I must tell you, I have had my go-rounds with Fox News, as a reporter reporting in - they will make you crazy. They will make - they will drive you...

ROBERTS: What do you mean by that? How did they drive you crazy?

Mr. CARR: There is a tactical and informational aggression which seems to be outside the ken of the normal conduct of business. They're very difficult outfit to cover. I've written about Fox's apparatus in the past and their ability to punish and deride. And I mean the minute that you go after Fox News, a counter campaign will show up in friendly outlets, much of it personal, much of it visceral. And it's crazy-making. It does get under your skin. But the thing is, is once you engage with that, once you decide that that you're going to trade blows with them, you realize that they are often dealing with different standards than you are and you can't win it.

Obama has done historically such a good job of taking care - don't destroy them, demean them. I think David Corn pointed that out in his Politics Daily column today, that it's - in a way by making them the opposition, you raise them up, you energize them, and you make them think that everything they've ever said about you is true.

ROBERTS: David Carr, a reporter for The New York Times. He writes the Media Equation column for the newspaper. He joined us from our New York bureau. Thanks so much for your time today.

Mr. CARR: A pleasure to speak.

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