Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino on Sunday compared last week's attempt by the White House to exclude Fox News from of a pool interview to Hugo Chavez shutting down television stations in Venezuela.
As NewsBuster Jeff Poor reported Thursday, the Obama administration earlier in the day tried to shut Fox News out of an interview with pay czar Kenneth Feinberg that was to be part of a pool that the cable network would always be involved in.
On "Fox News Sunday," when the panel discussion turned to this subject, Perino really went after the White House for what she called conduct "unbecoming" and an impediment to our efforts to "help emerging democracies get journalists and government officials to talk to one another" (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript):
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: Enough. I'm tired of asking my wacky question. I want to turn to one last thing, and that is the latest chapter in the Obama White House's war on Fox News and what some people are calling the administration's Chicago way of doing business.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN CONNERY AS JIM MALONE: He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: That's the Chicago way. You've got to love Sean Connery in that.
Dana, the latest chapter in the Chicago way was that the administration made an effort this week to use the White House pool -- that's the -- all the five major networks -- to try to exclude Fox from interviewing pay czar Ken Feinberg.
The White House now says, "Well, it was just an honest mistake." Question: When you were in the Bush White House, did you ever try to do that against CBS when they were trashing President Bush? Or do you know of any White House that's ever tried to use the White House pool to eliminate somebody, to kick somebody out?
DANA PERINO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Certainly not with the pool. I mean, there are ways to exclude doing interviews with other networks, such as what happened to Fox News about four weeks ago when President Obama did all the other networks and decided not to do this one.
But you never use the pool. It's a huge no-no. And I was glad to see that the reporters in the -- in the room decided to stand up and have solidarity, because they could be next in this Chicago-style way.
WALLACE: And what do you make -- it was happening as we were on the air a week ago today -- of Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod going on other Sunday talk shows and, in effect, lecturing the mainstream media Fox is not a legitimate news organization and don't follow them?
PERINO: That was a coordinated, calculated attack. It was unbecoming. And if you look at some of the coverage of what mainstream media covers when, for example, somebody like a Hugo Chavez shuts down television stations, he calls them illegitimate.
Now, I'm not suggesting that this White House believes that they are going to come over here and shut down Fox News.
But they are defining a narrative in their first year, and it's going to be very hard to recover from it.
The best thing they could do is try to find a way to, you know, give a -- send out an olive branch, try to get this behind them and to move on.
WALLACE: You were telling me earlier -- and we've only got about 45 seconds left -- that you deal with the free press in emerging democracies and you worry about the message being sent.
PERINO: Every -- everyone across the world watches and listens to everything that the White House is saying.
Through our State Department, we are trying to help emerging democracies get journalists and government officials to talk to one another, because freedom of the press is essential to any democracy. Believe me, they are watching this, and they have -- surely are raising questions.
And the next time we go to them and say, "You want to make sure that you have reporters covering this," they'll say, "Why should we do that? You don't."
WALLACE: Thank you, Dana.
Yes, Dana, thank you.