David Axelrod's appearance on Fox News Wednesday apparently wasn't a sign of a truce between the Obama administration and the cable news network as it appears the White House is putting pressure on Democrat consultants to avoid the station at all costs.
For its part, the White House has denied these allegations.
Such was reported Friday by the Los Angeles Times (h/t NBer Gary Hall):
At least one Democratic political strategist has gotten a blunt warning from the White House to never appear on Fox News Channel, an outlet that presidential aides have depicted as not so much a news-gathering operation as a political opponent bent on damaging the Obama administration. [...]The White House is denying this allegation:
One Democratic strategist said that shortly after an appearance on Fox, he got a phone call from a White House official telling him not to be a guest on the show again. The call had an intimidating tone, he said.
The message was, " 'We better not see you on again,' " said the strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to run afoul of the White House. An implicit suggestion, he said, was that "clients might stop using you if you continue."
Even some Democrats aren't thrilled with the White House's Fox strategy:
White House Communications Director Anita Dunn said Thursday night that she had checked with colleagues who "deal with TV issues" and they had not told people to avoid Fox. On the contrary, they had urged people to appear on the network, Dunn wrote in an e-mail.
But Patrick Caddell, a Fox News contributor and a former pollster for President Carter, said he has spoken to Democratic consultants who have been told by the White House to avoid appearances on Fox. He declined to give their names.
Caddell said he had not gotten that message himself from the White House. "They know better than to tell me anything like that," he said.
Caddell added: "I have heard that they've done that to others in not-too-subtle ways. I find it appalling. When the White House gets in the business of suppressing dissent and comment, particularly from its own party, it hurts itself."
Don Fowler, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, said in an interview: "This approach is out of sync with my conception of what the Obama administration stands for and what they're trying to do. I think they'll think better of it and this will be a passing phase."
Moving forward, it seems clear from Axelrod's appearance after Tuesday's election results the White House Fox strategy depends on how the Administration feels it's doing.
With this in mind, Obama and Company may be more inclined to go on Fox if healthcare reform fails, for if it succeeds they likely won't feel they need more exposure than they're currently getting.