CBS’s Smith Touts White House ‘Full Frontal Assault’ on Fox News

Harry Smith and John Dickerson, CBS Speaking with political analyst John Dickerson on Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith asked about the latest Obama administration attack on Fox News: “Anita Dunn, the communications director for the White House, pushed back against Fox. This is the first time that we’ve seen somebody really come out, out loud and say what she had to say....Now there seems to be a full frontal assault.”

Dickerson replied by describing the White House mud slinging as a win-win: “..the White House website where they talked about the ‘lies of Fox News,’ which is stronger language than you usually hear. This is kind of good for both sides. Fox News sees its viewers – viewership increase, the White House has an enemy. It can galvanize its liberal supporters by attacking Fox News. That’s something that gets cheers in those quarters.”

However, he did follow up by warning of a potential downside: “The problem for the White House, of course, is that it can look a little petty and a little small as it sort of takes it sort of punches down at a cable network. And so they have to make sure that if they’re going to take on Fox News, that they don’t seem overly obsessed by it.” It seems like that ship has already sailed.

Smith’s final question to Dickerson was about Obama’s Afghanistan strategy: “There have been these many meetings at the White House, these conferences involving Hillary Clinton and all of the important other players on Afghanistan. When might a decision be forthcoming?” Dickerson attempted to spin the President’s indecision as just being thoughtful: “We still think it’s weeks, Harry....It’s kind of been extraordinary watching the Pentagon and voices from there and then voices from inside the administration all while the President is going through this careful deliberation.”  

Here is a full transcript of the exchange between Smith and Dickerson:
HARRY SMITH: Joining us now is CBS News political analyst John Dickerson. John, good morning.

JOHN DICKERSON: Good morning, Harry.

SMITH: So we affirm Saturday night his support for ‘Don’t ask, Don’t Tell’ he has said this many, many times before. Any indication from the White House he’s going to act on it?

DICKERSON: No. The indication from the White House is they want to show the President is still committed to this, but that it’s further down on the list of priorities. He’s got a lot in front of him and the big question is how much political capital he’ll put behind this. Will he pressure Congress? Will he pressure the Pentagon? And there’s just no indication right now that he’s going to spend his political capital in that way.

SMITH: Yeah there’s plenty of other places to spend his political capital, as it were. It’s very interesting because one of the things that happened over the weekend was Anita Dunn, the communications director for the White House, pushed back against Fox. This is the first time that we’ve seen somebody really come out, out loud and say what she had to say. Let’s listen and I want to get your reaction.

ANITA DUNN: [no audio] -almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party.

SMITH: Speaking about Fox is what she was doing. John, what is your reaction? Because this has been sort of trickling out of the White House for a couple of weeks now. Now there seems to be a full frontal assault.

DICKERSON: That’s right. There was even a posting on the White House website where they talked about the ‘lies of Fox News,’ which is stronger language than you usually hear. This is kind of good for both sides. Fox News sees its viewers – viewership increase, the White House has an enemy. It can galvanize its liberal supporters by attacking Fox News. That’s something that gets cheers in those quarters. The problem for the White House, of course, is that it can look a little petty and a little small as it sort of takes it sort of punches down at a cable network. And so they have to make sure that if they’re going to take on Fox News, that they don’t seem overly obsessed by it.

SMITH: Yeah. The other question, of course, over the weekend and for the last couple of weeks, is a decision about Afghanistan. There have been these many meetings at the White House, these conferences involving Hillary Clinton and all of the important other players on Afghanistan. When might a decision be forthcoming?

DICKERSON: We still think it’s weeks, Harry. And what’s going to happen in these intermediate weeks, or what we’ll look for, is to see how much of this debate plays out in the papers. It’s kind of been extraordinary watching the Pentagon and voices from there and then voices from inside the administration all while the President is going through this careful deliberation. It still looks like it’s weeks and we’ll just have to see which way it goes.

SMITH: Alright, John Dickerson in Washington this morning, thank you so much.

DICKERSON: Thanks, Harry.

SMITH: Appreciate it, you bet.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC