Here's something you don't see every day: former Republican Congressman turned MSNBC personality Joe Scarborough and perilously liberal PBS host Tavis Smiley agreeing on something.
Maybe even more shocking, this odd couple was also in lock-step with former Bush administration member and current Fox News contributor Dan Senor as well the New Yorker's Jane Mayer.
Appearing together on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, the unlikely quartet not only felt the Obama administration is making a mistake going after the Fox News Channel, but also that it is tremendously benefiting the cable network.
Scarborough went so far to say that as a result of this strategy, "America's waking up in the morning, click, they turn on Fox News" (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, relevant section at 4:30):
MR. DAN SENOR: I would just say, I remember when Obama won, the big question at Fox News and conservative talk radio is they had spent so many years, many would argue, cheerleading for the Bush administration. Suddenly Bush was gone, so much of their audience would be affected, you know, from the lack of access that the--that this--the, the conservative media would have with this new administration. Now, I haven't seen Roger Ailes playbook, but I would bet one of the ideal scenarios would be is just as President Obama's popularity is turning, "If we can just get Obama to attack us."
MS. JANE MAYER: Right.
MR. JOE SCARBOROUGH: Right.
MR. SENOR: "If we can just get the Obama White House to take us on directly"...
MR. TAVIS SMILEY: And, and it, and it's working.
MR. SENOR: ..."that could turn things dramatically." And...
MR. DAVID GREGORY: Well, let's...
MR. SMILEY: And it's working, it's working.
MS. MAYER: It's great for Fox.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Well, well, not, not just for Fox.
MR. SENOR: Yeah.
MR. SMILEY: It's working. Their rating, their ratings are going through the roof...
MS. MAYER: Right.
MR. SMILEY: ...in part because the White House keeps focusing too much attention on them.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: And, and here's the fascinating thing. Rush Limbaugh, attacked by the White House in January--I know it because I'm in radio and we look at it month to month--his February, March, April ratings explode. Fox News right now, you can tell by looking at the ratings starting at 5 AM, America's waking up in the morning, click, they turn on Fox News.
MR. SENOR: But I...
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Because they've been engaged, they're giving them a bigger megaphone. It's stunning.
MR. SENOR: I would say, though, that the White House had probably expected it to ramp--amp up the conservative base. And as you said, it would be good for the liberal base. I don't think what they anticipated is the degree to which the mainstream media is getting a little uncomfortable with these attacks on Fox, as you saw this week.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: No, they're, they're not seeing a little, it's a big push-back.
Yes, but are they paying attention or will the White House continue with a strategy that virtually everyone agrees is backfiring on them?