Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who has covered every president since Jack Kennedy, advised the White House to abandon their attacks on Fox News today. She attributed the administration's visceral reaction to the cable outlet to a naive sense of invincibility generally held by new presidents (video embedded below the fold)
Asked by Joe Scarborough of MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' what "we want our president to know and do," in reference to the title of her new book, Thomas immediately replied "stay out of these fights... They can only take you down. You can't kill the messenger."
Thomas's coauthor, CQ reporter Craig Crawford, added that "presidents are better off, Joe, when they punch up and not down."
The White House punched down at its hardest yet this weekend, when Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and chief political advisor David Axelrod derided Fox News on the Sunday talk shows. Emanuel
said the cable network is "not a news organization so much as it has a perspective." Axelrod
claimed that the channel's programming is "really not news, it's pushing a point of view."
Thomas explained that Presidents generally enter office with a sense of invincibility. "They feel so empowered, they can say anything, do anything." Such a sentiment would explain the White House's apparent shock that Fox would consistently question their major initiatives. As Thomas added, Presidents "soon get slapped back."
The attacks from Axelrod and Emanuel signal a shift in the administration's anti-Fox message to the higher echelons of the executive power structure. Last week, White House Communications Director Anita Dunn spearheaded the campaign against the news network until she admitted
--in jest, she claims--that Communist China's brutal former dictator Mao Ze Tung is one of "my two favorite philosophers."
Pundits seized on Dunn's words, including Fox's Glenn Beck
, who this morning claimed that "now that we've exposed Anita as yet another radical in the White House, they're going to need to jettison Anita Dunn, especially after what we show you tonight. She'll have to go away, because we're asking too many questions about Anita. So now we get up to the big boys."