Perhaps more than any other show on the Fox News Channel, “Fox & Friends” has become a powerful platform for some of the most strident attacks on President Obama. Conspiracy theories about Mr. Obama’s religion once found an uncritical ear on the show’s set. Assertions that Mr. Obama leaked national security secrets for political gain are accepted as fact. And its hosts recently took time on the air to congratulate one of their producers for making a four-minute video that painted Mr. Obama as a failure.
That incident points to the question that hangs over Fox News as the presidential campaign moves into full swing: How far can it push its coverage of Mr. Obama without sparking another war with the White House?
Neither Fox News nor the White House is eager for a repeat of their bitter feud in 2009. That year, as the Tea Party began to coalesce as a major political movement, Fox hosts like Glenn Beck adopted a particularly aggressive posture toward the White House. The administration went as far as to say that it considered Fox News a part of the political opposition.
The two sides have managed a sort of détente lately. And after the White House raised objections to the Obama video, the network removed it from its Web site. (In an angry phone call, the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, told the network’s executive vice president for news, Michael Clemente, that even by “Fox & Friends” standards the video crossed the line, according to two Democrats who weren’t authorized to speak of the private conversation.) The news division at Fox has long tried to avoid having its reporters appear on the show whenever possible.
“Do we make mistakes? Absolutely,” said Bill Shine, executive vice president for programming at Fox News. “And when we make them we try to fix them, apologize for them, get out in front of them.”
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