Pundits are making false comparisons between Obama and Nixon. They have no idea what they're talking about
By Joe Conason
With outraged Washington journalists and Republican politicians crying "Nixonian!" over the public scuffle between the Obama White House and the Fox News Channel, what began as a mundane spat is turning into a cosmic jest. Somewhere, Nixon himself is enjoying a mordant laugh to hear this shrill defense of his old servant Roger Ailes, the television wizard whose deceptive campaigning ushered him into the presidency more than 40 years ago -- and who then became the living symbol of everything negative and nasty in American politics during the two decades that followed.
To understand what is going on today, it is essential to remember that where Ailes came from, "Nixonian" was not an insult but a badge of honor -- and seething hatred and even persecution of the press, rather than mere criticism, was a way of life.
Whatever the merits or defects of the strategy pursued by Obama's communications office in pushing back against Fox News, the furious backlash inside the Beltway is badly overwrought. Mainstream defenders of the conservative cable channel suddenly seem to be afflicted with a strange amnesia, causing them to forget not just the numerous episodes of partisan distortion that have permanently pocked its reputation, but the dirty war against the press and the First Amendment that was waged by the Nixon gang in the late '60s and early '70s. That lost memory does a disservice to journalism and history....(Remainder.)