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As we can all see now, when Fox says jump, the Obama administration asks how high? (Then jumps one inch less and considers it a progressive victory). Is there anyone Obama won't fire or throw under the bus if Fox asks him to? What if they ask Obama to fire himself? Would he do it? Or would he just fire Biden and say he met them halfway?

If the firing of Shirley Sherrod was the first time they had done this, then all of the criticism they have received might be a bit much. But as we have learned from this incident (which the rest of us already knew, with the apparent exception of Fox News and Andrew Breitbart), context matters. We've seen the rest of the tape on the Obama administration and it isn't pretty.

Van Jones, ACORN, Dawn Johnsen, Shirley Sherrod. First sign of trouble, throw someone overboard. When they fired Van Jones, I said they were only encouraging Fox. But that wasn't some genius prediction; it was only the most obvious thing in the world. Do you think the bully won't take your lunch money tomorrow if you give it to him today?

Since this seems so obvious, why can't the supposedly brilliant guys in the Obama administration figure it out? Why can't they see it's such a bad idea to keep giving in to Fox and bowing their heads? It's so bad now, they're bragging about their efficiency in genuflecting. Jim Messina, Deputy Chief of Staff, congratulated everyone the day after Sherrod was fired about the speed and agility with which they serviced Fox News. So, what's the strategy behind what appears to be pathetic cowardice to the rest of us?

The idea is that Fox News is more important than any progressive leader or commentator (or even the majority opinion of progressives throughout the country, as evidenced by polls) because liberals have nowhere to go. So, that's why you can abuse them, ignore them and even treat them with disdain -- and they'll still vote for you. What are they going to do -- vote for Republicans?

That's why Rahm Emanuel can call them "fucking retarded" and derisively dismiss them on almost every issue. They think there's no price to pay. Whereas, if they cross Fox, all of Washington will be talking about it. And they're obsessed with the Washington chatter. And they are under the grossly mistaken impression that the country gives a shit about what Fox says.

In Washington, Fox News is very important and you get judged by how quickly you handle the media maelstroms they create. That's viewed as a barometer of how well you handle "bad news cycles." So, the rest of the Washington press corps judges you by how quickly you drop to your knees to end the "bad news cycle." Congratulations Obama administration, you're now professionals!

But even more importantly, there is this insane belief that Fox News can swing centrists, which are the critical voters who decide elections. There is not a shred of evidence to that. In fact, the evidence shows that there is no audience in the country that is more deeply conservative and politically immovable.

Plus, the average age of Bill O'Reilly's audience is 71 years old. The guy is doing a show out of a senior citizen's center and Obama thinks he rules the world.

The only real damage that Fox can do is if they spread their poison to other news stations. That is why it's so imperative to label them what they are -- a conservative propaganda station (not that there's anything wrong with that). They're just not news. And they couldn't have proved it any better than they did in this case. And what did the Obama administration do with this golden opportunity? They turned it into a massive loss. Who is fucking retarded now?

But the more important miscalculation is that liberals have nowhere to go. They do have somewhere to go -- home. They can sit on their couch on election day, which according to the polling is exactly what they're going to do. When a Bloomberg poll (pdf, Page 7) asked all voters which party they favored, it was a tie. When they asked likely voters, Republicans were up by eight points. Who's fucking retarded now?

It's high time that we stop giving the Obama administration credit for being some sort of genius tacticians. Maybe it was all David Plouffe. But one thing is for sure, they seem to have no idea what they're doing politically and Fox News is handing them their ass on a daily basis. Glenn Beck came on after the Sherrod story became fully known and said that Obama shouldn't have fired her. Don't you get it, you feckless clowns, they're going to criticize you no matter what you do? You cannot appease them. You must isolate and delegitimize them.

I understand the Obama team is playing the old Washington games and think they're very clever at it. But those games don't work anymore. Bad news cycles are not created by genuine mistakes anymore, they're artificially created by Fox News channel. You can't make them go away by giving into them. You're just feeding the beast. And more importantly, you're starving your own side.

It isn't about fighting Fox News to make yourself feel better. It's about ignoring their silly attacks so you can actually bring us the progressive change you promised. Otherwise, we would be retarded to come and vote for you again.

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Originally posted to Cenk Uygur on Thu Jul 22, 2010 at 09:14 AM PDT.

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