White House attacks leave Fox News smiling

President Barak Obama has created something of a storm in the US after his aides trashed TV channel Fox News as ''a wing of the Republic Party'', and an opinion-monger rather than serious news channel but only. The White House seems to fear that other news channels will pick up Fox's supposedly biased reports and give them wider publicity.

Many experts believe that the Obama administration is getting increasingly intolerant and authoritarian in pushing its left-wing agenda. They point out his recent alleged attempts to bully the US Chamber of Commerce and America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). However, others say this kind of lobbying by the administration is normal, though the Fox case is a little different.

Most observers feel the attempts to undermine Fox were ham-handed; and in fact it is Fox itself that is laughing all the way to the bank. The White House's stance gave an extra lift to the network at a time when it is on track to record its best ratings year ever.

This year, Fox News has averaged nearly 1.2 million viewers across all its programming, a 16 per cent increase over the same period last year, according to Nielsen. In the two weeks since aides to President Obama attacked the coverage, the audience has been 8 per cent larger than the previous two weeks.

If anything, the Obama administration has succeeded in reinforcing Fox News' identity as a thorn in the side of the establishment - a role the network loves to play.

"We may be No 1, but there is sort of an insurgent quality to Fox News," said the channel's senior political analyst Brit Hume. "And that's kind of our attitude: hoist a Jolly Roger, pull out our daggers and look for more throats to slit. This is tremendous fodder for us. My lord, we've been living on it."