When Ed Henry made the move from CNN reporter to Fox News chief White House correspondent in late June, the liberal watchdog group Media Matters instantly painted him a right-wing blowhard. Now the White House is striking a similar chord. During today's briefing, Henry got into a verbal back-and-forth with White House press secretary Jay Carney over whether President Obama should file a debt plan with the CBO, as John Boehner and Harry Reid have. As a result, Carney dropped the F-bomb: "I know you're creating a thing here for Fox," he snipped.
"That's not what I'm doing," Henry replied indignantly as the press core collectively murmured. "And you know better than that."
The question was a little silly because drafting specific budget plans is typically the job of Congress, not the president, though Henry did suggest that the president could ask a Democratic senator to file a plan with the CBO on his behalf. Regardless, to some it seemed like a low blow by Carney. "Really? Really?" asked Glynnis MacNicol at Business Insider. "This is day 2 for Henry. That the White House thinks it's already okay to attribute his totally normal badgering to the network he works for, for the second day in row, says a great deal more about how the White House views Fox than vice versa."
On Tuesday, the two engaged in a testy back-and-forth where Henry questioned Carney on why a concrete "Obama Plan" on the debt ceiling hadn't been released. Carney accused Henry of carrying water for Republicans.
"I understand that idea that there is not an Obama plan is like point number one on the talking points issued by the Republican Party," Carney said.
"It's not a talking point," Henry replied. "That's unfair. Where is the plan?" After a prolonged back-and-forth, Henry asked if Carney thought there'd be a "depression" if a deal wasn't brokered by August 2. Somewhat derisively, Carney said: "You should go on the air and tell your viewers there's nothing to worry about."
If Carney's treatment was a tad unfair. It was rather mild compared with the strange attack Henry received from Media Matters on the day his hire was announced (prior to the hit piece, the only other Media Matters articles mentioning Henry from 2011 credited him with debunking Republican Darell Issa's "false claim" that the stimulus "didn't create any jobs" and criticizing President Obama's critics for spreading a "myth" about the president's India trip costing $200 million). Apparently Henry is paying the price for switching from a middle-of-the-road news channel to an unadmitted conservative one. One wonders if it will give other journalists pause pondering the same move.