Fox News Channel and the Obama administration are talking.
The network confirmed a Politico report that Fox news executive Michael Clemente met at the White House on Wednesday with Robert Gibbs, President Barack Obama’s press secretary. There were no details given about the meeting.
Fox has been battling with the administration, which contends the network operates more like a wing of the Republican Party than a news organization.
The meeting came a day after Fox anchor Shepard Smith apologized for a “lack of balance” following a political report where the Republican candidate for New Jersey governor was interviewed and the Democratic incumbent wasn’t.
Fox correspondent Shannon Bream had wrapped up a live interview with GOP candidate Chris Christie on Smith’s afternoon news show Tuesday when the anchor asked, “When will you be interviewing Jon Corzine?”
Bream replied that despite “multiple requests,” Corzine hadn’t made himself available for an interview.
“I didn’t know that was about to happen,” Smith then said. “My apologies for the lack of balance there. If I had control, it wouldn’t have happened.”
Smith is the network’s chief news anchor and has even angered Fox viewers with some of his stories, including expressions of anger at the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.
During Smith’s second newscast on Tuesday evening, a New Jersey report included a Corzine sound bite given to the Fox broadcast network’s New York affiliate.
The race in New Jersey is one of two marquee contests in 2009, along with the gubernatorial campaign in Virginia. Corzine trailed Christie in the early stages of the campaign, but recent polls show the governor has closed the gap.
Meanwhile, Fox received support Wednesday from an unlikely source: CNN’s prime-time host Campbell Brown. She interviewed Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and asked whether the White House considered left-leaning MSNBC biased as well. Jarrett wouldn’t speak about the network.
She “seems loathe to admit that MSNBC has a bias,” Brown said. “And that is where I think the White House loses all credibility on this issue.”
If the White House wants to talk about bias in the media, officials “should elevate the conversation and talk about bias on the right and on the left,” Brown said. “Because when you just target one side, you reveal your own bias — that you are only critical of those who are critical of you.”