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This Week’s Supervillain

It’s looking like it’ll be interim White House Communications Director Anita Dunn — who came under fire from Fox News host Glenn Beck last week for quoting Mao Zedong in a speech earlier this year — again taking some of the heat off of “safe schools czar” Kevin Jennings. Laura Ingraham opened her agenda-setting radio show this morning with a rant on Dunn, leading with this video of Dunn talking about how to get past the media filter, then directing listeners to check out this picture on the show’s Website (after the jump).

Picture 87
Picture 87

What happens next, I think, will depend on the mainstream media. After the one-two-three punch of Van Jones quitting the White House, ACORN being caught in James O’Keefe’s video sting, and Yosi Sergeant leaving the National Endowment of the Arts, we saw wave of media apologies from ombudsmen and reporters who worried that they’d paid too little attention to the right’s complaints. Since then, however, the Glenn Beck-led campaigns against the administration have taken a McCarthyite tone, attacking administration officials for being three degrees of separation from NAMBLA or for quoting Mao Zedong. The Dunn story is so ridiculous — quoting Mao is evidence of Communist sympathies? — that it’s making Beck look nuttier and less worth cribbing from.

The upshot for the White House is that its criticism of Fox News is painful but it’s working. During the campaign, Obama’s team boxed out Fox for its guilt-by-association stories, always packaged as news that the liberal media, being “in the tank” for Obama, was too cowardly to report. Robert Gibbs memorably asked whether Sean Hannity was an anti-Semite because he invited the notorious anti-Obama smear artist Andy Martin on his show. During the election this made sense, because local media coverage in swing states was obviously more important than a national cable channel that’s mostly influential in the beltway. Now, Fox’s coverage is so obscure and so disconnected from the White House’s political problems–it’s 9.8 percent unemployment, not Anita Dunn quoting Mao — that it seems worth ignoring again.

This post has been updated for clarity.

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