Is the White House thawing relations with Fox News Channel?
President Barack Obama granted an extended interview to Fox senior White House correspondent Major Garrett, covering a range of topics on Special Report with Bret Baier Wednesday night.
Garrett began by welcoming Obama and wishing his family a happy holiday season. The president said he was glad to be on and wished "the Fox family" the same.
The Obama administration and Fox News have had an icy relationship, stoked by former White House communications director Anita Dunn's comment that the cable news channel was "more of a wing of the Republican Party." When trying to advance the health-care plan, Obama pointedly made the rounds of all the Sunday morning news shows — except Fox's.
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Fox News Channel maintains it hasn't been in any war with the White House. Michael Clemente, a vice president of Fox News, has said the administration fails to distinguish between straight news reporting and its commentary programs with Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, among others.
"I was always a conscientious objector in that conflict," Garrett told Baier, adding that he simply wanted to cover a lot of topics with the president.
The Q-and-A with Garrett was only Obama's third interview with Fox News Channel since taking office. He talked with Garrett in July and Chris Wallace in February.
Alluding to the chasm, Baier asked Garrett about the "atmospherics" surrounding the interview.
"Very rational, very relaxed," Garrett said.
Dunn recently left the post of White House communications director, maintaining that it was a temporary gig anyway, She's been replaced by Dan Pfeiffer.
Among the topics Garrett covered with Obama was the future of Guantanamo Bay, health care, the economy and employment rate, as well as his trip to Asia.
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Garrett also asked whether he will read the book by Sarah Palin, the vice presidential candidate his ticket defeated.
"I probably will not," Obama said, smiling, "but I wish her well; you know, it looks like she's going to do very well without my readership."