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And now for something completely stupid -- the Obama administration vs. Fox News Channel

The Obama administration needs to take the offensive on a lot of issues. But taking issue with Fox News Channel should have no place in its playbook.

Yet the ongoing war of words persists, with The New York Times providing another blow-by-blow account in Friday's edition.

The President and his top advisors believe that Fox News has an agenda -- to skewer them whenever possible. They've responded by trying to limit Fox's access to the administration while firing back when feeling aggrieved. As deputy White House press secretary Dan Pfeiffer said in the Times article, "We simply decided to stop abiding by the fiction, which is aided and abetted by the mainstream press, that Fox is a traditional news organization."

Sorry, but this sounds like another Nixon enemies list in the making. It started to get out of hand in mid-September, when President Obama intentionally excluded Fox News Sunday and moderator Chris Wallace from his round of morning news program interviews.

Wallace contributes to Fox News Channel, but his flagship program airs on Fox's broadcast stations. Whatever his personal politics, he has a reputation for being studiously fair on the air. In fact, Fox hired him to mend fences after his predecessor, the late Tony Snow, came off as too openly partisan and therefore unable to book big-name guests with opposing views.

The cold shoulder didn't sit well with Wallace, who later sounded off on Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor.

"With these guys, everything is personal," he contended. "They are the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington. They constantly are on the phone or emailing me complaining . . . I mean, they are workin' the umps all the time. I think it works with the others. It doesn't work with me."

I've had some dealings over the years with people like that, including representatives of Fox News Channel. No single network tries to "work the umps" more than Fox News. And no one revels in being "persecuted" more than O'Reilly, who relishes attacking his detractors and seems to enjoy feeling unloved. Even so, I've had a decent working relationship with him over the years, because he feels I've been fair to him.

Few in their right -- or left -- mind would argue the obvious -- that O'Reilly tilts considerably to the right while colleagues Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck are full-bore conservatives. The latter two gleefully bash Obama and are having even more fun doing so now that his administration has singled them out. The Oct. 20th edition of Hannity began with the host welcoming viewers to the "home of all the news that is not White House-approved. The administration doesn't want to hear what we have to say. They want to silence us. They want us to shut up. They want us to get in line." You get the drift.

So what's the problem with Obama going after them? No. 1, these are all commentators, as Fox news executives keep pointing out.

No. 2, it only increases the ratings for their shows, which has been the case of late.

Obama acolytes Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow

Thirdly and most important, the administration already has a house organ of its own -- MSNBC. The shows hosted by Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz all line up behind Obama, who so far isn't complaining. Chris Matthews' Hardball is closer to middle-of-the-road but still partisan to the Democrats. So in a way the president has Fox News outnumbered -- three-and-a-half to two-and-a-half. Even though MSNBC's improving numbers in the Nielsen ratings may never measure up to Fox's.

Caught in the middle -- for the most part -- is CNN, which lacks both a political identity and any real ratings momentum. You pay a price when your personality-driven prime-time lineup is without marquee bomb-throwers from the left or the right.

Fox News Channel isn't going to change. Nor is MSNBC. Unfortunately it's good business in today's cable news world to swing hard from one side of the plate or the other. In doing so, you never give the other side any breathing room or credit for accomplishing anything of any worth.

Obama, in choosing to make Fox News an issue, is only throwing gasoline on Hannity's and Beck's already incendiary rhetoric. Why would you do that? What are you going to gain from it?

Maybe "crybaby" is a little strong. But no one likes a whiner either. It's time to cease, desist and roll with the punches. Otherwise you're just going to get Glenn Beck beginning his Wednesday program with the declaration, "America, I have to tell you, that your freedom of speech is under attack. Our most precious right . . . is being brutally and viciously assaulted."

Not really. Not really at all. But in this kind of fight, truth never wins out.