WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2009— -- As President Barack Obama goes on an unprecedented presidential blitz of media appearances, the White House is in a war of words with the network that did not get an interview: Fox.
"We figured Fox would rather show 'So You Think You Can Dance' than broadcast an honest discussion about health insurance reform," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told ABC News.
That's a reference to the program the Fox network aired at 8 p.m. on Sept. 9, when other major broadcast networks were airing the president's speech to the joint session of Congress.
The idea of punishing Fox for not airing the president's speech didn't sit well with Chris Wallace, the anchor of Fox News Sunday.
"They are the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington," Wallace said on the Fox News program "The O'Reilly Factor."
The president's week-long media blitz has left no other network behind. The president has appeared on CBS's "60 Minutes," Bloomberg and CNBC and will appear on five public affairs talk shows on Sunday: ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," CBS's "Face the Nation," NBC's "Meet the Press," CNN's "State of the Union" and Univision's "Al Punto, con Jorge Ramos." And he's doing CBS' "Late Night with David Letterman" on Monday.
The White House suggests Wallace is whining about not getting an interview.
"Fox is an ideological outlet where the president has been interviewed before and will likely be interviewed again," Earnest said. "Not that the whining particularly strengthens their case for participation any time soon."
With or without an appearance on Fox, the president's media blitz is without precedent. Presidents rarely appear on Sunday talk shows; none has ever appeared on so many in one week. And no sitting president has ever been a guest on "Late Night with David Letterman."
Dana Perino, who served as White House press secretary for President George W. Bush, says the president risks "diluting the bully pulpit" by doing so many interviews in such a short period of time.
Obama's Media Blitz Skips Fox
"The next time they really want to pack a punch, they might have to ask [former House majority leader] Tom DeLay if they can cut in on 'Dancing with the Stars,'" Perino told ABC News.
It's a concern echoed by Dee Dee Myers, former White House press secretary for President Bill Clinton.
"More isn't always more when it comes to a president's words," Myers told Politico. "This is something they need to start to be concerned about."
The White House dismisses talk of overexposure.
"The president is seeking opportunities to speak to a diverse audience about the importance of comprehensive health insurance reform," Earnest said. "The more that people learn about what he actually supports, the more people support the plan."
Veteran Democratic communications strategist Chris Lehane agreed, arguing that for Barack Obama there is no such thing as overexposure.
"It's the Angelina Jolie phenomenon," said Lehane, a former spokesman for Vice President Al Gore. "People don't get tired of seeing Angelina Jolie."
Is Lehane comparing President Obama to Angelina Jolie?
"Yes. He is a natural talent," Lehane said. "People do connect with him."