White House Communications Shuffle: Dunn To Step Down
by Nathan Empsall, Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 07:37:10 AM EST
Big process news: White House Communications Director Anita Dunn is resigning. Deputy Dan Pfeiffer will take over. This is not a rebuke for Dunn; she made it clear from the get-go that her job was a temporary one. From Politico:
Anita Dunn is stepping down from her post as White House communications director, and her deputy, Dan Pfeiffer, will be replacing her, a White House official confirmed Tuesday.
Dunn took the job on an interim basis about six months ago after the first person Obama named to the key post, former Emily's List director Ellen Moran, left the post for the Commerce Department, citing family reasons.
Dunn, a longtime Democratic political consultant, made few headlines in the White House until last month when she seemed to kick off a crusade aimed at de-legitimizing Fox News. The anti-Fox campaign generated criticism from other members of the press as well as a lot of second-guessing from other Democratic strategists, some of whom described it as an unnecessary distraction.
I think this is a good thing. I despise Fox News (except for Shepard Smith) and think the White House should more or less ignore it, and it was right to push back a little when the rest of the MSM began following Fox's lead on stories like ACORN and Van Jones, but there came a point when Dunn and her team just went too far. Fox needs to be slapped, but you don't want that fight to overshadow the rest of your message as was always clear would happen. Besides, Saturday Night Live and Jon Stewart can handle much of that battle on their own. No, what the White House communications staff needs to do is focus more on crafting a presidential narrative rather than on one media outlet. As Tom Friedman said earlier this month, Obama's otherwise masterful speeches have "not tied all his programs into a single narrative that shows the links between his health care, banking, economic, climate, energy, education and foreign policies. Such a narrative would enable each issue and each constituency to reinforce the other and evoke the kind of popular excitement that got him elected."
Perhaps a new communications shop will help achieve that goal. Dunn, of course, wouldn't have deserved to be fired, and I wouldn't have called for her ouster over such small things, but this is the perfect time for a planned voluntary shake-up. Best wishes to Dunn in whatever comes next, and high expectations for Pfeiffer.