The article concludes as follows, "White House officials said they were happy to have at least started a public debate about Fox. 'This is a discussion that probably had to be had about their approach to things,' Mr. Axelrod said.”
In recent days I've watched extensive coverage of this issue on each of CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, a well as network news coverage, both on TV and online, and I've seen scant scant discussion about whether Fox News is a "real news network." Rather, almost all of the press coverage seems to assume that away, instead focussing on the legitimacy of the Obama administration's decision to treat them unequally. And you can see how that debate is playing out by how often the adjective "Nixonian" is used in those discussions, and by the fact that at White House briefings other news organizations, including NBC and ABC, are now asking hostile questions about this.
When the President himself defended this "blackballing" of Fox News to NBC News on Wednesday, he did so using seemingly objective criteria. “What our advisers have simply said is that we are going to take media as it comes,” he said. “And if media is operating, basically, as a talk radio format, then that’s one thing. And if it’s operating as a news outlet, then that’s another.” But this was less than 48 hours after he had held a private meeting with, as the New York Times itself put it, "a group of mostly liberal columnists and commentators," including Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann of MSNBC.