Henry is keenly aware of the ‘‘noise machine,’’ bloggers like Media Matters who quickly pounce on work they consider objectionable. He suggested that MSNBC host Chuck Todd, who also works for NBC News, doesn’t get the same level of critical attention paid to his work even though MSNBC is clearly slanted left.
As a young reporter, Henry said he looked up to former White House correspondents like Sam Donaldson, famed for shouting questions at President Ronald Reagan. ‘‘Now if you shout a question at Obama, you’re somehow seen as a bad guy,’’ he said. ‘‘I think some people have been cowed.’’
Donaldson, now 78, recalled angry letters he had gotten from Republicans about his coverage of the Reagan administration. When he covered President Bill Clinton’s second term from ABC and asked tough questions, Republicans wrote to compliment him on his maturity, he said.
He had his boss’ support and didn’t have to look over his shoulder at blogs, said Donaldson, who considers Henry ‘‘one of the best’’ on the beat now.
‘‘It’s not that they are all afraid and cringe, because they don't,’’ Donaldson said. ‘‘But it’s so much tougher to do it in every way.’’
His advice on dealing with the critics: ‘‘You just have to try to ignore them.’’
Henry said he tries.
For all of the attention that Henry’s work gets from people with strong political points of view, Sesno said it would probably have been more difficult for him if Romney had won the election.
His theory is that most Fox viewers don’t mind if Henry is tough on Obama. Showing such toughness on someone that many of his viewers are sympathetic toward would be a lot harder.
EDITOR'S NOTE — David Bauder can be reached at dbauder(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/dbauder.