Responding to a inquiry from The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz, Roger Ailes confessed his networks' position within the political echo system. "Every other network has given all their shows to liberals," said the Fox News chief. "We are the balance."
The metamorphosis from "Fair and Balanced" to "we are the balance" is a significant admission that extends beyond simply dropping a "d." Ailes publicly embraces the misguided and long-held conservative lore that the entire mainstream media is reporting from the left. Fox's version of "balance" -- according to its president -- isn't to provide its viewers with an equal hearing of all sides. Rather, Fox's purpose is to supply right-wing bias to correct what it (wrongly) perceives to be an error in the media cosmos.
Apparently in pursuit of Ailes' version of balance, he confesses that Fox News promotes his own blend conservative ideology. It was Ailes, according to Kurtz, who "cooked up" Fox's recent Regulation Nation series. Ailes tells Kurtz that he thinks "regulations are totally out of control":
Ailes raises a Fox initiative that he cooked up: "Are our producers on board on this 'Regulation Nation' stuff? Are they ginned up and ready to go?" Ailes, who claims to be "hands off" in developing the series, later boasts that "no other network will cover that subject ... I think regulations are totally out of control," he adds, with bureaucrats hiring Ph.D.s to "sit in the basement and draw up regulations to try to ruin your life." It is a message his troops cannot miss.
This series just happened to be perfectly inline with the Republican Party's message of the week.
How do you run afoul of the network boss? By unbalancing the network and not reporting from a conservative point of view: "Ailes keeps a wary eye on anchor Shepard Smith, who occasionally backs aspects of the Obama record: 'Every once in a while Shep Smith gets out there where the buses don't run and we have a friendly talk.' "
As for the network's involvement in the Republican Primary? Some expressed surprise that Fox hasn't taken sides, crediting the network for its newfound neutrality. They quickly forget Ailes failed to recruit his preferred candidate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, into the race. Now Ailes knows his power is based on Fox's perceived neutrality between Republican candidates. Each of the top Republican contenders made a pilgrimage to kiss their Svengali's ring. Ailes now sits in the middle, with each member of the field knowing that Fox's audience will ultimately pick the Republican who will face off against President Obama.
When the primary contest ends, nobody should be surprised when the network returns to its war on Obama. When the network does, remember Ailes' confessions:
1. - Balance is not providing viewers with the conservative and progressive point of view, instead it is about balancing the phony notion of liberal bias in the mainstream media.
2. - Ailes' narrow ideological leanings create major portions of network coverage such as its "Regulation Nation" series, where Fox personalities -- among other things -- spoke out against child labor laws.
3. - Providing any balanced coverage earns you a sharp rebuke from the boss for getting "out there where the buses don't run."
Fox television's Emmy broadcast offers prima-facie evidence of News Corp.'s inherent dishonesty.
A few days before the ceremony, 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin tweeted, "I did a short Emmy pretape a few days ago. Now they tell me NewsCorp may cut the funniest line."
The as-yet unknown joke, it turns out, involved the phone-hacking scandal that has enveloped the company. Apparently Fox believed it would be "in poor taste to make light of the serious allegations surrounding the phone-hacking scandal."
Of course, Fox News and other News Corp. properties have been minimizing the scandal for months. Bill O'Reilly dismissed scandal as a witch hunt, telling his audience: "You have the New York Times absolutely running wild with the story, front page, front page, front page, column, column, column, vicious stuff and it's all ideological!"
And the Wall Street Journal editorial board responded to the scandal by attacking critics of its parent company, "The Schadenfreude is so thick you can't cut it with a chainsaw. Especially redolent are lectures about journalistic standards from publications that give Julian Assange and WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur."
Even chairman Rupert Murdoch, before being humbled by Parliament, told the Wall Street Journal his company had handled the scandal "extremely well in every way possible," making just "minor mistakes."
So a joke that surely would have shone a negative light on News Corp. is in "poor taste" because it "makes light" of the seriousness of phone hacking, even though numerous branches of the company have been doing just that for months.
News Corp. also used the Emmy broadcast to get in some environmental doublespeak. Through Fox News, the company has been responsible for deceitful anti-environmental broadcasts. Now in an attempt to win PR points, the company dishonestly attempted to green-wash its horrendous statements on environmental policy by releasing the following statement before the telecast:
FOX, in partnership with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, will bring clean energy to the 63RD PRIMETIME EMMY(R) AWARDS airing live Sunday, Sept. 18 (8:00-11:00 PM ET live/5:00-8:00 PM PT live) on FOX. Solar panels will provide power to the Primetime Emmys red carpet and, for the first time ever, FOX will donate the solar panels and the red carpet to local charities after the event. In addition, the 390-foot red carpet is the largest ever to be lit entirely by low-energy LED and fluorescent lighting.
It's ironic to see Fox is bragging about using solar power, considering that earlier this month viewers of Fox Business were told: "Half the time solar panels don't even work. Half the time they do work they produce expensive electricity. This is just lose, lose, lose, for America. We can't do it here".
And those light bulbs used on the red carpet? Fox is opposed to those as well: "Now these new light bulbs are being made, I believe, in China, and so you might wonder about whether or not we should save the old light bulb just to save some jobs here in this country."
Whether censoring comics or covering its horrendous environmental record, the Emmy awards are yet another example of why News Corp. should never be trusted.
As Glenn Beck's television show came to a close, Fox News launched a flurry of attacks on Media Matters for America making the ludicrous argument that the Internal Revenue Service should revoke our status as a nonprofit organization. Over the past three weeks, Fox News has run more than 30 segments on this topic on both its "news" and opinion shows, with additional coverage on the Fox Business Network and on its Fox Nation website. The network has repeatedly encouraged viewers to file complaints with the IRS, even providing a direct link to a pre-filled form on Fox Nation.
This attack is nothing more than an attempt by Fox News to silence a vocal critic. The network's parent company, News Corp., is a $10+ billion company. Because of its size and influence, News Corp. believes it can intimidate anyone who takes issue with its overt political agenda and distortion of facts.
Media Matters and our supporters will not cower from Fox's ridiculous accusations. We are not at war with Fox. Fox is at war with the truth and Media Matters will continue fighting back against the network's lies that pollute our cable boxes.
It is no coincidence these attacks began as Glenn Beck's Fox News program was coming to an end, and after our research had documented the pervasive spread of misinformation and bigotry throughout the network. Fox News knows that Media Matters and our allies have succeeded in exposing it as a political organization that misinforms the public, not the "fair & balanced" news organization it claims to be.
Our researchers exposed Fox News Washington Managing Editor Bill Sammon slanting coverage and even acknowledging that he lied on air about Barack Obama in the days leading up to the 2008 election. "Fair and balanced" news organizations do not employ people who willfully mislead their audience.
It also is no coincidence that David Brock and I were personally targeted by the network's hosts. We just completed a book titled The Fox Effect that uses internal Fox emails, interviews with insiders, and analysis of Fox's on-air content to demonstrate the network's role in manipulating the public during the 2010 election. Why not attempt to smear the authors of a book that exposes their network?
News Corp. now faces increased scrutiny due to the phone hacking controversy in the U.K.. Every day new evidence of the company's malfeasance emerges. And yet Fox's coverage of the scandal remains at a minimum.
Fox's attack on Media Matters proves our organization's operating theory about the network. We've developed a formula we call the Fox Cycle that demonstrates how the network launders attacks on progressives, attempting to elevate them to the mainstream:
Step 1: Conservative activists make an inaccurate charge designed to make progressives look bad.
Step 2: Fox News devotes disproportionate coverage to the story.
Step 3: Fox News attacks mainstream journalistic outlets for ignoring the story.
Step 4: Mainstream outlets begin reporting on the controversy.
Step 5: Media critics and pundits weigh in on Fox News's coverage, crediting Fox with breaking the story.
Step 6: The facts emerge and the accusation is shown to be baseless, but many Americans are left with the impression it might be true.
This is how the Fox Cycle has played out in the network's attacks on Media Matters:
Step 2: In three weeks, Fox News runs more than 30 segments on the story.
Step 3: This past weekend Fox repeatedly asked on-air why no mainstream media outlet other than Politico has reported on the story.
Perhaps because Politico's story points out:
"Marcus Owens, a partner at Caplin & Drysdale and former director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS, said the law is on Media Matters's side on both counts. . ."
"The bottom line is, as long as an organization is following a process and establishing or attempting to establish that its views have some basis in fact, then as long as it isn't doing something like the equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded theater or encouraging people to commit crimes, then it probably is going to qualify as educational," he said. "As a result, we have Media Matters, and we have Brent Bozell and the Media Research Center, and we have all kinds of other organizations that are doing the same thing."
He argues that MRC's website is not substantially different from Media Matters in that both attack media companies on what they feel is the opposite side of the ideological aisle.
Owens concluded, "I'm afraid Fox loses this round." That is certainly clear.
During an appearance on Stand Up! With Pete Dominick CNN's Rick Sanchez discussed life as a Cuban-American and the difficulties minorities face when working in broadcasting. The conversation soon shifted to Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, who occasionally makes jokes at Sanchez's expense.
Sanchez expressed frustration and anger toward Stewart's brand of comedy, originally calling him "bigoted," later recanting and setting on "prejudicial" and "uninformed." Prodded for more information by Dominick, Sanchez said he believes Stewart has unfavorable views toward "Everybody else who's not like him."
Dominick pointed out that Stewart is also a minority and that he often pokes fun of those who, like Stewart, are Jewish and from the Northeast. While later agreeing that Jews have a history of oppression, Sanchez scoffed at the comparison, sarcastically noting, "Yeah, [Jews are] a very powerless people. [laughter] Please! What are you, kidding?"
I'm telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority? Yeah.
On CNN, Rick Sanchez has a long history of taking on those who rely on stereotypes and racial generalizations. He stood up to Lou Dobbs' hateful anti-Hispanic stereotypes over illegal immigration and fought back against his racially-tinged birtherism. Earlier in Dominick's show, Sanchez even recalled a time when a CNN executive told him that he saw Sanchez as more of a "[ABC News reporter] John Quiñones" rather than an anchor.
Due to his own experiences, Rick Sanchez should understand the pain inflicted when people use racial and ethnic stereotypes. Reviving the age-old myth of a Jewish controlled media is beneath Sanchez and beneath CNN. What Sanchez said was unacceptable. He owes a sincere apology for his ugly and offensive comments.
This morning, Bloomberg News carried this stunning revelation:
"Programmers from North Korea's General Federation of Science and Technology developed a 2007 mobile-phone bowling game based on the 1998 film, as well as "Men in Black: Alien Assault," according to two executives at Nosotek Joint Venture Company, which markets software from North Korea for foreign clients. Both games were published by a unit of News Corp., the New York-based media company, a spokeswoman for the unit said."
Yes, News Corp.'s software division is funneling money into the pocket of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. Sean Hannity has asked, "Why would we sit down with a mad man like Adolf Jr., Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong-Il?" Perhaps he needs to pose that same question in News Corp.'s executive suite.
In fact, I wonder what Fox News personalities think of their boss' business dealings considering their own thoughts on the North Korean regime.
Consider: (From Nexis)
Glenn Beck, on the September 1, 2010, edition of his Fox News show:
I have news for you. There are a lot of universities that are just as dangerous with indoctrination of our children as these terror groups are in Iran or in North Korea. With the poll numbers continuing to slide for the new health care bill, our Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, just said and I quote, "We need a reeducation process on healthcare.
Bill Kristol, on the July 23, 2010 edition of Special Report:
What I think North Korea is a horrible regime that kills people and has gotten away with things in the past. Secretary Clinton and Gates have been strong. This is a situation the Obama administration came into office disliking what the Bush administration had done vis-a-vis North Korea, and announcing a new relationship with China, strategic reassurance. Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg giving a speech on this.
They were mugged by reality. The problem wasn't Bush, it was North Korea. And the big underlying story is China has not helped us make North Korea a responsible state.
Neil Cavuto, on the May 25, 2010 edition of Your World:
CAVUTO: But I guess what I would curious, do you think that it compromises our national security? I mean, I wonder if it`s just an accident that the nut in North Korea isn`t showboating the way he is precisely because he knows the world is kind of distracted.
EAGLEBURGER: Good for you. Neil, again, you will remember, I think, one time some time ago when we were talking about this and I said to you that I was afraid that people like the North Koreans were going to take a look at the wimpishness of this administration and decide it was a very opportune time to do some tough things.
I think what -- what the people in Pyongyang are now seeing is a president of the United States who largely has lost out in terms of anything in the way of some sensible approaches to foreign policy issues, to defense and to anything else in this budget.
And, yes, I think it`s made a difference, and it`s not just with the North Koreans, by the way. I think it has affected the Russians. I think it has affected the Chinese. And every single time this goes on like this, we end up with a foreign policy problem, which is going to be more and more difficult to solve, because everybody has judged us as no longer ready to do the things that, for a very long time, they all knew that we Americans would do if we were tread on.
Sean Hannity, on the April 13, 2010 edition of his Fox News show:
HANNITY: This president is now cutting our nuclear defenses on a day that he admits that al Qaeda is seeking them and would use them. That makes no sense to me.
DOUG SCHOEN: Sean, frankly, I'm more concerned that we left Iran and North Korea out of this summit. But we have to talk about the good, bad, and to cooperate.
HANNITY: Why would we sit down with a mad man like Adolf Jr., Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong-Il?
Follow Ari Rabin-Havt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/arirabinhavt
Wednesday afternoon as our building held an ice cream social in the lobby, a young man showed up at Media Matters office armed with a camera. Positioning himself outside our office, he proceeded to ask people leaving the building what it was like to work for George Soros.
I decided to go have a conversation with him:
I would like to note, no matter how many times Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly says it, George Soros has never made a contribution to Media Matters. However, if he would like to make a contribution, he can do so at MediaMatters.org.
There is nothing wrong with tracking -- Media Matters regularly sends trackers to conservative events -- but if you are going to track, perhaps it would be a good idea to come prepared with more than a single question based on a false premise. And when you are confronted with your own questions, have a better answer than rubbing your nose and mumbling.
A long line of inmates solemnly enters and exits a prison yard through a revolving door. As the lone black inmate reenters society, he peers into the camera with a menacing glance. He is the only inmate to do so.
The ad described above was created by George H.W. Bush's campaign as part of a broad strategy to terrify America by, as psychologist and political consultant Drew Westen explains, playing on "fears of the dangerous, lawless, violent, dark black male."
While the most infamous Willie Horton ads were created by an independent organization, it was Bush's media consultant Roger Ailes who "gleefully" told Time Magazine in August of 1988, "The only question is whether we depict Willie Horton with a knife in his hand or without it."
1988 wasn't Ailes' first experience dividing Americans along racial lines. During a taping of the "Man in the Arena" series in 1968, the Nixon campaign stumbled on a problem when a panelist they thought was a physician turned out to be a psychiatrist. Ailes quickly figured out a solution. According to Rick Pearlstein's Nixonland, Ailes would substitute a "good, mean, Wallaceite cab-driver. Wouldn't that be great? Some guy to sit in there and say, 'Awright, Mac, what about these niggers?'" Pearlstein added that "Nixon then could abhor the uncivility of the words, while endorsing a 'moderate' version of the opinion."
Given his history, it should be no surprise Ailes' minions at Fox News have obsessed over the discredited 18 month-old story of alleged voter intimidation by New Black Panther Party members on the day of the 2008 election. Since June 30, Fox News has spent over 8 hours of airtime and 95 segments on the story.
And no network has done more to expose Americans to the extreme and hateful politics of the New Black Panther Party, which has been designated a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, than Fox, where the group's spokespeople have appeared more than 50 times since 1998.
The truth is, it was President Bush's Justice Department, not Obama's, that made the decision not to pursue criminal charges against members of the New Black Panther Party for alleged voter intimidation at a Philadelphia polling center in 2008. In fact, the Obama administration successfully obtained default judgment against Samir Shabazz, a member of the New Black Panther Party carrying a nightstick outside the polling center on Election Day.
Their mission isn't to find the truth, but to plant the seed in viewers' minds that maybe, just maybe, the President and the Attorney General are the same type of militants seen wielding a nightstick and repeatedly slurring whites on Fox News. As the Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page wrote, "Now the New Black Panthers are being used to vilify a black president as being soft on black racism. Coming soon, I am sure, to campaign attack ads near you."
Roger Ailes and Fox News - along with the entire Republican Party - are praying the mainstream media will cave to right wing pressure and delve into this story. As the chief communications strategist for Republicans, Ailes couldn't have scripted it better.
Conservatives and Republicans are no strangers to the use of code words and bigotry in their attacks on progressives. What's rare is when they unveil those vile tendencies for the world to see.
That is exactly what leading conservative judicial activist Manuel Miranda did in an Accuracy in Media podcast:
MIRANDA: I think the real concern is, the question has to be, is Elena Kagan still a socialist? And the reason I say that is because in her early writings, in her early life, in the formation of her political sense, it is pretty clear that she is an American socialist. She comes from that background. I grew up in New York, she grew up in New York. I'm very familiar with the sort of Jewish socialist culture in New York, which has an enormous pedigree, has done wonderful things in promoting a way of life and developing American society, but at the end of the day is still socialist.
(FYI: the idea that Elena Kagan is a socialist has been thoroughly debunked.)
Is Miranda an anti-Semite? I have no idea what he truly believes.
Is he willing to use anti-Semitic canards to attack Elena Kagan? That is clear.
(Cross-posted at Huffington Post.)
On March 1 of last year, Washington Post Ombudsman Andy Alexander began his weekly column in the Post stating that "Opinion columnists are free to choose whatever facts bolster their arguments. But they aren't free to distort them." He was absolutely right.
It is unfortunate that Alexander cannot hold opinion columnists accountable when they do distort the facts. He told me as much on the phone yesterday.
Let me back up.
Alexander made his comment that opinion columnists "aren't free to distort facts" response to widespread criticism from Media Matters and others of the Post for allowing George Will to suggest that data from an Arctic research group undermined the overwhelming scientific consensus on human-caused global warming -- a claim that the group itself debunked. Alexander acknowledged that "readers would have been better served if Post editors, and the new ombudsman, had more quickly addressed the claims of falsehoods."
In the time since Alexander's response, Will has on four additional occasions misled Post readers about the scientific basis for the existence of global warming -- most recently this past Saturday when he wrote that the "menace of global warming" is "elusive" and claimed that an acknowledged error about Himalayan glaciers in a report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) constituted "another dollop of evidence of the seepage of dubious science into policy debate." But scientists have routinely presented strong evidence of long-term global warming and its consequences, including evidence of "widespread mass loss from glaciers." Just this month, major meteorological organizations throughout the world -- including NASA -- released reports showing that the past decade, 2000-2009, was the warmest on record.
Alexander assured readers in March that Will's column undergoes "fact-checking at multiple levels." Based on the number of errors since, that system clearly is not working.
I decided to raise the issue with Alexander. Either the Post needed to guarantee a more rigorous fact-checking of Will's column or the columnist should no longer be allowed to opine on climate change. His track record of global warming falsehoods have damaged the public debate on this important issue for far too long.
Considering his March 1 column, I believed this issue would be well within the purview of the paper's ombudsman. But, according to my phone conversation with Alexander yesterday morning, that is simply not the case. He informed me he is the "reader representative for news coverage," pointing out that this was reflected on page 2 of the Post's print edition which states, "Ombudsman (reader representative for news coverage)."
Some readers mistakenly think that the ombudsman can force change on The Post, its editorial policy or what columnists write. My job is not to tell the editorial board what to write, and I wouldn't presume to tell David S. Broder what to say about politics. Columnists own their space. If they make a mistake, let me know, but the opinions are theirs alone.
So, let me get this straight. If a reader finds a "mistake" in an opinion column, they can alert the ombudsman. The ombudsman just can't do anything about it. Perhaps that explains why, with the exception of Alexander's March 1 column, George Will's multiple errors on the topic of climate change have gone unaddressed.
A newspaper's editorial page is clearly different from its news pages and Howell is correct: It is not the job of the ombudsman to dictate columnist's opinions. But Alexander was also correct when he wrote that columnists should not be free to distort the facts in order to support those opinions. After all, errors in opinion columns are just as much a reflection on a newspaper's journalistic integrity as errors in news articles.
If the Post's policy dictates that the Ombudsman serves as the "reader representative" for pages A1-A13, then who is looking out for us on pages 14-15? Considering Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt in the past has refused to respond to inquires or run corrections to Will's errors, the answer is no one.
The first Sunday show lineup of the New Year looks to be focused on the aftermath of the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253.
Among the guests appearing tomorrow will be Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) on CNN's State of the Union. Will guest host Gloria Borger ask DeMint about his vote against the FY 2010 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which included $4,358,076,000 in funding for screening operations by TSA, $1,116,406,000 of which was specifically for explosives detection systems? [Senate Vote #323, 10/20/09]
Or how about his vote against the Improving America's Security Act of 2007, which implemented recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, including several provisions related to airline security? [Senate Vote #284, 7/26/07]
Terry Moran, who is guest-hosting ABC's This Week, is including Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) on his roundtable. Given Dick Cheney's recent attacks on President Obama for not using the phrase "war on terror," will Moran remind the Congressman of his own May 2008 comment that "the phrase 'war on terror' was the 'dumbest term...you could use'"? [Financial Times, 5/28/08]
Finally, Bill Kristol will take his regular spot on Fox News Sunday's panel. Will the other panelists allow him to blame Northwest 253 on Obama, or will they remind him of his previous statement that 9/11 is part of Clinton's "legacy"? [WeeklyStandard.com, 8/28/08]