From Family Research Council's March 12 "Washington Update" e-mail newsletter:
It's good to see a media insider of Howell Raines' stature not only call out Fox News for "conduct[ing] a propaganda campaign against the Obama administration" but rebuke the rest of the media for being too timid to say what needs to be said about Fox:
Why has our profession, through its general silence -- or only spasmodic protest -- helped Fox legitimize a style of journalism that is dishonest in its intellectual process, untrustworthy in its conclusions and biased in its gestalt?
Alas, the situation is worse than Raines imagines. True, the "respectable" media has helped legitimize Fox through tepid at best efforts to challenge Fox's misdeeds. But they've gone further than remaining silent in the face of a massive journalistic fraud: They've actively enhanced Fox's reach and reputation by scurrying to repeat the dubious claims the cable channel promotes -- and by apologizing for not doing so sooner.
It would be bad enough if serious reporters simply averted their eyes, afraid to challenge Fox, as Raines says. But, as I detailed in my column yesterday, top editors at the New York Times and the Washington Post actually say they need to give more credence to the unjournalism that comes from Fox and similar "news" outlets.
Sadly, we're well past the point where legitimate news outlets aide Fox News merely through their silence -- at this point, they aide Fox News much more directly than that.
PS to our conservative friends: I know what you're thinking: Howell Raines! He's just biased against Fox -- a former New York Times editor can't be trusted to give conservatives a fair shake! Well, before you embarrass yourself painting Raines as a partisan warrior, you might want to acquaint yourself with the Times' editorial page's treatment of Bill Clinton while Raines was in charge of the department.
Conservative commentators don't let facts get in the way of a jab at openly gay Democratic lawmaker Barney Frank.
On yesterday's edition of Fox Business Network's America's Nightly Scoreboard, guest host Tobin Smith discussed a 402-1 vote in favor of a motion to refer a resolution calling for an investigation of former Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) to the House ethics committee. Fox News contributor Monica Crowley said of the vote: "I want to know who the one member of Congress was that voted against" this. Smith replied, "I'm thinking Barney Frank, but maybe that's just me." Crowley responded, "Good one, Toby, good one."
Haha, get it? After you've picked yourself off the floor from laughing, here's an actual fact no one would know after watching Scoreboard: Barney Frank voted aye. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D - PA) was the sole no vote, telling the Atlantic that "it was another distraction from the major issues of the day."
Two of Fox News' favorite Democrats published an op-ed in today's Washington Post which purported to warn of the frightening horrors that await Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections if they pass health care reform. What they gave us, however, was an embarrassing display of half-baked analysis that encapsulates so much of what is wrong with the "debate" over health care reform in our media.
Here's the central point of their column:
First, the battle for public opinion has been lost. Comprehensive health care has been lost. If it fails, as appears possible, Democrats will face the brunt of the electorate's reaction. If it passes, however, Democrats will face a far greater calamitous reaction at the polls. Wishing, praying or pretending will not change these outcomes.
While polling numbers for the health care reform bill are certainly not strong as Democrats might hope, as Jon Chait points out in response to Caddell and Schoen, support for the bill has been trending upward. But that's beside the point.
What makes this op-ed so dishonest is that Caddell and Schoen spend the entire column expressing their concern over polling about health care reform without once suggesting that polling numbers may be so low because conservatives (and even self-identified Democrats like Schoen) have spent the last year lying - repeatedly, unabashedly, and without consequence - about health care reform.
Here's Caddell and Schoen discussing the specifics of a recent Rasmussen poll:
Many more Americans believe the legislation will worsen their health care, cost them more personally and add significantly to the national deficit. Never in our experience as pollsters can we recall such self-deluding misconstruction of survey data.
This might have been a good opportunity to correct the record and inform The Washington Post's readers that no, for the vast majority of people, health care reform won't increase the cost of their premiums. Additionally, according to the CBO, the Senate Bill will actually decrease the national deficit by $118 billion dollars. Though judging from their column, I wouldn't be surprised if Schoen and Caddell agree with Limbaugh that the CBO is "lying."
The fact that most Americans "believe" the legislation will worsen their health care could be attributed to the fact that they have been lied to about reform - but Caddell and Schoen never even consider that possibility. And they outright reject the idea that if the Dems pass reform support for the bill may increase when people realize President Obama isn't going to euthanize their grandmother:
The notion that once enactment is forced, the public will suddenly embrace health-care reform could not be further from the truth -- and is likely to become a rallying cry for disaffected Republicans, independents and, yes, Democrats.
Don't go looking for their evidence for this claim - they don't even bother trying to provide any.
Then there's their section on reconciliation:
Now, we vigorously opposed Republican efforts in the Bush administration to employ the "nuclear option" in judicial confirmations. We are similarly concerned by Democrats' efforts to manipulate passage of a health-care bill.
For the millionth time, reconciliation is not the nuclear option. Anyone arguing that it is either has an awful memory or is being deliberately dishonest in order to obscure serious debate about health care reform. Either way, they probably shouldn't be publishing op-eds in The Washington Post on health care reform.
I do, however, agree with one point made in the column:
Health care is no longer a debate about the merits of specific initiatives.
This is true - thanks in part to people like Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen.
Caddell and Schoen's advice for Democrats is so good, even the GOP is eagerly promoting it. And, as we know, they always have Dems' best interests in mind.
From the Fox Nation, accessed on March 12:
Fox Nation includes the following of Slaughter:
Conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin called for the expulsion of Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., after she reportedly explored the option of passing Obamacare whereby the House wouldn't have to directly vote on the actual Senate health care bill. "An utter violation of the United States Constitution," Levin proclaimed.
Newsbusters' Tom Blumer demonstrates once again the idiocy upon which the Right's media criticism is based.
Blumer is upset that an Associated Press article about a former Detroit city councilwoman's bribery sentencing didn't mention in the headline that the councilwoman is married to Democratic Congressman John Conyers. Blumer thinks this reflects a pro-Democrat double-standard because a separate AP article about a former aide to Republican Congressman Chris Shays pleading guilty did mention Shays in the headline.
Now, on its face, Blumer's complaint probably seems like small potatoes -- but that can be forgiven. Sometimes small transgressions can be representative of greater trends. No, the problem with Blumer's complaint isn't that it doesn't identify a problem of sufficient magnitude. The problem with Blumer's complaint is that it's really, really stupid.
See, Monica Conyers is a public figure in her own right, and she was sentenced for crimes she committed as a Detroit city councilwoman -- crimes that had nothing to do with her husband. That's why the AP's headline identified her as "Ex-Detroit councilwoman": because she was convicted of taking bribes in her capacity as a councilwoman. That isn't terribly complicated, is it?
Meanwhile, the former Shays aide is ... just a former Shays aide. He isn't a public official in his own right; his significance stems directly from his relationship to Shays. And -- now, pay attention, this part is important -- he is pleading guilty to crimes he committed in his capacity as Shays' campaign manager, including embezzling funds from the campaign. I assume it is quite obvious to everyone other than Tom Blumer why Shays' name would appear in the headline.
Basically, Blumer's complaint boils down to this: The Associated Press handled different situations differently. Bias!
Why haven't America's old-school news organizations blown the whistle on Roger Ailes, chief of Fox News, for using the network to conduct a propaganda campaign against the Obama administration -- a campaign without precedent in our modern political history?
Watching the elite Beltway press actually rally around Fox News last year after the White House called it out as an illegitimate outlet for real news was one of the saddest journalism spectacles in recent memory. Recall that during the Bush years, the GOP White House often cooked up allegations and lashed out at prominent (i.e. genuine) news organizations, such as NBC and the New York Times, and I don't recall anybody rallying around them.
But when a Democratic administration called out Fox News for what it really is, a GOP propaganda tool (i.e. the Opposition Party), the same D.C. press corps played defense for Murdoch's dishonest empire and actually demanded Dems back off.
As Raines notes in his column, and as Media Matters has been documenting for a very long time, today's Obama-era Fox News has shredded any semblance of professional, modern day American journalism. It long ago cut the chord with that tradition.
And yet last fall, the tsk-tsking chattering class agreed that it was the White House that was way out of line when it fact-checked Fox News.
Raines asks all the right questions, and his essay is dead-on in every way, except one. When it comes to answering the essay's central question (why won't journalists label Fox News for what it really is), I think Raines pulls his punches. His conclusion is that in this age of mass news media layoffs, journalists don't tell the truth about Fox News because they might have to work for Murdoch one day [emphasis added]:
He and his video ferrets have intimidated center-right and center-left journalists into suppressing conclusions -- whether on health-care reform or other issues -- they once would have stated as demonstrably proven by their reporting. I try not to believe that this kid-gloves handling amounts to self-censorship, but it's hard to ignore the evidence. News Corp., with 64,000 employees worldwide, receives the tender treatment accorded a future employer.
I don't believe that for a second. Well, that might account for a fraction of the playing dumb that routinely goes on regarding Fox News.
But I think the huge majority of it is explained quite simply: fear or the 'liberal media bias' charge. Conservatives have been pounding the press for more than four decades about their alleged bias and the Beltway press corps has developed rabbit ears when it comes to the allegation. And frankly, there's plenty of evidence that jouranlists are terrified of the charge and nervous about what can happen to their careers if that tag sticks.
So what's an easy way to prove you're not liberal? (Aside from becoming lapdogs during the Bush years.) You pretend Fox News is legit. You pretend that sure, Ailes has some opinion guys on at night, but there's a clear dividing line between the news and opinion. You pretend that Fox News is just the mirror opposite of MSNBC.
Basically, you sign off on a charade that, as Raines points out, any newsroom pro can see is a complete joke.
The whole thing was embarrassing to watch, and the cone of silence that Raines highlights continues to be a stain on the industry. I'm glad Raines, the former Times editors, is coming forward. It would be even better if more high-profile, working members of today's press corps did the same.
I usually avoid trying to make any larger connection, or draw any type of conclusions, based on posted comments online. Most often written anonymously, they certainly tend to be angry and combative and at times downright offensive. Readers can essentially post whatever they want and never be held accountable. Plus, because of the sheer volume of comments, it's difficult for host sites to monitor them all.
Everybody knows online readers from every corner of the political spectrum write all kinds of crazy stuff, day in and day out, which is why I generally just ignore offensive comments, and rarely highlight them.
That said, the comment section thread connected to a recent Politico article about how Sen. Harry Reid's wife and daughter were seriously injured in a Washington, D.C. area car crash, was -- even for a online veteran like myself -- just jaw-dropping.
What was so stunning was the sheer, unadulterated hatred that conservative readers tapped into so they could mock and heap scorn on Reid and his injured family, and to wish that Reid's body had been mangled as well. To see this stuff published on a mainstream news site like Politico is also disturbing.
The GOP Noise Machine long ago turned the vitriol way past 11 when it came to trying to dehumanizing their political opponents. And if people want a glimpse into the dark soul of today's right wing, then keep reading.
This was the second comment posted under the Politico article about Reid's injured wife and daughter:
Quick, get Rahm out of the shower and send him over there--They might need poking!
This was the third:
Reid's a Mormon, so he probably has spares
And that was just the beginning:
Personally, we don't give a d*mn. If Reid had been in the car too, we'd call that the cherry on the sundae of our day.
A pity Harry wasn't in the car.
Its to bad it wasn`t him instead.
too bad harry wasn't driving the car, with that hag pelosi riding shotgun, love to see her face go splat.......what goes around comes around, keep being socialists....
Too bad it wasn't Queenie Botox Pelosi's demise. KARMA: It WILL Get You!!
If Reid gets his way your family could die in the street for all he cares. Don't give me this crap about respecting his family because I can assure you he doesn't respect yours.
Maybe the creep Seedy Reidy realized his campaign needed some sympathy.
KARMA.........KARMA........KARMA.....Ain't it *Magical*????
... ashes,ashes and they all fall down.......
What goes around comes around....
Poor idiot Ried ,wife and daughter in an accident, right before he accidently destroys the USA. Oh thats right he`s doing it on purpose.
Remember, the fanatical outpouring of hate was not prompted by news about what a politician had done, but by the revelation that members of a senator's family had been badly injured.
I should also note that a couple commenters posted pleas for Politico to shut the article's comment section down since portions of it had deteriorated into a cesspool. But no action was taken.
UPDATED: It appears that editors at Politico have now gone in an deleted the offensive comments highlighted by Media Matters.
From Pamela Geller's March 12 Atlas Shrugs blog post:
First of all, it needs to be said: Obama, get your hands off our kids. Seriously. Stop the fascist recruitment. It's sick.
Obama said he was going to build a civilian army -- and he is using our children. How? He uses the classrooms, as I exclusively broke the story here: Organizing for America recruitment in the classroom.
But AmeriCorps (can Obama pronounce the second syllable?) is the machinery for his youth army. And there is huge dough behind it -- yours and mine.