Media Matters has repeatedly shown that Fox News falls decisively short of being "fair and balanced," but instead is a 24/7 partisan organization -- or as Fox senior VP Bill Shine put it, the "voice of opposition" to the Obama White House.
That's why it was so gratifying to see that, although Fox personalities may still be in denial, others in the News Corp. family have seen the light.
No, really. Check out the News Corp.-owned New York Post's recent reporting on Lou Dobbs' departure from CNN:
Klein long believed Dobbs was at odds with CNN's desire to position itself as an opinion-free, middle-of-the-road alternative to its cable news rivals -- conservative Fox News and liberal MSNBC.
CNN is pushing hard to position itself as a middle-of-the-road news source, between left-leaning MSNBC and conservative Fox News Channel.
Nice to know they've been paying attention.
Washington Post reporter Michael Shear explains his paper's wall-to-wall coverage of Sarah Palin's new book:
Why do we spend so much time on Palin? And is it too much? Perhaps. There's a danger that we are overdoing it -- four stories in today's paper may have reached that point. On the other hand, there seems to be an insatiable demand from our audience -- liberals and conservatives -- and at the end of the day we have to, and should, respond to that.
Really? There's an "insatiable demand" from Washington Post readers for coverage of Sarah Palin's book? How does the Post know this? The book just came out -- has the paper's switchboard been flooded with demands that for all-Going-Rogue, all the time? Are Post editors getting angry emails insisting that three articles in one day's paper just won't do -- a fourth is absolutely necessary, though still not sufficient?
I doubt that very much.
I don't mean to single Shear out here. You see this kind of thing all the time -- reporters justifying something they can't justify on the merits by asserting public demand they can't (or won't) quantify.
Like when Howard Kurtz defended obsessive cable news coverage of a balloon that was not carrying a little boy by writing "The ratings, forgive me, must have soared." Must have? Well ... Did they? Or when Politico's Mike Allen asserted that "Fox executives are relishing" their recent fight with the White House because "ratings at Fox are through the roof" -- without actually providing the ratings to back up that claim. As Eric Boehlert has explained in detail, Fox's ratings spike is a myth.
It's bad enough when journalists suggest that the news media should simply report what the public to see. That isn't journalism -- and if we go too far down that road, it won't be long before NBC Nightly News consists of nothing more than cat videos and B-list celebrity sex tapes. But it's even more frustrating when they make decisions about what to cover based on baseless assumptions about what the public wants.
For years, local news producers have led their stations in a race to the bottom, driven by the prevailing belief that "eyeball grabbers" and "soft news" are the only hope for local news in an era of declining TV audiences.
But a 2004 study* argues that they might want to rethink their approach. In "The Local News Story: Is Quality a Choice?" political science professors Todd L. Belt and Marion Just conclude that sensationalistic news does not lead to sensational ratings.
Belt, assistant professor at the University of Hawai'i, Hilo, and Just, a professor at Wellesley College and the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, argue that the prevailing worldview in the nation's newsrooms has it all backward: Good, solid journalism, not tawdry, tabloid-style content, keeps viewers tuned to their TVs.
What Belt and Just found certainly goes against industry conventional wisdom.
"The data show quality journalism produces commercial success," they write. Newscasts that posted high scores on the quality index nabbed higher ratings than their mediocre counterparts. The finding held true for both the early and late evening news time slots. It also held for lead stories, suggesting that the old TV news mantra - "If it bleeds, it leads" - might be in need of revision.
Although local news viewership as a whole fell during the period covered by the study - 1998 to 2002 - the data nonetheless show that those stations that produced high-quality newscasts did better in hanging on to their audience.
He already served time as Laura Bush's flak, so maybe GOP lapdog Malcolm is eying a return to the Republican payroll. His crush on Palin is quite obvious this week, although Malcolm's reading comprehension skills seem suspect as ever.
Get a load of this headline:
Going berserk over 'Going Rogue;' Democrats' reaction to Sarah Palin book and publicity
According to Malcolm's astute reading of the political landscape, it's Democrats who are going "berserk" over Palin's book. And how many "Democrats" does Malcolm quote in his piece? Yeah, that'd be zero because, as everyone else but Malcolm realizes, Democrats are pretty much sitting the Palin thing out this week and gleefully watching as Palin pits Republicans vs. Republicans as they conduct another bloody round of the 2008 Blame Game.
Always desperate for a partisan spin, Malcolm, as is his custom, just makes stuff up and claims Democrats are going "berserk" over Palin's book. But oops, Malcolm doesn't actually quote a single Democrat to prove his point.
Malcolm and Palin could make a perfect pair.
UPDATED: What's Malcolm's proof that (nameless) Democrats are going "berserk"? The fact that the DNC has sent out some emails containing links to Palin-related news stories. Oh brother. This is lame even by Malcolm standards.
From The Fox Nation, accessed on November 17:
In an email to supporters, the Tea Party Express praised "some of the great television news coverage this effort has received. Media coverage is an important aspect of the Tea Party Express tours - it's all about getting our message out to millions of Americans - to inform them that there is an active political resistance against the socialist agenda of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid."
The Tea Party Express' examples of "great television news coverage" included links to numerous segments on Fox News and CNN about their efforts.
If the press is going to robotically follow the lead of the right-wing media and spend time actually dissecting Obama's bow over the weekend before Japan's Emperor Akihito, and if the press is going to legitimize the notion that perhaps all kinds of (evil) motives can be interpreted by the common act of protocol, and that maybe Americans can learn all sorts of things about how Obama views America's role in the world from the passing action, than why hasn't the press turned its attention to this week's Newsweek's cover which features Sarah Palin in an apparent breach of protocol?
This is just Boy Scout/Girl Scout 101: you simply do not use the United States flag as a casual prop draped over a chair and lean up against for a photo shoot. Ever. And for a politician to do it, and an overtly stars-and-stripes one like Palin, is really rather shocking.
Yet here where are in the media's unofficial Palin Week when all-things Palin are deemed to be hugely significant, and Palin's apparent etiquette gaffe goes mostly unmentioned. Why? Because the press only cares about what right-wing noisemakers are crowing about. (i.e. The bow.)
UPDATED: Palin (writing in the third person) is reportedly upset that Newsweek used the photo, which was from an older Runner's World issue, because it featured her in a running suit. The fact that it featured her apparently disrespecting the flag is of no concern. The media continue to remain mum.
UPDATED: Conservative pundits now want to talk about the Newsweek cover...to show how biased and sexist Newsweek is. They want the issue of the Newsweek cover to become a thing. But so far, crickets from the right-wing press regarding the fact that Palin trampled etiquette and inappropriately used the United States flag as a photo prop.
UPDATED: Question for CBN's David Brody: Did somebody force Palin pose for this photo? Just asking.
From Washington Times editor emeritus Wesley Pruden's November 17 column (emphasis added):
So far it's a memorable trip. He established a new precedent for how American presidents should pay obeisance to kings, emperors, monarchs, sovereigns and assorted other authentic man-made masters of the universe. He stopped just this side of the full grovel to the emperor of Japan, risking a painful genuflection if his forehead had hit the floor with a nasty bump, which it almost did. No president before him so abused custom, traditions, protocol (and the country he represents). Several Internet sites published a rogue's gallery showing how other national leaders - the prime ministers of Israel, India, Slovenia, South Korea, Russia and Dick Cheney among them - have greeted Emperor Akihito with a friendly handshake and an ever-so-slight but respectful nod (and sometimes not even that).
Now we know why Mr. Obama stunned everyone with an earlier similar bow to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, only the bow to the Japanese emperor was far more flamboyant, a sign of a really deep sense of inferiority. He was only practicing his bow in Riyadh. Sometimes rituals are learned with difficulty. It took Bill Clinton months to learn how to return a military salute worthy of a commander in chief; like any draft dodger, he kept poking a thumb in his eye until he finally got it. Mr. Obama, on the other hand, seems right at home now giving a wow of a bow. This is not the way an American president impresses evildoers that he's strong, tough and decisive, that America is not to be trifled with.
But Mr. Obama, unlike his predecessors, likely knows no better, and many of those around him, true children of the grungy '60s, are contemptuous of custom. Cutting America down to size is what attracts them to "hope" for "change." It's no fault of the president that he has no natural instinct or blood impulse for what the America of "the 57 states" is about. He was sired by a Kenyan father, born to a mother attracted to men of the Third World and reared by grandparents in Hawaii, a paradise far from the American mainstream.
Eighty advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred of white people." Here are his November 16 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
On Page 5 of her memoir, Sarah Palin displays a bit of that maverick flair the media was all atwitter over last year:
I had certainly gotten off on the wrong foot with the Republican Party by daring to take on the GOP Chairman Randy Ruedrich, and then incumbent Governor Frank Murkowski. Party bosses weren't going to let me forget that I had broken their Eleventh Commandment-"Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican" -even if Murkowski did have a 19 percent approval rating, his chief of staff would later plead guilty to a felony charge, and it appeared corruption was growing at a breakneck pace.
I didn't have time to waste embracing the status quo and never had it in me to play the party's game.
Yeah, what's with those losers who "play the party's game and running around saying things like this:
But remember one thing -- it came from the West, I know, but I'm still singing it -- the greatest thing that's happened for the Republican Party is, when the chips are down and the decisions are made as to who the candidates will be, then the 11th commandment prevails and everybody goes to work, and that is: Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.
That is, of course, Ronald Reagan, whose name is basically synonymous with the term "Eleventh Commandment."
It's sort of funny that Palin would take on the most popular figure in the history of conservative politics - the attack on the Eleventh Commandment cuts against a book otherwise full of praise for Reagan. Two pages before, she writes that she "became aware of the impact of common sense public policy during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. And from pages 391 to 394 alone, Palin writes:
It certainly seems curious that the one Reagan precept Palin is unwilling to accept is the Eleventh Commandment. And it doesn't bode well for Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, et al.