Because the Chicago Tribune columnist completely botches the facts of the film in the process of becoming the latest media elite granted access into the CW Kingdom by dutifully concluding the White House should not fact check Fox News.
Here's Page's complete misreading of the classic 1970's film:
In fact, Fox is what their defenders say it is, not a political organization but a news operation. It just happens to have some strong right-wing voices like Beck and Hannity who happen to be two of Fox's biggest audience attractions. Such phenomena were forecast in the movie "Network" in 1976. Back then the idea of a half-deranged demagogue set loose on a national audience for the sake of ratings still sounded far-fetched. These days the movie looks almost like a documentary.
Um, wrong. That's not what Network was about, although Page is hardly alone in misstating the facts of the film. It routinely gets referenced, incorrectly, in media profiles of Glenn Beck, who we're told is just like the stark raving mad man from Network. In fact, Beck loves to push the idea that he's a modern day, I'm-mad-as-hell everyman like Howard Beale
Beale's unvarnished on-air rants from Network targeted conformity, corporate conglomerates, and the propaganda power of television. (Ironic, no?) Beale was non-partisan and rarely even mentioned politics in his (fictional) primetime rants. Beck, by contrast, is uniformly partisan as he unleashes his anger against, and whips up dark scenarios about, the president of the United States.
From today's Washington Post online Q&A with Howard Kurtz:
Bluffton, SC: In your blog on Friday you wrote this referring to MSNBC and its liberal hosts: "though that channel does give Joe Scarborough three hours a day, while no liberal has a show on Fox News." Although Joe considers himself a conservative the majority of the guests (not to mention his co-host) are decidedly liberal. And when it comes to interviewing members of Congress, Democrats seem to get twice as much airtime as Republicans. Poor Paul Ryan got a grand total of 3 minutes on Friday's show.
Howard Kurtz: I haven't noticed a tilt on the Morning Joe guest front at all. During the campaign, McCain people came on as often as Obama people. Peggy Noonan is a regular, and Pat Buchanan is on an awful lot. So I think it's fair to hold up Scarborough as an exception to MSNBC's generally liberal opinion lineup.
Washington Post reporter Perry Bacon, during an online Q&A today:
Perry Bacon Jr.: The public option shift was dramatic and in many ways, I don't quite know what happened. I think we may have misstated the strength of the opposition to the public option in the first place, but i think the members changed their view on this as well.
Well, that has been obvious for months. What Bacon doesn't address, and should, is why the media overstated the strength of the opposition to the public option. What could they do better the next time? Does this indicate they listen to the wrong "experts"?
It's not like there haven't been clear indications all along that the media was overstating the strength of opposition to the public option. Why didn't they pay attention? Bacon gave no indication that he's considering that question.
Glenn Beck promotes the ludicrous lie that Nancy Pelosi is going to try to ban Fox News from "covering Congress":
If you follow the link, you'll see why this is an obvious lie: in the made-up quote attributed to Pelosi, she talks about "the efficacy of single payer health insurance." Single-payer, of course, is not on the table.
So which is it: Is Glenn Beck dumb enough to believe the quote was true, or dishonest enough to hype it knowing it wasn't? Or both?
Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel is petrified by the mafia-style brand of hardball politics that the Obama White House practices. (i.e. "The gang") Did you know he's from Chicago?!
The idea that the right-wing media is trying to portray Obama has some sort of street-fighting ruthless pol strikes me as comical since it's the exact opposite of the impression most Americans seem to have of the centrist, low-key president. The fact that the charge is so far off the mark may be why Strassel has so much trouble filling in the blanks in her column about how "bare-knuckle" the Obama crew is. The examples she points to are really quite lame.
Like this [emphasis added]:
This summer Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl criticized stimulus dollars. Obama cabinet secretaries sent letters to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. One read: "if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to the state, as Senator Kyl suggests," let us know.
The horror! Cabinet secretaries "sent letters."
Or this one:
When Sens. Robert Bennett and Lamar Alexander took issue with the administration's czars, the White House singled them out, by name, on its blog.
Oh mercy! The White House singled a senator out by name, on its blog.
If Stressel's going to preach this meme in the future, I suggest she come up with some actual proof of Obama's "bare-knuckle" ways, and leave out the examples of pedestrian politics she breathlessly cites here.
From an Oct. 22 post by Burt Prelutsky at Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood blog:
My final question is, why, in 2009 America, are mulattoes invariably identified as blacks? Surely there is nothing wrong with being a mulatto. There is no stigma attached, as once there was. It merely refers to those who have one white parent and one black. There are many notable individuals who are mulattoes, including Halle Berry, Derek Jeter, Lisa Bonet and Barack Obama. Tiger Woods, on the other hand, is a true amalgamation, being one-quarter Chinese, one-quarter Thai, one-quarter black, one-eighth Native American and one-eighth Dutch. And, yet, with the possible exception of the New York Yankee shortstop, we insist on identifying all of them as black.
It's as if there is something shameful about their being half or even one-eighth white. If there is, I'd sure like to know what it is. If, on the other hand, there isn't, why do we insist on acting as if there were?
As the MSM commentary of the Fox News/WH 'debate' continues to deaden the senses, with its now almost comical uniformity of how horribly wrong the administration is for fact-checking Fox News, the Los Angeles Times' Tim Rutten's belated, yet predictable, entry to the genre caught our attention if only for this passage:
Even though the White House is right on the merits when it describes Fox News as operating mainly as a surrogate for the Republican Party, making an issue of that fact is a tactical mistake.
Are you following? Rutten comes right out and concedes that the White House is right on the facts; that Fox News is not a legitimate source of journalism. In fact, according to the newspaper's columnist, Fox News consists of "long stretches of editorial comment, conservative and pro-Republican, interspersed with snippets of normative reporting."
Wow. That's exactly the point the White House has been making. But Rutten isn't interested in holding the news media outlet accountable for his unprofessional brand of partisan reporting. Rutten, like virtually every pundits on the planet, is sure it's the White House that's out of line with its critique.
Incredibly, Rutten agrees with the critique. Rutten agrees that Fox News is essentially a propaganda outlet for the RNC. Rutten just doesn't think it made sense tactically for the White House to highlight that fact publicly.
UPDATED: Talk about ironic. At the bottom of his piece, Rutten sets aside a paragraph to say nice things about the recently deceased Jack Nelson, who served as the LA Times' Washington, D.C. bureau chief and, as Rutten properly points out, "was the paper's public face." Rutten praised the esteemed Nelson as "one of the journalists who set the standards we all aspired to match."
It's true. Nelson was an old school pro who scored scoops for the newspaper during Beltway journalism's glory days of the 1970's, and then helped steer the daily for decades after that. Rutten especially admired Nelson's "passion for truth and decency."
Passion for truth and decency? This, of course, after Rutten finishes up a column in which he condemns the WH for highlighting Fox News' lack of truth and decency. I have no idea what Nelson thought of Fox News, and especially its unmanageably partisan incarnation of 2009. But the notion that legendary newsroom vets like Nelson would latch onto today's CW and needlessly cover for Murdoch's cable cabal seems unlikely to me.
The New York Times reports:
Instead of being simply a draw for Hispanic viewers, CNN's four-hour documentary, "Latino in America," turned into a political rallying cry for activist groups who are calling on the cable news channel to fire Lou Dobbs, a veteran anchor with well-known views on immigration.
Isabel Garcia, a civil rights lawyer who was featured in "Latino in America" and organized an anti-Dobbs protest in Tucson on Wednesday, said that CNN edited her comments about the anchor out of an interview.
During the taped interview Wednesday, she said she made several unprompted comments about Mr. Dobbs.
She said she called Mr. Arpaio and Mr. Dobbs "the two most dangerous men to our communities," and said that "because of them, our communities are being terrorized in a real way." She also asserted that CNN was "promoting lies and hate about our community" by broadcasting Mr. Dobbs's program. The comments were not included when the interview was shown Wednesday night.
"They heavily deleted what I did get to say," she said.
Ben Armbruster of Think Progress notes:
This isn't the first time CNN has circled the wagons around Dobbs. Earlier this year, Dobbs was one of the most prominent mainstream media figures pushing the conspiracy theory that President Obama may not have been born in the U.S. Dobbs repeatedly called on Obama to "produce a birth certificate" and said it's "unfortunate" that the birthers have been "dismissed." Despite Dobbs' hysteria and playing on "escalating white fear," CNN president Jonathan Klein downplayed Dobbs' antics, claiming the CNN anchor was merely reporting on the birther "phenomenon" and had simply asked why "some people doubt" Obama's citizenship.
Unlike the Times, The Washington Post has not yet reported on CNN's decision to edit out Garcia's criticism of Dobbs. But the Post employs Howard Kurtz, the nation's most prominent media critic, so I'm sure they're on the case and will soon run a comprehensive report.
Yes, it's true Kurtz has a conflict of interest in that he also works for CNN. And he's pulled his punches when dealing with CNN and Dobbs in the past, refusing to criticize -- or even mention -- CNN president Jonathan Klein's defense of Dobbs' Birther nonsense.
But surely someone at the Post has had a good long talk with Kurtz about his conflict of interest, and he won't let it get in the way of his coverage of CNN and Dobbs this time, right? I mean, it can't be the case that the Washington Post doesn't mind one of their star reporters taking a pass on stories that are embarrassing to a company he's assigned to cover -- while also being paid by that company. Can it?
Will Newsbusters' Tim Graham demand Limbaugh apologize??
As Simon Maloy detailed yesterday, Limbaugh spent a portion of show hyping a clearly fabricated story about non-existent college thesis that Obama wrote in college. This was the right-wing money quote form the bogus thesis:
"The so-called Founders did not allow for economic freedom. While political freedom is supposedly a cornerstone of the document, the distribution of wealth is not even mentioned. While many believed that the new Constitution gave them liberty, it instead fitted them with the shackles of hypocrisy."
As CF noted, the entire right-wing blog story was a made-up hoax. (Shocking, I know.)
But here's the best part. It was just a week ago that Limbaugh and Dittohead Nation threw itself a pity party because, during Limbaugh's failed NFL bid, a couple of racist quotes were attributed to the talker; quotes that he denied ever making. He was going to sue!
At the time I noted the deep irony:
Hmm, suddenly, Limbaugh doesn't like being on the other end of misinformation? Suddenly he's demanding folks back up and source all their information, in a way that he almost never does?
Well, what do you know. Just one week after Limbaugh's pity party to commemorate how some nasty people made up two quotes and falsely attributed them to him, Limbaugh was back doing what Limbaugh does, hyping bogus quotes and falsely attributing them to Obama.
In fact, even after Limbaugh found out the quotes were likely bogus, he kept repeating them on the air.
How does Tim Graham sleep at night knowing Leader Limbaugh peddles fabricated quotes?
I was getting nervous because the topic has been bubbling up for almost two weeks, virtually every Beltway media elite had weighed in and they all thought it was just a terrible idea to fact-check Fox News' blatant falsehoods, and yet still not a peep from Time's Joe Klein.
Well, that silence has been broken, and it's now official. Time's Joe Klein officially agrees with virtually every other political pundit on the planet: fact-checking Fox News is a really, really bad idea.
Good to know.
UPDATED: Double phew! The CW-loving Sally Quinn has also weighed in on the White House's "war" against Fox News. Guess what? Hates it! In fact, "everybody" in D.C. thinks it's "dumb"; "absolutely crazy." And Quinn likens it to Watergate.
Am I the only one who feels like we're watching a mini-Clinton impeachment reunion among the media elites, where everyone proudly proclaims the exact same opinion that the Democratic White House is nuts?
UPDATED: Quinn: "I've talked to my colleagues and other politicians."
So now Quinn's a polician?