Actual length of Fox News "America's Newsroom" segment about a model suing a plastic surgeon: 7 minutes and 20 seconds.
Now, it's Fox News, so this is probably a net positive. I mean, any time they spend on a frivolous non-story is time they aren't spending lying about something important. Wasting our time is probably the best we can hope for from them.
Check out who the Washington Post turned to for an assessment of President Obama's "Media Offensive":
The Post asked political experts what, if anything, President Obama has gained from his media offensive. Below are contributions from Karl Rove, Douglas E. Schoen, Dan Schnur, Ed Rogers, Dana Perino, Linda Chavez, and Lanny J. Davis.
If you're keeping score at home, that's five Republicans and two Democrats -- and neither of the Democrats -- Schoen and Davis -- are from the progressive wing of the party. (Doug Schoen -- a Fox News contributor -- joined Rove and the Republicans in criticizing Obama's efforts, saying he should have gone on Fox to reach swing voters. Lanny Davis -- a Washington Times columnist -- said the White House needs to appeal to people like ... Lanny Davis. And where is Lanny Davis on health care reform? He opposes a public option, much like the corporate interests that pay him. And Schoen and Davis are the Democrats the Post sought out.)
I guess this is another example of how the Washington Post needs to be more responsive to conservatives.
UPDATE: The last time the Post did one of these "occasional features," they featured five Republicans and three Democrats (one the chair of the DLC.)
I was reminded of that after seeing this Time headline:
The Risks for Dems Going It Alone on Health Care
Time wasn't doing anything unusual with its headline. The Beltway press has been hitting this points for months now: How might the health care battle damage Democrats, which is an interesting angle since there are, y'know, two major parties in American politics. (You're just not going to see many "The Risks for GOP Going It Alone on Health Care" headlines this year.)
Picking up where the press left off with the stimulus "debate," when journalists fretted over how that legislation might hurt Democrats--and only Democrats, and how the GOP won by simply resisting the White House, reporters seem only interesting in detailing potential woes for Dems.
I'm not saying journalists have to conclude that opposing health care reform will hurt the GOP, because I don't think anybody knows yet if that's the case. But it would be nice if, on occasion, the press acknowledged that possibility. It'd be nice if reporters spent time considered both sides of the ledger rather than portraying the health care push as posing serious downsides for only one party.
Only recently have I watched portions of [Glenn Beck's] television program, as well as interviews with him, and heard parts of his radio program. And what I've seen should worry the conservative movement.
I say that because he seems to be more of a populist and libertarian than a conservative, more of a Perotista than a Reaganite. His interest in conspiracy theories is disquieting, as is his admiration for Ron Paul and his charges of American "imperialism." (He is now talking about pulling troops out of Afghanistan, South Korea, Germany, and elsewhere.) Some of Beck's statements -- for example, that President Obama has a "deep-seated hatred for white people" -- are quite unfair and not good for the country. His argument that there is very little difference between the two parties is silly, and his contempt for parties in general is anti-Burkean (Burke himself was a great champion of political parties). And then there is his sometimes bizarre behavior, from tearing up to screaming at his callers. Beck seems to be a roiling mix of fear, resentment, and anger -- the antithesis of Ronald Reagan.
I understand that a political movement is a mansion with many rooms; the people who occupy them are involved in intellectual and policy work, in politics, and in polemics. Different people take on different roles. And certainly some of the things Beck has done on his program are fine and appropriate. But the role Glenn Beck is playing is harmful in its totality. My hunch is that he is a comet blazing across the media sky right now -- and will soon flame out. Whether he does or not, he isn't the face or disposition that should represent modern-day conservatism. At a time when we should aim for intellectual depth, for tough-minded and reasoned arguments, for good cheer and calm purpose, rather than erratic behavior, he is not the kind of figure conservatives should embrace or cheer on.
As Eric mentioned earlier, Mediaite obtained an internal memo written by Fox News managing editor Bill Sammon this afternoon. Sammon was responding to the embarrassing video of a Fox producer encouraging the 9/12 protestors prior to a live report.
From: Sammon, Bill
Sent: Monday, September 21, 2009 2:25 PM
To: 005 -Washington
For those of us who have only been at Fox for a relatively short period of time, it's useful to remind ourselves that, as journalists, we must always be careful to cover the story without becoming part of the story. Occasionally, however, the story is totally about us. At news events, we're supposed to function as dispassionate observers, not active participants. We are there to chronicle the news, not create it. Unless other outlets are ignoring super-important stories.
That means we ask questions in a fair, impartial manner. For example, Obama's health care plan is not necessarily worse than cancer, which is why we must simply ask if it is. When approaching interviewees, we identify ourselves, by both name and news organization, up front. This is especially important when we ambush them on vacation. We seek out a variety of voices and views. Sometimes these can be hard to find, so don't stress too much about it. We take note of the scene in order to bring color and context to our viewers. For example, take stock of a scene by asking tax day protesters when "are we going to wake up and start fighting the fascism that seems to be permeating this country?"
We do not cheerlead for one cause or another. When celebrating the defeat of various Democratic proposals and ideas, use, at most, one exclamation point proclaiming "Victory!" We do not rile up a crowd. If a crowd happens to be boisterous when we show it on TV, so be it. If it happens to be quiet, that's fine, too. It's not our job to affect the crowd's behavior one way or the other. If the crowd we spent months encouraging to show up happens to be angry, then we should respect their display of grassroots anger. Again, we're journalists, not participants -- and certainly not performers. Note: Exceptions granted to rodeo clowns.
Indeed, any effort to affect the crowd's behavior only serves to undermine our legitimate journalistic role as detached eyewitnesses. Remember, our viewers are counting on us to be honest brokers when it comes to reporting -- not altering -the important events of the day. If these important events of the day are eerily similar to GOP press releases and websites, so be it. That is nothing less than a sacred trust. We must always take pains to preserve that trust. I cannot stress this enough: always.
More than 60 advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program in recent weeks. Here are his September 21 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
A Jim Angle report on cap and trade just featured a clip of Myron Ebell warning that environmental legislation would lead to "energy rationing" and higher prices. And who is Myron Ebell? FOX News identified him only via a chyron labeling him an "Energy and Environment Expert."
In fact, Ebell is Director of Energy and Global Warming Policy for the Conservative Enterprise Institute and "chairs the Cooler Heads Coalition, which comprises over two dozen non-profit groups in this country and abroad that question global warming alarmism and oppose energy rationing policies."
The Competitive Enterprise Institute has enjoyed funding from, among others, Exxon Mobil, the American Petroleum Institute, Texaco, General Motors, Richard Mellon Scaife's foundations, and the Koch family foundations (Koch Industries is the nation's largest privately-held energy company and a record-setting polluter. Oh, and they use the fortune the accumulated in part by stealing oil from US taxpayers and Indian lands to provide millions of dollars in funding for the conservative movement.)
Anyway, FOX Viewers don't know any of that. They're just told that Myron Ebell is an "Energy and Environment Expert." I guess FOX figures that telling them Ebell is funded by the nation's worst polluters would just confuse them.
Mediaite has an internal from managing editor Bill Sammon. It's in response to the (shocking!) revelation that at least one member of the Fox News team was whipping up the 9/12 crowd prior to a live report, pretending it was a studio audience. Which, of course, it pretty much was considering Fox News was an unofficial sponsor of the event.
But the video has been a huge embarrassment. (Hey, live by raw video, die by raw video, right?) So Sammon typed up a memo and said all the things that normal journalists would say in this situation. The funny part, of course, is that Fox News no longer practices journalism. Instead, it's transformed itself into the Opposition Party of the Obama White House, so Sammon's supposedly straight-faced pleas for impartiality read more like a clever parody.
I'll simply highlight my favorite phrases from the up-is-down memo. Feel free to chuckle along.
From: Sammon, Bill
Sent: Monday, September 21, 2009 2:25 PM
To: 005 -Washington
For those of us who have only been at Fox for a relatively short period of time, it's useful to remind ourselves that, as journalists, we must always be careful to cover the story without becoming part of the story. At news events, we're supposed to function as dispassionate observers, not active participants. We are there to chronicle the news, not create it.
That means we ask questions in a fair, impartial manner. When approaching interviewees, we identify ourselves, by both name and news organization, up front. We seek out a variety of voices and views. We take note of the scene in order to bring color and context to our viewers.
We do not cheerlead for one cause or another. We do not rile up a crowd. If a crowd happens to be boisterous when we show it on TV, so be it. If it happens to be quiet, that's fine, too. It's not our job to affect the crowd's behavior one way or the other. Again, we're journalists, not participants — and certainly not performers.
Indeed, any effort to affect the crowd's behavior only serves to undermine our legitimate journalistic role as detached eyewitnesses. Remember, our viewers are counting on us to be honest brokers when it comes to reporting — not altering –the important events of the day. That is nothing less than a sacred trust. We must always take pains to preserve that trust.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please stop by.
Boy, nothing gets by the Post's Charles Hurt, who writes the umpteenth (pointless) article about how Obama, in his first year in office, is giving more press interviews than his predecessors did.
Other than the fact that the topic includes the media itself, why do journalists keep writing up the same story over and over and over? What's the point? Where's the news value?
Hurt also loses points for not including any context in his write-up:
In the New York Times alone, according to the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, 405 stories on the Obama administration have appeared on the front page through mid-August of this year totaling 119,678 column inches. That's 9,973 column feet of Obama coverage on the Times front page alone.
Of course, those statistics are only interesting, they're only newsworthy, if readers know how they compare to the number of articles the Times produced for previous administrations. Is it triple? Is it the same. Is the number actually less than what the Times published during the first seven month's of Bush's term?
Readers have no idea because all journalists care about is that the president is giving lots of interviews to journalists.