More painful reporting on the White House/Fox News dispute. This time from the AP:
Dunn's stance cheered many of the president's supporters who seethe over anti-Obama stories on Fox opinion shows, but has caused a backlash among some who say it exposed the administration as thin-skinned.
Who exactly are the "some" referenced in the AP article? As far as I can tell from the AP's reporting, the only "some" caught up in a backlash--the only "some" deeply troubled by the White House's actions--are Beltway media insiders.
But here's the question for the AP: Does that really qualify as news? Does the fact that the chattering class is in heated agreement really constitute a "backlash"? Seems like an obvious stretch to me.
UPDATED: Commentary's Peter Wehner, becoming the umpteenth writer to insist that Fox News should positively not be criticized by the White House, concocts the same phony premise as the AP:
This whole anti-Fox gambit will come across to a lot of people as misguided and petty, the product of a White House that is unusually thin-skinned and somewhat paranoid – and, perhaps, as one that can't be trusted with power.
If by "a lot of people" Wehner means, like, American citizens, I don't think he's right, simply because I don't think they much care about the inside baseball dispute being played out. But if by "a lot of people" Wehner means people who write political commentary for a living, than yes he's absolutely correct. They do see any attempt to fact check Fox News as being "misguided and petty."
But the same question still stands: Does that really qualify as news or insight?
Lots of media Villagers are suggesting that the White House's public push back against Fox news, which consists entirely of publicly criticizing the cable channel's brand of faux journalism, is just like when Richard Nixon was president, declared war on his enemies (including news outlets), and used the full power of the federal government to exact his bouts of revenge.
That any semi-serious journalist would so casually compare Obama to Nixon because the Democratic doesn't like the openly partisan programming on Fox News is just embarrassing. (Did I mention Nixon illegally used the federal government to target his media foes?)
But Beltway pundits don't care. They think Obama is just like Nixon because Obama's aides have an opinion about wildly dishonest coverage from Fox News.
-"White House war on Fox: Echoes of Nixon-Agnew" [Baltimore Sun]
-"The White House's effort to target a news organization like Fox is vaguely Nixonian." [Commentary]
-"It makes the White House look childish and petty at best, and it has a distinct Nixonian -- Agnewesque? -- aroma at worst." [Washington Post]
-"Two-and-a-half years into the Nixon presidency, White House Special Counsel Chuck Colson compiled a twenty person "enemies list"...It looks like the Obama administration is off to a head start." [Foxnews.com]
For a real taste of what a twisted character Nixon was, and specifically how he really did declare war on news outlets he didn't like, the recent documentary Inventing LA: The Chandler Family and Their Times is a good place to start. The film, which recently aired on PBS, takes a look at the Chandler family and how they transformed both the Los Angeles Times and the city of Los Angeles throughout the 21st Century.
One of the most interesting nuggets contained in the documentary, as it detailed the newspaper's often contentious relationship with California native Richard Nixon, was a tape recording of a telephone call between Attorney General George Mitchell and Nixon, who was giving out orders to target members of the left-leaning Chandler family, whom Nixon despised [emphasis added]:
Nixon: I want you to direct the most trusted person you have in the immigration service, that they are to look at all of the activities of the Los Angeles Times. All, underlined, to see if they are violating the wetback thing. let me explain because as a Californian I know.
Everyday in California hires them ["wetbacks"]. There's no law against it because they are there. Because for menial things and so forth. [Times publisher] Otis Chandler, I want him checked with regards to his gardener. I understand he's a wetback.
We are going to go after the Chandlers. Every one. Individually, collectively. Their income taxes. They're starting this week. Everyone of those sons of bitches, is that clear?
Mitchell: Yes, sir.
Nixon: Do it. Give me a report.
Mitchell. Very well, sir.
Yes, that was the U.S. Attorney General being told by the President of the United States, to sic federal agents on private citizens because Nixon wanted to settle some scores with prominent journalists.
That's how a real enemies list works. By contrast, having senior members of the Obama White House publicly air their critiques of a cable channel doesn't even compare. That is self-evident. But lots of media elites like the sound of the Nixon/Obama comparison, so expect more chatter about it, regardless of how idiotic the rhetoric is.
UPDATED: Right on cue, Republicans today push the Nixon "enemies list" meme. We'll see if anyone in the press bothers to fact check the historically false comparison.
UPDATED: Politico, covering Sen. Lamar Alexander's "enemies list" speech today, passes on providing any historical context. But good news! Politico did reprint Alexander's speech, in its entirety (all 37 paragraphs), under the auspice that it's "news."
At Tuesday's White House briefing Tapper seemed completely baffled, and quite insulted, by the White House's claim that Fox News is not a real news organization. Tapper demanded WH spokesman Robert Gibbs back up the claim [emphasis added]:
Tapper: It's escaped none of our notice that the White House has decided in the last few weeks to declare one of our sister organizations "not a news organization" and to tell the rest of us not to treat them like a news organization. Can you explain why it's appropriate for the White House to decide that a news organization is not one –
Gibbs: Jake, we render, we render an opinion based on some of their coverage and the fairness that, the fairness of that coverage.
Tapper: But that's a pretty sweeping declaration that they are "not a news organization." How are they any different from, say –
Gibbs: ABC -
Tapper: ABC. MSNBC. Univision. I mean how are they any different?
Gibbs: You and I should watch sometime around 9 o'clock tonight. Or 5 o'clock this afternoon.
Tapper: I'm not talking about their opinion programming or issues you have with certain reports. I'm talking about saying thousands of individuals who work for a media organization, do not work for a "news organization" -- why is that appropriate for the White House to say?
Gibbs: That's our opinion.
Oh my, Tapper has no idea how Fox News is different than ABC News, and he works there. Tapper can't tell what Fox News does differently that his own network. And Tapper was clearly irked that the White House had offered up an opinion that one of the Village's "sister organizations" wasn't professional. "Why is that appropriate for the White House to say?" Tapper demanded to know. (Hint: As a Beltway rule, Democratic White Houses are forbidden from calling out the press by name.)
In response to the WashPost's Ruth Marcus who on Tuesday obediently typed up what virtually every Beltway journalist has said about the White House and Fox News (i.e. it's the White House that's way out of bounds; Fox News is fine), I offered up some examples of how Fox News isn't quite like the others. My hunch was that Marcus doesn't really watch Fox News, even though she pretended to be an expert in the dispute involving the White House.
So for the benefit of Tapper I'll reproduce the cheat sheet, and yes, many of the examples below involve the supposedly serious "news" side at Fox.
For instance, here's an example of how the Fox News family isn't quite like ABC. Here's another another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another.
My guess is if ABC News (inadvertently) broadcast just three or four of those kinds of obvious falsehood during an entire calender year, executives would be quite embarrassed. At Fox News though, they flow like a runny faucet and nobody there takes responsibility for the falsehoods, or even pretends there's anything wrong with them.
But Tapper is stumped. He can't figure out how Fox News is different from ABC News. (Psst Jake, I wouldn't say that too loudly around David Westin.)
UPDATED: How is Fox News different from ABC? Fox News has proudly co-sponsored partisan political rallies this year. Maybe I missed it, but did ABC News market anti-war rallies in 2002 and 2003? Still, Jake Tapper can't figure out how Fox News is different from ABC.
UPDATED: How is Fox News different from ABC? Fox News recently purchased a full-page ad in the Washington Post and lied about its TV news competitors, including ABC News.
Fox News claimed that the other cable and network news outlets had "miss[ed]" the Sept. 12, anti-Obama rally in Washington, D.C., when in fact TV news orgs, like ABC, covered the protest extensively. So, Fox News publicly smeared Tapper's employer, but Tapper can't figure out how Fox News is different from ABC.
UPDATED: At least Tapper's performance earned him the warm embrace of the Fox News family.
UPDATED: Gawker has a question for Tapper:
Does Tapper understand that despite the fact that he is very good, personal friends with [Fox News'] Major Garrett, Garrett's employer is actually a research and communications arm of the conservative movement? In a much, much, much more direct and partisan fashion than almost any liberal "equivalent" news source?
Look who's married to Obama's media 'controller'; Official attacking network, anti-'birther' lawyer a couple
Attacking Fox News and defending President Barack Obama is a family affair for Anita Dunn, the White House communications director who has blasted Fox as an arm of the Republican Party and talked about "controlling" the news media.
She's married to Robert Bauer, the chief of the political law group at Perkins Coie, the Seattle law firm hired by the White House to defend President Obama in court cases challenging his "natural born" citizenship status in the United States and thus, his eligibility under the U.S. Constitution to be president.
Dunn is targeting Fox News with criticisms emanating from the administration that it isn't even a news network, while Bauer has done his best to prevent the American public from seeing a wide range of President Obama's records that could prove, or disprove, his eligibility to occupy the Oval Office under the Constitution's requirement that the president be a "natural born" citizen.
Documents concerning Obama that the White House has refused to release to the public include his long-form birth certificate and his passport records, as well as other records that may possibly be relevant, such as records regarding Obama's possible adoption by his Indonesian stepfather or college application and tuition financial aid records which would reveal whether Obama was ever registered as a foreign student.
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 October 20 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
In his October 20 nationally syndicated column, Pat Buchanan purports to speak for "white working-class voters" who are "losing" "their country."
Among other things, Buchanan writes that these voters "have seen trillions of tax dollars go for Great Society programs, but have seen no Great Society, only rising crime, illegitimacy, drug use and dropout rates"; "have seen their Christian faith purged from schools their taxes paid for"; have seen "illegal aliens walk into their country"; and have not "benefited from affirmative action, unlike Barack and Michelle Obama":
Moreover, the alienation and radicalization of white America began long before Obama arrived. He acknowledged as much when he explained Middle Pennsylvanians to puzzled progressives in that closed-door meeting in San Francisco.
Referring to the white working-class voters in the industrial towns decimated by job losses, Obama said: "They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
Yet, we had seen these folks before. They were Perotistas in 1992, opposed NAFTA in 1993 and blocked the Bush-Kennedy McCain amnesty in 2007.
In their lifetimes, they have seen their Christian faith purged from schools their taxes paid for, and mocked in movies and on TV. They have seen their factories shuttered in the thousands and their jobs outsourced in the millions to Mexico and China. They have seen trillions of tax dollars go for Great Society programs, but have seen no Great Society, only rising crime, illegitimacy, drug use and dropout rates.
They watch on cable TV as illegal aliens walk into their country, are rewarded with free educations and health care and take jobs at lower pay than American families can live on -- then carry Mexican flags in American cities and demand U.S. citizenship.
They see Wall Street banks bailed out as they sweat their next paycheck, then read that bank profits are soaring, and the big bonuses for the brilliant bankers are back. Neither they nor their kids ever benefited from affirmative action, unlike Barack and Michelle Obama.
They see a government in Washington that cannot balance its books, win our wars or protect our borders. The government shovels out trillions to Fortune 500 corporations and banks to rescue the country from a crisis created by the government and Fortune 500 corporations and banks.
America was once their country. They sense they are losing it. And they are right.
If Buchanan's complaints sound familiar, it's worth referring back to an October 23, 1991, column in which he recounted his advice that the Republican Party should "[t]ake a hard look" at former Knights of the Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke's "portfolio of winning issues; and expropriate those not in conflict with GOP principles."
Describing Duke's electoral success in Louisiana, Buchanan wrote in 1991 that Duke's "appeal" stemmed from the fact that, among other things, Duke "wants to toss the able-bodied off welfare, stop payments to drug users and freeze benefits to welfare mothers who keep having children"; "favors tougher penalties for crime and an end to 'unjust affirmative action'"; "calls for freedom of choice for parents in sending children to public schools"; and "wants the United States to halt illegal immigration":
If his resume is Duke's handicap, what is his appeal? In his 15-point platform, he zeros in on issues that should be a wake-up call for all our Big Government Conservatives.
Duke pledges to vote against any new tax increase. He wants to toss the able-bodied off welfare, stop payments to drug users and freeze benefits to welfare mothers who keep having children. He favors tougher penalties for crime and an end to "unjust affirmative action," i.e. all reverse discrimination, whether quotas or racial set-asides. He calls for freedom of choice for parents in sending children to public schools, and a track system inside schools where the brightest are advanced fastest. He opposes gun control, wants the United States to halt illegal immigration, and would slash foreign aid.
The national press calls these positions "code words" for racism, but in the hard times in Louisiana, Duke's message comes across as middle class, meritocratic, populist and nationalist.
Buchanan concluded his 1991 column by advising the first President Bush that in order to "win ... back" Duke voters, he should "take a hard look at illegal immigration" and root out "reverse discrimination in the U.S. government":
NEVERTHELESS, both the GOP establishment and conservatives should study how and why white voters, who delivered Louisiana to Reagan and Bush three times, moved in such numbers to David Duke -- and devise a strategic plan to win them back.
What to do? President Bush might take a hard look at illegal immigration, tell the U.S. Border Patrol to hire some of those vets being mustered out after Desert Storm, veto the Democrats' "quota bill," and issue an executive order rooting out any and all reverse discrimination in the U.S. government, beginning with the FBI.
If that sets off every poodle in liberalism's kennels, good.
Maybe Buchanan can expand on his latest column next time he appears on a "pro-White" radio show.
From New York Times reporter Andy Revkin's twitter feed:
Because they know their future does not include having to deal with Limbaugh's wacko rhetoric, like today when he urged a New York Times reporter to "just go kill" himself.
Today, the Washington Post - continuing its practice of using its editorial page as a megaphone for the powerful - provides op-ed space for Karen Ignagni, president and chief executive of the health insurance industry group America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), to decry the "relentless public relations campaign" that "has attacked" AHIP over the study it commissioned from PricewaterhouseCoopers "as a way of discrediting" the study's findings that the Senate Finance Committee proposal will "have the unintended effect of increasing the cost of health-care coverage." Unfortunately, given the Post's coverage of this issue, most of the paper's readers probably have no idea what Ignagni is talking about or how flawed her group's study actually is.
Last week, Jamison Foser flagged Post health care reporter Ceci Connolly's repeated, insipid hyping of AHIP's flawed study, which, as PricewaterhouseCoopers admitted, was based on assumptions they don't think will actually happen. In short, AHIP commissioned a study that deliberately ignored all elements of the proposed legislation that could hold down the cost of insurance premiums, then concluded that the legislation would cause those premiums to rise. Connolly highlighted the study in articles on three consecutive days last week, but never seemed to find space to point out the report's flaws.
Finally, last Thursday, the Post offered a scathing "fact check" of the AHIP report and a similar study commissioned by Blue Cross Blue Shield, describing various aspects of the studies as "too pessimistic," "underestimate," "overlooks," "probably overstates," and "dubious." Of course, Connolly wasn't involved in that article - the Post gave it to Alec MacGillis instead. They also didn't give it the prime, front-page treatment that Connolly's original trumpeting of the report got. Instead, mislead on A1, inform on A10 is the name of the game.
So the study is dishonest. The Post knows that it's dishonest. They've reported that it is dishonest. So why are they giving the head of one of the most powerful interest groups in Washington space to say otherwise?