Washington Post's Erik Wemple pointed out the irony in how "accusations of media bias," a ploy often used by Fox to boost "its own ratings" and undermine criticisms against conservatives, are what Donald Trump claims is motivating his boycott of Thursday's GOP primary debate.
During a January 26 press conference GOP presidential front runner Donald Trump announced that he will not participate in Thursday night's Fox News-hosted GOP presidential primary debate, because of alleged bias against him by Fox News host and debate moderator, Megyn Kelly.
Fox has given Trump over 24 hours of free airtime since May, significantly more than his fellow GOP candidates and has furnished several of the talking points Trump uses on the campaign trail. However, the network has stood by Kelly and several Fox News figures have attacked Trump over his decision to pull out of the debate.
Despite the massive amount of coverage given to Trump's campaign, Trump still maintains there is a bias against him, using a tactic Fox News helped create. As The Washington Post's Erik Wemple wrote in a January 26 blog post, Trump's accusations of media bias against him mirror the "great conservative tradition" of accusing the media of an anti-Republican bias. According to Wemple, Trump has taken advantage of the media bias trope to deflect "just about anything that has been critical of him", and now, he is using this narrative against the network that helped create it, making "the ironies here circular." (emphasis original):
Tempting though it is to game out the PR and political calculations between Fox News and Trump, there's something bigger going down here. Momentous, even: The right-wing penchant for nonstop media criticism is swerving across the median, zigzagging around the road, about to wrap itself around that oak tree around the curve. Like other planks of the conservative canon -- e.g., foreign-policy hawkishness -- it has been invoked and ultimately abused by Trump. Such that it can no longer stand on its own.
See any good -- or bad -- conservative politician on the stump, and listen for the broadsides against the liberal mainstream media. They don't give Republicans a chance; they distort things; they give weight to trivial stories that harm conservatives and ignore big stories that favor them -- it's a viewpoint that stretches back at least to a seminal anti-MSM speech by Spiro Agnew in 1969.
Into this tradition of media criticism stomped Trump's presidential campaign. Whereas previous practitioners of the critique looked for quite specific signs of bias in the media, Trump has found bias or misconduct in just about anything that has been critical of him. He has railed against Politico for pointing out various truths; he has railed against CNN and just about every other broadcaster for the bias of not showing the full extent of his crowds; he has ripped pundits -- and Post columnists -- such as Charles Krauthammer and George F. Will for reasons that haven't stuck with the Erik Wemple Blog; he has gone back and forth on whether Chuck Todd of NBC News is a nice guy; and so on.
All of which tees up the Kelly thing. "Megyn Kelly's really biased against me," said Trump in an Instagram video. "She knows that, I know that, everybody knows that. Do you really think she can be fair at a debate?" (Bold text added to highlight another clumsy Trump effort to co-opt a great conservative tradition.)
The ironies here are circular. Over the years, Fox News has boosted its own ratings by frequently airing accusations of media bias. Now its ratings -- at least for Thursday night's debate -- stand to suffer over just such an accusation. Everyone tunes in to see just how Trump will bring out the worst in those who surround him. And the National Review got tossed from hosting a February debate because it dared to exercise its prerogative as an opinion journal to editorialize against Trump.
The Washington Post's Erik Wemple highlighted how Fox News' coverage of Michael Bay's 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi "is promoting the Bay movie for its potential to revive Benghazi as a problem for Clinton" during her presidential run, and how the network, in doing so, is "acting as an advocacy organization."
Fox News has hyped 13 Hours repeatedly, claiming that the film would "raise a lot of questions" about the 2012 attacks on a diplomatic post and nearby CIA annex in Benghazi. In addition to using the movie to push the debunked "stand down order" myth, Fox has argued that Bay's film could "pose a threat" to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Fox's Andrea Tantaros argued, "if anyone sees this movie ... and then goes on to vote for Hillary Clinton, they're a criminal." Prime-time host Megyn Kelly, during a segment that pushed multiple Benghazi myths, said the movie "reintroduces Benghazi as a potential campaign issue that cannot be helpful to Mrs. Clinton." Kelly also attacked Wemple for a blog post that called out Kelly and her network's "obsession" with the Benghazi attacks and their potential political implications for Clinton.
In a January 19 piece for The Washington Post's Erik Wemple blog, Wemple explained again how 13 Hours "is giving the network a do-over opportunity" to "attempt to elevate the flick as a political watershed" and "revive Benghazi as a problem for Clinton." Wemple noted that by "rooting for the movie to tilt the contemporary political debate," Fox has failed at "acting as a news organization, which reports events as they arise." Wemple concluded that any movie that negatively highlighted the Obama administration "could surely bank on similar excitement from the country's No. 1 cable news outfit":
On her program, [Megyn] Kelly criticized the Erik Wemple Blog for a Jan. 5 post we'd written about the love affair of Fox News with the new Michael Bay movie "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi." That movie is based on a book of similar title written by Boston University professor Mitchell Zuckoff and a team of security operators who were on the ground on the night of the tragic Benghazi, Libya, attacks of Sept. 11, 2012. The book carried a number of revelations -- including the claim of the security contractors that they were told to "stand down" before rushing to assist personnel at the besieged U.S. diplomatic outpost -- that made news upon its publication in 2014. Fox News was particularly aggressive in promoting the book.
"13 Hours" the movie is giving the network a do-over opportunity. The network is frequently running clips of the movie, interviewing the security operators -- particularly Mark "Oz" Geist, Kris "Tanto" Paronto and John "Tig" Tiegen -- and otherwise attempting to elevate the flick as a political watershed. On her Jan. 4 program, Kelly herself led into an interview with this trio by saying, "Breaking tonight a 'Kelly File' exclusive on the gripping new film that may pose a threat to Hillary Clinton's hopes for the White House." There was really nothing "breaking" that night -- just a rehash of the same news threads that had been aired at the time of the book's release.
On her program last night, Kelly disagreed with that point of view. "Wemple of the Washington Post seems to have an issue," said the host in a segment with Fox Newsers Chris Stirewalt and Howard Kurtz. "We did that interview with those three heroes and the feedback we received from the viewers was extraordinary. They wanted to know more. They wanted to know how they could help these guys. They couldn't wait to see this movie. Wemple has a different reaction, which was, '[dismissive sound effect] What did we learn that was new?' I've got news for you, Erik Wemple. You go and you sit through '13 Hours.' You sit there, white-knuckled. When you can't move at the end of it, and a tear comes to your eye, unless you're not human. And you tell me whether this is going to have no impact on the story of Benghazi, which is relevant in this 2016 presidential campaign."
Now to the heart of Kelly's criticism. She demands, "And you tell me whether this is going to have no impact on the story of Benghazi, which is relevant in this 2016 presidential campaign." We have no opinion or projection on whether or not the "13 Hours" movie will have an impact on the ongoing presidential race, nor whether it should have such an impact. Our point is narrower: That Fox News, even after hyping the bona fide revelations in the book version of "13 Hours," is promoting the Bay movie for its potential to revive Benghazi as a problem for Clinton. In so doing, Fox News isn't acting as a news organization, which reports events as they arise; it's acting as an advocacy organization, verily rooting for the movie to tilt the contemporary political debate. If Bay could only produce a Hollywood reenactment of Obamacare's lowest moments or of the failures of the president's Islamic State policy, he could surely bank on similar excitement from the country's No. 1 cable news outfit.
From the September 15 edition of Sirius XM's Media Matters Radio:
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In a blog post today, The Washington Post's Erik Wemple reported on an email exchange he had with CNN's Dana Loesch following her revival yesterday of the long-debunked smear that President Obama attended a "madrassa" as a boy, which was first reported by Media Matters.
From Wemple's post:
To get Loesch's take on her invocation of "madrassa," I sent along these questions to her:
Hi Ms. Loesch: I am a media reporter for the Washington Post and have a few questions about your comments about President Obama having attended a madrassa. 1) What do you think of reports that have vacated his claim? Are you skeptical of them? 2) Have you discussed this matter with CNN? 3) Do you plan to address this again? 4) What is your view of the criticism from [Media Matters]?
That inquiry fetched this response from Loesch:
When MMfA acknowledges that they're under fire for repeatedly publishing antisemitic content, when they can explain why they coincidently received money from SEIU to target black conservatives in the wake of Kenneth Gladney, when they clarify what they meant when they accused the US of bombing Al Jazeera, and when they detail how often they convene with the White House on strategy (i.e. DOJ story), then I'll be interested in responding on a nonstory from this joke of a far-left propaganda smear site. Until then, I'm more interested in seeing stories on why we have 300 dead Mexicans and two dead border agents on Eric Holder's watch.
Thanks for reaching out, it is genuinely appreciated.
OK, so that explains how Loesch feels about Media Matters. But I pinged her back: "But do you have any response to the non-MMFA portions of my inquiry?" Her response: "The entire thing is an MMfA portion." In another blast, she wrote that " 'madrassa,' doesn't mean 'terrorist school.' I made this point on air, by the way, that it's similar to a Sunday school. Why was that not included in their smear? I find it interesting that the first response from MMfA is to think 'terrorism.' That says more about them, and their ignorance of the word and religion, than me."
There's no way that this blogger is burrowing into the "madrassa" semantic rabbit hole with Loesch. You do not need to be a scholar on world religious education and culture to capture the essence of her exchange with the "Koran" caller. She was expressing ideological kinship with him. The only part of her response that matters is the words "Well, yeah."
In a blog post today, The Washington Post's Erik Wemple criticized the reporting of Fox "straight news" anchor Megyn Kelly following the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that shook the east coast yesterday afternoon -- namely, that Kelly reported that the Washington Monument was tilting without first investigating the claim. From Wemple's post:
Give Megyn Kelly credit for communicating gravitas in the aftermath of the earthquake. Yesterday afternoon on Fox News, she reported:
"They are concerned that the Washington Monument may be tilting."
Then she slowed down a bit and said:
"They are concerned that the Washington Monument may be tilting."
So who is "they"? Engineers with the National Park Service? White House officials who've been briefed on the teetering national symbol?
Nope -- for this most momentous of scoops on D.C.'s federal core, Fox News was relying on the words of some "D.C. police officer."
Bill Line, a spokesman with the National Park Service, says he knows of no outlet other than Fox that pushed the tilt. And he says Fox never contacted the Park Service before putting out its rumor. "We never received a phone call from Fox asking us about that," he says. "I learned about it on their Web site." Asks Line: "Wouldn't it be incumbent on a news organization to check out the facts?" People called into the Park Service worried about the possibly unstable Washington Monument, says Line. "We said the information is wrong .... We told them the Washington Monument is closed, but that's not the same thing as it's tilting."
In a follow-up post titled "Fox sidesteps blame in monumental tilt," Wemple wrote that Kelly today "addressed the question of her network's faulty report" on the monument but "took no blame whatsoever for the erroneous reporting."