Fox News, WorldNetDaily and the Washington Examiner have written stories based on a report produced by the conservative watchdog Judicial Watch alleging that the FCC "colluded with the leftist Free Press organization to publicly push a new plan to regulate the Internet under the FCC's so-called 'net neutrality' program."
The allegation of collusion here is about as valid as WorldNetDaily's ongoing quest to find the "real" Obama birth certificate. The evidence Judicial Watch uses to justify their allegation comes from emails between FCC Commissioner Michael Copps and media reform organization Free Press. The e-mails detail communications between Copps and Free Press regarding the placement of an op-ed in favor of net neutrality regulations (which would guarantee that internet service providers can't favor their own content over others) , as well as arrangements for a meeting between Copps and a representative of Free Press.
None of this is unusual. Government officials regularly meet and speak before outside groups, like the conservative Heritage Foundation and the progressive Center For American Progress. For example, Republican FCC commissioner Robert M. McDowell was invited to speak at Americans For Prosperity's (AFP) Right Online conference in 2010. In his speech, McDowell expressed his opposition to net neutrality legislation. Americans For Prosperity has devoted significant resources to opposing net neutrality, including creating an advocacy website at NoInternetTakeOver.com. By Judicial Watch's definition, this is evidence of McDowell "colluding" with AFP.
FoxNews.com today published an op-ed by self-described "Fox News Democrat" Doug Schoen defending Fox News from charges that it's "devoted primarily, if not entirely, to promoting Republican candidates and Republican talking points." Schoen's op-ed is riddled with false defenses of his employer.
For starters, Schoen claims that "I can honestly say that there's never been an effort, organized or otherwise, to get me or to my knowledge anyone else to advance a particular point of view." But Fox News vice president and Washington managing editor Bill Sammon has been recently caught doing exactly that. Internal emails show that Sammon ordered his news staff to cast doubt on established climate science; directed his staff not to use the phrase "public option"; and a source with knowledge of the situation at Fox's Washington bureau told Media Matters that Sammon exerts "pressure" on his staff to "slant news to the right."
Schoen also writes that "I understand that the point of view presented is not that of the left, but its also not that of the Republican National Committee." Yet Fox News regularly echoes Republican talking points and has been caught literally plagiarizing material from the GOP.
Schoen adds that Fox News has "sought the highest quality Democrats," pointing to himself and Pat Caddell, among others, as two examples. But the presence of those two actually illustrates part of the problem. Schoen writes that he and Caddell "tend to be more moderate" than "a mainstream liberal" like Bob Beckel. That's one way of putting it -- as Media Matters has pointed out:
Schoen donated to one GOP congressional candidate [last] cycle, and headlined a fundraiser for a second. In February , Caddell was fired from the campaign of Colorado Democratic Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff after video emerged of Caddell at a conservative retreat saying that "[t]he whole idea of the environmental movement" is "to basically deconstruct capitalism."
We're shown how on issue after issue, it's difficult to find daylight between the commentary of Schoen and Caddell and that of Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing figures. Caddell has accused Obama of conducting a "Potemkin village presidency" and "Chicago gangsterism." Schoen has claimed that the "real question" raised by the White House's actions is "Is this a democracy?" And on, and on, and on.
In November 2010, Schoen and Caddell were scheduled to appear (.pdf) at a fundraising retreat benefiting conservative activist David Horowitz's organization. Caddell spoke as scheduled, but a note on FrontPageMag.com said that Schoen "got stuck in an airport and couldn't make" his scheduled panel.* Still, Schoen and Caddell are regularly put on Fox News to represent the Democratic side of an issue.
Schoen concludes that Fox News is actually "just good television organized by smart executives, whose political perspective may not be my own, but whose commitment to professionalism and excellence appears clear and unambiguous." Clarity, it seems, is easy if you're getting a paycheck from Fox News.
*Further information about the retreat added.
Media Research Center (MRC) and Fox News appear to be telling journalists that if they investigate the business dealings of billionaire T. Boone Pickens, you will be attacked.
In his bio on FoxNews.com, MRC "Vice President for Business and Culture" Gainor is listed as "the Boone Pickens Fellow" for MRC. Pickens is described by MRC as an "MRC Trustee," has presented at the MRC's annual DisHonor Awards, is listed in their most recent annual report available online (2008) as a "trustee," and was described by MRC founder Brent Bozell in 2006 as "a friend" who "supports" the Media Research Center. Pickens reportedly donated $1 million to the Swift Boat Veterans for The Truth in 2004.
Gainor has written an opinion piece on FoxNews.com attacking progressive philanthropist (and Media Matters donor) George Soros for his donations via the Open Society Foundation into journalistic operations like the non-profit ProPublica:
The ProPublica stories are thoroughly researched by top-notch staffers who used to work at some of the biggest news outlets in the nation. But the topics are almost laughably left-wing. The site's proud list of "Our Investigations" includes attacks on oil companies, gas companies, the health care industry, for-profit schools and more. More than 100 stories on the latest lefty cause: opposition to drilling for natural gas by hydraulic fracking. Another 100 on the evils of the foreclosure industry.
Gainor doesn't seem to have any problem with the factual output of ProPublica, just the fact that it exists and investigates issues. He even says "[t]he ProPublica stories are thoroughly researched by top-notch staffers." So, why the hate?
In news reports on a House Republican proposal that would require the Obama administration to open new areas to offshore drilling, Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse claimed that "97 percent of America's offshore oil remains off-limits." In fact, the areas already open to drilling contain the "vast majority" of estimated offshore oil resources, according to the Energy Information Administration.
After weeks of demanding President Obama "produce the birth certificate" so it can be "over [and] done with," right-wing media figures have begun attacking Obama for releasing his long-form birth certificate, claiming it was done as a "distraction" and complaining it was done to "personally put down his detractors."
Right-wing media responded to the release of President Obama's long-form birth certificate by attacking the president and claiming that certain questions surrounding the document remain unanswered. Below is a sampling of the early attacks by conservative media following the release of Obama's long-form birth certificate.
In December, the EPA's Environmental Appeals Board ordered the EPA to revisit two permits the agency had granted to Shell Oil for oil exploration off the coast of Alaska. The board -- which was responding to an appeal from Alaska native and environmental groups -- determined that the EPA had made two errors in issuing the clean air permits and told the agency's regional office that they needed to be revised. On February 3, Shell announced that the drilling projects would be postponed until after 2011 due to the permit delays and Alaska's short (105 day) offshore drilling season.
According to a search of Nexis and our archive, the Fox News Channel did not cover either the appeals board decision or the Shell announcement ... until this week. After FoxNews.com posted an article on the delayed Shell permits yesterday, Fox News ran segments on the issue during both Happening Now and America Live, two of Fox's purportedly "straight news" daytime shows. Glenn Beck also discussed the Shell permits on his Fox News show.
Why the sudden burst of coverage of a story that is a couple months old? Fox's framing may provide the answer. From America Live:
SHANNON BREAM (host): As gas prices rocket toward $5 a gallon, we're now learning the Environmental Protection Agency has thrown a roadblock in front of an exploration effort that could give the U.S. access to an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil.
Despite repeated denials from government officials, Fox claims to have "confirmed" that federal law enforcement officials have been ordered not to arrest undocumented immigrants, supposedly as a way for the government to lessen apprehension numbers at the border. In fact, the weak U.S. economy and the Obama administration's stepped-up enforcement efforts are principal factors in the decline.
A bit of advice for Fox News host Greta Van Susteren: Don't take your cues from the L.A. Times' serially inaccurate Andrew Malcolm. Writing on her blog, Van Susteren took White House press secretary Jay Carney to task for supposedly speaking out of turn:
Below is a headline from the LA Times and it is a bit weird...I sure hope President Obama's Press Secretary doesn't think HE is the President. He is just the messenger of the Administration. No President of any country should be getting a stern warning (or any warning) from the Press Secretary. The messages should be FROM THE PRESIDENT.
Susteren then linked to this post from Andrew Malcolm headlined "Yemen president gets a stern warning from Obama press secretary." This, like pretty much everything Malcolm writes, is a stretch. The actual press release, seen here, is a standard-issue statement from the White House titled "Statement by the Press Secretary on Violence in Yemen."
On March 21, Fox News repeatedly claimed that reporters from other U.S. outlets, but not from Fox News, were lured to Muamar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli and successfully used as human shields. But Fox had to "clarify" the story late that evening when it turned out that someone from Fox News was also at Gadhafi's compound.
In honor of the one year anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Media Matters presents a timeline of one of the most disgraceful and pernicious myths about the law--death panels.
The right-wing media has consistently portrayed the medical case of Canadian baby Joseph Maraachli as a fight for survival, claiming he was "rescued" from the Canadian hospital treating him, thus "sav[ing]" the child's life. In fact, Maraachli's condition is incurable -- a fact conceded even by the conservative priests who facilitated moving Maraachli to a Catholic hospital in the U.S. -- and the Canadian hospital had agreed to all of his parents' requests to discharge and transfer the child.
Numerous mainstream media outlets have reported on Republicans' accusations that the Obama administration's drilling policies are to blame for the recent increase in gas prices. These media have failed to alert their audiences to the fact that according to energy experts, the allegation is entirely without merit.
Despite the fact that President Obama was born in Hawaii, Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller lets frequent Caller columnist and "Fox News Forum Contributor" Tommy De Seno go birther in a column headlined "The birther movement is President Obama's fault":
I've long maintained that the existence of the "birther movement" is President Obama's fault. He could dispel the rumors about his birth by simply showing everyone his 1961 birth certificate. By doing so, he would also save a lot in legal fees. Yet, no one has ever asked Obama why he'd rather lose money than show his birth certificate. It's time to ask that question.
If he really wants the birthers to shut up, he has the power to do so by releasing the 1961 document. Why not just do it then? It's a simple task.
I call shenanigans on the straw-man argument that "the birthers still won't believe him." Yes, they will. And so too will others who just don't know where he was born, not because they are kooks, but because Obama himself acts kooky in spending money to win lawsuits he could win for free by showing his birth certificate.
By defending the lawsuits and not showing the 1961 document, Obama feeds the suspicion of those who already think he is lying. That's why this issue has the power to linger, and that's Obama's fault alone. I hope the birthers continue to bite his ankles until he releases the records. He deserves nothing less for making this issue stay with us.
That blame-the-victim birther nonsense won Tommy De Seno a spot on the Daily Caller's front page:
On July 29, 2009, FoxNews.com published a similar piece by De Seno, as Media Matters noted at the time. That piece was headlined "Obama's to Blame for the Birther Movement" and, contained many of the same lines he uses in the current Daily Caller piece. Both quote Ronald Reagan's "trust but verify" line, for example. Both contain the lines "Sure his grammar school records show that he was enrolled as an Indonesian Muslim, but some people will say anything to get their kid in the right school. It doesn't really answer the question." Both ask of Obama's purported failure to prove his birthplace, "Why not get rid of a conversation that has been with America since the campaign"? Both reference John Kerry's Yale records.
So here's what we've learned today: The way to get a piece published on the Daily Caller's front page is to recycle an 18th-month-old FoxNews.com column peddling birther conspiracy theories.
Remember when Tucker Carlson insisted the Daily Caller wouldn't be a right-wing site?
Fox News promoted Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's claim that the federal government has failed to "do its job" on border security without mentioning that border security efforts have increased measurably under President Obama: Deportations, drug seizures, and the number of Border Patrol agents have all increased.