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Monday, October 12, 2009


Combined FOX-GOP logoThis weekend, a minor news story popped up that should probably get a little more attention than it will. Appearing on CNN's Reliable Sources, White House communications director Anita Dunn gave what Huffington Post's Sam Stein called, "a lengthy and brutal denunciation of Fox News, calling the cable outlet a vehicle for Republican Party propaganda and an ideological opponent of the president." Stein includes a few examples:

"If we went back a year ago to the fall of 2008, to the campaign, that was a time this country was in two wars that we had a financial collapse probably more significant than any financial collapse since the Great Depression. If you were a Fox News viewer in the fall election what you would have seen were that the biggest stories and the biggest threats facing America were a guy named Bill Ayers and a something called ACORN."

"The reality of it is that Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party. And it is not ideological... what I think is fair to say about Fox, and the way we view it, is that it is more of a wing of the Republican Party."

"Obviously [the President] will go on Fox because he engages with ideological opponents. He has done that before and he will do it again... when he goes on Fox he understands he is not going on it as a news network at this point. He is going on it to debate the opposition."

"[Fox is] widely viewed as a part of the Republican Party: take their talking points and put them on the air, take their opposition research and put it on the air. And that's fine. But let's not pretend they're a news organization like CNN is."

The only real disagreement I have with Dunn here is that I don't know that I'd call CNN a "news organization." They report a lot of stuff, but they don't do a lot of journalism -- no cable news organization really does that. Maybe they're a "news-repeating organization." Otherwise, dead on.

This becomes obvious enough when we point our browsers over to the network's The FOX Nation website, where the top story at this particular moment is "What are the Nobel Prize Committee Chairman's Socialist Ties?"

There we go then. Case closed. Shortest morning post I ever wrote. But this isn't the only example, it's just the most recent. During the summer, Fox's bias was incredibly blatant. "Fox News has in dozens of instances provided attendance and organizing information for future protests, such as protest dates, locations and website URLs," Media Matters reported at the time. "Fox News websites have also posted information and publicity material for protests. Fox News hosts have repeatedly encouraged viewers to join them at several April 15 protests that they are attending and covering."

"The network has also been pushing the movement’s talking points, saying that people are 'angry,' 'upset,' and 'feeling disenfranchised,' which is why they're organizing this 'nationwide grassroots movement.'" added Think Progress. "Promising 'fair and balanced' coverage, hosts such as Glenn Beck, Neil Cavuto, and Sean Hannity are all planning to broadcast live from the events. The Fox broadcasts are in turn being used by the tea party organizers to promote their protests."

For their part, Fox has all but dropped any pretense of being unbiased. That "fair and balanced" motto has often been misunderstood; the network itself was never meant to be balanced in their reporting, but to provide a balance to the perceived "liberal bias" of the rest of the media. With the firing of their only liberal -- Alan Colmes -- and picking up the warmed-over John Bircherism of Glenn Beck, the network has gone fullblown wingnut with the election of Barack Obama.

"The roots of Fox News Channel's day-to-day on-air bias are actual and direct," former Fox News producer Charlie Reina once emailed The Poynter Institute's journalism training center. "They come in the form of an executive memo distributed electronically each morning, addressing what stories will be covered and, often, suggesting how they should be covered. To the newsroom personnel responsible for the channel's daytime programming, The Memo is the bible. If, on any given day, you notice that the Fox anchors seem to be trying to drive a particular point home, you can bet The Memo is behind it.

"The Memo was born with the Bush administration, early in 2001, and, intentionally or not, has ensured that the administration's point of view consistently comes across on FNC. This year, of course, the war in Iraq became a constant subject of The Memo. But along with the obvious -- information on who is where and what they'll be covering -- there have been subtle hints as to the tone of the anchors' copy."

And Reina backed up what Dunn suggested on CNN in an 2003 interview with Salon. "I'll tell you, it's interesting," he said. "On that same day [that Fox management distributed a memo suggesting suicide bombings be called 'homicide bombings'], the White House had made the same suggestion -- well, the Bush administration, whether it was the White House or the Pentagon or whatever. That's the background to it. By the next day, enough people [at Fox] were saying, 'What about this?' So the next day's memo kind of reluctantly said, 'Well, you could use either one.' But by then, everyone -- and again, we're talking about young people who don't have any perspective on this; all they know is that you do what they're told -- they know what management's feeling about this is. So... it's 'homicide bombings.' And that's the beginnings of a new P.C."

The same day that the Bush administration came out with a new spin-term for suicide bombings, Fox sent out a memo suggesting people use a new spin-term for suicide bombings... the exact same term the White House was trying to launch into common usage. Either this was Fox executives getting their talking points off the fax from the Republican National Committee or this was a colossal coincidence. Fox News looks a lot like the Republican Party's press office.


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M said...

CNN is about 85% opinion related news. They take e-mails from readers and report it as "some are saying." They report something like, "the President won the Nobel Peace Prize" and then beat it to death with opinions by political hacks-- people who've been seasoned and versed in proper TV punditry etiquette so as to add the appearance of "trusted" professionalism in opinion making. Professional hacks is what they are.

A couple months ago I was fairly certain there was $1 bet going between CNN and FOX to see if they could start an LA riots-like race war.

A couple weeks before the election, CNN rolled out D.L. Hugley in a night time slot where everything I thought I knew about his political positions by watching him on Bill Maher several times was shot to hell. Now, mind you, this was a few weeks before the election when he was hyped on CNN, and I watched exactly two times before I realized that this guy is a phony. Expecting comical perspective on the culture of politics that comedians reliably provide, I was really surprised to hear this guy talking like a back-of-the-bus ghetto spaz, rather than the articulate social observer I came to know. CNN unleashed the NEGRO in this guy and he played the part well. I have no proof, of course, but I watch A LOT of punditry news(not so much anymore), and I was getting the feeling CNN was using D.L. to add doubt to Barack Obama's potential. I got a real negative vibe from him and it seemed really out of his character, and not because I was expecting a black guy to be strict pro-Obama. But because his views seemed to be bought by a network that wanted more back-of-the-bus shit-talking ebonics to remind white people of why black people shouldn't be taken seriously. DL seemed to be playing the part of unfriendly reminder to white America playing into the Crows from DUMBO/MAMMY stereotypes. I didn't like it, and that was just the unspoken narrative I was picking up. The spoken narrative became one of, "here's a black guy that tells it like it is and he's raising doubts, not about Palin/McCain, but Barack Obama. If you go back and watch those first couple shows before the election with the heads-up I'm talking about, you'll get the same impression-- maybe not to my personally heightened degree of suspicion, but there's smoke there. Rather than giving D.L. a platform to demonstrate political savvy, they gave him a platform that equated to an attempt at "fair and balanced" using a black guy to give them cover for casting doubt on Barack Obama.

Fast forward to a couple months ago, and CNN was all black all the time. It was Black In America more than half the day for weeks. On FOX it was the usual, "This president is a racist/socialist/communist/fascist/Marxist" where it was obvious FOX was engaging in xenophobia fear mongering to their predominantly white audience.

As it turns out, it wasn't enough to start a race war or prevent the election of the first black president, although the Tea Party's and their FOX affiliates' war on ACORN should be read as a race war and class warfare at the same time.

CNN is a sorry excuse for a news organization. The only time I take them seriously is when they invite Christian Amanpour, Richard Engel, Michael Ware, and a few others. It's a center right-tilted news org, contrary to popular belief.

Report the facts. Fact check the myths and report the findings. That's ALL they should be about. Forget about the two sides/Crossfire panels where truth is intentionally confused and the public is dumber for it. Strip it down. Fire all the Wolf Blitzers, John Kings, Rick Sanchez-characters that muddy the waters of truth in their feigned and half-assed exploration of balance.

And don't get me started on Morning Joe over on the "liberal" "news" network.

sofa said...

Fox is to the left of the country. CNN is to the left of Lenin.