Speaking Truth To Fox ‘So-Called’ News

This is getting to be fun. Last Sunday, White House communications director Anita Dunn said what most rational observers of the news already knew: that Fox News is “the communications arm of the Republican Party.”

Today, another volley has been fired in defense of sanity. White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was on CNN and this to say about Fox News:

“It’s not a news organization so much as it has a perspective, and that’s a different take [...] And more importantly, it’s important not to have the CNN’s and the others of the world being led and following Fox, as if what they’re trying to do is a legitimate news organization.”

Well said, Rahm. Especially the part about other news organizations and the need for them to avoid mimicking the dishonest methods of Fox. But that’s not all. White House advisor David Axelrod was on ABC’s This Week and said:

“It’s not really a news organization [...] We’re going to appear on their shows, we’re going to participate, but understanding they have a point of view.”

That is only partly good news. At least Axelrod recognizes that Fox is platform for a hostile, right-wing point of view, but why would he consent to participate with an enterprise that he concedes is “not really a news organization?” That’s like agreeing to participate with the National Enquirer. What’s the point?

Still, it is encouraging that the White House is aware of what they are up against. And it is even more encouraging that they are willing to openly and accurately characterize Fox as a fraud as regards the business of news.

Now all we need to do is get the rest of the political establishment to get on board. The first thing any Democrat or progressive should say when interviewed by Fox is “Well, if I were on a legitimate news channel I would say…” Properly identifying Fox News should be required in every appearance. Perhaps they could subtly interject reality by saying “Thank you for inviting me to be on Fox ‘so-called’ News,” or “the Fox Opinion Network.”

This new display of courage and honesty should also be taken up by the rest of the media. This is the perfect excuse for introducing a vibrant dialogue about the journalistic malpractice at Fox News and about the responsibilities of ethical journalism in general. Simply hosting segments with balanced discussions of these issues is a positive step. If nothing else, it reinforces the impression that Fox is a fake. The only response that Fox has been able to muster so far is that they believe their audience can tell the difference between news and opinion. That’s, in effect, an admission by Fox that their trade is opinion. It’s a lame defense and it isn’t even true. Studies have shown that Fox News viewers are far more likely to believe things that are demonstrably false than viewers of other news networks.

Fox News has been relentless in their disparagement of their competitors. they have placed advertising on the air and in trade publications that explicitly demeaned other news organizations. They routinely charge them with being biased and unprofessional. They even helped to promote protests against other news networks. For some reason, the targets of Fox’s attacks never seem to fight back. Well now they have an opening to do so in the form of addressing the allegations from the White House. If they miss this opportunity they are either incompetent or have a death wish. Fox has been eating their lunch in the ratings (on the cable side), and they have both a professional and a fiduciary duty to defend themselves.

Undoubtedly, Glenn Beck will do a show Monday accusing Axelrod and Emmanuel of being Marxists (if he hasn’t already). But the more he makes this ludicrous assertion the less power it has. He has already swept up Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Mother Theresa in his paranoid net. So bring it on.

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11 thoughts on “Speaking Truth To Fox ‘So-Called’ News

  1. Googling throught the internet universe, I landed upon this site thinking that perhaps I had landed on a group of people who intended to call into accounts the media that made a Hitler-like Messiah out of Barack Hussein Obama and the “nattering nabobs of negativity” – those yellow journalists over at Fox “News”.

    Nope, not a chance. What we have here is a liberal haunt, a leftover election party of a failed messiah, and the true news corpse. For what it is worth, way back in high school, I had a History teacher tell me that there is no such thing as unbiased reporting. He advised that we read nothing but good opinion on all sides and weigh the arguments.

    I think he was right. The reason why we have a news corpse is because we were under the illusion that there was a body that could be dispassionately described. Not so, modernity is dead and hopefully we will survive the tyranny of postmodernity.

    Unbiased reporting is a crock. So, grow up.

    • Since we all have biases, every news organization displays its biases to the same extent as FOX “News,” which, interestingly, is put in quotation marks, indicating so-called. And Obama complains equally about all networks, all newspapers, all operations – every one of them – because every last one of them is as clearly and explicitly gaming the system as FOX. Which is why he boycotted all stations except the Spanish language one during his recent Sunday interview, since a foreign language can’t do as much damage as it deliberately slants its reporting.

      • a foreign language network, that is. And comparing FOX to any other news organization is not a matter of degree.

  2. Mark – please do initiate a “Never Appear on FOX” petition, a joint blog project to be sent to the White House in a timely manner. You are the master at making the case.

    • That’s an interesting idea. It would have to be directed at more than the White House. All Dems and even journalists should be targeted.

      And I’d have to get some other progressive bloggers to sign on. Preferably sites with high traffic.

      Definitely something to consider.

      • Contact digby (she’s very generous with her links to worthwhile causes), atrios, Salon, oh, of course DKos, Firedoglake, Crooks and Liars, just for starters,and persuade the largest-traffic one that bites to collaborate with you, to co-sponsor the drive – your idea, their reach. Besides the WH, I don’t know to whom to send for the greatest distribution impact – Democratic committees? sympathetic newspaper officials? – but I’m sure you are familiar with the choices on that count. Now I can’t resist adding I had this same suggestion a short time ago but you kinda, sorta, scoffed at it. Can’t remember which post it was. Since the WH has now spoken out, it could be the ideal timing.

  3. Exlibris, I’m kinda unejumicated, and I can’t really understand what your point is, are you saying mark should just shut up? Or that he should put a big arse fair and balanced banner on his site in order to advertise his unbiasedness?

    • Really, Phil? You don’t understand Exlibris? He just wanted to find “a group of people who intended to call into accounts the media that made a Hitler-like Messiah out of Barack Hussein Obama.”

      I wasn’t aware that the media had done that, so I guess he’ll just have to keep looking.

  4. Ahhhh….

    None so blind as those who will not see.

    Feigned ignorance seems to be the passion of this generation . . . “whatever”

    Look at your adds, your commentary, this is a left of left center (i.e. really left) diatribe joint. Hey! I don’t have a problem with that. But Mark, maybe my search engine is not working too well and I am new to your site, do you write anything criticizing the current administration – recognizing Fox “News” excluded??? I mean everything around here looks like trappings for an Obama shrine.

    Oh and by the way, Mark, you only repeated half of my gripe with the “News” industry (4th estate – a laughable legacy). BTW, this is sooo like your beloved 4th estate – selective reporting to advance your argument. I also don’t care for the constant criticism issuing from Fox “News”. Fox is far from “fair and balanced.” It would be generous to even say that they are the counterweight to the lack of balance in the rest of journalism. Fox might be better off to sluff off the the “News” misnomer and just go with Fox Opinion – not that I would agree with their opinion.

    Start a petition, but remember politics tends to be the dangerous game of appeasing your base while reaching out to your opponent. You always offend somebody, and sometimes offending those with which you have significant credit might be worth it if you can reach out to those who are skeptical of your measures. Fox “New” has some pretty high ratings, and it seems pretty cocky of a young administration that is having its normal issues to try to marginalize the network. Fox’s ratings only stand to jump, and give them a larger audience upon which to inflict their vitriol and invective.

    Frankly, I think the whole news industry needs to be taken with a grain of salt. All the news outlets differ only by degrees – and this includes those little tabloids that talk about Elvis’ three-eyed alien baby. Contra daphne (nice name though).

    This is too long of a post. Sorry.

    • Wow. You figured out that I’m a liberal? Nothing gets by you.

      It’s actually nice to hear that you recognize that Fox is an opinion monger and not news. In addition, I agree that the rest of the media is either corrupt or lazy (or both). My biggest objection to the “mainstream” media is that it is a corporate animal that is more interested in their own welfare than in the public interest.

      I have also written critically of Obama, but this site is focused more on media than politics, so I try not to react to every political event that transpires. I am more interested in media reform that results in more diverse and independent sources for news. I’d like to see the big five media conglomerates broken up and real competition introduced into the marketplace.

      I spend a lot of time on Fox News because it is the worst offender. Although the rest of the press has it biases, Fox manifests their bias so much more dishonestly. Olbermann is obviously biased, but he expresses it truthfully. Fox just lies.

    • Actually, you agree with me: it is a matter of degrees. How many degrees? Very many. But it’s always an interesting experiment in bad faith debating by defending your entity by pointing out the shortcomings of others. Finally, I can’t condone the logic of warning Mark not to endanger the WH by sending a petition to it.

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