The Fox News weekend schedule seems to have been interrupted. First by nearly non-stop coverage of the trial of Casey Anthony which, judging by the amount of airtime it is receiving, it is the most important event facing the country. More important than the economy, the war on terror, or where the royals are spending the weekend.
In addition, the Fox News Watch program that airs every weekend was taken over by a single subject that consumed fully half of the program. Fox has become desperately fixated on the perceived threat of Media Matters. They have been reporting all week on an attempt to shut it down by challenging their tax-exempt status (a challenge that has no merit whatsoever). They have even been directing viewers to a web site where they can file their own complaints with the IRS. Fox Nation posted this link a week ago and keeps moving it to the top of their web page above other more recent news.
Obviously Fox is scared. They are afraid that Media Matters’ practice of documenting Fox’s own words and pictures is having a detrimental effect on the network. They are afraid that the successful campaign against Glenn Beck will continue to reveal that Fox News is a bastion of lies, racism, and partisan propaganda. And so Fox has embarked on a mission to destroy Media Matters with all the weight of their vast media empire.
Fox News Watch opened by playing a biased story from Fox reporter James Rosen in full. I have never seen that happen on News Watch before. The story included former Bush lawyer, C. Boyden Gray, making this ludicrous assertion:
“When you start to accuse Fox News of being the spokesman for the Republican Party, which is demonstrably false – there’s no basis for that. Brock, Media Matters, makes no effort to substantiate any of that – That’s when it crosses the line.”
There is ample evidence that Fox News is operating as the public relations arm of the Republican Party. They have had in their employ up to five potential GOP candidates for president. They interview Republican candidates almost exclusively. They have distributed memos instructing their anchors and reporters to use language that parrots Republican talking points. They have even broadcast reports written by the Republican National Committee word-for-word, displaying accompanying graphics that contained the same typos in the original RNC document. That last bit of journalistic cronyism was the work of current Fox News Watch host, Jon Scott.
Media Matters has more than made an effort to substantiate the overtly partisan behavior of Fox. They have proven it beyond a shadow of a doubt. That’s why Fox is scared.
The News Watch segment went on to note the recent financial history of Media Matters. They displayed a chart showing that the group received $8.4 million in grants and contributions in 2007, $8 million in 2008, and 6.7 million in 2009. Then, without any evidence whatsoever, asserted that the decline in receipts is what prompted George Soros to make a $1 million donation in 2010 (his first donation ever, by the way). Jon Scott characterized the donations as “drying up.” I suppose it never occurred to him that the time period he singled out was precisely when the economy collapsed, which undoubtedly impacted the donations of every charitable organization. There was no reason to assume that there was any problem with supporters that involved anything other than the state of the economy.
This was followed by a chart showing that Media Matters had done more stories on Fox News than any other news entity. Why would that surprise anyone? If the mission is to document media misinformation, the most frequent offender is going to show up most frequently. Fox knows that they perpetrate more misinformation than any other news source. That’s why Fox is scared.
The News Watch panel was composed of four conservative defenders of Fox and one lonely, but earnest, liberal, Jehmu Greene. Jon Scott brought up Soros three separate times, but were it not for Greene no one would have heard about the uber-conservative Media Research Center (operator of NewsBusters). The MRC has its own army of billionaires (Koch, Murdoch, Scaife, etc.) funding their partisan enterprise, but no one other than Greene would discuss it. Even after she brought it up, the other panelists scurried away refusing to hear of it. And it should not go without mentioning that Fox News itself is one of the MRC’s biggest supporters. They regularly feature the MRC’s Brent Bozell and much of their news content comes straight from the MRC. Fox’s former news chief, Brit Hume, thanked the MRC saying “I don’t know what we would’ve done without them.”
This farce took up half of the program. As a result, notable media events of the past week were ignored or abridged. Those events included Michele Bachmann’s entry into the presidential race, Glenn Beck’s final show on Fox, and the President’s contentious news conference. Why would Fox News Watch, a show dedicated to the media, deliberately excise and/or abridge coverage of such significant stories in order expand coverage of a media monitoring organization that most Americans have never heard of?
Because Fox News is scared. They are scared of the truth. They are scared that more people will discover that they are a network that peddles garbage and partisan tripe. And as an enterprise with zero journalistic credibility, Fox News has good reason to be afraid. An organization like Media Matters that merely records and replays the lies and bias on Fox News is certain to be their worst enemy.