What took so damn long? MoveOn.org has just announced a petition drive to persuade Democrats to Stay Off Fox.
This could be a turning point in the campaign to isolate Fox News and to re-brand them as a partisan purveyor of propaganda. As my regular readers may know, I have been calling for all Democrats and progressives to stay the HELL off of Fox News for more than two years. I launched my Starve the Beast campaign in August of 2007, by saying:
“The problem with Fox News is not that it’s a right-wing platform for war, intolerance, and greed; it isn’t that it’s spreading propaganda in support of an out-of-control White House that is hoarding unprecedented levels of power; it isn’t that they engage in relentless and unfounded attacks on Democrats, progressives, and the rest of the 72% of Americans that Fox portrays as unpatriotic because they disapprove of Mr. Bush and his war; it isn’t even that it sits at the center of a politically charged media empire run by Rupert Murdoch, a monopolistic ideologue with no allegiance to country or the common good.”
The problem with Fox News is that people grant them far more credit and influence than they deserve. They are a niche player in the cable news universe. Their highest rated program (The O’Reilly Factor) has fewer viewers than the lowest rated broadcast news program (CBS/Couric). They reach an audience of about 3 million, which is less than 1% of the population. In Starve the Beast, and its two follow ups, I painstakingly made the case that Democrats can and should avoid Fox News. There is almost nothing to be gained by patronizing them.
Now MoveOn.org has come aboard:
President Obama is fighting back against FOX. The White House communications director said FOX is a “wing of the Republican Party…let’s not pretend they’re a news network.”
To draw attention to its biased coverage, President Obama will not appear on FOX for the rest of this year. Can you sign this petition asking Democrats to support President Obama’s stance by staying off FOX as long as he does?
A compiled petition with your individual comment will be presented to Democratic senators and representatives.
MoveOn’s petition drive was inspired by the recent courageous comments by White House communications director, Anita Dunn, who said that Fox is “the communications arm of the Republican Party.” That simple and obvious observation has sparked a dialogue that, in the end, will reinforce the public perception that Fox is merely masquerading as a news enterprise. For her trouble, Dunn has been smeared by Fox presenters, particularly Glenn Beck, who has falsely asserted that she worships Mao Zedong. That is especially ironic considering that Beck himself was caught on video confessing his idolization of Adolf Hitler (Call me, Glenn. Tell that I’m wrong).
My original Starve the Beast column ended with a plea to my political compatriots that still reflects the urgency of embargoing Fox News and treating them as the partisan prevaricators that they are:
“Please stop hurting our cause by appearing on Fox News. Rupert Murdoch and his media megaphone is openly hostile to our agenda and our representatives. They will only use your appearance to distort your message and derail our mission. Studies have proven that their audience is unreceptive, and even antagonistic, to us. Your appearance will be rewarded more with ridicule than respect.”
Many thanks to MoveOn for coming aboard and giving this movement a much needed boost.