First Do No Harm: Jane Hamsher On Fox And Friends

Color me disappointed. Jane Hamsher is a first-rate blogger/analyst and an admirable advocate for progressive causes. Her web site, FireDogLake, is a must read. That is why what took place this morning on Fox News is all the more disturbing.

Steve DoocyIn a segment titled “First Do No Harm,” Jane engaged in an interview on her opposition to the Senate health care bill. It’s bad enough that Jane would appear on any program on Fox, but her decision to submit herself to Steve Doocy on Fox & Friends is just baffling. Doocy is the poster child for ignorant disinformers of the world. He makes Sean Hannity look like a Rhodes Scholar. For Jane to be subject to an interview by this evolutionary throwback to cave-dwellers is unconscionable.

For the record, I happen to think this bill should pass. Mainly because I am pessimistic that we can get anything better on this go-round. I think there are too many people in Congress who are compromised by their association with Big Pharma and that the process is dreadfully dysfunctional. The best political approach appears to me to be an incremental one. That said, I completely agree with Jane’s criticisms of the bill, and I respect her opinion.

Hamsher: People on the right, people on the left are looking at the Senate and they’re saying, “Nobody’s there representing us.” Nobody’s representing the people. It’s just a matter of who’s in power and who’s taking Pharma’s money.

Exactly. Jane and I have the same goals for health care reform. We just differ on whether to scrap this bill and start over, or pass it and push for more later. But she ought not to have sunk this low. Is she really this desperate for a platform? It doesn’t help her cause in the least to fraternize with the goons at Fox. They have just one agenda: Destroy Democrats and progressive reform. And there was a time when Jane recognized that (h/t pontificator):

Hamsher: Fox is not a news outlet, it’s an openly partisan opinion factory and the Democrats should not be legitimizing them (and allowing them to recruit Democratic viewers to propagandize to) by doing this.

Exactly. What happened Jane? The only purpose served by appearing on Fox is to validate them as a legitimate news enterprise. It permits them to persist in their dishonest claim to being “fair and balanced.” It lends credibility to a network that has not earned any on its own. And there is no benefit to promoting a progressive point of view on Fox, even if well stated, because their audience is not just unreceptive to it, they are overtly hostile.

What’s more, Fox will aggressively exploit your appearance to their advantage. They will either make you look stupid or portray you as supporting their agenda. In this case, Fox is using Jane to bash the health care bill. They are positioning her as another reason to defeat the evil, socialist Democrats in Congress. Fox looks upon this as, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Fox is opposed to the health care bill. Since Jane is also opposed to the bill, in its current form, let’s have her on to beat up the people on her own side. It’s a win/win for Fox. Bash the bill and Democrats in general too. And Fox will replay slanted excerpts of this interview over and over for the rest of the week. Jane ought not to empower that sort of cynical exploitation.

Doocy began the segment by shamelessly exploiting Jane’s past experience as a breast cancer survivor. This is a typical ploy by Fox to tug at heart strings and to imply that this gives her opinion more weight. Jane’s contribution to the debate lies in her analytical ability and insight, not her medical history. But Fox doesn’t care about Jane, her health, or her position of the issues. They only care about disparaging their perceived enemies. At the close of the segment Doocy announced that…

Doocy: If you would like to sign her petition to try to kill the Senate bill, go to our web site at

So Jane didn’t even get the benefit of a plug for her site (although it did appear on screen). Fox used the whole piece to promote themselves and drive traffic to their own site. Any Fox viewer who happens to click through to Jane’s petition will see a list of reasons to oppose the bill with which Fox viewers will fiercely disagree.
Starve the BeastFox conservatives oppose the bill for completely different reasons than Jane and other progressives do. Consequently, they would never sign her petition. Once again, Jane has achieved nothing of benefit by appearing on Fox.

There is some irony in the title of Jane’s segment on Fox: First Do No Harm. She should take that advice and stay the HELL off of Fox News! Such appearances only do harm to Democrats and progressive reform.

For a complete analysis of why it is pointless, and even harmful, to appear on Fox News, see my Starve The Beast series.

Update: Jane responded to criticism of her Fox gig on her own web site addressing the content of her remarks, saying…

“I stand by that message, and I think it’s important for both people on the left and people on the right to hear.”

The thing is, I have no problem with her message. My problem is with the platform she chose to dispense it. I still admire Jane and her commitment to changing this country for the better, but appearing on Fox does not serve that end. And for the record, I have also criticized others who appeared on Fox, including Obama:

Obama Capitulates To Fox News Barack Obama Falls Into Fox News Sunday Trap

26 thoughts on “First Do No Harm: Jane Hamsher On Fox And Friends

    • Yeah, I saw that. It doesn’t change a thing.

      In her response, Jane stood by her message. But I have no problem with her message. My problem is the platform on which she chose to dispense it.

  1. Just a reminder…

    Comments that do not contribute to a civil discussion are not permitted and will be deleted.

  2. I applaud Jane Hamsher for going on Fox News and stating her opinion. Fox News is absolutely a legit news source. It’s a heck of a lot more legit than MSLSD could ever hope to be. At least they let her on. How many conservatives do you ever see on “Countdown” with Keith “Go f*** your mother” Olbermann? He doesn’t allow them on; that is a well-known fact. Let her speak; her opinion got more airplay than if she went on the “thrill going up my leg” crew.

    • Of course you applaud going on Fox. You get thrill going up your leg whenever you see Dems bashing other Dems.

      However, from the point of view of someone who is interested in honest debate, going on Fox is just a waste of time.

  3. It has nothing to do with Dems bashing Dems. Let both sides air their opinions and allow them to mix it up.

    • Well, your childish nicknames for MSNBC and its hosts exposes your bias.

      But setting that aside, every show other than Olbermann (Hardball, Ed, Maddow, Shuster, etc.) has people presenting different views. Olbermann has said often that he didn’t want to have another cable show where people scream at each other, so he has taken a different path. Beck also doesn’t have opposing views, but he screams enough to make up for everybody else.

      The problem with libs going on Fox is that the audience doesn’t care what we have to say, so what’s the point? Should they just do it as an empty, useless exercise? I wouldn’t waste my time. If I want to air out opinions, there are many other news nets where I could do that and still have an impact on viewers.

  4. “Well, your childish nicknames for MSNBC and its hosts exposes your bias.”

    Says the guy who’s own name is a childish nickname for News Corp. To say nothing of the Photo you FAKED.

    She talked to more Democrats in the one show than she would have on almost any MSNBC show……I say good for her…..and while Im sure im alone on this site…….even Obama agrees with ME…….another good reason I voted for him.

    • “talks to” more Dems on FOX than on MSNBC? why, because the former’s rating are so high the tiny percentage of liberal viewers are still more than the much higher percentage who watch MSNBC? I seriously doubt that, and I’m sure Mark has the numbers to prove it wrong. not to mention Hamsher once didn’t agree with Hamsher, as was pointed out in the post. whatever Obama believes, as if that were relevant.

    • What an absolutely “brilliant” comment.

      Thanks for raising the level of my stupid website. 😉

  5. Keith doesn’t have any people presenting different views because he might have to stop reading his teleprompter and think for himself.

    • …because teleprompters don’t exist over at FOXnews? Is that what you’re trying to say?

      When are cons like you going to stop regurgitating old GOPher talking points? How can we be sure you’re not reading off your own prompter?

    • you mean the teleprompter on which he reads what he wrote himself, particularly the long speeches he delivers with passion and an honestly portrayed point-of-view? that teleprompter?

  6. No. Obviously they exist but so does conversation with opposing viewpoints. Chris Matthews is a good example. He has on guests and they talk politics. Some he agrees with and some he doesn’t but you hear the reasons for what they believe. Keith’s show is purely to attack people he doesn’t agree with. He is the Glenn Beck of MSNBC.

    • So your view is that every show should be exactly the same? A host and couple of partisan talking heads delivering their talking points in a perfectly predictable manner.

      I know you don’t like Olbermann, but he is trying something different. He is trying to produce an hour of analysis and entertainment with a consistent perspective and greater depth.

      There are dozens of shows like Matthews’. What’s wrong with doing something else? It’s better than pretending to be fair and balanced like Fox when they are really mostly one-sided. Sure, O’Reilly will have a segment with some obscure Dem that he verbally abuses for a few minutes, but then the rest of the hour is him and Dick Morris, Martha MacCollum, Monica Crowley, Frank Luntz, and that woman who does body language.

      Olbermann is just more honest about it. Yes, he has a point of view, but unlike Beck he presents it truthfully without making things up and deliberately lying.

  7. Here’s Keith being truthful and not just making things up and not deliberately lying….oh wait thats right in this show he is doing all those things…..he deliberately lying and making stuff up!

    IN other word….just another KO show!

  8. What you are leaving out about Olbermann’s show is this tidbit: Several people such as Betsy McCaughey, Micheal Medved and Dennis Praeger (just to name a few) have made it clear they will go on Olbermann’s show so they can defend themselves against Olby’s insults and lies. Olbermann won’t let them come on. He won’t allow any of his targets to come on and defend themselves. Ever.

    That is not doing something different. That is cowardice.

    • First of all, I’d need to see evidence that any of those people “made it clear” that they would appear on Countdown. I suppose it could happen, but so many conservatives like them have refused to appear on Maddow’s show that it seems unlikely they would go Olbermann’s

      Secondly, even if they did it would be contrary to the mission of Olbermann’s show. As I said above, he wants to produce an hour of analysis and entertainment with a consistent perspective and greater depth. The shoutfests do nothing to enlighten anyone on any subject, but they do prevent a deeper exploration of issues. It isn’t cowardice, it’s commitment.

      Olbermann originally agreed to do the MSNBC show only after he was promised that it would not be just another show with partisans yelling over each other. And all of the folks you mentioned have plenty of other venues on which to make their case.

  9. Evidence, you say?

    That’s right, Betsy McCaughey challenged Olbermann to a debate on his show, and his reponse was to tell her to go buy commercial time, that would be the only way she would ever be seen on “Countdown”. Both Medved and Prager have stated on their radio shows that a) they would go on “Countdown” to defend themselves against his WPITW attacks, and b) they have invited Olbermann on to their radio shows. Response from Olbermann…(crickets chirping)…

    “…just another show with partisans yelling over each other…”

    Bunk. This isn’t about bringing on two people from either side of the aisle and then refereeing the “shoutfest”. This is about Olbermann blurting out his utterly partisan and very personal attacks against people, both individually and collectively, AND NOT ALLOWING THESE PEOPLE ON THE SHOW TO GO ONE-ON-ONE AGAINST THE GUY WHO IS LEVELING THESE ATTACKS.

    Yes, this is cowardice.

    • Thanks for the link to McCaughey’s challenge. I appreciate your effort to document your claim. Still, the second point I made above applies.

      McCaughey can go on any other show on MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and of course, Fox. And in fact, she went on many of them to rebut Olbermann’s claims.

      The problem is that Olbermann was right. He doesn’t want to give a platform to someone who lies openly. McCaughey made up crap about doctors being told what to do by bureaucrats. She made up crap about death panels. Let her spew it elsewhere. Olbermann’s show is not a debate format. Is that so hard to grasp?

      Why aren’t you complaining about Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or any of the others who simply have programs that are composed of the views of the host? Is Beck a coward too? At least I’m consistent. I have no problem with Beck not having liberal guests. It’s his show and that’s not the format he wants. It’s really quite simple.

  10. “He doesn’t want to give a platform to someone who lies openly…”

    Then by that standard he needs to resign. Olbermann has told lies such as Sarah Palin cutting special needs budgets in Alaska and about Michelle Malkin being fired from “The O’Reilly Factor”. Wrong on both counts. Those two examples easily come to mind.

    Heck, Olbermann could score a knockout by bringing McCaughey on and exposing all these “lies” if he thought he was such a master of debate. But he won’t. It’s such a simple point to let seep into your psyche if you allow it: If a commentator makes all kinds of accusations publicly and then does not allow that person a chance to refute those accusations to the commentator’s face (and to his audience), then same commentator’s credibility plummets like a meteor.

    And periodically, Limbaugh and Beck do take disagreeing phone calls on air. I wish they would take more, but a 5% rate of disagreeing viewpoints is still 5% more than “Countdown”.

    • By your standard Beck, O’Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh, Ingraham, Savage, Bennett, Liddy, etc., should resign.

      Look, this is getting tedious (now I know why Olbermann doesn’t do it). And I’m not even the right person to defend Olbermann on this matter because I don’t really care. I wouldn’t mind if he had on opponents, but I understand why he doesn’t. This is like arguing that CSI should be comedy. It’s not! So if you want to watch a comedy (or a debate show) change the channel.

      And I doubt that having McCaughey on would do anything to improve your opinion of Olbermann’s credibility.

  11. Well, while we’re at it, then Matthews, Shuster, Maddow, Joy Behar, Randi Rhodes, Mike Malloy, etc., should resign. Don’t even think for one minute that lefties are grand and glorious truth-tellers. They’re not.

    Time for me to watch a “Factor” repeat, interspersed with some college football. Happy New Year. Go Ducks.

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