President Obama has not been shy in the past expressing his views of Fox News. It is always encouraging to hear him or his spokespersons articulate clear-eyed perspectives of the network that has made it their mission to destroy his administration and elevate hostility to unprecedented levels. Even before he was elected he knew:
Obama: I am convinced that if there were no Fox News, I might be two or three points higher in the polls. If I were watching Fox News, I wouldn’t vote for me, right? Because the way I’m portrayed 24/7 is as a freak! I am the latte-sipping, New York Times-reading, Volvo-driving, no-gun-owning, effete, politically correct, arrogant liberal. Who wants somebody like that?
In a new interview in Rolling Stone Magazine, President Obama has once again stated the obvious as regards Fox news:
Rolling Stone: What do you think of Fox News? Do you think it’s a good institution for America and for democracy?
Obama: [Laughs] Look, as president, I swore to uphold the Constitution, and part of that Constitution is a free press. We’ve got a tradition in this country of a press that oftentimes is opinionated. The golden age of an objective press was a pretty narrow span of time in our history. Before that, you had folks like Hearst who used their newspapers very intentionally to promote their viewpoints. I think Fox is part of that tradition — it is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view. It’s a point of view that I disagree with. It’s a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world. But as an economic enterprise, it’s been wildly successful. And I suspect that if you ask Mr. Murdoch what his number-one concern is, it’s that Fox is very successful.
That’s still somewhat more forgiving than I would have been. Fox is not guilty of merely expressing “a point of view.” They shamelessly traffic in lies and personal insults. They have called him a racist, a socialist, and by virtue of their false assertions of him being a Muslim, they imply that he is either a terrorist, or a terrorist sympathizer.
These are the sort of allegations that used to be the exclusive domain of lunatic fringe groups. But Fox has promoted them to the mainstream. They have made it possible for establishment politicians and pundits to parrot the most preposterous rhetoric. And they have provided a platform on television, radio, print, and the Internet, to peddle their invective.
So while Obama continues to be more conciliatory than perhaps he should be, at least he recognizes the basic truth that the Fox model of news can only be harmful to the country in the long-term. I would suggest that it is also harmful in the short-term, and any term in between.