Zombie Journalism: Fox News Must Be Running Out Of Fake Scandals

Imagine how frustrating it must be for the folks at Fox News who have been struggling so furiously to tar President Obama with one atrocity or another, but are having no success due to their total lack of evidence. Fox, and their cohorts in the Republican Party, have dedicated themselves to inventing phony crimes, and attempting to pin them on the President, to the exclusion of every other activity. But whether it was “Fast and Furious,” the IRS, Benghazi, gun confiscation, or the global warming hoax, not a single allegation has had any effect on the President or the White House. It has been a total loss for Fox, having expended enormous energy and resources, but getting no return whatsoever. On the air, in print, online, including their Lie Factory Fox Nation – a total bust.

The visceral pain and disappointment of Fox has visibly manifested itself on the air with increasingly ludicrous rhetoric and even more far-fetched charges. But what can Fox do when all of their best efforts to smear Obama have fallen short of their goal? Well, they can dredge up some past bit of melodrama and present it as if it is breaking news:

Fox News

The zombie story that Fox is reincarnating here is one from October of 2009, after Anita Dunn, then the White House Communications Director, correctly noted that

“The reality of it is that Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party. And it is not ideological… what I think is fair to say about Fox, and the way we view it, is that it is more of a wing of the Republican Party.”

This is not a follow-up story. There is nothing new added. It isn’t even a new posting. It is a link to an old, irrelevant article that is as out of place as a pet rock.

Why would Fox post this four year old item in their list of current news stories? Besides being ancient, it is unrelated to anything else that is going on in on today’s news cycle. It seems to be merely a wild swing at the President and an awkward reminder of Fox’s paranoia and persecution complex. But overall, it’s simply another example of the way Fox does business. They have no ethical rudder and are running a self-serving, partisan public relations agency for right-wing propaganda. Up next on Fox: Obama “palling around with terrorists.”

[Update 7/14/2003] Two days later, the breaking political stories on Fox News have changed several times with one exception: the zombie “War of Words” story remains in firmly planted on their home page.

Bill O’Reilly’s Crackpot Conspiracy Zone: Sandra Fluke Edition

Bill O'ReillySensing that his O’Reilly Factor was losing the competition for most ludicrous punditry to his old nemesis Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly has just uncovered the conspiracy of the century. It’s a convoluted scheme that has confounded all other pundit participants. O’Reilly laid out the basics in his Talking Points Memo segment tonight.

O’Reilly: “As we reported last night, the Factor believes the Sandra Fluke contraception controversy was manufactured to divert attention away from the Obama administration’s disastrous decision to force Catholic non-profit organizations to provide insurance coverage for birth control and the morning after pill.”

Did you catch it? The Factor (Bill’s pet name for himself) believes that Fluke was sent (by Obama? Soros? Fidel?) to divert attention away from the perilous issue of health insurance coverage for contraceptives by – get this – talking about health insurance coverage for contraceptives. What could be more devious? It was a brilliant subterfuge, but not brilliant enough to fool O’Reilly. The Obama team should never have tried to outsmart the Factor. Especially with lame antics like this one.

O’Reilly: “Nancy Pelosi staged a mock hearing starring Sandra. After which Rush Limbaugh made derogatory comments elevating her to left-wing martyrdom. So it seems there is a powerful presence behind Sandra Fluke.”

Only O’Reilly could have figured out that Rush Limbaugh was one of the conspirators. The plan would never have come so close to success were it not for Limbaugh’s ham-handed incivility toward Fluke, or so it appeared. And it was O’Reilly who recognized that Limbaugh was the powerful presence behind her.

In hindsight it seems obvious that this whole affair was designed to benefit the President, as O’Reilly observed. Somehow the President’s strategists concocted a plot wherein an unknown law student would manage to manipulate the Republican chairman of a congressional committee to refuse to let her participate, and then she would trick the country’s top radio talk show host into verbally assaulting her. What could be simpler?

O’Reilly even nailed down a suspicious connection. Apparently Fluke is now represented by the PR firm of former White House director of communications, Anita Dunn. And even though that relationship began after Fluke had become embroiled in this national controversy, O’Reilly still thinks there is something significant about her hooking up with a Democratic affiliated firm that employs someone who left her job at the White House over two years ago. A lesser mind might have mistakenly thought that Fluke would sign with a GOP PR firm. And it was a stroke of genius for Dunn to wait almost two and a half years before executing this plot so that people might forget about her presidential resume.

You have to hand to O’Reilly for persevering in his quest to pierce the cloak of secrecy surrounding this chicanery. After all these years the old boy still has it.

Foxophobia: What If Fox News Finds Out?

Last month I received a fundraising email from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. The Center collects, preserves, and exhibits posters relating to historical and contemporary movements for social change and has a library of more than 75,000 items. The solicitation noted the importance of individual donations due to the difficulty of obtaining funding from the government agencies that administer grants to the arts and archival organizations.

One particular part of the email was jarring for what it revealed about the decision making process of this administration. In an inquiry regarding their grant application, the Center’s director, Carol Wells, sought to gauge their chances of being successful and had this exchange with an agency representative:

Just before our most recent Federal submission we again asked about the political content and were told, “as you are writing the proposal, ask yourself this question:

“What if Fox News found out that U.S. tax dollars were being used to support your project. How would it look, how would it fly?”

HypersensitiveThe notion that Fox News’ mindset should serve as the benchmark for whether prospective arts endeavors are deserving of our tax dollars is insane, and more than a little frightening. And if it is difficult to accept that there is someone presently working for a government agency who is employing that criteria, then how much more frightening would it be to learn that this malignant perspective has spread through much of the body of our government? To be sure, all administrations are sensitive to reactions from the media, the public, and political peers, but for this administration to defer to Fox News, given their history, is mind boggling.

Barack Obama has been under attack by Fox News since before he was even elected. He was the subject of delusional allegations that questioned his patriotism, his citizenship, and his faith. The absurdities Fox promoted ranged from trivial associations with a former preacher to noxious accusations of “Palling Around with Terrorists.” It was a non-stop barrage that continued throughout the campaign and into his presidency where, if you can believe it, it escalated further.

On inauguration day Fox News anchors posited that Obama was not actually president because Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed the oath of office. It went downhill from there. As president, Obama was called a “racist with a deep seated hatred of white people.” He has been castigated as a communist, a fascist, an atheist, and perhaps worst of all, an elitist. The vitriol exceeded all bounds of civility. It was the soil from which the Tea Party sprouted along with the portrayal of Obama as an enemy of the state who is seeking to deliberately destroy the country.

Early on the administration recognized the toxic environment that was being created. There was a short-lived embargo of administration officials appearing on Fox. Anita Dunn, the former White House director of communications, told Howard Kurtz on CNN that Fox News is “a wing of the Republican Party.” Both Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod correctly observed that Fox “is not a news organization.” But the courage demonstrated by these positions quickly dissipated as the White House shifted tactics from confrontation to capitulation.

In one of the first examples of the Obama team folding under pressure from Fox News, Van Jones, a White House advisor to the Council on Environmental Quality, resigned subsequent to a relentless smear campaign by Glenn Beck and others at Fox. Jones was followed out the door by Yosi Sergant, Director of Communications for the National Endowment for the Arts, who was similarly hounded by Fox.

Perhaps the most egregious moral buckling was exhibited in the administration’s disengagement from Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod. In a video originally disseminated by the terminally choleric Andrew Breitbart, Sherrod was falsely portrayed as discriminating racially against a white farmer who had sought assistance from the department. It was later revealed that the video was deceptively edited to give an impression that was diametrically opposed to reality. After being featured in various segments on Fox News and elsewhere, Sherrod was asked to resign. Sherrod told the press that there was an urgency to the request due to the fear that the controversy was “going to be on Glenn Beck tonight.”

For his part, Glenn Beck theorized that the whole affair was a premeditated plot by the White House to “destroy the credibility of Fox News?” As if that hadn’t already been accomplished by Fox News itself (and particularly Beck) without any need for help from the White House. Nevertheless, leave it to Beck to concoct a theory that borders on psychosis.

This knee-jerk Foxophobia is evident in policy as well as personnel. Fox’s harping on issues ranging from the closure of Guantanamo Bay to the inclusion of so-called “death panels” in the the health care bill, resulted in those initiatives being abandoned. Obama was often seen in retreat after Fox newsers complained about the handling of the Census, the arrest of a Harvard professor, or the non-mosque that was not at Ground Zero. At times it appeared as if Fox had a greater impact on Obama’s agenda than his cabinet – or public opinion.

By acquiescing to a de facto Fox litmus test you produce scenarios wherein Fox objects to an art exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute, followed by Congress drafting legislation to defend the Smithsonian. Or NPR terminates a correspondent for making offensive statements at his other job on Fox, and Congress moves to defund NPR. Do we really want a network that specializes in conservative tabloid sensationalism conducting political payback like this?

Now, after all of the dishonest, hyperbolic, caterwauling from Fox, Obama is rewarding that network with an exclusive interview preceding the Superbowl. And more disturbing than just the fact that Obama would sit down with this phony news network, the Fox anchor pegged to conduct the interview is not one of their supposed journalists like Bret Baier or Wendell Goler. It is Bill O’Reilly, someone even Fox doesn’t regard as a newsman. In fact, O’Reilly’s boss, Roger Ailes, said that it’s a mistake to look at Fox News Channel’s primetime opinion shows and say they represent the channel’s journalism.” What would Fox think if Obama gave the interview to Rachel Maddow? How would that fly?

Moreover, the real mistake is for any Democrat or progressive to agree to appear on Fox News. They will only be abused while they lend their credibility to a network that hasn’t earned any of their own. Nevertheless, President Obama still sees fit to sit still for a non-journalist on a network that portrays him as an alien socialist bent on collapsing the nation’s economy and the nation itself.

This administration needs to take more seriously the threat presented by a massive, international media conglomerate that has made no secret of its disdain for the President and his agenda. And it is in its own best interest to cease kowtowing to Fox and being so concerned about what they think of his people and policies. Criticisms from Fox should be heralded by administration spokespeople. They should be embraced and repeated (and mocked) at every opportunity. They should be regarded as affirmation that you’re on the right track.

Conversely, bureaucratic flunkies like the one who quoted above, who worry about whether something will fly with Fox News, need to be rooted out and reeducated. If there is a test for whether the administration should proceed with an appointment or a policy initiative it should be based on the merits, not on what will happen when Fox News finds out.

Old Media Hacks And New Media Whores

The Shirley Sherrod story has been an embarrassment to just about everyone concerned. The White House, the Department of Agriculture, Fox News, and many in the conventional news bureaus and the conservative Internet. Sadly the person who should be most embarrassed is Andrew Breitbart who, due to his suffering from an acute case of sociopathic narcissism, is incapable of registering normal expressions of shame or decency.

Surprisingly, this unfortunate affair has produced a remarkable eruption of insight from an unlikely source. Mark Halperin of Time Magazine has owned up to a failing of the Convention Media that is not often acknowledged by someone within their own ranks:

“The Sherrod story is a reminder […] that the old media are often swayed by controversies pushed by the conservative new media. In many quarters of the old media, there is concern about not appearing liberally biased, so stories emanating from the right are given more weight and less scrutiny.”

No shit! This is something that has been obvious to conscious observers for years. The right has so befuddled the cowardly martinets of the media that any whiff of potential liberalism is received with a near hysterical recoiling. Regardless of how rooted in the truth it is, grown reporters and editors flinch and quickly avert their brains. This is an acquired response brought on by decades of conservative behavioral training – AKA working the refs.

Halperin’s sudden wakefulness is not universally held. Last month the ombudsman at the Washington Post, Andrew Alexander, published a demented apology to conservatives, going so far as to declare that…

“…traditional news outlets like The Post simply don’t pay sufficient attention to conservative media or viewpoints.”

Alexander’s position that conservatives don’t get sufficient attention is in stark contrast to Halperin’s position that conservatives are given more weight. Alexander cited stories about ACORN and Van Jones to support his thesis. As it turns out, both of those stories were as phony as the one about Sherrod being a racist, but I have yet to see the Post’s correction or adjustment to their editorial policy. In fact, Alexander’s journalistic dyslexia is precisely what Halperin is warning against. Halperin continues…

“Additionally, the conservative new media, particularly Fox News Channel and talk radio, are commercially successful, so the implicit logic followed by old-media decisionmakers is that if something is gaining currency in those precincts, it is a phenomenon that must be given attention. Most dangerously, conservative new media will often produce content that is so provocative and incendiary that the old media find it irresistible.”

What this boils down to is old-fashioned greed. Whether lured by the success of Fox News or the lust for controversy, these are both aspirations that translate into dollars. So the old media is simply aligning itself with the oldest profession.

The saddest part of this is that the White House has once again been seduced by these whores. This is pretty much what they should expect after allowing themselves to be bullied into casting off Van Jones. That sort of victory is like blood in the water to rightist thugs. Now they think they can get whatever they want by fabricating smears and disseminating falsehoods to a compliant press corps. That’s why they do it.

We’ve come along way from the days when former White House Communications Directer Anita Dunn told CNN’s Howard Kurtz that Fox News is “the communications arm of the Republican Party.” Or the days when David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel went on the air and correctly pointed out that Fox News is “not a news organization.” How did we get from there to last week’s disgraceful submission by the administration to Breitbart’s deceitful campaign of lies?

It is well past time that people recognize that Fox News, Breitbart, and the rest of the rightist press, are not credible practitioners of journalism. We don’t have to respond to their invented scenarios. We must not assign them credibility. We can turn down their invitations to appear on their programs. They do not deserve to be treated as if they were legitimate journalists. And above all, never make an important decision because of some story they initiated. They are liars!

Is that clear enough? If Mark Halperin can see it, then surely the rest of the media can.

Who’s Afraid Of Fox News? A Confederacy Of Cowards!

The national embarrassment to honest journalism that is Fox News continues to contaminate our country’s airwaves with false and misleading information designed to promote a conservative Republican agenda and to demonize Democrats and progressives. Almost a year ago I wrote an article that asked the question: “Who’s Afraid Of Fox News?” My answer was: “The Rest Of The Media!” It was an examination of how Fox aggressively attacked their competitors and how their competitors simply rolled over, apparently afraid to fight back. Now, a year later, not much has changed.

Sure, there have been a few disjointed, lucid moments. For instance, Rick Sanchez of CNN, who called out Fox for a thoroughly dishonest report that claimed that no one but Fox covered a Tea Bagger event in Washington. However, not only did CNN cover it, Fox used photos from CNN’s coverage to make their false claim that there wasn’t any coverage. Another example was when former White House Communications Director, Anita Dunn, honestly told Howard Kurtz that Fox News operates as “the communications arm of the Republican Party.” Her remarks were seconded by Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod. It was a promising trend.

But overall, there is still a deafening silence from most of the press. They still seem to be skittish and reluctant to offend the mighty Fox. That is, when they aren’t trying to emulate it. One voice that has arisen is that of Howell Raines, the former executive editor of the New York Times. He has written an op-ed for the Washington Post that is far more insightful and combative than anything he produced when he was at the Times. The article asks some questions that ought to have been asked long ago by every member of the media who values journalistic integrity:

Why don’t honest journalists take on Roger Ailes and Fox News?

Why haven’t America’s old-school news organizations blown the whistle on Roger Ailes, chief of Fox News, for using the network to conduct a propaganda campaign against the Obama administration — a campaign without precedent in our modern political history?

Why has our profession, through its general silence — or only spasmodic protest — helped Fox legitimize a style of journalism that is dishonest in its intellectual process, untrustworthy in its conclusions and biased in its gestalt?

Why can’t American journalists steeped in the traditional values of their profession be loud and candid about the fact that Murdoch does not belong to our team?

Why indeed? And why has it taken so long to ask these questions? And why aren’t all of Raines’ colleagues signing on to his rebuke of Fox, Murdoch, and Ailes? It shouldn’t take much courage for responsible journalists to defend their honor, but courage is in short supply in today’s press corps.

The sooner the rest of the media come to grips with the fact that Fox is NOT a news organization, the sooner they themselves can return to the business of news. Fox is in an entirely different category. It is a hybrid entertainment/soap opera/televangelist network. It is just as unnecessary for the media to worry about competition from Fox as it is to worry about competition from Nickelodeon (which, ironically, is a better source for news than Fox, and plays to a smarter audience).

It will be interesting to see if the questions Raines raises are taken up by others. And more importantly, will they provide answers? American media is in dire condition, and part of the reason is that news consumers do not perceive value in the product. That is going to have to change before things improve. And the most fruitful change would be to start behaving as real journalists and not tabloid sensationalists. In other words, abandon the Fox model and expose it for the phony, divisive, disinformation factory that it is. Of course, that would take real reporting and, at present, there is precious little of that in evidence.

White House: Fox Is Not A Traditional News Organization

When former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn expressed the view that that “Fox News is a wing of the Republican Party,” it was hardly revelatory to anyone who pays attention to the media. But it was nonetheless a courageous act in a political environment that is unaccustomed to such truth-telling.

Now the new White House Communications Director, Dan Pfeiffer, is officially taking the same position as his predecessor:

“I have the same view of Fox that Anita had, which is that Fox is not a traditional news organization. They have a point of view. That point of view pervades the entire network, both the opinion shows like Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, but also through the newscasts during the day,”

“We don’t feel an obligation to treat them like we would treat a CNN or an ABC or an NBC or a traditional news organization. But there are times when we believe it would make sense to communicate with them and appear on the network.”

Not a traditional news organization? That’s a bit of an understatement. But it’s enough to properly categorize Fox as a partisan mouthpiece for the Tea Bagger Party. Pfeiffer correctly points out that Fox’s bias transcends what they call their opinion shows. It does indeed pervade the entire network. This view is confirmed by Fox’s response to Pfeiffer:

“Obviously new to his position, Dan seems to be intent upon repeating the mistakes of his predecessor… and we all remember how well that turned out.”

Yes, we do. Fox likes to believe that their ratings validate their position. But Dunn’s remarks were never intended to impact their ratings. No one expected her comments to cause Beck or O’Reilly viewers to pull the Fox needle out their arms. The purpose was to stop the rest of the media from regurgitating Fox falsehoods as if they were news. There was some success in that respect and it warrants the continuation of the policy from the White House. It’s good to see that, at least on this matter, they are holding firm.

Thank You Anita Dunn For Unmasking Fox News

Much of the press today is reporting the announcement that White House communications director, Anita Dunn, is leaving her post at the end of this month. And many of them are getting it wrong. This is a curious news item because it has been known since she accepted the position that it would be temporary. Nevertheless, right-wingers are falling all over themselves with delusional glee that Dunn has been “ousted.” It is just a matter of time before Glenn Beck takes credit and the Fox Nation claims victory.

On Fox News, anchor Jon Scott reported the non-event with added emphasis on her role as a Fox critic:

Anita Dunn is the person at the White House who decided it would be a good idea to try to freeze Fox News out of the White House operation, keep the president from doing interviews with Fox News personnel, keep high-level administration officials from doing interviews with Fox News personnel.

Actually, Dunn never tried to “freeze out” Fox or prevent anyone from doing interviews with them. I wish she had. The truth is that Dunn said explicitly that the President and others in his administration will engage with Fox. They will just do so with an awareness that Fox is “opinion masquerading as journalism.”

On Foxnews.com Andrea Tantaros went further, stating falsely that Dunn was leaving “earlier than planned,” and implying that she was forced out. That was not the only false statement in her column. She also said that comments Dunn made referencing Mao (which were taken thoroughly out of context) were made after her comments about Fox. In fact, they were excerpted from videos made months prior. Then Tantaros outright lies saying that…

“Liberal groups are already spinning Dunn’s announcement, insisting that her role as communications director ‘was always meant to be temporary.’

Tantaros’ lies are revolving so fast she can’t see that it is she who is spinning. The truth is that Dunn was the President’s first choice for the position. She turned it down in November of 2008, to stay with her family and her job at a media consultancy. Obama’s second choice, Ellen Moran, took the job but later moved from that position to one in the Commerce Department. At that time Dunn agreed to come on board on an interim basis.

These facts were reported in real time when they occurred, as evident in the links above. They were not phony afterwords like those of Tantaros and countless more right-wing prevaricators.

A common argument against Dunn taking on Fox is that it backfired by helping Fox to increase its ratings. That’s a mistaken and irrelevant point. First of all, the ratings barely budged. Secondly, there is zero evidence that any change in the ratings was attributable to Dunn’s comments. Thirdly, and most importantly, the ratings don’t matter with regard to political advantage. Television ratings are a measure of a programs value to advertisers. They do not reflect public opinion on political matters. Nielsen does not have any way of knowing if a Fox viewer agrees with the content of a program. And if high ratings had anything to do with elections, then Democrats would not have trounced Republicans in 2006, nor would Obama have won in 2008. Fox was the ratings leader throughout that time period.

As Dunn returns to private life, she deserves a round of virtual applause. By daring to speak honestly about Fox, she initiated a dialogue that reverberated throughout the media. It got everyone into the debate as to the legitimacy of Fox News. That’s a discussion that produces positive results no matter which side of the fence you’re on. In fact, it is almost more enjoyable to hear Fox News advocates, and even their own anchors and commentators, batting the issue around. Every time someone poses the question of whether Fox is really news, it reminds everyone that Fox’s credentials are suspect at least. So let the debates continue.

And thank you, Anita. Thank you for your service to America. Thank you for your honesty and courage. And good luck in all your future endeavors. Be sure to check in once in a while to watch all the fun you set off.

Update: Anita is not done yet. At a Bloomberg conference, she once again took on Fox News. Her remarks covered recent incidents involving Jon Stewart (“That’s where you are getting fact-checking and investigative journalism these days.”), Karl Rove, MSNBC, and false reports from Fox about pending interviews with the President.

Rupert Murdoch: Glenn Beck Is Right. Obama Is A Racist

News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch gave a wide-ranging interview to his own Sky News Australia. He is apparently not in a very good mood.

The interview touched on the so-called “war” between Fox News and the White House. Murdoch was asked a question about assertions that Fox is “an arm of the Republican Party.” Murdoch responded saying, “Everyone knows that’s nonsense” and charging that White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, is “a very young, inexperienced guy.” Of course, it was White House communications director, Anita Dunn, who made the comment, not Gibbs. Murdoch continued his defense of the fairness of Fox by bashing President Obama. When asked how the President was doing, Murdoch glibly replied with one word: “Badly.” He then claimed that only a couple of commentators on the network were presenting opinions. However, we know that isn’t true. Nevertheless, he falsely asserted that…

“We have on Republicans and we have on Democrats and we have them debate. The other networks only have Democrats, or something to the left of them.”

The truth, however, is that Fox does not have now, nor ever has had, a program hosted solely by a Democrat/liberal. CNN has Lou Dobbs, Nancy Grace, and until a few months ago, Glenn Beck. MSNBC currently has a three hour morning show hosted by conservative former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough. They have also employed Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Michael Savage. Despite the evident dishonesty by Murdoch, he still defends his network’s balance. When the interviewer inquired as to characterizations of the President as Stalinist, Murdoch firmly objected saying,

“No no, not Stalin I don’t think. I don’t know who that is. Not one of our people.”

Oh really?

This screenshot is from the Glenn Beck show wherein Beck displayed pictures of Hitler, Stalin, and Lenin, and asked, “Is this where we’re headed?” But perhaps the most shocking moment in the interview was when Murdoch was asked about Beck calling the President a racist. Despite the widespread condemnation of Beck, the loss of eighty advertisers, and even Murdoch’s qualification that the comment may not have been proper, Murdoch openly and unequivocally declared that he agrees with Beck.

“He [Obama] did make a very racist comment about blacks and whites and so on. Which he said in his campaign he would be completely above. And it was something that, perhaps, shouldn’t have been said about the President, but if you actually assess what he [Beck] was talking about, he was right.”

So now we have an unadulterated admission from Murdoch that he believes the President is a racist. If there was ever a time to make Murdoch pay for the blatant bias and hostility for which he and his enterprise are responsible, it is now. If Beck can lose eighty advertisers for calling Obama a racist, what penalty should Murdoch pay?

Two organizations have already embarked on protest activities aimed at Fox News. Color of Change is the group that successfully persuaded advertisers to shun Beck. MoveOn has a petition requesting that Democratic representatives avoid fox News. Both of the groups should now escalate the actions to include all Fox programs and all Democratic and progressive politicians, advisors, consultants, etc.

Fox News, and the rest of the Murdoch empire, has absolutely no credibility or integrity. They do not deserve to be regarded as a news enterprise. They have demonstrated their overt prejudice and their intent on being rightist advocates, not journalists. Murdoch says that he wants to be remembered as…

“…someone who has contributed to the world and has tried to make the world more interesting and better. And used the media to good effect.”

Well he certainly has made a contribution. He has contributed Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity and more division and hatred than any media organization before him. And he has used the media to good effect. Well…it’s good if you like people shouting down free speech at town hall meetings and carrying posters of the President with Hitler mustaches. So it is our duty to treat them the same way we would treat partisans like the National Review, the Weekly Standard, WorldNetDaily, the Drudge Report, or any other avowed opponent. It is time to make a stand.

Stay the HELL off of Fox News: Starve The Beast!

Update: Media Matters has started an online petition calling on Murdoch to apologize. I don’t think that he will do so, but I do think it helps to send a message to him and the rest of the media that his remarks are objectionable and inappropriate. So go sign the petition.

Update II: Gary Ginsberg, a spokesman for Murdoch told Politico that Murdoch “does not at all, for a minute, think the president is a racist.” Sort of makes you wonder what he meant when he said that Glenn Beck was right when he called Obama a racist. But Ginsberg refused any further comment.

Obama Bamboozles Beck And Fox News

Yesterday’s edition of Glenn Beck’s Acute Paranoia Revue contained a remarkable confession from Beck. He embarked on an elaborate demonstration to illustrate how political operatives in the White House use misdirection to achieve their goals. In order to convey this concept to an audience he apparently believes are rejects from remedial kindergarten, he performs a hackneyed magic trick wherein a coin astonishingly disappears from one hand and then magically appears in the other.

The lesson Beck hopes to impart is that, through the use of distraction, government can enact some nefarious and secret legislation while the people are entranced by an irrelevant shiny object. That’s actually true and it happens with some frequency. And it even appears to be happening to Beck even as he speaks.

“You know what? They believe that if they can get you to watch the coin, if they can get you to have you watch me and Fox, well then they can slip [health care] by and get it passed.”

So the scheme employed by the White House is to get you to watch Glenn Beck. The cads! And Beck appears to be abetting the scheme. How insidious! Beck then goes on to quote from an editorial in the Wall Street Journal:

“The press corps will mostly ignore all of this [health care] because it is complicated and boring policy, as opposed to the epic drama of Anita Dunn vs. Glenn Beck.”

It’s downright Machiavellian. Beck’s contention is that the “war” that has recently erupted between the White House and Fox News is the shiny object. He wonders why the administration would waste its time and energy attacking Fox News. He asserts that it is a deliberate attempt to sway attention from the more serious issue of health care so the administration’s reform bill will sneak past a beguiled public and into law. This plan is only plausible because health care reform is so completely under the radar. No one in the whole country is aware that it is even under consideration. Are they?

Apparently Obama’s plan is working brilliantly. He has manged to get Beck himself to spend hours, virtually every day since the original volleys in this war, consumed by this distraction that he has said is an attack on Fox News and him personally. He has become obsessed with White House communications director Anita Dunn, placing a dedicated phone line on the stage in his studio with a staffer sitting next to it ready to answer should Dunn heed his pleas to call. He is now signing off every program by saying, “Good night Mrs. Dunn, wherever you are.” Obama has masterfully manipulated Beck into waving the shiny object around for almost two weeks now, even though he knows it’s a ploy to shove health care down the throat of America (in which case America would at least be able to see see a good ear, nose and throat specialist).

His daily sermonizing on delusional associations between Dunn and Mao keep getting more complex. And the larger ramifications he proposes with regard to the end of free speech are getting more absurd. He is frothing at the mouth with allegations of Maoists in the government. Yet he still seems to be serenely oblivious to the connections that his employer, Rupert Murdoch, has with Chinese communists, or to his own admission of idolizing Adolf Hitler. [If it’s not true, Glenn, PLEASE call me]

This campaign of misdirection has taken root throughout the Murdoch empire. Fox News airs frequent segments about their squabble with the White House. The Fox Nation website today has nine separate stories on its home page pertaining to the skirmish, some of which also appear on FoxNews.com:

  • President Obama Fueling War With Fox News?
  • Is WH Coordinating With Media Matters & MoveOn to Smear Fox News?
  • FCC-Church Conspiracy To Silent [sic] Talk Radio And Fox?
  • Why the WH bullies Fox
  • Why the WH shouldn’t play chicken with Fox
  • Fox News as White House Bogeyman
  • Obama Responds to Administration’s Attacks on Fox News
  • Fox News On the White House Enemies List
  • WH Cites Opinion Shows as Basis for Fox News Complaints

So if the goal of the White House is to manufacture a controversy between them and Fox News, with the purpose being to shift attention away from other matters, why is Fox News taking the bait? Why is there more coverage of this distraction/war by Fox than by any other news outlet? Why are Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and numerous other Fox presenters and contributors hammering on this every single day?

Don’t they know that it’s a ruse? Glenn Beck knows. He said so. Yet he’s still playing along. He’s still filling his show with almost nothing but the phony war. Is he in on it? Is he brain damaged? (You don’t need to answer that). What’s clear is that he is so thoroughly outmatched by Obama that he is falling for what he believes is a scam, even as he declares that it’s a scam. How demented do you have to be to do that?

More Consensus On The Fox Opinion Channel

It’s only been a little more than a week since Anita Dunn made her initial remarks about Fox News being “the communications arm of the Republican Party.” At the time I regarded it is a purely positive development that exhibited courage and honesty. It seemed to me that inciting a discussion of Fox’s journalistic legitimacy could only do harm to Fox. Their unprofessionalism and ingrained biases would do them in and the formerly reluctant media would find their spine:

“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.”

Much of the reaction by media pros to Dunn’s comments were a kneejerk condemnation of the White House for expressing what is a fairly non-controversial observation. Rather than conceding the obvious, they appeared to be taking a position that protected their own interests in some future administration when they may be on the outs. But so long as your reporting is honest, you have nothing to worry about. That’s where Fox goes off the rails – they lie.

Well, now some of the Conventional Media stalwarts have re-thought their original assessments:

Eugene Robinson (Washington Post): [I]t bothered me that virtually everyone I knew felt the same way. And then I came across a piece by media writer Michael Wolff in which he posits an interesting theory: That this might be a shrewd gambit to draw bright lines around the Fox ‘no to everything’ line. If the ideological struggle can be defined as Fox viewers vs. everybody else, the White House wins.

Michael Wolff (Newser): So I am revising my theory of what the Obama administration is doing in its frontal assault on Fox: I think they want us to take sides. Are you a Fox person or not a Fox person? And I think they want to identify Fox as the standard bearer of American conservatism. If you’re a conservative, you’re for Fox (ie, is that who you want to be?).

Peter Roff (US News): Now the White House is drawing conservative attention off onto other things […] And now, thanks to the White House’s provocation, there are those who are spending time trying to motivate the public to act in defense of Fox.

Each of these views recognize that by having a discussion about the proposition that Fox is not a news organization inures to the detriment of Fox. A network whose anchors air doctored video clips, read RNC talking points complete with the original typos, and take every opportunity to disparage their ideological opposites, is going to lose that argument every time.