Yesterday Tucker Carlson of The Daily Caller (TDC) posted what he said was the first in a series of articles that would reveal the inner workings of Media Matters for America (MMfA). It was a pathetic little screed that proved nothing but how desperate the right-wing noise machine is to prevent the world from knowing what they are up to.
Today TDC posted a second chapter with even less substance than the first. So far as I can tell, the entirety of their problem is that MMfA revealed in a memo that they were considering…
“…hir[ing] a team of trackers to stake out private and public events with Fox News anchors, hosts, reporters, prominent contributors and senior network/corporate staff.”
In other words, MMfA was plotting to do precisely what media watchdog groups always do.
More interesting is the extent to which Fox News has been promoting this astonishingly thin expose. Yesterday they broadcast three segments with their star anchors, Steve Doocy, Megyn Kelly, and Bill O’Reilly. They also posted four separate articles linking to the same TDC piece on Fox Nation. Today they added four more items on Fox Nation, an article on FoxNews.com, and two more Fox News broadcasts, including an interview of Carlson by Doocy that featured this startling exchange:
Doocy: They [MMfA] seem to be an extension of the Democratic Party. And now for this tax exempt organization to do this, where they’re gonna hire private investigators to dig into people’s backgrounds, that seems crazy.
Carlson: It’s pretty over the top. I would use the term Nixonian, because that’s what it is. The memo compares it to a presidential campaign, but no presidential campaign, no sane politician would ever engage in something like this because in some cases it might be illegal.
So digging into people’s backgrounds is crazy? Nixonian? Yet it is exactly what Carlson is doing with his intrusive and unsubstantiated article that accuses MMfA’s founder, David Brock, of everything from drug addiction to media manipulation to mental illness. It’s pretty personal stuff. Never mind that MMfA has never done anything remotely similar. In their monitoring of Fox News they have always focused solely on the delivery of the news – or whatever it is that Fox calls news.
The massive amount of attention that Fox is paying to a single column on an Internet blog is a curious affair. What could possibly motivate this outburst of bad publicity? Well, now we know.
David Brock and his colleague Ari Rabin-Havt have written a book that is scheduled to be released next week:
The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine
The book is “Based on the meticulous research of the news watchdog organization Media Matters for America, David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt show how Fox News, under its president Roger Ailes, changed from a right-leaning news network into a partisan advocate for the Republican Party.”
It is further described as “Featuring transcripts of leaked audio and memos from Fox News reporters and executives, The Fox Effect is a damning indictment of how the network’s news coverage and commentators have biased reporting, drummed up marginal stories, and even consciously manipulated established facts in their efforts to attack the Obama administration.”
In other words, the book is an investigation of the overtly partisan Fox News network and its efforts on behalf of a political agenda. So far as is discernible from their own marketing copy, it is not personal. It doesn’t slander Fox principals as insane or criminals. It sticks to factual representations of a news enterprise that abandoned its ethical obligations in favor of promoting an extreme right-wing ideology.
So a week before the release of a book from MMfA purporting to unveil the biases of Fox News via leaked memos and investigative reporting from within the organization, there is a pseudo-investigation published, and relentlessly hyped, that smears MMfA using allegedly similar tactics, albeit not particularly effectively? Is it just a coincidence, or is Fox News engaging in a preventative first strike in order to shelter themselves from the coming storm?
We report, you decide.