Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Happy DNC Chair

On today’s Fox News Sunday, fill-in host John Roberts appeared to be filling in for Mitt Romney’s press secretary. Roberts conducted an interview with Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Shultz that was more debate than journalism. He countered her remarks as if he were making the case for Romney rather than merely asking challenging questions. Some of his reactions to her comments were not even questions at all, but rebuttals.

But that doesn’t even compare to how Fox Nation mangled their presentation of the interview. The Fox Nationalists posted a 32 second clip of the segment with the headline: “DNC Chair “Happy” With 8.2% Unemployment.”

Fox Nation

There was only one small problem with that characterization. It is contrary to the truth in every aspect. Even worse, the video that Fox Nation posted to support their headline proves that the headline is a lie. Here is the transcript of the segment:

Wasserman-Schultz: I’m pretty happy about 28 straight months of job growth in the private sector.
Roberts: But are you happy about 80,000 jobs last month, 69 the month before that? Are you happy with those numbers?
Wasserman-Schultz: Like I’ve said, and President Obama has said, we need to continue to improve, and we need to do more, and we need to work together.

Wasserman-Shultz never said that she was happy with the unemployment rate. In fact, she wasn’t even asked about it. She did say that she was happy with job growth, which has produced over 4 million jobs in the past two years, but reiterated her position that it wasn’t enough and that more needs to done. At no time in the entire segment did she say that she was happy with the 8.2% unemployment rate.

Fox Nation is so wedded to their mission of dishonesty that they will even post videos that disprove their own lies. Now that’s commitment.

Bonus Item: Also appearing on Fox News Sunday was RNC Chair Reince Priebus (whose name spells “RNC PR BS” if you remove the vowels). In a discussion about Romney’s record of eliminating American jobs and replacing them with labor in foreign countries, Priebus dropped what he must have thought was a clever soundbite: “The only job we’re going to outsource is Obama’s.”

So Priebus is suggesting that the Republican Party is planning to nominate a president based in India or China or some other off-shore location. That would fit perfectly with the GOP agenda of free market capitalism. I bet you could get someone to serve as president much cheaper by going off-shore. But where would that leave Romney? I suppose he could join his bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and then qualify as an outsourced candidate.

The Fear Of Censorship

John Roberts has been CNN’s senior national correspondent and its anchor of the awkwardly-named This Week at War (sounds like a VH1 Top 20 Countdown). He was recently named a new co-host of CNN’s American Morning. In his former position at CBS he served as the network’s White House correspondent and was embedded with Marines during the invasion of Iraq. Now, in an interview with Broadcasting & Cable, this experienced and connected professional speaks out about the handling of the coverage of the war in Iraq and, despite his participation, he has some rather unflattering critiques of what transpired.

In the article, Roberts concedes that the media was unprepared to properly cover events on the ground and should have been more vigilant in the run-up to the war. But by far the more notable observation that Roberts imparts is one that reflects on current coverage:

“If we showed people the full extent of what we see every day in Iraq, we would either have no one watching us because they couldn’t stand to see the pictures, or we would get so many letters of complaint that some organization would come down on us to stop.”

With current polls showing that two thirds of the American public are already opposed to the war in Iraq, the notion that we have not yet reached the nadir of our disapproval is somewhat unsettling. Especially if the reason is that, as Roberts contends, the “full extent” of what the press sees every day has been withheld from us by a media establishment that is afraid of mail and of losing viewers. And I get no consolation from Roberts’ informing me that things are much worse than I ever imagined.

Indeed, the pictures that are presently darkening our TV screens with bloodshed, blasts, and blackened smoke, are enough to sow depression in the most optimistic amongst us. But that is not sufficient reason for responsible journalists to soft-peddle even a harsh reality. In an open democratic society, citizens need to be fully informed because, contrary to the monarchal delusions of President Bush, we are the deciders. If exposure to the truth produces more dissatisfaction, it is not up to editors and programmers to shield us from our own tender sensitivities. That is not the way to cultivate an informed electorate. That is not the way to promote Democracy.

The public’s appetite for this war has steadily declined over the past four years and would likely have declined further and faster had the news been presented impartially and honestly. In fact, we might never have gone to war in the first place if the vigilance of which Roberts spoke had been practiced at the outset by a conscientious and ethical press corps.

There are two problems (at least) with Roberts’ statement above. One is that he gives too much weight to the notion that Americans don’t have the stomach to manage the nation as our Constitution requires. The other is that his fear that “some organization” would put a stop to honest, unfettered reporting, resulted in that fear becoming manifest. The fear of censorship produced censorship and the people were deprived of knowledge. The only organization that profited from this suppression is an administration that was predisposed to execute a war of aggression and preferred to avoid the pesky interference of the will of the people.

To paraphrase Roberts:

If we, the people, show the full extent of what we see and feel every day about Iraq, they would know that we are watching, and they would get so many letters of complaint that our organization of citizens would come down on them to stop suppressing the truth; stop embracing unscrupulous pseudo-leaders; and stop this god-awful war.

This practice of Nanny Journalism is all too common in American media. They think we can’t handle the truth. But it’s funny (by which I mean pathetic) that they keep coming back after the fact to confess their mea culpas.