Fox News Dementia: Media Is Not As Hard On Obama/Syria As They Were On Bush/Iraq

On Fox News this morning there was a segment debating the media coverage of the “Crisis in Syria” (video below). On any other network this would have been a legitimate subject for debate and a fascinating topic. But leave it to Fox News to broadcast a version of history that makes Snow White’s adventures with seven diminutive forest dwellers look like a PBS documentary.

Fox’s Martha MacCallum opened the segment with a declarative motion for which she provided no factual basis: “Critics are suggesting that the media is not nearly as hard on President Obama about the potential of going into Syria, as they were on President Bush and his war that he fought in Iraq.” The reliance on a ghostly assemblage of unnamed critics is a variant of the “some say” tactic of inventing a premise with which a lazy commentator can project a dishonest argument. But it was just the lead-in that conservative guest Monica Crowley required to say this:

“Most of the media were very skeptical about any kind of military intervention in Iraq. They raised a lot of very legitimate questions. They also pounded President Bush and his team relentlessly in the run-up, during the war and of course even still to this day over that war. […] It was just the fact that it was President Bush prosecuting this war. When you look at the difference between that coverage and the coverage of President Obama…in this run-up to a possible action in Syria, it’s like night and day.”

Fox News
Be Sure To “LIKE” News Corpse On Facebook

Indeed, it is like night and day. But not in any way meant by Crowley. Prior to the Iraq war, the media was in virtual unanimity with respect to supporting Bush and his fraudulent escapade. Even the factions of the media that are most often regard as liberal enclaves were banging the drums of war.

Recall that it was the New York Times that employed Judith Miller (now with Fox News) who was instrumental in providing cover for the Bush administration’s pro-war agenda. She was a trusty vessel for the dissemination of propaganda from Bush’s war hawks. She was the reporter most responsible for validating false intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s weapons capabilities and ambitions.

If you watched MSNBC at the time, you might recall that the top rated program was hosted by talk show legend Phil Donahue. He was a prominent skeptic of the looming U.S. invasion of Iraq. Consequently, the management of MSNBC viewed him as a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war.” His show was canceled in February of 2003, shortly before the invasion.

The media presentation of dissent was nearly non-existent. Despite the fact that millions of Americans took to the streets to protest the war, the media declined to cover the demonstrations. Contrast that with the way they slobbered over a few malcontents in a tiny and unpopular political sect known as the Tea Party, and a handful of their hollering rubes at town hall meetings ranting about their opposition to health care.

The characterization of the media as going soft on Obama with regard to Syria is also delusional in the extreme. As expected, Fox News has been harshly critical of Obama no matter what he does. Last week they hammered him for taking a unilateral stance and failing to consult Congress on a possible reprisal for Syria’s chemical weapons deployment. This week they are bashing him for wasting time with congressional consultations and weakening the presidency by seeking them. What’s more, Obama has come in for criticism by pundits on the left like Rachel Maddow and Thom Hartmann and even Jon Stewart.

The right-wing directive to refrain from criticizing a president during international hostilities is apparently only in effect when a Republican is in the White House. Critics of Bush were often called traitors when they expressed their opposition to his policies. But outraged Tea-publicans are now encouraged to disparage the Commander-in-Chief in the most vile terms. Today it is the President who is called a traitor by right-wing protesters who fancy themselves as patriots.

In light of these facts, it is incomprehensible how Crowley can take to the Fox News channel and offer a twisted version of history wherein Obama is getting a pass and Bush suffered outrageous slings and arrows. And what is even more disturbing is that so many Fox News viewers are too dimwitted to separate the Fox fallacy from reality.

Fox News Deception Jumps Completely Off The Scale

Just a month after Fox News was caught reading verbatim from a Republican press release and presenting it as a news story, they have now dipped into territory that is so thoroughly unethical that it boggles the mind.

Media Matters caught a segment hosted by Martha MacCallum wherein she presented a state of affairs that she felt deserved a looking into.:

“Well, after weeks of economic doom and gloom, the Obama administration is now singing a slightly different tune. Take a look at what was said in recent interviews this weekend.”

Thereupon she played a video montage of President Obama and members of his staff saying positive things about the future prospects of our economy. Since Fox News spent most of last week complaining that Obama was too negative, it is ironic that they are now complaining that he is too positive. Would MacCallum prefer that Obama continue the doom and gloom for which she had previously chastised him?

But the bigger problem was that the video montage included a clip a Vice President Joe Biden saying that “The fundamentals of the economy are strong.” MacCallum characterized the whole clip as being comprised of comments made “in recent interviews this weekend.” Except that Biden’s remarks were made six months ago. Even worse, he was not expressing his own opinion that the economy was strong, he was mocking John McCain for saying so. MacCallum and Fox News cropped out the part where Biden said…

“Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that’s why John McCain could say with a straight face, as recently as this morning — and this is a quote: ‘The fundamentals of the economy are strong.‘ That’s what John says. He says that ‘we’ve made great progress economically’ in the Bush years.”

So MacCallum not only lied about when Biden’s remarks were made, she aired a video edited to appear as if Biden had said something when, in fact, he was quoting McCain as having said it.

It is just totally incomprehensible that anyone regards Fox News with any measure of respect.

Update 3/17/09: Twelve minutes into this morning’s program, Martha MacCallum raised the issue about the Biden video. She said that the video was indeed from six months ago and that Biden was quoting McCain. She then apologized for having “gotten it wrong.” While there was no explanation for how something this egregiously misleading occurred, I suppose it’s the best we can expect from Fox News.

Shill Baby Shill: Fox News Pumps Up Big Oil

William La Jeunesse is rapidly becoming the most promising contender for the Excrements in Journalism award. Last week he did a report on congressional earmarking in which his primary source was a McCain front group that he identified as nonpartisan. This week his report on offshore oil drilling is just as slanted as he becomes an outright advocate of Big Oil and their agenda.

In this story, La Jeunesse excitedly related news that the Santa Barbara County Supervisors had voted 3 to 2 to allow offshore drilling 100 miles off the coast. He veritably reveled at the notion that this coastal community was considering opening their beaches up to potentially devastating environmental disaster. In an earlier report he implied that the people’s wishes were going to be disregarded because California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were opposed to offshore drilling. How he concludes that the people are more represented by three county supervisors than they are by the majority of their state and congressional representatives and their governor, he never quite explains.

The report itself soft peddles the inherent dangers associated with offshore drilling. La Jeunesse cites a study that claims that one in every 156,000 barrels of oil is ever lost to a spill. He editorializes that that is “literally a drop in the bucket.” What he fails to say is that this number calculates out to over 70 million barrels of spilt oil. That’s a lot of dead of fish and seagulls, and a lot of lost revenue for a state that is highly leveraged in tourism.

If La Jeunesse wasn’t bad enough, Fox anchor Martha McCallum chimes in at the end to congratulate him on his report:

“This is the kind of debate and people say we need to drill off of our shores and I think a lot of people think that is a good idea but then you get into this Congressional debate and things get stymied.”

The problem with her comment, aside from her taking a position on what she thinks people want, is that there was absolutely no debate presented in the report. It was thoroughly one-sided and she even progressed the argument further to blame Congress as obstructionist. But she didn’t end it there. She still felt it necessary to praise Big Oil for their track record on spills:

“There is all of this pressure about the oil companies and oh they make so much money. Oil companies have spent a tremendous amount of money researching and making this process as clean as possible and they have done a pretty good job of it when you look at the numbers of what actually gets spilled out there, it’s extremely minimal. So, something everyone needs to know to get the full picture.”

To which her co-anchor Trace Gallagher responded:

“And that was pretty much the full picture.”

There you have it. Courtesy of Fox News, you now have no need to engage in any further research. The “full picture” has been revealed and it is one of clear waters, blue skies, and endless rainbows. All thanks to America’s oil companies.

Someone might still want to check with these corporations and ask them why gas prices have not dropped commensurate with the 37% drop in the price of crude oil since July. An equivalent decrease in gas prices would have us paying about $2.65 today. Is that what you’re paying?

You may also want to inquire of John McCain why the “Drill Baby Drill” mantra is still being chanted at his rallies. With Crude prices having dropped from nearly $150.00 a barrel to about $92.00, it apparently wasn’t necessary to expand domestic production in order to get the price down. So what Barack Obama and the Democrats have been arguing for weeks was correct. Yet I haven’t seen them get any credit in the press for being right. I haven’t even seen any analysis of what has transpired in the oil markets over the last couple of months.

Unfortunately for consumers, gas prices are still near record levels. Since it is not a problem at the wholesale level, it seems that the friends of McCain and his lobbyists are now indisputably at fault for the gouging we are experiencing at the pump. Unfortunately for voters, Republicans intend to press the case for more drilling regardless of the facts as they exist today. And the Democrats in Congress aren’t much better. They are expected to go along with Republican proposals to permit offshore drilling, albeit in compromised legislation. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) explains:

“The American people are very conscious that we need an alternative energy policy and the they’re not too distant from the memory of the $4 dollar-a-gallon gas. They know we need an investment in alternative energy and we can’t keep doing what we’re doing […] I think there’s still an urgency to get this done and get it done now.”

The argument appears to be that the momentum for a knee-jerk response is too swift to resist. That would make this a good time to contact your representatives and let them know that you’re paying attention; that you know that crude oil prices have fallen 37% but that gas prices have remained inordinately high; that you know that drilling for more domestic oil, particularly offshore, will not resolve our energy problems, in fact, it will exacerbate them and preserve our dependency on fossil fuels. Tell them not to accept the Republican arguments that have been proven false, and not to vote for their agenda that is designed to help their benefactors in the oil industry.

Don’t let the chanting cultists at McCain rallies win this debate when the truth is the opposite of their zombie anthem. And don’t let lying, corrupt Republicans and Fox News dictate our nation’s energy policies.