Despite Their Own Conceit, Fox News Is About As Scary As Honey Boo Boo

As America’s number one network for extreme, right-wing political bias and propaganda, Fox News relishes every opportunity to disparage their ideological foes and to sanctimoniously exalt themselves as protectors of their twisted versions of the truth. One of the favorite tactics of Fox News is to taunt public figures who make the completely rational decision to avoid the abuse that they would endure were they to submit to being interviewed by the network’s bullies and ignorant partisans. This week there was another example of that attempted intimidation by Fox’s media reporter, Howard Kurtz.

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Kurtz appeared on The Kelly File with fill-in host and terrorist profiler Shannon Bream, a former beauty pageant contestant and graduate of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University with no journalism training. The topic of the segment was departing Attorney General Eric Holder’s scheduled interviews with some news networks that did not, as of yet, include Fox. Bream queued Kurtz up by asking “Does he help himself at all by walking out the door and slamming it in our faces.” That totally unbiased question got this response from Kurtz:

“I think that it’s a sign of confidence when any politician, political figure, cabinet officer, congressman, is willing to sit down and take tougher questions from those you might perceive to be your harshest critics. […] Is the nation’s top law enforcement officer really afraid of [Fox News anchor] Bret Baier?”

Any suggestion that Holder, or anyone else who chooses to keep their distance from Fox News, is afraid of them is utter nonsense. That’s like saying you’re afraid of being interviewed by Honey Boo Boo, when the truth is you’re just smart enough to not waste your time. Notorious liar Bill O’Reilly has used the accusation of fear repeatedly, but frankly I’d be more afraid of Honey Boo boo.

Furthermore, if Kurtz even bothers to take his own analysis seriously, then why doesn’t he apply it to Republicans? He seems so disturbed that a single administration official is waving off Fox News, but he doesn’t seem bothered at all that the entire Republican Party is boycotting MSNBC. Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee has stated publicly that there will be no GOP presidential primary debates on that network. There will be four on Fox. Therefore, according to his own logic, Kurtz is implying that that every single one of the GOP candidates for president are afraid of Rachel Maddow?

What’s even more interesting about this is that the GOP candidates are even afraid of the friendly venues they have chosen for themselves. The RNC has drastically reduced the number of debates and assumed control of who will moderate them and ask questions. That was done to avoid a repeat of the embarrassing displays put on by Republicans during the 2012 election cycle. On one hand that may be a wise decision on their part considering the proclivity for Republicans to say stupid things. On the other hand it shelters them from the real world of political brawling that might toughen them up for the general election. And it exposes them as fearful of letting their candidates express themselves by taking positions for which they would later be held accountable.

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After being left off of a preliminary list of networks that would be interviewing Holder, Fox News VP Michael Clemente whined that Holder’s reluctance to subject himself to the petty carping of Fox’s confirmed haters does a disservice to “the interests of a free press.” Apparently he doesn’t understand the phrase “free press.” You have to wonder where he gets the notion that a free press requires every public figure to submit to every media outlet, no matter how disreputable and hostile. It would be more correct to applaud Holder for showing respect for a free press by declining to validate Fox’s deceitful brand of pseudo-journalism.

Whether or not Holder grants Fox News an opportunity to malign him in person, it is clear that neither he, nor anyone else, is afraid of Fox. They just show it the measure of respect it deserves. But Republicans are demonstrating that they terrified of MSNBC and every other media outlet, including Fox, by implementing a policy that prohibits them from engaging in any public debates that aren’t sanctioned by the party apparatchiks. That’s a story that Kurtz will never report.

Shirley Sherrod To Sue Cowardly Andrew Breitbart

Cowardly Andrew BreitbartShirley Sherrod spoke today at a convention for the National Association of Black Journalists. Andrew Breitbart was also invited to speak. He initially accepted the invitation but later rescinded his acceptance. Perhaps he chickened out after he heard that Sherrod would be there.

Breitbart has good reason to be afraid. During her remarks Sherrod noted that she would “definitely” sue Breitbart for posting a grossly deceptive video that implied that Sherrod was a racist. She added that “He had to know that he was targeting me.” She further noted that Breitbart has not apologized and that, at this point, she’s not interested. She is clearly a women who knows her own mind and knows racism when she sees it:

“I saw it in what they did, in what Fox did and in what Breitbart did. I knew it was racism when it happened to me, and no one had to tell me that.”

It’s interesting that Bill O’Reilly saw fit to apologize to Sherrod. Fox News Sr. VP Michael Clemente even acknowledged a “breakdown” within his news operation. But Breitbart said that he has nothing for which to apologize. And Breitbart crony Brent Bozell of the uber-conservative Media Research Center said that Sherrod should apologize to Breitbart and Fox. These people are seriously ill.

Contrast that with the comments by President Obama today in a speech before the National Urban League (which was carried live by CNN and MSNBC, but not by Fox News):

“Now, last week, I had the chance to talk to Shirley Sherrod, an exemplary woman whose experiences mark both the challenges we have faced and the progress that we’ve made. She deserves better than what happened last week when a bogus controversy based on selective and deceiving excerpts of a speech led her led to her forced resignation.

Now, many are to blame for the reaction and overreaction that followed these comments, including my own administration. And what I said to Shirley was that the full story she was trying to tell, a story about overcoming our own biases and recognizing ourselves in folks who, on the surface, seem different, is exactly the kind of story we need to hear in America.”

Why is the right so incapable of exhibiting the slightest bit of decency, humility, or honor? Sherrod was clearly defamed and she deserves her day in court. In fact, it wouldn’t be so bad if the case was expanded to a class action against Breitbart and Fox News with the addition of Van Jones and ACORN as complainants. They were every bit as much victims of Breitbart and Fox. And if Sherrod creates a legal defense fund I will be happy to donate and to promote it.

Fox News Bias: It Is NOT Just Primetime

What on earth is it going to take to get rid of this persistent falsehood that Fox is only slanted right in primetime? So much of the recent squabble between the White House and Fox is predicated on this easily refuted premise. If it were only O’Reilly and Hannity spewing their nonsense, the President would likely have never mentioned it. But the bias is firmly integrated throughout the day’s programming and is presented as news.

The latest clueless commentary comes from CNN’s Campbell Brown who said:

“Just as Fox News leans to the right with their opinionated hosts in primetime, MSNBC leans left. I don’t think anyone at Fox or MSNBC would disagree with that.”

In addition to perpetuating the primetime myth, Brown conveniently forgets that three hours in the morning on MSNBC are given over to a conservative Republican, former congressman, Joe Scarborough. But more to the point, a quick look at Fox’s schedule reveals the lie that seems to be invincible. But here is the truth:

Glenn Beck is not on in primetime. Neil Cavuto is not on in primetime. Major Garrett is not on in primetime. Steve Doocy is not on in primetime. Gretchen Carlson is not on in primetime. Carl Cameron is not on in primetime. There are, in fact, more hours of rightist propaganda that are NOT in primetime than there are IN primetime. Why is it so hard to get these facts to sink in?

This troubling tunnel-vision can only make things worse. It gives Fox a pass on their most egregious violations of journalistic ethics. And it makes reports like yesterday’s announcement that White House press secretary Robert Gibbs met with Fox News executive Michael Clemente, seem useless. What could they discuss of substance if such a large chunk of the truth is waived off.

I wonder what they would discuss anyway. The gossip in the press is that a truce was on the table. Really? Does that mean that, in exchange for refraining from calling out Fox, Glenn Beck would stop calling everyone in the White House a radical Marxist? Will Sean Hannity stop finding corruption in everything from the Olympics to the Nobel Peace Prize? Will Neil Cavuto stop implying that every jump in the stock market is due to the tea baggers and every dip is Obama’s fault? How would the Fox audience respond to the revelation that Fox agreed to moderate their prejudices in an effort to make nice with the President?

Media Matters has established a method of distinguishing between a legitimate news organization and a propaganda dispenser. Here is an abridged sampling:

  • If you regularly doctor quotes and videos to completely change the original meaning – sometimes to the complete opposite of the original meaning … you might be Fox News.
  • If you allow your hosts and contributors to use your airwaves to raise money for political organizations … you might be Fox News.
  • If your executives position your network as the “opposition” to (or defenders of) the administration … you might be Fox News.
  • If you repeatedly organize, promote and encourage political protests … you might be Fox News.
  • If you pass off the research and talking points (and typos) of a political party as your own reporting … you might be Fox News.
  • If you declare “Victory!” when legislation is defeated (or passed) … you might be Fox News.
  • If you advance baseless conspiracy theories … you might be Fox News.

Now we just have to get the Campbell Browns of the world to pay attention and recognize reality.

White House: Fox News Is A Wing Of The Republican Party

Perhaps I should just forward this to the Department of Redundancy Department. White House communications director, Anita Dunn, appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources with Howard Kurtz and made some rather obvious, though too often unsaid, remarks about Fox News’ role as a right-wing megaphone.

It is about time that the administration articulate what anyone paying attention already knows. The highlight of Dunn’s comments is simple and straight forward:

“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.”

These remarks were in response to an inquiry by Kurtz about previous comments by Dunn that Fox was “masquerading” as news. Kurtz went further to inquire as to whether Obama would appear on Fox again. Unfortunately, she said that he would. That, of course, would be a mistake for all the reasons she just articulated. Fox News is not a news network, and they no more deserve Obama’s presence than does the National Enquirer. Why would they agree to appear on a network that masquerades as news?

In response to Dunn’s comments, Michael Clemente, Senior Vice President of News for FOX News, said:

“An increasing number of viewers are relying on FOX News for both news and opinion. And the average news consumer can certainly distinguish between the A section of the newspaper and the editorial page, which is what our programming represents.”

The problem with that statement is that Fox’s news is as much opinion as their opinion is. Even their top “news” people, like Bill Sammon, Major Garrett, Neil Cavuto, Carl Cameron, etc., are steeped in personal biases to which ethical journalists would never sink. Another problem with Clemente’s statement is that it contradicts Bill Shine, senior VP for programming, who admitted that Fox News is the “voice of opposition.”

Glenn Beck was moved to spend the first 20 minutes of his program on this matter, and another six minutes later in the show. That’s half of his airtime, during which he characterized Dunn’s appraisal as an assault on free speech. Never mind the fact that Obama, and any public figure, has the right to book their own appearances. That does not in any way impose on the free speech rights of Fox News. They can, and do, continue to spew their partisan views. More evidence of this is that Bill O’Reilly also spent about nearly half of his show grumbling about Dunn’s remarks. Beck and O’Reilly are just whining about being left out, the same way Chris Wallace did when he called the Democrats a bunch of “crybabies.”

At one point, Beck makes the ludicrous claim that it is Fox News who is “standing up for the republic and the Constitution.” He later complains that he was corrected by Dunn on a misstatement he made about Major Garret not being called on in news conferences. It was, of course, true that Beck made that statement and that it was false, but he just laughs it off. Then he goes on to make some more mistakes (otherwise known as lies).

Most notable was his mention of Nixon’s enemies list, about which he said, “That whole thing. That was just about who’s not coming to state dinners.” However, Nixon aide John Dean stated the true purpose for the list as “how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.” This meant tax audits, grant availability, federal contracts, litigation, and prosecution. For Beck to so cavalierly lie about what was one the most despicable actions by a leader in our nation’s history says so much about Beck. He probably thinks that the Final Solution was a dish washing detergent.

In the end, Fox’s defense is the best evidence that Dunn’s remarks are are all too true.