It is perhaps not unsurprising but still disappointing that several in the mainstream media rallied around Fox News last week following the White House’s well-warranted castigation of the network as an “arm” of the Republican Party. The most prominent defense of “one of our sister organizations” came from ABC News’ s Jake Tapper, who was baffled as to why the White House would declare Fox News “not a news organization.”
Tapper was lauded by Fox News and other conservatives (not for the first time). Glenn Beck called Tapper a “watchdog of freedom,” while Sean Hannity praised Tapper’s ability to “recognize the great quality of Fox News.” Bill O’Reilly said Tapper did “pretty good” and “really challenged” Gibbs, and the “Fox & Friends” gang called him a “great reporter” for his defense of Fox. Lou Dobbs called it an “extraordinary exchange.”
But Tapper’s mistake was suggesting that the White House’s criticism of Fox News amounted only to criticism of their “opinion programming or issues … with certain reports.” Tapper’s remarks echoed the comments of Michael Clemente, Fox News senior vice president: “It’s astounding the White House cannot distinguish between news and opinion programming.”
Let’s take a look at the suggestion that the relentless and vicious assaults on Barack Obama and his administration by Beck, Hannity, and O’Reilly should have no bearing on how the White House treats the network. Tapper is ignoring that those shows set the agenda for the rest of the network. And of course, Tapper is ignoring that the attacks of Fox’s triumvirate dictate his own network’s-and the rest of the media’s-agenda as well. Is there any doubt that Glenn Beck’s war on ACORN-he’s reportedly mentioned ACORN 1,224 times (versus 50 mentions of Al Qaeda) since his Fox News show started-is the primary reason his network and other media are still talking about the organization? Beck and his fellow Fox News personalities have repeatedly called for Obama administration officials to be fired, asked viewers to dig up information on administration officials, and fear mongered about Obama, his advisers, and his policies. Does that not affect Fox’s “news” coverage of those same officials?
Fox’s “news” staff regularly conflates commentary and news reporting. The network’s “news” reporting is full of smears, falsehoods, deceptive editing, and GOP talking points. On Thursday morning, October 29, the “Fox & Friends” crew parroted a House Republican press release and repeated its claim that the stimulus impact is “six million jobs shy of what the administration promised us,” since the administration stated “that 3.5 million jobs would be created. And, in fact, the United States has lost 2.7 million since the stimulus plan.” However, the administration estimated 3.5 millions jobs created or saved by 2011. It’s so much easier to read GOP talking points than actually do journalism!
The problems with Fox News aren’t confined to “certain reports.” Nor are they confined to Fox’s “opinion programming.”
Fox has organized and promoted campaigns against the administration. Fox has allowed its personalities to use the network to raise money for conservative PACs-money that is used for more attacks on the administration.
And Fox News’s actual “news” is anything but.