Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fox News And The Politics of Fear and Smear

There are three shows that I record on the DVR each and every week. They aren’t the most popular TV shows on the air today. The combined viewership of all three of these shows is somewhat insignificant when it comes to ratings. The only thing that connects each of these shows is that my watching them confirms the fact that I’m a news junkie and nothing else.

What shows do I record every week? There’s “Fox News Watch” with the ‘fair and balanced’ network taking a look at the news media and how it is covering the news of the past week. I also record the last half-hour of ABC’s “This Week” – only because I’m more concerned with the roundtable discussions and the “In Memoriam” and “Sunday Funnies” features than I am the newsmaker interviews. And, last but not least, I record CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with Howie Kurtz from the Washington Post – which is another journalism review show with the emphasis being on the electronic media. I find all three of these shows to be informative and thought-provoking and, as crazy as this may sound, they all pass as entertainment for me on a Sunday afternoon.

I was grateful that there wasn’t anything heavy near me while I was watching this weekend’s edition of “Fox News Watch”, because I was this close to sending something sailing through the television screen – but why should I destroy a somewhat new television set because of some faux journalist’s little rant.

The top story on this week’s edition of “Fox News Watch” centered on President Obama and how they feel like his administration is micromanaging the news with this week’s announcement of nomination of Elana Kagan to the Supreme Court. The host, Jon Scott, stated that the White House posted a biography and an interview that a White House staffer did with Ms Kagan on the White House web page, but did not make her available to the media nor did the President take any questions about the nomination. The conservative side of the Fox News Watch panel asked where’s the transparency that President Obama promised in his administration and felt like the White House is trying to craft public opinion the way they see it.

If they stayed with the micromanaging the news and opinion angle – I might have agreed these people, but it’s where they took the discussion from there that got my blood boiling. Does the White House micromanage the news? Hell, yes – there isn’t a White House, State House, or Corporation around that doesn’t micromanage their message and try to slant public opinion in their favor, but instead of bitching about it good reporters dig behind the public relations to get the story.

But, Fox News Watch didn’t stop there. From micromanaging the news, Jon Scott, the host of Fox News Watch, went on to compared the White House effort to get their side of the story out on Ms. Kagan to that of Russia’s Pravda Pleeezzeee!

Was I angry when I heard Jon Scott say what he did? Damn straight! As I mentioned – everybody to some extent tries to craft public opinion – it’s just the way things are done – but comparing it to propaganda and Pravda is ridiculous. They can’t just disagree with President Obama – they have to paint him with a brush that makes him out to be some commie pinko socialist etc. It’s enough to watch someone like Hanniety or Glenn Beck call anyone who disagrees with them as fascists – but Fox News Watch is suppose to look at how the media is reporting the news, yet it’s part and parcel of the other shows on the network that yearns for the days of commie witch hunts and blacklists.

Jon Scott has been in the news business long enough to knows that the White House can’t totally isolate a Supreme Court nominee from the media and the media will get a chance to ask questions to and about the nominee. I’m sure that there will be more than enough news outlets to come out against Ms Kagan’s appointment to the bench, but to paint the White House efforts in getting out the story to Pravda is reckless for any news organization that paints itself as being “fair and balanced”.

And, Mr. Scott, why don’t you take a hard look at your network. You complain about the Obama administration micromanaging their public relations image – yet you have Karl Rove, the man responsible for getting out the message during the George W. Bush administration. Where were your comparisons of Karl Rove’s years of government service to that of Pravda? I sure didn’t hear any during the eight years of Bush, but Fox News loves to lob those subtle comparisons to communism and fascism when it comes to the Obama administration. It’s easier to smear and spread fear than it is to do some actual reporting isn’t it, Mr. Scott.

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