2009/10/24

How seriously can we take media objections to the Fox News vs The White House "war"?

Charles Krauthammer complains that the President's Chief Of Staff "Rahm Emanuel once sent a dead fish to a live pollster. Now he's put a horse's head in Roger Ailes' bed." In other words, the White House is not only at war with Fox News, but it's a particularly nasty and vicious war.

What exactly is the White House accusation against Fox News? Krauthammer says:

Meaning? If Fox runs a story critical of the administration -- from exposing White House czar Van Jones as a loony 9/11 "truther" to exhaustively examining the mathematical chicanery and hidden loopholes in proposed health care legislation -- the other news organizations should think twice before following the lead.

That is, Fox is just doing "tough" but completely honest and aboveboard, "fair and balanced" reporting. Is that true? Erm, not exactly.

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. Just Thursday morning, the Fox & Friends crew parroted a House Republican press release and repeated its claim that the stimulus impact is "6 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!

Krauthammer talks about Fox being banned from a Treasury Department press pool and how the news media bravely and heroically stood up to the thuggish Obama Administration and forced them to include Fox. Mediaite tosses a bit of cold water on that thesis, noting among other things that: "As yet, none of the other network bureau chiefs has gone on record to corroborate Fox’s reporting."

Anyway, Krauthammer then gets all noble and Constitutional on us:

There's nothing illegal about such search-and-destroy tactics. Nor unconstitutional. But our politics are defined not just by limits of legality or constitutionality. We have norms, Madisonian norms.

Slight problem with that. Where was all of this teary-eyed nobility back during the Iraq War, specifically in early April 2003 when the Palestine Hotel was shot at by an American tank?


An American tank fired on the Palestine Hotel early Tuesday, where foreign journalists have been covering the war from balconies and the roof.
Less than a mile away, a reporter for Al-Jazeera television was killed when U.S.-led forces bombed his office. Nearby, coalition artillery battered the Baghdad office of Abu Dhabi television, trapping more than 25 reporters who phoned for help from the basement.
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More than 50 news cameras were set up on [the Palestine] hotel balconies when the tank fired, according to Associated Press photographer Jerome Delay. "How can they spot someone with binoculars and not [see] cameras?" he asked.

And from the British reporter Robert Fisk:


The next assault, on Reuters, came just before midday when an Abrams tank on the Jamhuriya Bridge suddenly pointed its gun barrel towards the Palestine Hotel where more than 200 foreign journalists are staying to cover the war from the Iraqi side. Sky Television's David Chater noticed the barrel moving. The French television channel France 3 had a crew in a neighboring room and videotaped the tank on the bridge. The tape shows a bubble of fire emerging from the barrel, the sound of a detonation and then pieces of paintwork falling past the camera as it vibrates with the impact.

General Buford Blount of the US 3rd Infantry Division claimed that there had been rocket fire from the Palestine Hotel, but no one who was in the hotel or in the area heard or saw any such thing.


The WaPo's Ruth Marcus asked what she clearly considered a rhetorical question comparing the Obama Administration with its predecessor: "Imagine the outcry if the Bush administration had pulled a similar hissy fit with MSNBC."


'Fraid to say, the Bush Administration did far worse than just to pull a hissy fit, military weaponry was used against reporters who were just doing their jobs. Was there any sort of outcry from the same people who are now crying and bleating and fussing over the Obama Administration now "beating up" Fox News? (Sound of wind blowing through the grass, crickets chirping).

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