So-called “war” between Fox News and White House is war in name only

Any rational human knows that Fox News isn’t a real news network. They blur the line between opinion and news reporting to the point that it all seems the same to them. The White House was only expressing the consensus of the rational people in pointing it out in public and on the record. Like any other right wing group Fox now claims to be a victim. The facts just don’t support Fox News.

Those of us who watch mainstream news programs and the cable networks have known for years that Fox News has been the mouth piece of the Republican Party. The media watch dog site Media Matters even has a video clip showing how Fox opinion bleeds into its news reports:

Fox and other conservatives have come back and said well President Obama and the Democrats have MSNBC as their official voice. The problem with that false equivalency is that a rational person can see a distinct difference between MSNBC’s news reports and their opinion programs. The other proof against such a charge by Fox is that on some of the shows like Hardball and Countdown the hosts and guests disagree with the current administration and say so but that doesn’t get passed on in the news reports like we see time and time again with Fox News.

A more recent dust up involved a reported exclusion of Fox to interview a Treasury official. Fox was crying all day about censorship and then claiming the other networks came to its defense and refused to interview the guy unless Fox was included.

Like most everything coming out the mouths at Fox, the incident didn’t happen the way it claims.

The version Fox has pushed all day is that the network was excluded from an interview roundtable with Feinberg yesterday, and that bureau chiefs from ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN came to Fox’s defense.

TPMDC dug into it, and here’s what happened.

Feinberg did a pen and pad with reporters to brief them on cutting executive compensation. TV correspondents, as they do with everything, asked to get the comments on camera. Treasury officials agreed and made a list of the networks who asked (Fox was not among them).

But logistically, all of the cameras could not get set up in time or with ease for the Feinberg interview, so they opted for a round robin where the networks use one pool camera. Treasury called the White House pool crew and gave them the list of the networks who’d asked for the interview.

The network pool crew noticed Fox wasn’t on the list, was told that they hadn’t asked and the crew said they needed to be included. Treasury called the White House and asked top Obama adviser Anita Dunn. Dunn said yes and Fox’s Major Garrett was among the correspondents to interview Feinberg last night.

Simple as that, we’re told, and the networks don’t want to be seen as heroes for Fox.

WH: We’re Happy To Exclude Fox, But Didn’t Yesterday With Feinberg Interview

But this is also why a news network with only about 3 million viewers can have an effect, good or bad, on a national discussion. 

The other networks live inside the same beltway bubble and so when Fox harps a story for many days the others think there is a story there and end up picking it up too – even when it is false or not what it seems.

Take the above incident with the Feinberg interview. Even though it wasn’t a case of the White House saying “No Fox” the CBS Evening News had a story about the non-story and used Fox’s view of it.

(CBS) After months of taking incoming fire from the prime-time stars of Fox News, the Obama White House is firing back, charging that FOX News is different from all other news.

FOX News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican party,” said Anita Dunn, White House communications director.

“If media is operating basically as a talk radio format, then that’s one thing, and if it’s operating as a news outlet, then that’s another,” Mr. Obama said.

And the White House has gone beyond words, reports CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield. Last Sept. 20, the president went on every Sunday news show – except Chris Wallace’s show on FOX. And on Thursday, the Treasury Department tried to exclude FOX News from pool coverage of interviews with a key official. It backed down after strong protests from the press.

“All the networks said, that’s it, you’ve crossed the line,” said CBS News White House correspondent Chip Reid. 

President Obama’s Feud with FOX News 

It also needs to be pointed out that the White House has never tried to censor Fox or prevent it from covering the White House, it just hasn’t favored it on equal footing to NBC, CBS, or ABC.

Its not like an administration has never tried to freeze out or isolate a network before. In the last administration the Bush Whit House went after MSNBC and NBC while holding meetings with only right wing talk show hosts:

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Again the problem with Fox is that it is more a talk radio style program rather than a real journalistic news organization. They pass off lies, rumors, and smears as facts and it bleeds into their “news” reports. The other news programs thinking they are missing a story then report on those lies, rumors, and smears which give them a “creditability” it couldn’t gain on its own just by being “reported” by Fox.

That’s what Fox does – blow up lies, rumors, and smears into stories that don’t deserve to be stories and wouldn’t be if real journalism was being practiced in this country.

It is so obvious it makes me sick

Like dragging ones feet across the carpet on a cold dry day and then getting a jolt when touching anything, I get to a point where some things in life and the world become so obvious to me I wonder why it seems I am the only one who sees it and why can’t I get others to see it too. When others get that way they get ulcers or fly into a rage – me? I beat my head on a wall and write about it in my blog. Here is the latest obvious crap flaking my pie crust.

1. Where’s the change I voted for? It seems even with a new administration in Washington and the bullies out of power in Congress, we were to see actual real change. I’m still waiting. The Health Care reform debate is a prime example. It’s been obvious for years that we must end the monopoly by private insurance companies who profit from the pain and suffering of their customers. We don’t tolerate it for any other industry except health insurance.

Now it seems both spineless Democrats and the GOP bullies are planning a big wet kiss to the insurance companies along the same lines as we saw when the Medicare D pharmacy plan came out – huge payments to big insurance companies for crappy coverage for those least able to afford any medical bills in the first place. Can you say Donut hole? 

Republicans have lied about the reform from the beginning – just plain lied – and our fourth estate and even Democrats just let them do it.

Here are the facts 40 MILLION people have NO insurance and approx 40,000 DIE each year because of having NO insurance.

What kind of human would allow that to happen? Republicans for one and Democrats who accept money from the insurance industry.

Polls show overwhelming public support for reform and a public option, yet some in Congress let the money do their thinking for them. SHAME ON THEM!!!!

2. Passing off “talking points” as news. What boils my blood almost as much as the GOP lies about health care reform that go unchallenged is the general incest that goes on within the Washington DC media complex.

We had an election in November and the Democrats won handy majorities in both houses and have the White House but you wouldn’t know it if you watch or read the mainstream media that comes out of DC.

It seems that the Sunday talk shows and political news in print supposedly needs to have a 1 to 1 “balance” of left and right views. While it seemed on some Sundays, former VP Dick Cheney, or for some odd reason, his daughter, was allowed to basically give a monologue about his version of events when he was President and approved of the criminal torturing of human beings among other GOP centric discussions.

Do you remember tug-of-wars from your childhood? I remember the adult in charge lining up us kids by height and then going down the line, alternating which team we would be on, to ensure that neither side was unfairly stacked. That notion of balancing the sides to make things fair has morphed in modern media to this simplistic binary equation of Republican vs. Democrat. But it’s a false equivalence, because it assumes a completely valid argument on both sides, and as we chronicle daily here at C&L, rarely do we see sensible, much less valid, arguments coming from the right to make the “balance” actually informative. Instead we get death panels, socialicommunistmarxism, concern trollism over deficit spending and the Olympic Games.

Sunday Morning Bobblehead Thread

The point again is this assumes that both sides have equally valid arguments and in some cases, like the health care debate, this is not even close. The lies about death panels, lack of public support for a public option, and “socialized medicine” told by the right are lies. Lies are not valid arguments.

Only a few years ago if you dissented against the President your words were treasonous and you should be “sent to Gitmo” or worse, where regular people wearing T-shirts saying “Bush Sucks” were detained by police when they showed up to protest Bush in public. Since November if you bring a gun to an event the President is appearing, it’s called “free speech” and you want to “take back your country” from a black guy and his uppity ways.

It kind of has an Orwellian “doubleplusgood” ring to it all.

3 Finally, who the hell is Kim Kardashian? What has she done to merit any mention in the press? I had to look her up in Wikipedia and just as I guessed she is famous for no real reason. She didn’t land a plane in the Hudson, she didn’t cure a disease, and she doesn’t contribute to society in any memorable way.

If she was someone of substance I could see why she would be newsworthy but unless I missed her winning an Oscar recently then her celebrity worth is very small compared to the amount of press she gets.

I’m just fed up with narcissism being passed out as something important. I don’t care about her or any other “celebutante” and I’ll now have to spend time scrubbing the taint from this blog. UGH!

And THAT is this edition of my Obvious rant….

What we really should be looking at since the death of Walter Cronkite

Uncle Walter passed away on Friday and so this weekend the press corp have been celebrating the anchorman who set the standard of what the press is suppose to be. It is ironic that as they celebrate the icon of TV news, current TV news is nothing like what Cronkite stood for or broadcast back in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The current members of the press commented on objective and tough Cronkite was in his reporting. He told us all what we needed to hear and sometimes what we didn’t want to hear. That doesn’t happen today.

Glenn Greenwald at says it better:

Despite that, media stars will spend ample time flamboyantly commemorating Cronkite’s death as though he reflects well on what they do (though probably not nearly as much time as they spent dwelling on the death of Tim Russert, whose sycophantic servitude to Beltway power and “accommodating head waiter”-like, mindless stenography did indeed represent quite accurately what today’s media stars actually do). In fact, within Cronkite’s most important moments one finds the essence of journalism that today’s modern media stars not only fail to exhibit, but explicitly disclaim as their responsibility.

Celebrating Cronkite while ignoring what he did 

Too bad it is all true.

Why Cramer vs Stewart matters?

The recent spat between Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, and Jim Cramer, host of Mad Money on CNBC has been entertaining. It started with a scathing 8 minute video clip of the incestuous relationship between the talking heads on CNBC and the CEOs and climaxed with a face to face discussion between Stewart and Cramer on The Daily Show Thursday night. But why should we care about two TV hosts bantering back and forth like enemies on the junior high play ground? It’s because it shows a light on the problems we have in our so called free press.

As I’ve written before, the classic idea of the press is to be advocate of the people who are suppose to be objective and ask our leaders the tough questions, we, the public either would like to ask ourselves or need an answer. When the press fails to do that, as all too often happens in the corporate media of today, their reporting becomes more like propaganda than journalism.

Jon Stewart and his Daily Show staff – which by the way is a comedy show – showed in their 8 minute clip that CNBC missed the recent financial melt down even as the red flags marched down Wall Street and instead they continued to have a parade of CEOs on claiming “don’t panic”. CNBC was so caught up in having the access to all these rich guys they failed to report about the storm clouds and problems that started in the housing market in 2007.

Financial news shows are not the place to be passing off press releases from CEOs as reporting. People who trusted the network got hurt if they didn’t take action before the market melt down. As Stewart told Cramer last night on his show “This is not a game…”

As James Moore wrote on Huffington Post:

Nonetheless, reporters at the big TV networks and the major publications have no excuse. Minute by minute people like Jim Cramer are feeding crap into our culture and public perceptions and it has nothing to do with reality and everything to do with their egos. How is it that a comedian is the first person to hold accountable these cheerleaders who are promoting a team that has no chance to win and, in some cases, isn’t even in the damned game?

Analysts doing the autopsy on newspaper reporting and the corpse of mainstream journalism are constantly lamenting the fact that so many young people and an increasing number of others are getting their news from Jon Stewart and Comedy Central. Where else is there left to look for thoughtful, analytical, and insightful analysis of the issues of our day? The yuks are just a bonus. Cable news shows can proclaim “no bias, no bull” all they want but every story is framed for a purpose, which is drama and conflict. The viewers and the readers aren’t there without the dramatic tension. You might as well be watching Law and Order: Special News Unit.

And a Comic Shall Lead Them

Yes, negative press can hurt a business but journalists have a responsibility to report the truth even if that means negative reports about a business or market. An uninformed public is a powerless public and they get hurt far worse than these CEOs who stole our money. As Stewart pointed out our 401k’s capitalized their adventures.

Here is part 3 of the Stewart vs Cramer interview on the Thursday Daily Show


Saw this bit in a column by Glenn Greenwald on Salon’s website and thought it makes the same point I was making but includes the entire press establishment:

That’s the heart of the (completely justifiable) attack on Cramer and CNBC by Stewart. They would continuously put scheming CEOs on their shows, conduct completely uncritical “interviews” and allow them to spout wholesale falsehoods. And now that they’re being called upon to explain why they did this, their excuse is: Well, we were lied to. What could we have done? And the obvious answer, which Stewart repeatedly expressed, is that people who claim to be “reporters” are obligated not only to provide a forum for powerful people to make claims, but also to then investigate those claims and then to inform the public if the claims are true. That’s about as basic as it gets.

Today, everyone — including media stars everywhere — is going to take Stewart’s side and all join in the easy mockery of Cramer and CNBC, as though what Stewart is saying is so self-evidently true and what Cramer/CNBC did is so self-evidently wrong. But there’s absolutely nothing about Cramer that is unique when it comes to our press corps. The behavior that Jon Stewart so expertly dissected last night is exactly what our press corps in general does — and, when compelled to do so, they say so and are proud of it.

There’s nothing unique about Jim Cramer