Jon Stewart shows no fear when he exposes FOX News for their bias against health care reform, but the rest of the media just excuses their GOP propaganda behavior.
Well, Howell Raines called out the media for turning a blind eye to the TV cable channel known as FOX News.
One question has tugged at my professional conscience throughout the year-long congressional debate over health-care reform, and it has nothing to do with the public option, portability or medical malpractice. It is this: Why haven't America's old-school news organizations blown the whistle on Roger Ailes, chief of Fox News, for using the network to conduct a propaganda campaign against the Obama administration -- a campaign without precedent in our modern political history?
Through clever use of the Fox News Channel and its cadre of raucous commentators, Ailes has overturned standards of fairness and objectivity that have guided American print and broadcast journalists since World War II. Yet, many members of my profession seem to stand by in silence as Ailes tears up the rulebook that served this country well as we covered the major stories of the past three generations, from the civil rights revolution to Watergate to the Wall Street scandals. This is not a liberal-versus-conservative issue. It is a matter of Fox turning reality on its head with, among other tactics, its endless repetition of its uber-lie: "The American people do not want health-care reform."
For the first time since the yellow journalism of a century ago, the United States has a major news organization devoted to the promotion of one political party. And let no one be misled by occasional spurts of criticism of the GOP on Fox. In a bygone era of fact-based commentary typified, left to right, by my late colleagues Scotty Reston and Bill Safire, these deceptions would have been given their proper label: disinformation.
I try not to believe that this kid-gloves handling amounts to self-censorship, but it's hard to ignore the evidence...read on
I think for a long time the MSM was worried about being labeled as having a "liberal bias' and got so used to the criticism that they internalized it. But when the liberal blogosphere came onto the picture and was horrified at what we were witinessing they weren't used to handling criticism from the left and instead of looking at their own behavior, they lashed out at us like they never would to the right.
Now I believe they are just down right scared of the right. They are afraid to have their email boxes filled with psycho rants, they are afraid that the comment sections in their on-line articles will have to be shut down and they are afraid of the backlash AM talk radio will whip up against them individually. Fearmongering doesn't only work on our national security front.
Watching the elite Beltway press actually rally around Fox News last year after the White House called it out as an illegitimate outlet for real news was one of the saddest journalism spectacles in recent memory. Recall that during the Bush years, the GOP White House often cooked up allegations and lashed out at prominent (i.e. genuine) news organizations, such as NBC and the New York Times, and I don't recall anybody rallying around them.
But when a Democratic administration called out Fox News for what it really is, a GOP propaganda tool (i.e. the Opposition Party), the same D.C. press corps played defense for Murdoch's dishonest empire and actually demanded Dems back off.
But I think the huge majority of it is explained quite simply: fear or the 'liberal media bias' charge. Conservatives have been pounding the press for more than four decades about their alleged bias and the Beltway press corps has developed rabbit ears when it comes to the allegation. And frankly, there's plenty of evidence that jouranlists are terrified of the charge and nervous about what can happen to their careers if that tag sticks.
So what's an easy way to prove you're not liberal? (Aside from becoming lapdogs during the Bush years.) You pretend Fox News is legit. You pretend that sure, Ailes has some opinion guys on at night, but there's a clear dividing line between the news and opinion. You pretend that Fox News is just the mirror opposite of MSNBC.
Basically, you sign off on a charade that, as Raines points out, any newsroom pro can see is a complete joke.
David and I have the goods and we'll be exposing more about FOX soon enough in our new book, but I think the journalism community should know that we'll have their backs if they do stand up and do the right thing. Howard Kurtz likes to argue that MSNBC does the same for the left because they have a three hour block of center left opinion shows, but FOX News promotes the GOP agenda throughout their entire 24 hour cycle. And did you see MSNBC actively support the left at the height of the anti-Iraq war protests and send their hosts down to flame the fires at those protests? Eric's points are well taken, but fear is now guiding them and I don't mean because they would be labeled liberals.