Howard Kurtz Tries To Rehab Fox News

Let's begin with this: David Corn's new book Showdown devotes maybe a paragraph to Fox News, but to listen to the cries and howls from Bret Baier and the rest of the Fox team, you'd think the entire book was about it. Here's the teeny little


[h/t Heather at Videocafe]

Let's begin with this: David Corn's new book Showdown devotes maybe a paragraph to Fox News, but to listen to the cries and howls from Bret Baier and the rest of the Fox team, you'd think the entire book was about it. Here's the teeny little excerpt they're all upset about:

“…Fed by Fox News, they hear Obama is a Muslim 24/7, and it begins to seep in…The Republicans have been at this for 40 years. They have new resources, but the strategy is old,” Corn recounted Obama as saying.

Bret Baier is simply outraged that the president could say something so utterly unfair, so outrageously false about Fox News, and Howie Kurtz rides to the rescue to back him up, taking the quote and expanding it so that it now isn't just "Fox News", but specifically "Fox News hosts."

Of course Fox News hosts don't say it outright. They just let their guests say it and fail to correct them. This is how it's done, and Corn pushed back hard on Baier with example after example after example of how wrong he was. Here is just one paragraph citing a few:

There's more (as Media Matters has documented). Donald Trump, appearing on Bill O'Reilly's show in March 2011, speculated that Obama was hiding his birth certificate because it declared he was born a Muslim. On April 26, 2011, controversial pastor Robert Jeffress onFox & Friends said, "why do 20 percent of Americans think the president is a Muslim? We'll, as my kids would say, duh." Last year, conservative radio talk show host, Lars Larson, echoing a familiar right-wing trope, said on Fox that the president shows "a whole lot of deference to Muslims and seems to forget Christians." Fox folks, of course, have gone wild over Obama's bowing before the Saudi king, and the network in 2008 pushed the false story that Obama attended an Islamic school in Indonesia.

If Howie Kurtz had an ounce of intellectual honesty, he would have given Corn an opportunity to respond to the critics who are willing to carry Fox News' water whenever so ordered. And even more than that, he wouldn't have allowed Baier's qualifying word "host" to have gone by without noting the dishonesty of shifting a quote from Fox News, the organization, to Fox News hosts.

Also? If Kurtz had even an iota of intellectual honesty, he wouldn't bring a commentator from Glenn Beck TV on the show to defend Fox. Glenn Beck and his TV channel are irrelevant, but leave it to Howie and his bookers to try to make them relevant, too. And Howie, this just makes me want to send you rotten tomatoes:

KURTZ: Now, I didn't find any example of a Fox host saying that President Obama is Muslim, so what Bret Baier said is accurate.

Guess what? I didn't find any example of David Corn or President Obama saying that either. I also had a ton of trouble finding any Fox News host who contradicted their guests' claims, but I guess that was something Howie didn't see fit to state for the record.

As we all know by now, Kurtz doesn't really function as a media critic as much as he does a media rehabilitator. It wouldn't do for Fox to be identified as the primary source for so many of the false fearmongering tales that seem to grab their viewers' attention without backing them up and giving them the old rehabilitation pitch. Never mind that senior citizens get so gripped in their fear of Obama the Muslim that they die, rather than go to the hospital. None of that matters so long as Howie can make sure Fox is immune to its critics.

It's really pathetic.

Full transcript follows, via CNN.

KURTZ: David Corn, you made news this week with your new book, "Showdown." You quote President Obama as making a charge against Fox News. It was picked up by Fox anchor, Bret Baier. Let me play something for the audience. I'm going to ask you a question about it on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: He told labor leaders that he was, quote, "Losing white males because, in part, fed up by Fox News, they hear that Obama is a Muslim 24/7, and it begins to seep in."

For the record, we found no example of a host saying President Obama is a Muslim.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: First of all, you used to be a Fox News analyst before you went to MSNBC. Where is the fair and balanced comment from Fox in this book?

CORN: There is no - I was quoting what the president was saying in a larger meeting about where the political culture is, OK?

So he was talking about Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin representing the Senate Republican Party, and was not blaming Fox News.

He was saying, basically in part fed up by Fox News. There's always excessive rhetoric out there. And they hear Obama is a Muslim 24/7.

KURTZ: You don't think Fox New deserved the chance to respond to that?

CORN: No. I mean, Bret did and he got it wrong.

KURTZ: OK. We'll come back to your beef with Baier.

CORN: I mean, listen -

KURTZ: But let me get Amy Holmes in on this same question. Is this a fair charge for Obama to make and fair for David to report it the way he did.

AMY HOLMES, ANCHOR, GBTV: Well, whether or not it's fair for President Obama to make it, I think we've seen that President Obama is quite preoccupied with the coverage of himself by Fox News.

It's not the first time he's mentioned Fox News and I see that there is certainly a story there as to why the president is, you know, maybe much like Lyndon Johnson was, so preoccupied with his own press coverage.

And if you remember, President Bush got attacked for not following the press, for not reading the "New York Times" every morning.

As for David, you know, using this bit in his book - I haven't read the entire context so I don't know if he used it fairly or not.

KURTZ: OK. Let me -

HOLMES: But as I say, President Obama's own preoccupation I think is the story.

KURTZ: Now, I didn't find any example of a Fox host saying that President Obama is Muslim, so what Bret Baier said is accurate.

But here's a clip of Sean Hannity interviewing a guest named Brigitte Gabriel about the question of why Obama is perceived by some, inaccurately, I need to add, as a Muslim.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": Do you think people maybe have taken all of those things and his actions as president and come to a wrong conclusion or what do you think?

BRIGITTE GABRIEL, ACT FOR AMERICA: Finally, people are paying attention to things after the fog has been lifted off of their eyes as to who did we really elect as president? The signs and information were all out there. President Obama was born into the Islamic faith, raised as a Muslim as a child, to a father who was a Muslim.

HANNITY: Do you think he is a Muslim?

GABRIEL: He attended Islamic schools. I cannot speak on what God he prays to in his private space.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: And they did add that President Obama spent 25 years in Jeremiah Wright's Christian church. What's your beef with what Bret Baier said?

CORN: Well, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from Mother Jones which I'll put on my Twitter feed, @DavidCornDC, after the show. But there are lots of cases when people on Fox are either validating this or sort of creating an environment.

Donald Trump comes on. He says why don't we have the birth certificate? Maybe because it says he's a Muslim. They had controversial pastor Robert Jeffress on who was asked - he said, actually, "Why do people think Obama is a Muslim? Duh?" I mean, so -

KURTZ: And you feel like they haven't pushed back sufficiently. Others have made the claim. All right. David Corn, I've got to go. Amy Holmes in New York, David Corn here, thanks very much for joining us this Sunday morning.

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