I’m going to agree with Josh Marshall on this one. I have no problem with the White House stepping aside from the fiction that Fox News is just some regular old news network and is not, in fact, a blatantly partisan and blatantly anti-Obama propaganda machine. Let me be clear also in saying that Fox has the perfect right to be that way and in some ways I wish more media outlets had a sharper and more explicit world view and stopped hiding behind the fiction that they are pristine neutral. Indeed, my only problem with Fox is that it pretends to be something very different than what it is, which makes it doubly hypocritical.
I worked for two decades for a highly partisan journal of opinion, The Nation, and we never flinched from telling people exactly how we saw things. We took sides. We made friends and we made a lot of enemies. And I, for one, never expected much slack from the former. Give none. Get none.
In the ongoing feud between Fox and the White House, Obama has now come out and stated the obvious truth i.e. that Fox more than anything else is like a talk radio show. A right-wing talk radio show. Indeed, it has been used an organizing platform by elements, idiotic elements like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, to actively mobilize opposition to Obama’s policies. I’ve got zero problem with that. More power to them. But all is fair in love and war and if Fox wants to make war on the administration (and on rationality) then it seems perfectly logical that a rational administration is going to fight back and treat Fox like a belligerent.
I just love how ABC’s Jake Tapper ( a living testament to sanctimony) the other day tried to make an issue out of Obama’s shunning of Fox by using a White House briefing to decry how his “sister organization” was being poorly treated. Not that I am crazy about the ethos of ABC but is Tapper really sure he wants to stand in solidarity with Roger Ailes and Glenn Beck? (Aren’t they more like the crazy uncles in the closet rather than your virginal sister?)
So, yes, let’s address the 800 lb gorilla sitting in the back of the briefing room. Doesn’t civic responsibility demand that the White House grant the most efficient and transparent access to the media? Absolutely and an unqualified yes. The Bush administration policy on this issue was abhorrent. So is that of most administrations. One can make whatever judgment one wishes on Obama’s (mine is that as a whole his is a ton better than that of Bush but short of what he has promised). But what is not fair, what is, in fact, totally ridiculous, is to use Fox’s treatment as any sort of meaningful metric. Fox is not an adversary the way we wish most aggressive news outfits would and should be. I repeat, it is a partisan political operation which operates in obvious bad faith. Screw ‘em.
I’m usually on the other side of the argument. But that’s usually when we are dealing with government entities addicted to secrecy which are trying to shut out public scrutiny by shutting out general press access. General press access has been amplified, not reduced by Obama, so I don’t see the problem.
One problem some of us did see was the absurd reverse of this problem during the Bush era. The Bushies declared an all-out war against transparency, media access and general honesty. With the exception of the usual echo chamber talk show toadies, some compromised columnists and…. Fox News… the Bush White House hated the media and treated it like a P.O.W. The problem was that the press pulled back and played dumb and pretended they were not at war. Instead of fighting back, and rightfully ripping the administration apart, most of it rolled over and let its tummy be patted by every Bush jagoff from Karl Rove to Condi Rice to Dick Cheney. Instead of news room editors struggling to unmask the administration for its blatant disregard for the law and the constitution, they became agonized acrobats, twisting and turning every way possible to not offend anyone but, um, calling a lie a lie and calling torture….torture. It was a one-sided war in which the media decided to stupidly take it in the pants.
Obama has decided not to.
Anyway, all morality aside, it’s good politics. The Republicans have been stupid and lame enough to allow cretins like Glenn Beck to become their spokesman and with very few exceptions have not told him to shut the fug up (for the sake of the GOP). With only 20% of Americans now identifying themselves as Republicans, only a Democratic President with an IQ below room temperature wouldn’t take full advantage and try everything possible to drive a deeper wedge between the right-wing fringe (including Fox) and those millions of very sane people out there who come from some sort or another of Republican background.
Fox likes to play whack-a-mole. So what if it gets whacked back?
Our Neon Tommy piece of the day come from out First Draft news blog. Reporter Olga Khazan reveals an fascinating tidbit about a coalition of American musicians pressing the government to make public what music and songs were used to help inflict torture on Bush-era detainees.
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