What’s the Obama administration’s problem with Fox? asks Joe Klein:
Let me be precise here: Fox News peddles a fair amount of hateful crap. Some of it borders on sedition. Much of it is flat out untrue.
But I don’t understand why the White House would give such poisonous helium balloons as Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity the opportunity for still greater spasms of self-inflation by declaring war on Fox.
Answer: This is not about Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. They’re talk show hosts. This is about Fox News.
A few quick things:
1.) Fox is not a news organization. Period.
2.) Fox news helped to organize and promote partisan political rallies, including situations in which their producers were caught rallying the crowds and their rabble was shouting down and ACTUALLY intimidating reporters from other networks.
3.) Fox is not a news organization. Period.
“The problem with war,” Klein advises, “is that it diverts attention from the actual news.”
Well, sort of. But not exactly. The problem is that Fox diverts attention from the actual news because Fox is not actually a news organization, and the rest of the corporate media plays the role of enabler by going along with the polite fiction that Fox is anything other than an entertainment and talk show media outlet. As Steve Benen points out, the “war” was launched on the day Pres. Obama took office, but the mass media took very little notice — until the White House decided to drop the pretense that Fox was actually in the business of news reporting:
Maybe now would be a good time to look at this debate from a different angle. What would Klein or Ruth Marcus or Ken Rudin encourage the White House to do about its Fox News problem?
… Fox News, as of Jan. 20, effectively launched a war against President Obama, his administration, and his party. There hasn’t even been a pretense of seeking the truth and reporting the news — it’s a full-on, network-wide offensive intended to help the network’s Republican allies and undermine the president and his party. It’s a campaign that has included supporting right-wing rallies, presenting Republican Party talking points as network research, and 24-7 propaganda.
Nonsense that starts on Fox News invariably spreads to the rest of the discourse, so the White House frequently finds itself on the defensive, for no real reason, because a cable network functions as a communications arm of a political party. With that in mind, simply ignoring Fox News’ work isn’t really an option.
So, in all seriousness, what’s a White House to do? The pushback from journalists at legitimate outlets this week suggests the White House is just supposed to take it. No matter how many nonsensical controversies Fox News creates, no matter how often it lies, no matter how much the network poisons the body politic, the argument goes, the White House is supposed to maintain the pretense that Fox News is a legitimate, non-partisan news network — even though grown-ups everywhere know this is plainly false.
All week, there’s been talk that the White House has launched a “war” against the Republican network. The claim itself misstates the case — Fox News launched a crusade against Obama and Democrats, and the White House has felt compelled to respond. How? By acknowledging reality and encouraging others to do the same.
There’s no boycott, no punishment, no vendetta — this is just a situation in which the White House is calling Fox News what it obviously is. That’s all.
Media Matters has put together a video of Fox clips to graphically demonstrate what Fox is:
Rachel Maddow provides the context ignored by right-wing critics who asked how come she and Keith Olbermann got invited to a closed-door media briefing at the White House “while Fox was declared not a news organization.”