Wednesday, January 24, 2007
This blog post was put together by a number of people in the progressive movement who believe that journalism matters and that Fox News Channel does great disservice to the institution of the media (perhaps intentionally) by pretending to be legitimate members of the press (hence, I agree completely with this post, but this is not solely my work):
Therecently-debunked "madrassa" smear against Barack Obama shows that it's time for serious journalists, news consumers, and Democratic politicians to send a clear message to the "Gang of 500" - ABC's term for the all-knowing consultants, strategists, pollsters, pundits, and journalists who guide Washington DC's conventional wisdom.
The message: Fox News is not a real news organization! It is not a source of journalism and it is not remotely credible, so stop treating it that way. Fox is the television equivalent of The National Enquirer and deserves zero respect as a news outlet.
At the end of this post, I ask you to share your ideas on how we can send that message. Should Democratic politicians refuse to go on Fox? Should news viewers pressure the White House Correspondents' Association (202-452-4836) to deny membership to Fox? Should the DNC (202-863-8000) deny Fox floor rights at the 2008 convention? Should Fox advertisers be denied our dollars?
As you ponder those questions, I'll give credit where credit is due - to Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz for being among the first of 500 to directly call out Fox for "raising questions about journalistic behavior."
Moonlighting on CNN this Monday, Kurtz reported that "a little-known conservative magazine" published a story "based entirely on unnamed sources" alleging that Senator Obama was schooled in a Muslim madrassa. "Fox News channel touted the claims on two programs," Kurtz said and showed a clip of Fox talking about the "outing" of Obama's "madrassa past."
"As we now know, there is no madrassa past," Kurtz concluded. "This, unfortunately, is how the media food chain works. A bogus charge appears on some magazine or on some website and works its way up to bigger news outlets - all based on little or no evidence."
He was so close to getting the story 100% right. But, Howard, Fox is not a "bigger news outlet." That would require it to be a news outlet. Next time, try "bigger tabloids posing as news outlets."
Wolf Blitzer came on screen and made up for Kurtz's mistake, saying, "CNN did what any serious news organization is supposed to do in this situation - we actually conducted an exclusive first-hand investigation." You can view the video for yourself to see the playground and classrooms Obama went to as a 6-year old, and the school's administrator talking about religious tolerance.
One final note: Kurtz reports that "Fox News executive Bill Shine says some of the network's hosts were simply expressing their opinions." But if you watch those hosts' fake mea culpa on Monday, one says "We were reporting a story from Insight magazine" and another says, "That's what it says in Insight magazine, so we reported that..."
The third host says, "Senator Obama was on our show when his book came out and we would love to have him back...Come back, Senator Obama." Should he? How do you think we should send a meaningful signal that Fox is not a real news outlet? Share your thoughts here...