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More Ivan, Less Rogich

Reported by Nancy - September 14, 2004 -

Is it news to regular FNL viewers that there are hurricanes? That they often hit areas around the Gulf of Mexico & in the Caribbean? This morning (9/14), FNL continued with the Hurrican Ivan drumbeat, for those with extremely short attention spans. But the real stories were buried in 2 interviews that, with a little background research (not provided by FNL), revealed a lot of interesting info.

Possibly the funniest moments of this morning's program were an ALERT! at 10:58am (EDT) so Brigitte Quinn could introduce a whole series of reports -- Rick Leventhal in New Orleans, Jonathan Serrie in Mobile, & Buzz Lopez with a weather report just about Ivan -- followed by Quinn interviewing Florida State University Prof TN Krishnamurti about predicting the path of hurricanes. [Comment: They really did use an ALERT! to intro all this, as though they haven't been "covering" Ivan ad nauseam since even before Hurrican Frances was over. And watching Krishnamurti trying to explain scientific uncertainty to Quinn was worth the price of admission].

Some real news almost snuck in when Quinn interviewed Sig Rogich about the presidential campaign in swing states (11:14 am EDT). Quinn introduced Rogich as a "former presidential media advisor", & both Quinn & Rogich addressed the issue from the GOP point of view for the next 4 minutes. Rogich used phrases like "stay the course" [comment: gee, where have we heard that before?] & said that the Bush campaign is doing everything right because Bush is running on his record, which is a good record. FNL helped this along by prominently displaying a lower-third banner announcing COMING UP: WHY KERRY MAY BE SLIPPING WITH WOMEN. Quinn didn't disclose to viewers that Rogich was a Pioneer (donated $100,000 or more) in the Bush 2000 campaign & is a Ranger (donated $200,000 or more) in the Bush 2004 campaign; or that Rogich produced the Dukakis-in-a-tank attack ad for GHW Bush in 1988 & a series of Clinto-will-raise-your-taxes attack ads for GHW Bush in 1992.

Comment: This one interview alone pretty much answers the "is Fox News 'fair & balanced'?" question, & answers it with a resounding NO.

But wait! There's more!

At 11:38am (EDT), Patti Ann Browne interviewed 3 women about a Time magazine poll allegedly showing Kerry's support waning among women. Nancy Pfotenhauer, President of the Independent Women's Forum; Karen White, political director of Emily's List; & Priscilla Painton, TIME Magazine. Browne revealed her own bias when she posited the theory that moms are turned off by Kerry's "sensitive" approach to the War on Terror & favor someone "tough" like Bush. Pfotenhauer essentially reiterated that theme. White tried to make a point about education as a bigger priority for many moms, but Browne allowed Pfotenhauer to interrupt her. Painton, of course, defended TIME's poll [comment: despite the fact that other recent TIME polls were shown to be dramatically flawed, this issue was not addressed either by Browne or by any of the panelists].

Extended Comment: So let's explore some background -- not offered by FNL -- on these interviewees:

Pfotenhauer: "Independent Women's Forum" sounds pretty impressive, if you don't know that's typical radical right-wing newspeak for a notoriously regressive group that opposes almost any progress in the field of women's rights. In Feb 2002, AG John Ashcroft appointed Pfotenhauer to the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women, which advises the Depts of Justice & HHS on implementation & enforcement of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) -- in spite of (or perhaps because of?) her publicly stated opposition to VAWA. I've seen her on the PBS program "To the Contrary", where she is invited to give a very conservative right-wing view. She was formerly executive VP at "Citizens for a Sound Economy" (radical-right-wing newspeak for a group that lobbies FOR big business & AGAINST workers), which has since morphed into "Americans for Prosperity". Doncha just love these org names? In 1988, she was Chief Economist at the GOP National Committee. Prior to her 2001 appointment at IWF, she directed the Washington Office of Koch Industries, the second-largest privately-held company in the US & huge funder of radical right-wing groups.

White: She is political director of Emily's List, an interest group dedicated to electing pro-choice Dem women to public office. You can google her & find no biographical info (altho the name is a common one, & I found a poet, an artist & a sci-fi writer, among others), & the website for Emily's List offers no bio sketches of its staff. Her performance on FNL this morning was not effective.

Painton: Painton joined TIME as a correspondent in Jan 1989 & has worked her way up to be Executive Editor. She had previously worked at the Atlanta Journal & Constitution where she was a political & projects reporter. She has also worked at The Washington Post & The Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, MA) & she is a graduate of Mt Holyoke College.

So, on a panel of 3 guests invited by FNL to discuss a TIME poll allegedly favoring Bush over Kerry, we have 2 guests with a vested interest in defending the poll -- one of whom has years of GOP experience at the national level under her belt -- & 1 guest who didn't talk about the poll at all.

That's sure 'fair & balanced'.