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Grapevine Whine - Media Martyr?

Reported by Nancy - November 22, 2005 -

Brit Hume does a cutesy little segment every night in the middle of Special Report called "The Grapevine." It's a series of mini-blurbs about relatively minor events in the world of politics. The focus is usually on US politics, with the occasional nod to international stories, & the blurbs are delivered with Hume's trademark sneering snideness that he apparently thinks is the equivalent of humor. In fact, like much of the rest of the material on FNC, the content of these little "pickings" is actually an attack on perceived enemies. Here's a recent example that attacks the Los Angeles Times & one of its columnists.

Last Wednesday (11/16), item #3 on the Grapevine was about former LATimes columnist Robert Scheer, described by Hume as a "longtime liberal columnist" who was "whining about the paper's decision to fire him" & "blam[ing] the conservative media for getting him sacked." Scheer, according to Hume, "attacked the Times' publisher" by calling him "a 'wise guy accountant, a bean counter from Chicago,' whose 'golf buddies probably warned him about me -- that flaming leftie.' " Hume ended with this:

Speaking at a gathering for the liberal political journal The Nation, Scheer added, "Probably the main reason they got rid of me was O'Reilly and Limbaugh made a living out of attacking me and using me as a punching bag." The Times, meanwhile, says it's expanding its editorial page to include more liberal and conservative columnists and that letting Scheer go had nothing to do with ideology.

Comments: Note, as always, Hume's language. Scheer is "whining." he "blames" others & he has "attacked" his own publisher. The title I've used for this post ("Media Martyr?") is what appears as the title of this blurb on the Fox website. Why, this Scheer person must be a real nasty guy!

Hume's last sentence channels the namby-pamby way the LATimes announced the changes, in typical corporate-speak:

"The opinion pages are the newspaper's town square," he [editorial page editor Andres Martinez] said in a statement. "Our readers expect us to publish all points of view and the broadest range of opinion — from those of our editorial board and columnists to those of our readers and Op-Ed contributors. And we intend to do exactly that."

Times Publisher Jeffrey M. Johnson framed the changes as: "You've got a new editorial page editor and a new publisher. We sat down and talked about the pages and decided to make the changes."

Here's what Hume didn't tell viewers: The LATimes also fired Michael Ramirez, a Pulitzer-Prize winning conservative staff cartoonist. From the same article cited above:

Scheer and Ramirez said Thursday that they believed their strong political stances played a role in their dismissals.

Scheer said he thought The Times had grown tired of his liberal politics. "I've been a punching bag for Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh for years and I think the paper finally collapsed," he said. He said he and Ramirez "both had strong opinions and [I think] the owners think they can improve circulation by making the paper bland and safer."

Ramirez, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994, said: "I can't help but think it's also a philosophical parting of ways." He said he also believed his removal was partly due to budgetary concerns, as well as a desire to change the look of the editorial pages. [.../...] "You have a newspaper that has such a grand tradition of editorial cartooning," Ramirez said. "I think it makes a lesser product and I think the readers lose."

I guess Hume didn't mention Ramirez so he wouldn't have to call him "whining" or claim that he "attacked" his own publisher.

The LATimes is third in line in terms of major competitors that FNC likes to attack (the NYTimes is #1, the WaPo is #2). Does any other media outlet so relentlessly & outspokenly criticize its competition?

Scheer wrote a *very* brief article at The Huffington Post about the incident, statrting off with this:

On Friday I was fired as a columnist by the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, where I have worked for thirty years. The publisher, Jeff Johnson, who has offered not a word of explanation to me, has privately told people that he hated every word that I wrote. I assume that mostly refers to my exposing the lies used by President Bush to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Scheer's own website, by the way, is a goldmine of articles exposing the many & varied lies of the Bush administration. I was happy to learn that Scheer will now be writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, & I expect Hume will be attacking them before too long.

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (Special Report, Hume, this Grapevine item). O/T comments will be deleted. Thanks.