In my last post, gentle reader, I noted that President Obama, in an interview with the New Republic, criticized Fox News and Rush Limbaugh for contributing to the dysfunction and intransigence in Congress. This morning, Fox and Friends entertained both Fox's "legal analyst" Peter Johnson, who said Obama was singling out the conservative media, and Ben Shapiro of breitbart.com, who upped the absurdity level by claiming the President was out to silence them.
What made the guests really unhappy was Obama's remark, “I think what we really have to do is change some of the incentive structures so that people feel liberated to pursue some common ground.” He was referring to public debate in generally, not specifically to the media - his criticism of Fox and Rush came later - but the Fox pundits didn't care.
Johnson, after clumsily comparing Obama's remarks to reruns of the Carol Burnett show, snarkily interpreted them as meaning, “The people on the left, like MSNBC, they really want to encourage compromise and debate, but the people at Fox News, they are really out of control, they’re really crazy, they don’t want a debate and they want to punish Republican congressional leaders if there’s a debate.” It showed, he said, that the “civil libertarian” President had morphed into a Media Matters acolyte, bearing the message that "the most pernicious influence in the country [is] - not unemployment, debt, deficit or terror, but Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, conservative media, centrist media… they are coming at you in a big, BIIIIG way”.
The painfully earnest Ben Shapiro went Johnson one farther. Shapiro thought Obama’s words “change the incentive structure” should be “scary language for any American who believes in the First Amendment on a fundamental level….” Because it proved Shapiro's oft-repeated claim that Obama’s an imperial president, has dictatorial tendencies, and is generally a bully. To Shapiro, “incentives” was doublespeak for "silencing the media." (Really? Then why are you still on the air?)
Fox Nation upped the hysteria level one more notch with the shrieking headline, “Obama Threatens Fox News and Rush.” Interestingly, the URL for the post is the much more accurate, “Obama Singles Out Fox News.” Why go for accuracy if you can use sensationalism - right?