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Fox Complicates Congressional Probe of Memos

Reported by Judy - September 16, 2004 -

In the midst of its saturation coverage of Hurricane Ivan's landfall in the southeastern United States today (Sept. 16), Fox and Friends carved out a little time to discuss the authenticity of memos regarding George Bush's National Guard service.

Fox and Friends co-hosts briefly recapped the news that Jerry Killian's secretary says the memos themselves are fake but the sentiments expressed in them accurately reflect those of her former boss. They also reported very briefly on plans for a congressional investigation into the controversy over the memos.

That may be the most undercovered aspect of the matter -- a congressional investigation that might veer into a witchhunt against a news organization that produced a story critical of a sitting president. How intimidating will news media be in the future about reporting news critical of George Bush or any future president if they face the threat of being hauled before Congress?

Will the investigators have subpoena power? Will journalists who refuse to testify face jail? Will they be forced to reveal their sources? Unlike the case of the outed CIA agent, no legal violations have been alleged in this matter. Nor is it the same as the questions raised after the 2000 election by Fox News' decision to let George Bush's cousin declare the election for him, which came close to provoking a constitutional crisis. This story's potential impact was political in the narrow sense of affecting Bush's chances in the election.

During Fox News Live, anchor Jon Scott interviewed Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, a third generation newspaperman who has been a reporter and an editor. Roberts says Congress is not going to tell CBS how to do its business but "the source (of the memos) is the biggest thing that we need to find out about now." Hardly a reassuring comment from a former journalist.

In my opinion, Republicans have had it in for CBS for decades, ever since Walter Cronkite's reports critical of the Vietnam war after his visit to South Vietnam. CBS' coverage of Watergate only added to GOP contempt for the network (as well as other media). This, of course, is part of the source for GOP support for Fox News.

(Republicans have never demonstrated any bias against them in the media as Outfoxed has demonstrated a pro-GOP bias on Fox. Instead, Republicans have merely complained about bias without taking the time to document it. Asking reporters if they are Democrats or Republicans does not demonstrate bias in the way they report and present the news.)

With Republicans controlling all branches of government, it will be no surprise if the federal government fails to act on complaints against Fox News' use of the "fair and balanced" slogan.

The close ties between Fox News and the ruling party of this country make any investigation into these memos and the CBS story suspect. It is another reason why news organization that purport to be "fair and balanced" but are actually partisan tools are not only un-American, but a threat to our constitutional freedoms.