I don’t know how five rather intelligent Fox News pundits can go on camera and, with a straight face, contend that Fox News is some kind of legitimate muckraker that President Obama is ducking because every other news outlet is sucking up to him. All the while citing various sources in the mainstream media that criticize him. But that’s what Judith Miller, Kirsten Powers, Monica Crowley and Jim Pinkerton did with assists from host Jon Scott on Fox News Watch tonight.
It began with Scott sneering about the White House press corps being “locked out” from Obama’s recent golf games with Tiger Woods. Somehow or other, this was a sign that Obama is “avoiding the tough questions.” Scott never explained what “tough questions” Obama might have been asked about the golf games. But he did cite a statement from Fox News’ Ed Henry – who somehow got himself elected president of the White House Correspondents Association despite his willingness to regurgitate GOP talking points – in which he said, “A broad cross section of our members from print, radio online and TV have today expressed extreme frustration to me about having absolutely no access to the President of the United States.”
“A broad cross section?” That sounds to me like that mainstream “Obama-mania media” Fox is always whining about. In fact, the Foxies were whining about them right in this segment.
Pinkterton went on to cite a Politico piece called, “Did Ed Henry Blow It?” in which columnist Dylan Byers called Henry’s plea “a public relations disaster.” Pinkerton huffed, “The mainstream media is so Obama-philic that they just clobbered the White House press corps for daring to ask questions.”
That’s a complete distortion of what Byers said. Byers was sympathetic to the press corps’ frustrations. He called them “very real” and noted that they “pertain not just to photo-ops, but to questions regarding everything from the president’s jobs policy to his use of drone strikes for the targeted killings of American citizens.” But “choosing to raise their voices over a golfing vacation—rather than, say, a foreign or domestic policy issue” is what Byers suggested “may have blown its chances for public sympathy, and even damaged its own reputation.”
But of course, Fox News circled its own wagon and defended Henry as some kind of beacon of press freedom (on behalf of that awful mainstream media, no less) while they accused that same mainstream media of being in the tank for Obama.
Kirsten Powers cited a recent Politico article (and you can’t get more “mainstream media” than Politico) called, “Obama, the puppet master,” (which she said had a question mark at the end, though it’s not there as I see it). “And the answer is, ‘Yes,” he is the puppetmaster of this media,” Powers continued. Regardless of the title, the article could not be more skeptical of Obama’s tactics.
With more technology, and fewer resources at many media companies, the balance of power between the White House and press has tipped unmistakably toward the government. This is an arguably dangerous development, and one that the Obama White House — fluent in digital media and no fan of the mainstream press — has exploited cleverly and ruthlessly. And future presidents from both parties will undoubtedly copy and expand on this approach.
Powers went on to say, “The president only wants to talk to people who aren’t going to give him tough questions to which I would say, actually, I think Chris Wallace should be proud that the president won’t go on his show at this point. Because what it says is he only goes on the shows that (have) people who go easy on him and so that means, I think these are the people who call themselves journalists should start asking, ‘Why is the president so willing to come on my show so often?’”
Of course, President Obama has been interviewed by Fox’s Bill O’Reilly in 2011 and Bret Baier in 2010. That didn’t seem to count. But by that standard, the group should be raining praise on the New York Times which, according to Politico, has been “stiffed” since 2010.
Monica Crowley acknowledged that every White House tries to control its message and its press coverage. She added, “But what’s different here is that this White House has a huge advantage in that most of the elite mainstream media is on its side doing its bidding every day.”
I’d love to hear Crowley’s explanation as to why Fox is NOT the “elite mainstream media.” But in the meanwhile, I’ll point out that Politico also included this rather damning paragraph:
“The way the president’s availability to the press has shrunk in the last two years is a disgrace,” said ABC News White House reporter Ann Compton, who has covered every president back to Gerald R. Ford. “The president’s day-to-day policy development — on immigration, on guns — is almost totally opaque to the reporters trying to do a responsible job of covering it. There are no readouts from big meetings he has with people from the outside, and many of them aren’t even on his schedule. This is different from every president I covered. This White House goes to extreme lengths to keep the press away.”
Host Scott even cited Compton’s Politico comments yet didn’t question whether Crowley would exempt Politico from the "doing the president's bidding" crowd.
I don't mean to sound like a Politico apologist but the Puppetmaster article does provide explanation and context as to how and why the press gets manipulated by the White House. That’s a lot further than this back-slapping circle jerk even tried to go.
The fact of the matter is that Fox News has damaged its credibility all by itself – with its tabloidy fixations on President Obama’s birth certificate, his religion, his racial views, accusing him of treason and then predicting Mitt Romney would win the presidency in a landslide. This is not the kind of rhetoric, I hasten to add, that Powers, Miller or Pinkerton engages in. However, it’s Crowley’s stock in trade. Whether these guys truly believe that Fox’s brand of “journalism” amounts to “asking tough questions” or not, it’s becoming increasingly evident that others are not buying it.
I doubt Scott helped the cause any by declaring, “Interesting. The White House didn’t even release a White House press photographer picture of the Tiger Woods event. …Hmmm.”
Stephen Colbert did a hilarious take down of the president's “secretive golf outing.” It’s the second video below.
Fux Nuze – Mr. President, as you know 4 hijacked airliners have destroyed the WTC, terribly damaged the Pentagon and taken the lives of thousands of American citizens. What can you tell us about this?
Dumbya – Evil Turrists did it!
Fux Nuze – Thank you Mr. President.
Oh, wait. I forgot. Dubya simply didn’t answer any tough questions from mainstream media reporters and journalists. He only answered the questions from reporters and journalists he knew would ask him questions that fed into the whole right-wing propaganda. And if, by some small chance, a real tough question was asked of Dubya, he’d make word salad of it until one of his pets (like porn star/escort-turned reporter, Jeff Gannon—who really didn’t do much to change professions) could rescue him by asking some completely harmless, inane question, at which point Dubya would turn on his little “aw-shucks” routine and get the press conference back on track to what he wanted to talk about. And if he couldn’t do that, well, then, “that’s all the time we have for questions, thank you” and out the door (and I honestly have to wonder how many of the door gaffes were planned to make the reporters forget what he hadn’t talked about).
I wouldn’t give Ed Henry a drop of sweat off an athletic supporter worn during the golf outing with Tiger Woods.