We have a lot of respect for Kirsten Powers here. But sometimes she seems a little, uh, over-eager to score Fox Brownie points. Her recent piece on FoxNews.com is a good example. In it, she follows her Fox News colleagues in misinterpreting and overblowing President Obama's pushback against Fox News and – claims that the “War on Fox” is some kind of Media Matters cabal. Meanwhile, she is either blind or very forgiving of the kind of anti-Obama cabal going on at the very “news” network she is defending.
Alas, the president loves to whine about the media meanies at Fox News. To him, these are not people trying to do their jobs. No, they are out to get him. What other motive could a journalist have in holding a president accountable? Why oh why do Ed Henry and Chris Wallace insist on asking hard questions? Make them stop!
The problem, as an intelligent and astute person like Powers should know, is not that anyone asks “hard questions.” The problem is that those Foxies just “trying to do their jobs” are doing the bidding of an organization that is, at best, a quasi-news outfit. Does Powers really think that when Ed Henry worked talking points about Benghazi, a Fox News obsession that even he acknowledged was over-covered by the network, into a report about Obama's preparations for Hurricane Sandy at the tail end of the presidential campaign, he was really asking “hard questions” and not pushing an agenda? Or that counting the number of times Obama used the “tedious” phrase “balanced approach” in a debt-ceiling address had journalistic value? Or how about gratuitously throwing in a Mitt Romney campaign line into a question at a joint press conference with the president of South Korea?
But all that pales in comparison to the vicious, unfounded personal attacks on President Obama that have become Fox News' specialty during his administration. We'd love to hear how Powers defends Fox's infatuation with Donald Trump's birther accusations and explain why, even after he has been utterly and completely discredited, Fox continues to regularly welcome him as a credible pundit? Or why it took the “fair and balanced” network so long to get rid of Glenn Beck? And, by the way, Hannity has validated Beck's accusation that Obama is a racist with a hatred for white culture (and O'Reilly has suggested the same) and they're still comfortably ensconced in their time slots. Or explain why Heather Childers still has a job as an "objective" news host even after she asked her Twitter followers for "thoughts" on whether or not the Obama campaign threatened to kill Chelsea Clinton in order to keep Bill and Hillary Clinton from spilling the beans about then-candidate Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Surely, that's not the kind of "hard question" Powers had in mind.
Meanwhile, if you're concerned about whining, look at your network’s reactions. Obama targeting the First Amendment? Come on! You can't really believe that. Moreover, do you really believe a lawyer like Fox News contributor Peter Johnson, Jr. believes it?
A Media Matters memo found its way into the public domain and if you care at all about decency and freedom of the press, it will make you throw up. If you like McCarthyism, it’s right up your alley. It details to liberal donors how they have plans to assemble opposition research on Fox News employees.
It complains of the “pervasive unwillingness among members of the media to officially kick Fox News to the curb of the press club” and outlines how they are going to change that through targeting elite media figures and turning them against Fox. They say they want to set up a legal fund to sue (harass) conservatives for any “slanderous” comments they make about progressives on air.
As if Fox doesn't deliberately target anyone in the media. Maybe Powers should have a chat with the staff at the New York Journal News. Or blogger/reporter Amanda Terkel. And for other foes, she could talk to the family of Dr. George Tiller, or Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee. Or Sandra Fluke.
Or Hillary Clinton who, when her head injury got in the way of the Benghazi “controversy,” was baselessly accused of faking it. And how about those bogus charges that Obama's Attorney General, Eric Holder, was giving racial preference to the New Black Panther Party because he declined to prosecute a bogus “voter intimidation” case? That was the phony story you debunked so beautifully that what had been a daily “controversy” suddenly disappeared.
Then there's former White House staffer Anita Dunn. Powers writes:
When Anita Dunn was informing America – as a senior government official – which news organizations were “legitimate,” she conveniently deemed CNN, which rarely challenges the White House, as a “real” network. Presumably she believes MSNBC is “legitimate” also, despite their undisguised disgust of the GOP and hagiography of the president, not to mention more opinion programming than any cable outlet.
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume she thinks CBS is “legitimate” after they just ran what amounted to a 2016 ad for Hillary Clinton on "60 Minutes." CBS is the same place that has a political director who also writes for one of the most liberal outlets in the country, Slate. Who also just wrote in that publication that the president should “pulverize” the GOP. Imagine a political director at CBS hired away from the Weekly Standard who then wrote an article about "pulverizing" Democrats. I know, I lost you at the part where CBS hired a political director from a conservative outlet.
This is something of a distortion about Dunn's position. Her point was that the White House would treat Fox as a political operative, unlike CNN. Powers can complain that CNN is too liberal but "rarely challenging" Obama is not even close to a left-wing equivalent to the kind of Obama attack machine that Fox has become. Even worse, Glenn Beck produced a deceptively edited video of Dunn to smear her as a Maoist. Where was Fox News' correction? We never saw it.
But if you think Fox News deserves such a pat on the back for asking tough questions, how come we didn't see any tough questions for Sarah Palin or Susana Martinez or Dick Cheney or George W. Bush, to name a few who, coincidentally, all happen to be Republicans? Or how about “objective” Megyn Kelly's slobbering love fest over ACORN gotcha gal Hannah Giles - after her work had been largely discredited?
Powers says that Dunn's comments mirror "the signature line of Media Matters in discussing Fox News, which they say they exist to destroy."
Their CEO, David Brock told Politico in 2011 that their strategy was a “war on Fox” that is executed by 90 staff members and a $10 million yearly budget, gratis liberal donors.
Can someone explain to me how it’s “liberal” to try and shut down a media organization? What the Obama administration is doing, and what liberals are funding at MMFA is beyond chilling – it’s a deep freeze.
Color us crazy but this looks a lot like Fox is just “holding people accountable” when they get tough on opponents but when anyone else does it, it’s a “war on ____," and they need to stop “harassing their victims.” Well, what would Powers call these stories on Fox that seemed designed to pressure the IRS into rescinding Media Matters' tax-exempt status?
Monitoring the media is actually a good thing; the media should be held accountable, including Fox News.
And yet, your reply to Obama's exhortation that, basically, Republicans should not let Fox News set their agenda, is to paint a wild conspiracy theory that he's working with Media Matters to shut down dissent and destroy Fox News - all the while turning a blind eye to the ways that Fox operates to destroy him and other foes.
Frankly, Ms. Powers, we think you are better than this.
In fact, she is and has been for several years, the News Hounds Best in Show.
We have written many posts applauding her. I also respect and admire her independence and the gumption to stand up for her beliefs. However, I think she is just plain wrong in her facts, her reasoning and her conclusion in this case. And I see nothing wrong in saying so.
Just as she can be both an Obama supporter and an Obama critic, I think we can do the same with respect to her.
However, she’s proven her ability to step outside the toxic fog and see the issues uninfluenced by the fumes and disorienting blur from the inside. That’s hardly anything but a stellar quality in a journalist, period, despite political leanings. I have disagreed with her often, and have been guilty of posting those heated disagreements on Twitter. I tend to lean in the other direction, however, I have gained a much greater respect for her journalistic integrity in a time where that is virtually non-existent. Agreeing or disagreeing with her point of view, she’s proven to be objective when discussing the critical issues. You People should learn by her example and rise to her level. She is above your lacking of journalistic integrity. This piece criticizes someone who isn’t just a dim witted talking head for the left. She actually thinks and objectively informs in a way that engages the people you consider enemies to your “side” to listen to what she has to say. It sounds like some jealous journalists are unable to command the same response and continue to fail in any attempt to do so. Rachel Maddow should be shivering in Kirsten Powers’ shadow.
That’s how Nixon-trainee Roger Ailes rolls.
Unless he has something of value to contribute about the article. It took us a long time to write and edit, if we got something wrong, we’d both like to hear it.