Saturday, October 24, 2009

As if on cue . . .

Why Fox News isn't news   Oct. 23: Rachel Re: Rachel Maddow points out what has been largely overlooked in the discussion of the White House feud with Fox News, that explains why Fox is not news.

DougJ: Stopped clock
Mickey Kaus, of all people, has one of the best takes on Obama v. Fox that I’ve seen:
I think Fox is also not neutral (which, again, doesn’t bother me) but it’s also not independent (which does). This isn’t because it’s owned by Rupert Murdoch—moguls are, typically among the more independent sorts. It’s because it’s run by Roger Ailes. I have zero faith that Ailes is independent of the Republican party or, specifically, those Republicans who have occupied the White House recently—the Bushes. As I said, I think if Karl Rove called Ailes in 2003 and said “We don’t want so much coverage of X” it’s extremely likely that X would not be covered on Fox. A … suggestive example of Fox’s loyalty is the debate on immigration, in which Ailes’ network initially seemed to try valiantly—against the beliefs of most of its audience—to push the Bush White House line in favor of “comprehensive” legalization (while brushing aside its viewers’ views).
It’s certainly possible, in theory, to have a faux news organization that pretends to be an ordinary, ideologically biased journalistic outlet but that, at the top, is actually taking orders from Moscow, or from Kennebunkport. That news organization might have lots of viewers and money and White House press passes and some great on-air correspondents—it’s not as if you could rip off their masks to uncover the alien underneath, like in V. ABC’s Jake Tapper would refer to it as “one of our sister organizations.” But that’s not what, ultimately, it would be about. It would be different in nature, just like Organizing For America would be different in nature if it decided to buy some cameras and cable time and start reporting the news.
As if one cue, there are report that Republicans want Roger Ailes to run for president:
“Ailes knows how to frame an issue better than anybody, and that’s what we need now,” said one friend of the he Fox founder, chairman and CEO.
Frank Luntz, the well-known Republican pollster, said Ailes would be a force if he made the run.
“I have known Roger Ailes for 29 years,” says Luntz. “No one knows how to win better than Roger.”
There’s really not much else to say. Fox News is run by a Lee Atwater protege who Republicans see as a possible 2012 Republican candidate for president.
Media Matters: So desperate they'll believe anything -- the fake Obama thesis debunked 
October 23, 2009 2:43 pm ET by Simon Maloy
It really gets to be pretty pathetic sometimes, watching the conservatives grasp at every straw they can in order to attack and discredit a president they don't like.
If you listened to Rush Limbaugh today or visited Fox Nation, then you might have heard about President Obama's supposed college thesis in which the college-aged commander in chief allegedly wrote: "The so-called Founders did not allow for economic freedom. While political freedom is supposedly a cornerstone of the document, the distribution of wealth is not even mentioned. While many believed that the new Constitution gave them liberty, it instead fitted them with the shackles of hypocrisy."
Now, you might be thinking: "Wait a minute, I thought conservatives didn't like Obama's elusive thesis because it was on nuclear disarmament." Well, this is a different thesis, it would seem, and blogger Michael Ledeen wrote about it two days ago:
I missed this first time around.  Brian Lancaster at Jumping in Pools reported on Obama's college thesis, written when he was at Columbia. The paper was called "Aristocracy Reborn," and in the first ten pages (which were all that reporter Joe Klein -- who wrote about it for Time -- was permitted to see).
So Ledeen sources this bombshell to another, more obscure conservative blogger, who wrote -- back on August 25, mind you -- that Time's Joe Klein had seen Obama's damning thesis and was going to report on it for "an upcoming special edition about the President." No indication was given as to how this obscure blogger came to know that one of America's premiere journalists had obtained this information. There was no indication as to how this blogger was able to quote material only Klein had had access to. Oh, and let's not forget that this very same blogger was busted by for fabricating stories about President Obama.
But hey, why speculate on whether it's true or not? Let's go to the source. Mr. Klein? "A report is circulating among the wingnuts that I had a peek at Barack Obama's senior thesis. It is completely false. I've never seen Obama's thesis. I have no idea where this report comes from -- but I can assure you that it's complete nonsense."
This story is fake and falls apart under the slightest scrutiny. Corrections and apologies are due from Ledeen, Limbaugh, and Fox Nation, but if you believe you'll get an apology from pathological liars of that sort, then you're more gullible than they are.
UPDATE: Very well-hidden at the bottom of the Jumping in Pools blog post that started all this stupidity is a "satire" tag:
LATER UPDATE: It gets even better -- according to the PolitiFact article that called out the Jumping in Pools blogger, Matthew Avitabile, for making up outlandish Obama stories:
Avitabile, a Republican who had previously poked fun at Obama with a tongue-in-cheek article that said scientists had determined that he was "genetically superior," is thankful for all the traffic it generated for his blog Jumping in Pools. In the past he was lucky to get 1,000 hits on a story, but this one got more than 50,000. Yet he's disappointed that so many people published his work without verifying it.
"Out of the 50,000 who looked at it, only three had the good sense to contact me and see if it was true," he told us (PolitiFact was one of the three).
Avitabile described himself as a moderate Republican - "I'm pro-gay rights, pro-wind energy" - but said he was surprised that so many in his party had such negative feelings about Obama.
"People wanted to believe this about the president so bad, that he would really go toward a dictatorship so much that they would go with it without checking it," he said.
Bellantoni (TPM): WH: We're Happy To Exclude Fox, But Didn't Yesterday With Feinberg Interview 
Adding to the Fox News v. White House feud today is a dust-up over an interview with pay czar Ken Feinberg. Turns out, it was a sort of miscommunication, but the White House adds that if they had left Fox out it would be a case of "Not that there's anything wrong with that!"
The version Fox has pushed all day is that the network was excluded from an interview roundtable with Feinberg yesterday, and that bureau chiefs from ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN came to Fox's defense.
TPMDC dug into it, and here's what happened.
Feinberg did a pen and pad with reporters to brief them on cutting executive compensation. TV correspondents, as they do with everything, asked to get the comments on camera. Treasury officials agreed and made a list of the networks who asked (Fox was not among them).
But logistically, all of the cameras could not get set up in time or with ease for the Feinberg interview, so they opted for a round robin where the networks use one pool camera. Treasury called the White House pool crew and gave them the list of the networks who'd asked for the interview.
The network pool crew noticed Fox wasn't on the list, was told that they hadn't asked and the crew said they needed to be included. Treasury called the White House and asked top Obama adviser Anita Dunn. Dunn said yes and Fox's Major Garrett was among the correspondents to interview Feinberg last night.
Simple as that, we're told, and the networks don't want to be seen as heroes for Fox.
TPMDC spoke with a network bureau chief this afternoon familiar with the situation who was surprised that Fox was portraying the news as networks coming to its rescue.
"If any member had been excluded it would have been same thing, it has nothing to do with Fox or the White House or the substance of the issues," the bureau chief said. "It's all for one and one for all."
A Treasury spokesperson added: "There was no plot to exclude Fox News, and they had the same interview that their competitors did. Much ado about absolutely nothing."
But the White House isn't backing down from its feud with Fox.
"This White House has demonstrated our willingness to exclude Fox News from newsmaking interviews, but yesterday we did not," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
An administration source wondered if the networks were annoyed Fox disclosed logistical negotiations since they are treated as off the record, but the bureau chief did not view this in the same light as discussions about, for example, the president going to Iraq.
As for the ongoing battle, Earnest said: "The president and other high ranking officials and people like Ken Feinberg have done interviews with Fox in the past and will do them in the future."

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