First They Came for Fox

The White House stopped providing guests to ‘Fox News Sunday’  (Last August) after Wallace fact-checked controversial assertions made by Tammy Duckworth,assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, in August. Dunn said fact-checking an administration official was “something I’ve never seen a Sunday show do.”

“She criticized ‘FOX News Sunday’ last week for fact-checking –fact-checking — an administration official,” Wallace said Sunday.”They didn’t say that our fact-checking was wrong. They just said that we had dared to fact-check.

London Telegraph:

On Sunday, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said this on CNN:

The way the president looks at it, we look at it is:  It’s not a news organisation so much as it has a perspective. And that’s a different take. And more importantly, is not have the CNNs and the others in the world basically be led in following Fox, as if what they’re trying to do is a legitimate news organisation.

And top adviser David Axelrod said this on ABC:

It’s really not news.  It’s pushing a point of view. And the bigger thing is that other news organisations, like yours, ought not to treat them that way, and we’re not going to treat them that way.

In some respects, I suppose that all’s fair in love, war and politics. I don’t really blame them for trying this on – though Axelrod, as a former journalist, must in his heart of hearts feel pretty grubby when reciting this particular talking point. What’s really wrong is letting them get away with it.

Basically, the White House doesn’t want stories like ACORN and Van Jones – legitimate, even necessary, stories which Fox bravely pursued with immense vigour – taking hold. The media will be more compliant, it hopes, if it introduces a chill factor – “Why are you asking this impertinent question about a story which is being run on Fox, which we all know isn’t a news organisation?

As Tom DeFrank, a veteran Washington journalist now DC bureau chief of the New York Daily News, comments:

I can never remember a White House urging news organizations to boycott other news organizations. That strikes me as unprecedented.

Journalists have a duty to reject this brazen attempt to dictate to the media just who is legitimate and who is not and how we should treat whoever the US government tells us is illegitimate. Where does this lead to?

Depressingly, there are some journalists who should know better eagerly dancing to the White House’s tune on this one. Here’s Newsweek’s Jacob Weisberg:

Whether the White House engages with Fox is a tactical political question. Whether we journalists continue to do so is an ethical one. By appearing on Fox, reporters validate its propaganda values and help to undermine the role of legitimate news organizations.Respectable journalists—I’m talking to you, Mara Liasson (NPR)—should stop appearing on its programs. A boycott would make Ailes too happy, so let’s try just ignoring Fox, shall we? And no, I don’t want to come on The O’Reilly Factor to discuss it.

Thankfully, there are other methods of deligitimising them.

Michael Wolf (Vanity Fair) on his blog put it this way:

Hence, Republicanism = conservatism = Fox = rabid opposition to an incredibly popular piece of legislation (Health Care Reform) = hopeless marginalization = new liberal consensus.

I think they’re really going for it and that we may all turn out to be liberals.

Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it.  (Saul Alinsky)

By the way, this is the same Jacob Weisberg who’s article in Newsweek was subtitled:

“Fox News isn’t just bad. It’s un-American.”

Being critical of this president is “un-American” you know 🙂

Remind you of anyone?

“Let the facts be heard,” they wrote. “These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.” — Nancy “The Public Option is the only Option” Pelosi on the administration’s view being unfairly the victim of protests in August mostly.

So protesting them on any level, by anyone, is “Un-American”.

That’s your post-partisan America that Obama promised. He just didn’t say that the reason there’d be no partisanship is because it would not be allowed because it’s Un-American.

Obama: “resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long”; that “the times are too serious, the stakes are too high” for the same old political-attack tricks; and that he alone would elevate public discourse and serve as a unifying figure for America.”

If I were to say : This whole gambit will come across to a lot of people as misguided and petty, the product of a White House that is unusually thin-skinned and somewhat paranoid – and, perhaps, as one that can’t be trusted with power.

Would I be talking about Bush/Cheney (according to the Mainstream Media and the Democrats for the last 6-8 years) or Obama for the last 9 months?

Hmmm? 🙂

Maybe it’s a “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” after all… 🙂

Those journalists sitting this one out need to ask themselves what they will do when the White House comes after them or their news organisation.

Because if Fox is allowed to be placed out of respectable bounds in this way then when the going gets tougher – as it will – the White House will simply move on to another target.

And it’s not like this administration has any tolerance for anyone who opposes them for any reason.

Poem Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

So they came for FOX and I said nothing.

Then they came for Talk Radio and I said nothing.

Then they came for the Internet (net neutrality anyone?) and I said nothing.

Then when they came for me, there was no one left.

So where will you be when they come for you?

Or me, for writing this ? 🙂

<<knock knock>>

“who’s there?”

We’re from the government and we are here to help you…

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