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Liberal news host Kirsten Powers: Obama vs. Fox News - behind the White House strategy to delegitimize a news organization

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By Kirsten Powers

There is no war on terror for the Obama White House, but there is one on Fox News.

In a recent interview with The New Republic, President Obama was back to his grousing about the one television news outlet in America that won’t fall in line and treat him as emperor. Discussing breaking Washington's partisan gridlock, the president told TNR,"If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News...for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it."

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 president seems more comfortable talking to "real journalists" such as Chris Hughes, who asked the question in the TNR interview that elicited Obama's reflexive Fox hatred. Hughes is the new owner of TNR and is a former major Obama campaign donor and organizer who was featured on the cover of Fast Company, with the headline, "The Kid Who Made Obama President." You can't make this stuff up.

This latest volley from the president is just one in a long line of comments from his White House as part of their campaign to silence any dissent they detect in the press corps. 

Recently, the White House has kept Fox News off of conference calls dealing with the Benghazi attack, despite Fox News being the only outlet that was regularly reporting on it and despite Fox having top notch foreign policy reporters. 

They have left Chris Wallace’s "Fox News Sunday" out of a round of interviews that included CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS for not being part of a “legitimate” news network. In October 2009, as part of an Obama administration onslaught against Fox News,White House senior adviser David Axelrod said on ABC’s “This Week” that the Fox News Channel is "not really a news station" and that much of the programming is "not really news." 

Whether you are liberal or conservative, libertarian, moderate or politically agnostic, everyone should be concerned when leaders of our government believe they can intentionally try to delegitimize a news organization they don’t like. 

In fact, if you are a liberal – as I am – you should be the most offended, as liberalism is founded on the idea of cherishing dissent and an inviolable right to freedom of expression. 

That more liberals aren't calling out the White House for this outrageous behavior tells you something about the state of liberalism in America today. 

Sure, everyone understands how some of Fox's opinion programming would get under President Obama's skin, the same way MSNBC from 4pm until closing time is not the favorite stop for Republicans.  But it's not okay -- or presidential -- to continue smearing an entire network of hard working journalists because you are mad at Sean Hannity.  

During the initial launch of the war on Fox News in October 2009, then-White House Communications Director Anita Dunn told the New York Times of Fox News, “[W]e don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.” On CNN, she declared that Fox was a “wing of the Republican Party.” Then: “let's not pretend they're a news network the way CNN is." 

Gosh, this sounds so familiar. In fact, it’s exactly the line that Media Matters used in a 2010 memo to donors: “Fox News is not a news organization. It is the de facto leader of the GOP, and it is long past time that it is treated as such by the media, elected officials and the public.” 

In fact, this is 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.

On the heels of Dunn’s attack on Fox, Brock wrote a letter to progressive organizations bragging about the U.S. government trashing a news organization: “In recent days, a new level of scrutiny has been directed toward Fox News, in no small part due to statements from the White House, and from Media Matters, challenging its standing as a news organization.  Point of order: who put Media Matters in charge of determining what is and isn't a news operation?

A Media Matters memo recently found its way into the public domain. 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. They actually cite one of the best journalists around, Jake Tapper, as a problem because he questioned the White House about calling a news outlet “illegitimate.” Tapper can see the obvious: if the White House can call one news outlet illegitimate for asking tough questions, then guess who is next? Anyone.

We defend freedom of the press because of the principle, not because we like everything the press does. For example, I defend MSNBC’s right to run liberal programming to their hearts' content. 

Monitoring the media is actually a good thing; the media should be held accountable, including Fox News. When MM began I was supportive of their endeavor and even used some of their research. They seemed a counterbalance to conservative media monitoring organizations. 

But now the mask is off. They make no bones about their intentions, and it's not a fair media. It is clear now that the idea of freedom of the press actually offends Media Matters. In their memo, they complain about “an expansive view of legal precedent protecting the freedom of the press, and the progressive movement's own commitment to the First Amendment” as an impediment to be overcome or changed. They say they are “consider[ing] pushing prominent progressives to stop appearing on Fox News.” For those who defy the order, they threaten to start daily publishing the names of Democrats who appear in order to shame them. If that doesn’t work, presumably they will just shave our heads and march us down Constitution Avenue.

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.

Last week Rolling Stone editor Michael Hastings – who is a liberal and said recently that "most journalists I know are liberal" – discussed his time covering Obama on the campaign trail. Among the things he witnessed was a reporter trying to interview Obama using a sock puppet.

He told MSNBC's Martin Bashir, “That’s the presence of Obama, even on the press corps, even on the people who follow him every day. When they are near him, they lose their mind sometimes. They start behaving in ways, you know, that are juvenile and amateurish and they swoon." 

Hastings admitted that the presence of Obama made him go gooey too. "Did I ask about drones, did I ask about civil liberties? No, I did not.”

I guess this is what the White House and their friends at Media Matters call the “legitimate” media.

by on Jan. 31, 2013 at 8:05 PM
Replies (101-101):
by Silver Member on Feb. 3, 2013 at 6:01 PM

Actually, that BS argument about Hitler being "left wing" is just that, BS.  He was a right wing nationalist.  It was not socialism, it was Fascism.  I am so sick of that lame argument.  You understand nothing about history, socialism or fascism if you use that argument.  It is a senseless word salad used by people who like to repeat things they have read that sound "smart," and to demonize socialism.  It's not smart and it's not based on facts or actual definitions of words.  

If Fox was merely right leaning in commentary it would be less obnoxious.  The part I really get sick of is their fake news and lies, and obvious commentary during what they claim is straight reporting.

What does this have to do with the First Amendment again?  Did I say their speech should be banned?  Or did I just excercise my own rights and speak my opinion?  Calm down.

My choice is to avoid Fox news' propaganda machine at all costs.  They are laughable as a "news" source because they don't give any information.

There is more than one right leaning news source, lol.  Are you saying that the National Review, the Blaze, Rush, all that crap isn't right leaning?  Again, calm down.

Fox employs mostly right wingers, and a couple of moderates they call "liberal."  Who is the Fox news "independent" who is so popular?  I don't watch but I thought their most popular guy was that right winger O'Reilley.

I hate MSNBC too, never watched it ever.  So the standard tactic of trying to make me defend their left wing bias doesn't work.  I won't defend it, I don't think that is "news" but telling people what they like to hear.  Just like Fox.  I don't care about Joe Scarborough either, he is another commentator and I am just not usually interested in people mashing up facts with leaps of logic and serving it up as "news."

Quoting SallyMJ:

Actually, since Hitler's government was a totalitarian form of socialism, he was an ultra far-left liberal.  I seriously doubt there are many more left than him.  Thank God!

Back to the topic, why would it be wrong to have a news organization that leans right, in a sea of news organizations that lean left?  The whole reason Fox News was founded was to present another voice, another view, to counter the left bias of the mainstream media. Fox News is only 13 years old - if you can believe it! - and it has been #1 for 11 years, with O'Reilly being #1 for all 13 years.

I would think that you - of all people - would value our First Amendment Freedom of Speech for all Americans. That is how liberals were able to gain influence in the Democrat Party.

No one is forcing you to watch Fox News. It is an option for anyone. As a liberal, don't you want to preserve options and choice?

Do you feel threatened that there is ONE news organization coming from a different political perspective than yours? I think you should feel great, that the left's media outlets far outnumber those of the right.

And what do you think about the fact that Fox News employs people of all different political persuasions, even as they primarily lean right? My understanding is about 30% of their hosts and commentators are liberal, libertarian, or independent. Their highest rated host is not conservative or liberal, but independent. Their most respected and award-winning interviewer is equally tough on anyone from any ideology - and I and most people - even on Fox - have no idea his political persuasion.

What about the left-leaning news organizations? What conservatives do they have? *Crickets*

MSNBC used to have Tucker Carlson years ago. They currently have "Morning Joe" (aka Joe Scarborough), who claims to be a Republican, but who bashes Republicans at every opportunity. He even fraudulently altered video of a Romney/Ryan rally to state a false narrative of the event - and refused to apologize or show the correct video. I don't know anyone who considers him a conservative, because he does not hold to conservative principles, as he once did 100 years ago when he was a conservative Republican Congressional representative - before he decided to go into show business. 

Quoting stacymomof2:

You think anyone left of Hitler is a "liberal."  lol

Quoting blondekosmic15:


Quoting stacymomof2:

Fox ruined it for themselves.

And this woman is no "liberal."  lol  Just declaring herself on on Fox Bill O'Reilley doesn't mean she is.

She is pro-choice, supports gay marriage, frequently defends Barack Obama...hmm Would you claim Bob Beckel is not a liberal?

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