Newsweek’s Fineman: Tune to Fox for Iran War; Bloggers Are Lazy [w/audio]

Want to see how the mainstream media views Fox News? Look no further than Newsweek's Howard Fineman and the way he thinks the Bush administration uses the network.

Fineman, who is Newsweek magazine's senior Washington correspondent and a regular on MSNBC, told an audience at the Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. on May 1 that if you want to know what the Bush administration has in store for Iran, keep your eye on Fox News.

"Now about Iran," Fineman said. "I think there's no doubt they're [the Bush administration] looking to see what can be done there and I would recommend Fox News to you. I can' believe I'm saying this, but if you want to know what's being thrown out there, what balloons are being floated - that's the place to look, okay. That's why you've got to scan all the media."

Another topic Fineman addressed was how blogging has become a part of the modern media, which he doesn't think is necessarily a good thing. He referred to spending time as a journalist in Kentucky early in his career where he learned "from the ground up," which he feels is an element missing from bloggers.

"Not enough people today in journalism today want to do that [learn from the ground up]," Fineman said. "All the kids immediately want to go blog - be in New York or L.A. or Washington and blog about something."

According to Fineman, the media is different today than what it was over the last 50 years which was a sort of "consensus national media."

"We're all our own editors now," Fineman said. "I'm old enough to remember the days of Walter Cronkite and [Chet] Huntley and [David] Brinkley and so forth, where as maybe 50 million - the numbers vary, 50 or 60 million people tuned in every night in a country that was much smaller - and there was some shared reality. And Walter Cronkite would end his broadcast saying, ‘That's the way it is.' You know, and everybody would sort of say, ‘Yeah, I guess so.'"

However, things have changed, but according to Fineman, it was only the post-World War II era that media choices were limited.

"Well, those days are over to me," Fineman said. "That was a consensus national media that was pretty much created in World War II. It didn't exist before the war. There were raging isolationist papers and pro-internationalists papers, pro-Roosevelt papers and anti-Roosevelt papers. The media was not thought of as some omniscient thing as the top of the pyramid."

The transformation of media in the 20th century began in the 1970s, which gave rise to "conservative voices," including Fox News, where as he said is the place to look to see what the Bush administration is floating out about Iran.

"That happened because of the war and the consensus pretty much lasted until Vietnam and Watergate," Fineman said. "Then it began to fall apart and then the rise of conservative voices and conservative media, now epitomized by Fox. And I think all of that is to the good. I think the more it falls apart, the better."

Fineman also noted some weaknesses in the American media, noting a tilt from U.S. media sources to international media sources.

"And just like the dollar is weak, American media is weak," Fineman added. "We're closing overseas bureaus - although Newsweek is not. Interestingly, we realized one of the few precious things we have that makes a publication like Newsweek unique is its global perspective."