Big shock here - MSNBC's Rachel Maddow agrees with the White House, which is the Fox News Channel is not really a news organization.
Sarcasm aside, on her Oct. 23 MSNBC program, Maddow attempted to justify the Obama administration's tack over recent months with Fox News. She laid out a series of events over the past few days that indicated an escalation of the feud between Fox News and the White House, specifically an effort to exclude Fox News from the White House pool.
"Well yesterday the White House said that Fox would not be among the networks invited to interview Ken Feinberg in one of these round-robin pool interviews and the other networks came to Fox's defense," Maddow reported. "They said they would bow out of interviewing Mr. Feinberg's themselves unless Fox was included, so Fox was included."
Fox may have won a small victory according to Maddow, but that wasn't proof in her view that Fox News is technically a news organization.
"Fox has since been trumpeting this as a victory over the White House and as evidence the media sees Fox as a news station even if the White House doesn't," Maddow said. "Fox is right, in that the media generally does treat Fox as a news station, even as the White House says they're not. Is Fox a news station? The answer to that is unrelated to the question of whether and which Fox hosts and correspondents express their opinion about the news. It's is possible to express that opinion about the news and still cover the news responsibly."
And that's where Maddow laid out exactly what a news organization is. According to Maddow, since Fox News promoted its coverage of April 15 "Tea Party" protests, it could no longer define itself as a news organization in the sense MSNBC does.
"Expressing an opinion about the news does not negate one's status as a news reporter or as a correspondent or as a news anchor," Maddow said. "The expression of opinion about the news is not the difference between Fox and the rest of the news media. The difference between Fox and news is that Fox is now actively organizing and promoting a protest movement against the U.S. government."
Oh really? If Maddow's rule applies in an absolute sense, that would mean MSNBC is not a news as well. Flashback to Oct. 7: Both Maddow and her MSNBC colleague, "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann, engaged in their own brand of AstroTurf. They encouraged free health care clinics to be held in the states of six Democratic senators that are not in lockstep with the left-wing agenda on health care reform as a ploy to turn up the heat on those senators to support a so-called public health care option (emphasis added).
"[Keith Olbermann's] specifically talking about a technique that would increase political pressure on six senate Democrats who are key to allowing a vote on health reform," Maddow said on her Oct. 7 broadcast. "The proposal, as Keith said, is to hold massive free health clinics weekly in the capital cities of the states represented by these key six Democratic senators. Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada."
But that being said, Maddow went on to point out statements from Fox News personalities and commercials run on the network that promoted the coverage of the April 15, 2009 TEA party protests and the Sept. 12, 2009 March on Washington, D.C. promotions. And according to Maddow, Fox News crossed the line of opinion journalism into public advocacy.
"The difference between Fox and news is not that Fox's hired personalities and executives and producers share and express and opinion about the news, that they share an ideology," Maddow said. "Opinion has always been a kissing cousin to news and one man's ideology is another man's objective passion. The difference between Fox and news, the way in which one of these things is not like the other, is that only one of these organizations is organizing anti-government street protests."
Therefore, she concluded Fox News actions, which she deemed legal, made the Obama administration justified in trying to gin up this spat with Fox.
"There is nothing wrong with that," Maddow said. "It's perfectly legal as far as I know. It just makes Fox an opposition political outlet to the Democratic Party and the Obama White House rather than a normal news channel."
However, that also begs the question - if promoting a public protest "negates" a media outlet's status as a news organization, wouldn't that mean attempting to denigrate it for political purposes do the same as well?
If you go back to the April 13 broadcast of Maddow's program, both Maddow and Air America radio contributor Ana Marie Cox attempted denigrate the April 15 Tea Party protest with "teabagging" humor. The two had this classic, but juvenile exchange, in an effort to see who could use the word "teabag" or a derivative of it the most:
MADDOW: Is there some Ron Paul revolution in the teabagging, do you think?
COX: Well, there is a lot of love in teabagging. You have to say that. And that was my favorite thing about the Ron Paul revolution. It had love in it, literally in the logo. You know, it is funny. They really did come up with the concept of the tea party. In 2007, actually, is when they started referring to some of their events as tea parties. It is curious, though, as you point out, they do not use the verb "teabag." It might be because they're less enthusiastic about teabagging than some of the more corporate conservatives who seem to have taken to it quite easily.
MADDOW: They, also, seemed like they had a habit of being good on the online machine. They said there's a lot of very savvy Web organizing so maybe occurred to them to Google the phrase.
COX: Perhaps. And also, you know, I was looking around on some of the Ron Paul Web sites today, some of the blogs from his supporters that are still out there, and a few of them have promoted these events, these current teabagging events. And it's fun if you read the comments - people mock them. These ardent Ron Paul supporters find this particular iteration of what had been, I think, a pretty good idea that one single money bomb event that they had on the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party to raise money for Dr. Paul is being somewhat perverted, I might say, by the current teabaggers.
MADDOW: Dr. Paul himself is going to be appearing at one of the teabagging events. He told the Star Telegram - he said, "These things are popping up spontaneously around the country."
I noticed even during the presidential campaign, I know, that he sort of disavowed the movement around himself even when it was so obviously about him. So, he never quite said, "I don't know who these people are," but he always sort of seemed like that. Is it possible we're seeing the same dynamic?
COX: I think so. I'm not sure if Dr. Paul is as good on the Internets as perhaps his followers are. And he also may not know how to use Urban Dictionary. But, also, I want to point out some of the Ron Paul people that are going to these rallies and Dr. Paul himself, I think, do genuinely believe in whatever wacky ideas being supported here. I mean, it is hard for him to say what the idea is, as you point out, a sort of amorphous outrage. But the Ron Paul people are very anti- tax of any kind, so there you go.
MADDOW: That's a connection.
COX: That's their justification be for being there. That's all I can say.
MADDOW: Do you think that the Obama administration like Robert Gibbs in the press office will talk about and promote the teabagging folks the way they have picked on some other conservative causes and figures like Rush Limbaugh?
COX: Well, I have been waiting for Gibbs to talk about teabagging from the podium for a long time. And I'm sure there are other White House supporters who would also greatly look forward to him, explicating the White House's position on teabagging. However, I don't think that's going to happen partially because I think they also know how to use UrbanDictionary.com.
And based on that exchange, Rachel Maddow is the ideal person to define what is and what isn't a news organization, sarcasm not aside.