Neal Gabler might have hit a new low when it comes to the coarseness of his criticism. On this evening's Fox News Watch, he branded as 'sub-moronic' a statement President Bush made during his recent Iraq trip. And, furious that the media has been insufficiently critical in its coverage of Iraq for his taste, Gabler repeatedly labelled the MSM 'brain dead.'
Gabler began his assault by pouring cold water on the president's recent uptick in the polls: "the boost is very small. . . If you want to look at his numbers, his numbers are very, very low."
Even so, Gabler was galled that the press hasn't given sufficient attention to the bad news from Iraq. "The most positive media development for the president has been the fact that on the very day that he visited Baghdad, 24 Iraqis were killed in Kirkuk of all places and 50 were killed around Iraq, but it got no coverage. It was page 15 of the New York Times."
Back in December, Brent Bozell warned that group marriage – polygamy – was becoming the rage on television, including this:
What’s next? Non-fictional "group marriage TV" will arrive on the Bravo channel in the spring, with a documentary called Three of Hearts: A Postmodern Family, featuring a New York triple with two gay men, a woman, and two children. Now, reading that last sentence – what was your reaction? Perhaps a bit surprised, maybe somewhat disgusted. But you weren’t shocked, were you? I rest my case.
Well, it’s a little late to qualify as "spring" now, but this film will air on Bravo this month, and it’s now being publicized by Fox News, in their syndicated program "Geraldo at Large." MRC’s Geoff Dickens reported that on Thursday night, Fox anchor Laurie Dhue filed a story for Geraldo on the film with a predictable opening:
In May of 2004, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi participated in the beheading of Nicholas Berg, a businessman working in Iraq. His father, Michael, emerged in the aftermath of that crime as an outspoken liberal activist and is now running for Congress in Delaware on the Green Party ticket. So who better to bring on for a discussion about Zarqawi’s death? Michael Berg appeared on all three cable channels this morning to spew hatred towards the United States Government and George W. Bush. Interestingly, only one network, MSNBC, found the time to mention that Mr. Berg is now a political candidate. Rather then cover the successful elimination of a significant terrorist threat, CNN, FNC, and MSNBC all gave time to someone who would make statements such as this one on CNN’s American Morning at 7:50AM EDT:
Michael Berg: "Well, you know, I'm not saying Saddam Hussein was a good man, but he's no worse than George Bush. Saddam Hussein didn't commit the rapes, neither did George Bush, but both men are responsible under their reigns of, of terror....I don't get it. Why is it better to have George Bush be the king of Iraq rather than Saddam Hussein?"
Democratic political consultant and longtime Fox News contributor Susan Estrich responds to charges by Bob Cesca on the Huffington Post that Fox News encourages the "white power" movement.
Cesca had said:
Last week, Fox News Channel's John Gibson urged white people to make more babies in order to counter the growing Latino population in America. Watch Stephen Colbert present Gibson's ridiculousness here.
Next up... Tony Snow, former Fox pundit and current White House press secretary, blurted out "squeezing the tar baby" in his first official press conference.
On Tuesday's "Special Report with Brit Hume," the "all-star" panel of Mort Kondracke, Mara Liason, and Fred Barnes discussed how the new White House press secretary, Tony Snow, did on his first day. There was also a clip of Helen Thomas badgering the new press secretary on a phantom issue.
BRIT HUME: All right. When we come back with our panel, how did Tony Snow do in his first outing in front of the full press corps under the lights? More with the all-stars after a break.
(Clip of Tony Snow with Helen Thomas)
HELEN THOMAS: Are all of these stories untrue that we've been reading for the last several days, that millions of Americans have been wiretapped?
TONY SNOW: Well, there is -- OK. Well, let's -- yes.
NPR ombudsman Jeffrey A. Dvorkin defends two NPR correspondents who go on Fox News regularly, Mara Liasson and Juan Williams. Many NPR fans, especially those inflamed by Media Matters, complain to NPR that for their reporters to go on FNC is merely to provide a fig leaf for Fox News's claim to be "fair and balanced."
Dvorkin says it's okay for NPR people to go on Fox because of "NPR's commitment to free speech and free inquiry," although reporters "have to stay reportorial -- not become editorial writers or opiners."
Nothing riles some public-radio listeners like NPR journalists appearing on FOX News television programs. Two prominent NPR correspondents, Mara Liasson and Juan Williams are regular panelists on FOX. What bothers those NPR listeners who complain to me is that the cable television network openly espouses conservative opinions as expressed by outspoken hosts. The FOX slogan, "fair and balanced" is deemed by many of the complainants as ironic, to say the least.
That's because NPR makes every effort to remain nonpartisan, and FOX, it appears, does not. Frustrated public-radio listeners tell me that the NPR presence only serves as cover for FOX's claim that it is "fair and balanced." And that frustration is further pumped up by some political blogs, seeking to trash both FOX for being conservative, and NPR for looking like FOX's willing agents whenever its news representatives participate on FOX's programs.
The runaway success of Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Channel, founded on
the premise that other news outlets are biased, is the source
of much anger to lefty journalists. Most elite journalists I've encountered hate the network and the fact that it's broken through the liberal glass ceiling of news.
A great example of this was a Monday column
in the LA Times by Scott Collins which instead of leading with a 38
percent ratings drop at CNN (something that's causing turmoil and
repeated personnel shifts), focused on a 17 percent drop at FNC.
Inside the article, Collins allows CNN president Jonathan "Pajamas"
Klein to comment on why the rival network has fallen [by half the
amount his has]. Perennial ratings dropout Keith Olbermann is also
In a stunning example of politics making strange bedfellows, conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corporation owns Fox News and the New York Post, is rumored to be about to host a fundraising event for Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY). As reported by the Financial Times: “The decision underlines an incongruous thawing of relations between Mr Murdoch and Mrs Clinton, who in 1998 coined the phrase ‘vast rightwing conspiracy’ to denounce critics of her husband, such as Fox News, the conservative cable channel owned by Mr Murdoch’s News Corporation.”
The article made it clear that this is about Hillary's senatorial ambitions and not those for the White House:
Fox News Channel was bound to succeed and did so even faster than its founding president Roger Ailes imagined.
just one of several interesting statements made in a recent interview
by Roger Ailes, president and founder of FNC with WorldScreen.com:
WS: When the channel first launched, did you expect it would overtake the competition as quickly as it did?
I try not to get into any race or any fight that I don’t think can be
won. I don’t expect it to be easy, however, and that’s the difference.
I don’t do suicide missions, but I don’t mind difficult assignments.
This was a difficult assignment, because we were taking on G.E. and
Microsoft [MSNBC] and Time Warner [CNN] with about 30 percent of the
resources and staff. So it was a pretty tough hill to climb. I thought
we would tie them in five to six years.
The lure of class warfare has now seduced even the Fox News Channel. The network, often derided by liberal critics as overly conservative, featured a segment on the May 2 edition of Fox & Friends about the "outrageous" perks that CEOs receive. Co-host E.D. Hill cynically teased the piece by asking, "You know, if you go to work, you get your paycheck, but don't you wish you got a plane too?" She then continued:
Hill: "Or maybe a car or a boat or a country club membership or those sort of things? Well, you will be blown away to find out what perks some executives get."
FNC anchor Brian Kilmeade continued the theme of class envy by noting that some people are "upset about Exxon because they're making way too much money."
Washington Post reporter Jim VandeHei told current press secretary Scott McClellan that "requests – this is a serious question – to turn these TVs on to a station other than Fox" have been denied. He wanted to know if there was "a White House policy that all government TVs have to be tuned to Fox?”
In the first interview segment of "The O'Reilly Factor" on Wednesday night, Bill O'Reilly told former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer that it would be nice to be able to tell reporters like Helen Thomas (politely) that everyone knows they have an agenda, but they can't. (Actually, Fleischer grew confident enough to suggest that to Helen, saying after the 2002 elections, that "Helen, you sound like a [campaign] commercial that didn't work.")
Ari responded by saying that questions that the public thinks are stupid is one reason the media's in decline in public esteem: “The press secretary's job is to mix it up a little bit with the press in a respectful way but also in the modern media world, where the country gets to watch the questions, that's one of the reasons I think, Bill, the press is in decline substantially because they bring a bit of it on themselves. I know one reporter who once said there’s no such thing as a stupid question. I think the reality is, the public watches some of these questions, not all, but some of them, and they think, that was really a stupid question.”
Yesterday incoming White House press secretary Tony Snow sat down with Fox News' Brit Hume. Snow elaborated on how he wanted to approach the job of press secretary and explained earlier critical remarks he made about President Bush. About those criticisms, he said "there are probably a lot of people in the press room who from time to time say, well, I wish I had written or said that."
BRIT HUME: So how will Tony Snow approach his new job? Will he represent the president to the press corps or will he represent the press corps to the president? Well, who better to ask than Tony Snow himself? Tony, welcome.
TONY SNOW: Good to be here, thanks, Brit.
HUME: First of all, tell me about the assurance you have about your access to all that goes on in the White House and your access to the president.
SNOW: Well, the press secretaries in this White House have all had what they call walk-in access. So when you need to you walk in and talk to the president and I've talked with them and basically I've had access to every meeting and every bit of information I need to get my hands on.
HUME: And how do you -- you said in that brief encounter with the press today that you want to work with those people.
HUME: Now, you've seen how poisonous that atmosphere can be in that briefing room. What does that mean exactly?
Fox News (hat tip to Drudge) has gotten what everybody has been waiting for (nudge, nudge!) – an exclusive copy of the lyrics to Neil Young’s new protest song about George W. Bush. According to the article, “there’s no doubt that the centerpiece of the album, a song called 'Let’s Impeach The President,' performed as a melodic, rocking, campfire ode will be what causes the most controversy.”
In fact, author Roger Friedman had some high praise for the piece that many would be surprised to read at the Fox News website: “Young has been clever enough to write the catchiest protest song since Country Joe and the Fish’s anti-Vietnam ditty, “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die.”
On Friday, the rather liberal AlterNet published responses to a series of 20 questions asked of John Moody, a senior vice president at Fox News, concerning issues of media bias and the “fair and balanced” approach of his network. His answers were quite interesting. When asked if the media are biased, and, if so, are they too liberal or conservative, Moody answered:
“‘Because of the qualities it takes to succeed in the media, we have bright and responsible people in this business -- and bright people have opinions about everything. These opinions stay with them when they put on a reporter's hat,’ he continued. ‘The challenge is not to let those opinions cross the line into their reporting. So there are biases -- not at the corporate level -- but biases that can creep in to become part of the mindset of a news organization.’"
Moody then addressed the belief in some circles that Fox News employees must have a certain political ideology to get hired:
"I will tell you what I'm doing when I have a clue [myself]," Snow told his radio audience. "That does not happen to describe my state of mind right now. I don't have a clue so I'm not going to give you any news scoops."
Snow didn't deny a report that he had talked with the White House about the job and noted that if he decided to accept, they would make the announcement first.
Researchers from (where else) the University of California Berkeley claim to have conclusive proof that the Fox News Channel gives more votes to Republicans. The study is entitled "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting."
Between October 1996 and November 2000, the conservative Fox News Channel was introduced in the cable programming of 20 percent of US
towns. Fox News availability in 2000 appears to be largely idiosyncratic. Using a data set of voting data for 9,256 towns, we investigate if Republicans gained vote share in towns where Fox News entered the cable market by the year 2000. We find a significant effect of the introduction of Fox News on the vote share in Presidential elections between 1996 and 2000. Republicans gain 0.4 to
The New York Times says Fox News commentator Tony Snow is in negotiations to become the next press secretary. Snow is said to be valued for his connections in the Washington media. Anonymous sources told the Times that he had surgery for colon cancer last year and is waiting on a doctor's approval before taking such a high-pressure job.
Republicans said that Tony Snow, a commentator for Fox News and a former speechwriter for Mr. Bush's father, was in negotiations for the job of White House press secretary. Mr. Snow would replace Scott McClellan, who announced Wednesday that he was resigning....
Mr. Snow is the host of his own radio program and comes from the news operation that flashes from every television in the West Wing.
In Wednesday's Washington Post, media reporter Howard Kurtz profiled Fox News Channel's Brit Hume with the headline "Moving to the Right: Brit Hume's Path Took Him From Liberal Outsider to The Low-Key Voice of Conservatism on Fox News."
The April 18 Fox and Friends First provided a welcome alternative to the mainstream media’s fawning over the dissident generals attacking Donald Rumsfeld. FNC co-hosts Steve Doocy and Page Hopkins interviewed retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Maginnis about his support for Rumsfeld. Doocy teased the segment this way:
Doocy: "Lieutenant Colonel Robert Maginnis. We’re going to talk to him live from down in D.C. about Mr. Rumsfeld. There is that drumbeat, okay, would you call it a drumbeat if there are seven generals, all retired, out of 8,000 active duty and retired generals, is that really a drumbeat?"
Former Clinton CENTCOM commander, Anthony Zinni — the most prominent of the retired generals attacking Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld — now says that, in the run-up to the war in Iraq, "What bothered me ... [was that] I was hearing a depiction of the intelligence that didn't fit what I knew. There was no solid proof, that I ever saw, that Saddam had WMD."
But in early 2000, Zinni told Congress "Iraq remains the most significant near-term threat to U.S. interests in the Arabian Gulf region," adding, "Iraq probably is continuing clandestine nuclear research, [and] retains stocks of chemical and biological munitions ... Even if Baghdad reversed its course and surrendered all WMD capabilities, it retains scientific, technical, and industrial infrastructure to replace agents and munitions within weeks or months."
It was a fleeting victory, but one nonetheless. By taking a conservative tone with his constant broadside against illegal immigration, Lou Dobbs managed to beat Brit Hume in the 25-54 demographic last week.
A tipster asks: "Did you notice that Lou Dobbs beat Special Report with Brit Hume last week in the Demo?" Well, no I didn't, but thank you for pointing it out! Using TVNewser's daily scoreboard, here's a 6 p.m. ratings track from the week of April 3:
Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney appeared on CBS, CNN, and FNC on Wednesday morning to address charges she hit a Capitol Police officer in the chest with her cell phone when he tried to stop her as she tried to walk right past security screeners. Well, actually, she refused in all three interviews to address the basic facts of the fracas. In all three interviews, she forced in her talking points, that the kerfuffle was "much ado about a hairdo" and that 250 black officers sued the Capitol Police for racial discrimination. CNN's Soledad O'Brien was especially dogged in trying to get out the basic facts, not that it worked.
On CBS's "Early Show," MRC analyst Mike Rule found that co-host Harry Smith was the fastest to cave in to the refusal to answer the basics:
Smith: "Congresswoman, let me, please help me construct what happened. You're entering a Capitol building, you're bypassing a metal detector, which is routine for members of Congress, what happened then?"
Do you support rigorous measures to strengthen border security and tighten immigration controls? If so, you're probably a 'nativist' - read racist - or a rube, or very possibly both.
Don't believe me? Just ask Neal Gabler. Here's what he had to say on this evening's Fox News Watch:
"The conservative nativists, and maybe that's a redundancy, thought they had a winner here. What a great issue they have," he said sarcastically. "You can beat up on aliens and get all of those white folks for the 2006 election."
Conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton weighed in with two points of note:
"Bloggers like Mickey Kaus and Michelle Malkin have made the point that the MSM, especially the LA Times, hid the most inflammatory element of those pictures from their readers and viewers by not showing the profusion of Mexican flags and highlighting the relatively few American flags."
When Hillary Clinton charged that the House Republican immigration bill would "criminalize...Jesus himself," there was national-media notice – if not criticism. Even Hillary’s "hometown" newspaper The New York Times reported on March 23 that Senator Clinton intensified her criticism of Republican immigration proposals, albeit on page B-5. But no one in the story criticized Hillary for her harsh attack. Instead, reporter Nina Bernstein noted only critics to Hillary’s left: "Mrs. Clinton had been criticized by some immigrant activists for saying little about the issue until March 8, and then speaking at an Irish-only rally, rather than at a forum more representative of immigrants. But yesterday all seemed forgiven." Bernstein’s story, headlined, "Mrs. Clinton Says GOP Immigration Plan Is At Odds With The Bible," began:
Is Neal Gabler jealous of Helen Thomas' status as a leading Bush media antagonist? You might think so, judging by the barbs Gabler aimed Thomas' way on this evening's Fox News Watch.
In discussing Thomas' pointed exchange with President Bush during this past week's press conference, Gabler, whose sole regular media job would seem to be his weekly appearance on Fox News Watch, did claim that Thomas' question as to the president's motivation in invading Iraq was a good one. But Gabler prefaced that comment by gratuitously observing: "Helen has asked dumb questions in her time."
Gabler later referred to Thomas as "a dotty old woman."
Reporters for rival networks of Fox News had unkind things to say about Dick Cheney's preference for Fox when staying at hotels.
MSNBC's "The Abrams Report":
"And he wants brewed decaf coffee and all the televisions must be tuned to the home team, Fox News. Horrors to think he might encounter other networks while flipping the channel himself on his way over... It's got me thinking I should make some demands of my own. From now on whenever I travel, I want a bottle of wine waiting, not just any wine, but fine wine. I want the TV tuned to MSNBC."
CNN reporter Carol Costello said on "American Morning":
"And, yes, all the TVs set to C -- no, to Fox News."
To which anchor Soledad O'Brien quipped, "Not really a shocker on that front."
Jack Cafferty on CNN's "The Situation Room" used his trademark "F-word network" putdown.