What Obama’s Doing With Fox News

I think some people are under the impression that the White House wants Fox News to disappear. Nothing, I suspect, could be further from the truth. The White House is in fact delighted that Fox News and its merry cast of commentators exists. Nor is the White House vexed that its every pronouncement concerning Fox News solidifies Fox’s core audience; that’s actually the plan. The point is not to moderate Fox News by accusing it of being biased/not a real news organization/running or being the propoganda arm of the GOP; if anything, the point is to make it more extreme in the views it airs.

Fox News isn’t the number one cable news channel because it has a broad spectrum of viewers or because the quality of its news reportage is better than those of other cable news networks or organizations. It’s the number one cable news network because it’s explicitly conservative in viewpoint where other news networks and organizations are not. Fox News garners the viewers for whom ideology trumps news; every other news organization splits the rest of the viewers.

This is good news for Fox News, since four decades of conservative railing against “the liberal media” has given it a core of like-minded viewers, who being conservative are also loyal: they’re going to be with Fox News come hell or high water (as long as Fox News doesn’t change its ideological bent, that is). But it’s also good for the White House, because at the end of the day, Fox News’ nightly audience in the third quarter of this year was 2.25 million viewers in primetime (source). For perspective this means that it has roughly the same audience as your average Dollhouse episode, which was just yanked by Fox (the broadcast network, not the cable news network), so that its ratings wouldn’t stink up November Sweeps. Even with Fox News’ ratings going through the roof because of its little war with Obama, the actual number of viewers is minuscule. Or to put it otherwise, 2.5 million Americans watch Fox News, which means that 297.5 million Americans don’t.

Which makes it a low-risk ideological foil for the White House. Follow: The White House says Fox News is not a real news organization and is the propaganda arm of the GOP, Fox News throws a very public shit fit about it, which gives it higher ratings and an impetus to skew even more to the right in its presentation, and go out of its way to criticize Obama even further. Meanwhile the noise is all covered by multiple other news outlets, which in aggregate reach a much larger audience, which show Fox News anchors and personalities in the middle of ideological conniptions, confirming to the general population the proposition that, indeed, Fox News is more interested in politics than news, and reinforcing the impression that Fox News and the GOP are reading off the same page. Which makes the GOP look unreasonable in an era in which its popularity isn’t, shall we say, spectacular to begin with. To what end? Well, you might have heard there’s a health care debate going on.

Mind you, using politics to marginalize the press is not exactly a new thing; note, if you will, the aforementioned four decades of railing against the “liberal media.” What ought to make conservatives pissed off at Obama is not that he’s taking a page out of their playbook, but that he’s improved upon it. Conservatives moaned about liberal bias in the press to carve out an alternative ideological media under the guise of “balance,” but never managed to marginalize the “liberal media” in any significant way; it was just too damn big. Obama, on the other hand, is picking a fight with a small conservative entity and is essentially forcing it to do what he wants — make conservatism (and by extension the GOP) look like an extreme political position — by adding to what it needs to survive: an audience. But it’s a small-scale audience comprised of people already opposed to the president and his policies (ie., no great political loss). The conservative war on the media was Clausewitz; the Obama war on the media is Sun Tzu.

Does such a thing carry backlash potential? Sure, although possibly not as much as conservatives like to suggest. The White House has already run this play before — it used Rush Limbaugh as a foil earlier in the year, to good effect. Limbaugh loved it, because it was good for him and his ratings; it wasn’t so great for the GOP. People fretted that the White House elevating the stature of Limbaugh would backfire, but it doesn’t appear to have done any real damage to the White House. In a very real sense going after conservative media outlets and personalities is a smart strategy for Obama. Unlike the GOP, which is in such organizational disarray that no one really knows it’ll do next, conservative media outlets and personalities are reliable: They always move toward ratings. And that’s easy enough for the White House to manipulate to its own ends.

There is some irony that Obama and his White House are waging a media war on the GOP using the tools that everyone has assumed were for the GOP’s benefit. But there’s a saying that generals are always fighting the last war, not the current one. Well, the GOP is still fighting the last media war; Obama and his White House are fighting the current one. He’s winning it. And so is Fox News. And neither of them would have it any other way.

261 thoughts on “What Obama’s Doing With Fox News

  1. I wish I had faith that the White House was engagaing in some sort of clever play on this. What I think is really happening is that the WH staff finally got tired of the slime and lies on the editorl end of FOX – questions about birth certificates Kenya, lies about health care and “death panels” idiot comments about “terrorist fist bumps” and so on, and decided to smack them down by keeping the network out, including the news side.

    Personally, I think FOX’s “news” reporting, outside of local coverage, is about as balanced as the Washington Times (not the Post, the Times) which isn’t saying much. It’s not just how they write, it’s what they choose to present as most newsworthy. The news on FOX presents have a strong pro-GOP, anti-Democratic Party slant. It’s not just the editorials.

    On the other hand, the editorials are full of actual lies, near-slander, and bigotry, whereas the news is just slanted to portray on party positively and the other negatively.

  2. Ah, so the Obama Administration is engaged in vewy clever twickerwy.

    And their succeeding!

    Unfortunately, I’m a bit skeptical that they’re so smart.

    I mean, if they were demonstrating smartness with their relations say, with, Russia, or Iran, or even the Dalai Lama, I might grant you your analysis.

    But I’m skeptical at the moment.

  3. Frank:

    “I mean, if they were demonstrating smartness with their relations say, with, Russia, or Iran, or even the Dalai Lama, I might grant you your analysis.”

    Well, in each case, I’d say those entities are not as easy to manipulate as Fox News. What Fox News wants really isn’t complicated; what Russia or Iran wants is somewhat more so.

  4. I’m not sure it’s so much about a “clever play” as just that there’s really no reason for the White House not to state the truth. Even Scalzi’s comments referring to Fox News as a “conservative media outlet” are using the Fox frame of discussion: Fox isn’t conservative, it’s Republican, and the difference matters.

  5. Off-topic, but has there always been a floating John Scalzi head in your blue comments boxes? Because I never noticed, and it’s staring at me.

  6. In some ways, I hope you’re right. It would be a more intelligent, politically adept play than what it looks like on the surface.

    On the other hand, I hope you’re wrong. Essentially they are intentionally disenfranchising a portion of the populace.

    Of course, the portion they are chosing to remove from the process is the same portion who intentionally disrupted all those meetings last summer. The same group who is now complaining about the W.H. not letting people have reasonable dialogue.

    Funny how those are the same people, isn’t it?

  7. Lowell @ #4 – Watch how FOX is covering the NY 23′rd district elections. There’s a Democrat, a GOP candidate, and a Conservative Party candidate. FOX is throwing it’s support behind the conservative, because the GOP candidate is pro same sex marriage and pro choice. They don’t want another Olympia Snowe.

    FOX is pro conservative. They’ll crap on liberal GOP members, and shill for conservative Democrats given the chance

    Joel @ #6 – Disenfranchising? Seriously? No they’re not. The WH is refusing to meet with FOX News and calling them a non-news organization. That’s not preventing anyone from voting. Even “essentially”, whatever that means.

  8. Essentially they are intentionally disenfranchising a portion of the populace.
    No, those people are disenfranchising themselves. Their choice. *shrug*

  9. Essentially they are intentionally disenfranchising a portion of the populace.

    Those people have chosen to disenfranchise themselves with their staunch denial of reality. I have family members who fall into that category, and it’s disturbing to listen to the rail against the TOTUS (Teleprompter of the…) and his communist, socialist, Nazi, Muslim, Kenyan ways. Those same family remembers continue to hold aloft Sarah Palin as the GOP’s new leadership, while assuming we’re covering our faces out of fear and not simply stifling laughter. These same people continue to think invading Iraq was a fantastic idea, and that shortly before we arrived, Saddam Hussein shipped his WMDs into Iran (because Iran and Iraq are just such good friends).

    I have no problem with Obama cutting them loose, because they flipped the Democrats off 15 years ago and have been playing games ever since.

  10. Joel:

    “Essentially they are intentionally disenfranchising a portion of the populace.”

    As Josh Jasper notes, “disenfranchising” is a very specific term, relating to the loss of the ability to vote, and nothing of the sort is going on here.

    Also, mind you, Obama’s predecessor never sat down with the New York Times for an interview, if I recall correctly, but no one seriously suggests anyone was disenfranchised therein.

    It does that some people’s preferred news organization may not have the same access as other news organizations. I suppose my response to that is that’s why it’s nice to get one’s news from more than one outlet.

  11. Josh Jasper @1

    The news on FOX presents have a strong pro-GOP, anti-Democratic Party slant.

    Josh Jasper @ 8

    FOX is pro conservative. They’ll crap on liberal GOP members, and shill for conservative Democrats given the chance

    So is Fox a shill for the Republican Party or not?

    I like Leno’s take:

    “It’s getting ugly in the press room. Well, senior White House adviser David Axelrod told reporters that Fox News is just pushing a point of view. Well, yeah. But at least they got a point of view.”

  12. Josh @8

    Poor choice of words. Clearly they are not having their voting rights removed.

    Ah, I think I have it. How about “marginalizing” instead?

  13. “On the other hand, I hope you’re wrong. Essentially they are intentionally disenfranchising a portion of the populace.”

    Meh. The same people that they’re “disenfranchising”–I’d have used another word that implies making them look fringe and dangerous–are in turn attempting to disenfranchise anyone who doesn’t agree with a very narrow mindset. After all, look at Congress. All the issues that happen on the Democratic side stem from having a coalition that has significant members in the left, center-left, and just plain center, from every single area of the country. On the other side of the aisle, it’s nothing but pushing as rightward as possible, to the extent that (a) they have already lost one senior Congresscritter to the Democrats, (b) they have only two centrists, both of whom are from New England while most of the rest party is concentrated in the South, and (c) FNC, Rush, et al. keep dragging their members even further, although it’s getting more and more obvious that it’s making some party elders uncomfortable (see also: the schism over the NY-23 race).

    The Republicans are still nothing but the party of “no” right now, even when it boggles the mind to do so. For example, they’re throwing a temper tantrum and blocking the appointment of a Surgeon General…IN THE MIDDLE OF A PANDEMIC. I can’t imagine that this kind of thing won’t hurt them in 2012, and maybe even 2010, especially if it becomes a national panic.

  14. Mmmm, the Scalzi perspective. Refreshing and nutritious!

    But enough brown-nosing. The only gripe I have with your analysis is that I would bet that 2.5 million number is actually households, so viewers would probably be more. Not certain of that, but that’s my guess.

    Listening to NPR, I heard a panel discussing the issue, and they agreed, to a man, that this was stupid of the white-house. There was no discussion of Fox News’ reporting practices, or their agenda.

    I believe this is because most reporters and talking heads are wary to speak against Fox because they hope to some day work for them. Fox pays their talking heads extreeeeemely well, and if you’re looking for a pay raise, and have a certain plasticity in the politics/religion/skim-milk vs. whole-milk area of your brain, they’re pretty much king.

  15. I agree with your analysis, but I do wonder about the numbers a bit.

    Their average rating is 2.5 million – but that’s at any one time right? Presumably most Fox viewers don’t watch all of it all the time. For example, in the article you linked to it mentions that O’Reilly gets like 3.2 million viewers on average.

    So I wonder if there’s a way to calculate how many different people watch the various shows. I imagine that the number of folks who tune into at least one Fox program during a given day is easily ten times that 2.5 million number. That doesn’t invalidate your point in any way, it just makes me wonder what the true total daily viewers might be.

  16. Joel @ # 15- Marginalized works much better.

    I see no problem in marginalizing people who think the President was born in Kenya, or those who let that viewpoint be spread as reasonable. Contentious populist idiocy *should* be marginalized.

  17. Rick Dakan:

    “Their average rating is 2.5 million – but that’s at any one time right?”

    It’s the primetime average, actually. The overall daily average is something like 1.6 million.

    What you’re talking is unique viewers in a 24-hour period, which is at least 3.2 million (not counting bars, hotels, airports, etc). However, even factoring unique daily viewers, I would be surprised if it’s much over 5 million, which is still not very much in the grand scheme of things — albeit better than CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, etc.

  18. First they came for Fox News, but my favorite news network isn’t Fox, next they came for CNN, but that wasn’t my favorite either, then… You get the point. Slippery slope here folks. I guess it will be just fine when a Republican President goes after MSNBC and tries to “marginalize” them. Even conservatives have a right to their opinion. It is actually healthy for our democracy to have disagreements, no need to try and “marginalize” anyone. What, are you afraid that you may be wrong?

  19. In his recent tome Anathem, Neal Stephenson has one of his “theoric” characters go on a lengthy discourse about Causal Domain Shear, or “CDS”. There are times (such as this) that I worry about something similar occurring in American political discourse.

    (Essentially, the theory goes that if one can completely isolate a person/group of people/entire enclave from all other causal domains, one can in fact change the cosmographic trajectory of that person/group/enclave to such an extent that the “facts on the ground” for it differ significantly from those present in what was previously the same, shared causal domain. If y’all haven’t read Anathem, you’re missing out…)

    I (seemingly) come from the polar opposite political inclination as our gracious host and thus draw a very different conclusion from the facts presented and am left, at times, scratching my head and wondering just how folks of said inclination can even begin to come to such conclusions.

    I dunno. Just something that leapt out at me.

  20. Brian Williams, NBC news anchor, was asked about the WH-Fox News situation on an NPR show (“Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”) and he uncorked a “One of Us” defense. Judging from Williams’ response and that NPR segment mentioned above, evidently the Washington media is quite chummy.

  21. Mark Lewis:

    “I guess it will be just fine when a Republican President goes after MSNBC and tries to ‘marginalize’ them.”

    What do you mean, “when”? The Bush White House was not exactly speaking to MSNBC at the end, there.

    In a larger sense: What, the press having an adversarial relationship with those in power? Who would have thought? I think it might be interesting if the White House (this or any other) did shut out the media. The White House press pool might have to do some actual journalism for a living.

    “Even conservatives have a right to their opinion.”

    Where is anyone suggesting that they do not? As noted, neither Fox News nor their opinion makers are suffering horribly at the moment. This is a fine time for them.

  22. John,

    FOX, CNN , PBS. that is the order in which a conservative should watch them.

    CNN,FOX,PBS. That is the order that a liberal should use.

    As for the Administration. It should not get involved in this (that is what surogates are for).

    See now the problem is solved. Wish it were so simple….now back to reality.

  23. John,

    I have to disagree with your assessment of the WH tactics against Fox News.

    Once they actively tried to remove Fox News access to a WH official by dictating to the news channels that Fox News would NOT have access to pool reporting from the “Pay Czar”, they crossed a line.

    We can thank all the other news organizations that they refused to kowtow to the WH, which was then forced to allow access to Fox News.

    This appears to be the continuing strategy of trying to “Alinsky” Fox News into a marginal status. The Obama administration needs to remember that Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals are designed for people/organizations that are out of power to fight those that are IN POWER.

    Someone needs to tell the WH, that as of January, THEY are “The Man”.

    If they truly think that Fox News is NOT a legitimate news organization, why not simply pull their press credentials? It’s what Hugo Chavez would do.

    As for Fox being a shill for the GOP, can any of you list a newscaster on any of the other news channels that has a right-of-center newscaster on everyday as an anchor like Fox News does? I’d consider Shep Smith to be left-of-center, and he’s on Fox News every weekday.

    Oh, and I’m not seeing any floaty-Scalzy-head… perhaps I’m not taking the right medication this morning… any suggestions?

  24. Pworker:

    I’m not sure I agree 100% with your police work, there. My own news diet is a lot more expansive than that.

    Lubert Das:

    I think it’s a nice fantasy that a well-funded conservative media entity such as Fox News is in the same position as Saul Alinsky, but it’s pretty much that, a fantasy.

    As for why the White House won’t pull the Fox News press credentials: I don’t think you’re paying attention to what I’m saying to you. The White House doesn’t want to kill off Fox News, it wants it freaked out and extreme, because that’s how it’s useful to Obama at the moment. I suspect after health care is done and over with, the temperature on this little fire will go down rather a bit.

  25. Mark Lewis @22:
    Eight years ago the Bush administration said that criticism of their policies was akin to support for terrorism. I’m not too worried about Obama stating that Fox News has a political agenda.

  26. As someone who has done this very recently, there’s a point in a participatory card trick where an audience member is selected to part take in the trick to make it “legit” that the magician coops the participant. The participant, who wants the trick to succeed, accepts that they’re part of the trick/show and go along all the while maintaining their status as “outsider” even thought they’re working with the magician. There’s never a sit down meeting or confab to discuss such, just an implied agreement made in front of the whole audience.

    There’s something about that which is applicable to this situation.

  27. Mark Lewis @ #22 – It is actually healthy for our democracy to have disagreements, no need to try and “marginalize” anyone.

    Racism ought to be marginalized. So should vaccine denialism, which actually kills people. It’s not healthy for a democracy for either form of idiocy to be given air time any more than people claiming that the moon landing was a hoax should be given access to NASA briefings.

  28. Mark Lewis @22: Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I would not want to take that away from anyone. However, the right to hold a particular opinion in no way obligates me to take that opinion seriously. To me, when an opinion or political philosophy is being “marginalized”, it simply means that few people are taking that opinion or philosophy seriously. I’m fine with that; it’s how the marketplace of ideas works. Good ideas have high value and are thus taken seriously; bad ideas have little or no value and are thus “marginalized.”

  29. Mark Lewis: Wait … seriously? Please. Referencing the Niemoller quote for something this trite is pathetic.

    And funny thing: recent Republican Administration did, in fact, do very much the same thing to MSNBC. One of the people doing the deed was Bush press secretary Dana Perino who – ironically – was also one of the people having the vapors about Obama officials daring to express an obviouly well-founded opinion.

    (Apologies if your post was snark and I missed it. It’s hard to tell these days …)

  30. I think the Administration’s attack on Fox is not subtle strategy but part of a concerted effort to blunt disaffection with his party and agenda.

    I propose as evidence that recent polls indicate a decline in party affiliation (both Republican and Democrat) and an increase in people who call themselves Independents.

    Further, a recent Gallup poll indicates that

    Conservatives continue to outnumber moderates and liberals in the American populace in 2009, confirming a finding that Gallup first noted in June. Forty percent of Americans describe their political views as conservative, 36% as moderate, and 20% as liberal. This marks a shift from 2005 through 2008, when moderates were tied with conservatives as the most prevalent group.

    The numbers here show a decrease in people who call themselves Liberal and Moderate and an increase in the number who call themselves Conservative. Adding the numbers 76% of people call themselves either Conservative or Moderate.

    I also point to the declining support for the President’s signature domestic policy health-care reform.

    I think that the Administration (rightly or wrongly) attributes these events to criticism by Fox News. And he has taken to attempting to discredit their reporting and hitting the campaign trail.

    I offer as evidence that the President is doing great amount of fund-raising for his party: 26 fundraisers since he has been in office compared to 6 such events over the same period for Bush. He is also doing a lot of campaigning for Democratic candidates as well as for his agenda.

    My interpretation, such as it is, is based on observable events and does not rely on mind-reading about subtle strategy. I have seen no evidence of deep insight into any subject by this administration thus far.

  31. Doug @24

    This is why conversations across the political divide are so freaking hard. In order to get anywhere, everyone has to agree to start from ground zero, and re-establish all the assumptions we’re going to work with during the discussion, because otherwise EVERYONE is running on different, unknown assumptions, and it’s guaranteed to be a waste of time.

    You really do need a white board and a decent internet connection for alot of this crap.

  32. Frank:

    “My interpretation, such as it is, is based on observable events”

    As is mine, Frank, merely using a different set, which you may or may not choose to see as relevant. That you don’t see any evidence of deep insight is not entirely surprising, given your baseline political biases. That you suggest I’m trying to mind-read is nice rhetorical maneuver to suggest that your position is inherently more rigorous than mine, but, eh. No, not really, not in the least because of the following:

    “I also point to the declining support for the President’s signature domestic policy health-care reform.”

    Actually, his support on health care has been steadily increasing after bottoming out in August (i.e., when conservatives were their shoutiest). I’ll note that this trend does not surprise me in the least.

    When citing observable events, Frank, have them conform to reality.

  33. What is funny, is that FOX News is the only news station, news paper, bloggin front that does not have their lips permantely superglued to White House’s rear end.

    You don’t agree with someone, and they become the outcast. But, as more an more people become disillusioned, you will see the change back to a more even ground on the political scene.

    While the president is a democrat, the shift will become more of a Republican House or Congress to offset the changes that are occuring that the people are starting to disagree with.

    What is considered the lesser of two evils? How about neither. Normal in America is a balance of the two major political powers. Too much of one side is not good for the everyone and the shift back to normal is begining…

  34. lilbase:

    “What is funny, is that FOX News is the only news station, news paper, bloggin front that does not have their lips permantely superglued to White House’s rear end.”

    Yeah, not really. But it’s nice to see the decades of conservative indoctrination on the matter worked out well in your particular case.

  35. What is funny, is that FOX News is the only news station, news paper, bloggin front that does not have their lips permantely superglued to White House’s rear end.

    Spoken like a true FoxNews diehard fan.

  36. John,

    Wow, thanks for the insight. Its neat seeing how political strategists may be operating.

    As a conservative that does not watch Fox news (I don’t have cable and never really liked the layout of their website) I still feel an affiliation with that audience. When I hear reports of the President margenilizing that audience I feel he is doing the same to me. I submit to you that there is a larger group of people, beside the actual audience, that will feel that same affiliation. Obviously there is no way to measure it but it could increase the potential backlash.

    In any case I like your point and it will be interesting to see if your theory plays out.

  37. PB DuPre’:

    “When I hear reports of the President marginalizing that audience I feel he is doing the same to me.”

    And indeed that’s part of the risk of the strategy; there’s also the risk of annoying political independents who are more conservative than not. My suspicion is at the moment they believe the benefits outweigh the potential downside.

    My own feeling about it is that the White House’s relationship with Fox News will probably improve slightly after health care is passed and remain more or less neutral through the 2010 elections, as Obama is not up for re-election then.

  38. Frank : I also point to the declining support for the President’s signature domestic policy health-care reform.

    ORLY?

    I think that the Administration (rightly or wrongly) attributes these events to criticism by Fox News.

    Yeah, it couldn’t possibly be that during the elections, every half hour on FOX was a parade of Bill Ayres, Rev. Wright, and birther agitprop? Oh, and let’s not forget that FOX hosted people who claimed that Obama used his grandmother’s death to duck out of the birth certificate issue.

    If it were me, I’d probably have punched someone.

  39. With regard to the counter-argument that the WH isn’t “smart enough” to engage in subterfuge — I really doubt anyone gets to play in that league without the kind of thinking needed for both chess and poker. We may have had stupid Presidents, but (I think) never one lacking the cunning needed for strategic gamble.

  40. Eofan:

    “We may have had stupid Presidents, but (I think) never one lacking the cunning needed for strategic gamble.”

    And also, even when a president lacks the required guile, he is often surrounded by people who more than compensate on that score.

  41. Speaking of Stargate Universe, where online can I view the first 2-3 episodes so I can start watching what I’ve DVRed? I can’t check any of the usual suspects here at work, so forgive me if the answer is “Hulu, you big dork!”.

  42. mote @ 45 –

    Yes, me too. I’m glad it will be back on after the November sweeps, at least enough to burn off the current order of episodes.

    Is it disloyal of me to say that I’d rather watch Dollhouse than Fox News?

  43. 1) Every Presidential administration picks a fight with the press. It helps rile up their base. This is neither surprising nor unusual.
    2) I don’t think asking people, in a poll, to describe themselves as liberal or conservative is very informative. The world “liberal” has been so misconstrued and vilified over the last thirty years that it now lacks any meaning whatsoever. Most liberals don’t call themselves liberals anymore; they call themselves “progressive”.
    3) Of course Fox is an arm of the Republican Party. For goodness sake, they supported the Harriet Miers nomination. If that is not enough let me give you three words from Fox News: Terrorist Fist Jab.
    4) In my opinion Obama’s goal (more than likely this is more Rahm than Barrack) is not to hurt Fox News, heck, this battle will help Fox News, not hurt them. I think the goal is one of subliminal association. If I say, “Republicans,” and the first thing that comes to a persons mind is Glenn Beck and/or Rush Limbaugh then the Democrats have won. This is more about branding the opposition than anything else. And I say good, it is about time. Look at my second point, long ago the Republicans managed to turn the word “liberal” into an insult. The Dems never managed a counter attack; they never did to the word “conservative” what was done to the word “liberal.” Why? Because it isn’t an easy thing to do and you need a really BIG megaphone to do it. Now they have that megaphone in the form of a very popular President and they are using it. About time!

  44. @Eofhan

    Agreed. You don’t get to be the first black president in history with minor league polictical strategy. Obama played the election perfectly, and it appears that same cunning is being used with his presidency as well. I think this is probably why he takes quite a bit of criticism for not being forceful with his policies like Bush. Obama is much more stategic than Bush…which is both necessary and effective considering the current polictical climate.

  45. You can insult “lilbase” and deny that the rest of the media are Obama groupies, but it’s still true.

    How does it feel to be willing and enthusiastic supporters of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth?

  46. Eric Blair:

    “but it’s still true.”

    NUH-UH.

    There, that’s about as much brainpower as that little statement of yours deserves. Please don’t come around just to post such vapidity.

    Also: The real Eric Blair would point and laugh at you, silly kneejerk person.

  47. lilbase:

    “You don’t agree with someone, and they become the outcast. But, as more an more people become disillusioned, you will see the change back to a more even ground on the political scene.”

    This strikes me awfully funny. Changing back to a more even ground? How so and in who’s favor? “Even ground” on the political scene means little when an organization like Fox News is more interested in playing the political game rather than actual reporting. Even more, when your reporting is motivated by ratings and Nielson ratings, it’s not like the viewer will get an honest and objective view based on facts and analysis by qualified experts. A GOP talking head or a blogging shill are not experts. If they’re talking health reform, I’ll want to hear from experts in the industry from the various sides (insurance industry, the AMA, various players in the game). I’m never very trusting of an agency who’s selling point is that it’s popular. There’s a lot of options out there that are popular, but I wouldn’t consider them newsworthy.

    “What is considered the lesser of two evils? How about neither. Normal in America is a balance of the two major political powers. Too much of one side is not good for the everyone and the shift back to normal is begining…”

    And here you (likely inadvertently) draw the problem with modern politics today. The “two sides” of an issue, a black and white viewing of all our problems. Problem is that most issues are not so evenly divided into right or wrong but rather need more nuanced discussion and compromise. However, the viewer is expected to believe that ideology is the discussion and the other side of the aisle cannot possibly be right.

  48. Given this data on how people have historically self-identified themselves, I’m not sure how much credence I put in Frank’s Gallup poll. Especially when conservative and liberal don’t necessarily map to Republican and Democrat in the gallup poll I think he’s quoting. What it does show is that Republicans overwhelmingly think of themselves as conservatives (while Democrats are a mix), men are more likely to identify as conservative than women and conservatism skews older than liberalism’s youthful appeal. But when 30% of independent and 21% of Democrats labels themselves as ‘conservative’, I think it reveals something different than what Frank thought it did.

  49. @WizarDru
    “…men are more likely to identify as conservative than women …”

    This, once again, confirming my wife’s theory that women are smarter than men.

  50. @WizarDru

    It also depends on how the individual defines what makes them “conservative” or “liberal”, as you rightly point out that conservative doesn’t necessarily equate to being a Republican or liberal to a Democrat. I, myself, consider myself a financial conserative but a social liberal (and registered as independent, before anyone thinks one way or the other). Depending on how the question is asked, re: what I think about auto-company bail outs or same-sex marriage, I may answer in a conservative fashion or a liberal one.

  51. Eric Blair @54
    Dude, Orwell was a socialist. Did you remember to wash after you finished the book? You might still have LIBERAL COOTIES!

  52. Lubert @ 28:

    Once they actively tried to remove Fox News access to a WH official by dictating to the news channels that Fox News would NOT have access to pool reporting from the “Pay Czar”, they crossed a line.

    I don’t know if I’d swallow that version of events hook, line and sinker, Lubert: As much fun as it might be to imagine an “I’m Spartacus!” moment where the other networks banded together and forced the White House to include Fox News, the more boring explanation seems more plausible.

    I think the White House risks a backlash if they’re perceived as going after Fox News for being critical of the administration — if that happens, other networks will defend Fox to preserve their own right to be critical. But if Obama’s team calls out Fox News as a partisan network, then the “mainstream media” will avoid the topic like the plague: Whenever it’s pointed out that Fox News is blatantly pro-Republican, CNN, ABC and the other networks avert their eyes and change the subject.

  53. John,

    I’m a longtime conservative lerker here because I enjoy reading your POV. It figures this would be the first post I comment on.

    I do watch Fox quite regularly. I watch because it is exceedingly entertaining to try and figure out where in their “talking points” they are going to deliberately over-inflate something to drive home the conservative point. MSNBC does the same thing on the opposite side. I watch them too.

    Here’s the main point that I think your mostly spot-on analysis missed. While Bush, to my memory, did not sit down with the New York Times, nor toward the end did the engage with the increasingly shrill (and Fox like) MSNBC, they also didn’t start an all out, public attack campaign against those networks. To be fair, Bush already had Fox, so it wasn’t particularly necessary for them to attack the other news outlets.

    It’s the administration’s attacks on Fox that I’m uncomfortable with. Their reasons for their attacks are spot on though.

    Admit it, everyone here is getting a good chuckle out of Glenn Beck during this whole thing.

    As for why Fox is so successful compared to other cable news organizations… it’s less to do with their conservative bent IMO. Fear sells. Sex sells. Fox is extremely good at selling both of those. I have a feeling there is a large swath of society that has a nihilist desire to be sold fear, and then relieve with the other items for sale.

  54. Lubert Das @ 28: Once they actively tried to remove Fox News access to a WH official by dictating to the news channels that Fox News would NOT have access to pool reporting from the “Pay Czar”, they crossed a line.

    Actually that’s not at all what happened, as Fox themselves now admit. Long story short, Fox screwed up and didn’t ask for access, the pool journos spotted the screw-up, and the WH said, “Fine, add them to the list then.” Check out this Talking Points Memo story for the details. (TPM themselves are strongly anti-Fox, but you don’t have to take their word for it: they link to video of Fox’s own Major Garrett telling very much the same story.)

  55. Another way that Obama is taking a page from the conservatives’ playbook is that he’s setting the terms of debate.

    During the Presidential campaign, for example, Republicans loved to talk about William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright, because then everyone in the press spent a news-cycle or two talking about Ayers and Wright instead of things that Obama really wanted voters to focus on, e.g., the economy.

    And now, as Congress is making its final push towards health-care reform–something that’s been on the Democratic Party’s wish-list since Truman–the Obama Administration throws out this “Fox isn’t a real news network” red meat. And now all the talking heads are arguing about whether or not Fox is a real news network and whether Obama’s accusation is a good idea politically. And even if they are all saying Obama is full of it, at least they’re not repeating Republican talking points about socialism and death panels.

    Well played, Messrs. Obama, Emmanuel, and Axelrod! Well played!

  56. Given the steadily reducing levels of reader/viewer-ship of the “mainstream media” that I understand has been going on for a while, am I the only one who really doesn’t see a problem? Does it really matter if the President or anyone else doesn’t talk to one of them? They are increasingly becoming irrelevant anyway.

    I don’t watch or follow any of the mainstream media. I’m more likely to find out about a newsworthy (to me) topic from a friend or my blog reader and “Google” it than waste my time on the daily fear-mongering of the “mainstream” media outlets.

  57. Mr. K:

    There is certainly no doubt that Fox News is excellent with the marketing.

    “It’s the administration’s attacks on Fox that I’m uncomfortable with.”

    Understood, and it’s certainly a tactic that comes with freight, both ethically and in terms of how we think of media. Again, I think the Obama innovation on the tactic is not that they are talking about an overall bias structure (“the liberal media,” “the right wing conspiracy” of the Clintons), but that they’re naming names. It’s one of the innovations, if you want to call it that, that made me suspect that Obama’s intent here was different tactically than what other presidents have done.

  58. @WizarDru

    I know if the choice was put to me between identifying as a conservative or as a woman, I know what I’d have to choose!

    (tongue planted firmly in cheek)

  59. Fox doesn’t represent the GOP. It represents the neo-con and far right arms of the GOP, which has meant that Fox has increasingly caused problems for the GOP. But given that these arms are controlling most of the party, fighting for power with the remaining other factions, there’s not a great deal of difference at this point. Sure, Fox doesn’t represent Senator Snowe, maybe, but Ailes was a political lobbyist and campaign strategist for the GOP and he’s running Fox the exact same way.

    And the White House called Fox on it. Fox has been doctoring tape, misquoting and outright making things up, as well as sponsoring and manufacturing protest footage, but it doesn’t matter when they’ve occasionally been called on it because their core audience doesn’t care. But the White House naming the 600 pound gorilla in the room allowed an open season for the whole thing to be discussed by the general public. Now Fox has to continually spend time asserting their non-existent journalistic integrity while at the same time, as Scalzi said, causing them to take an even more extreme stance, driving away independent and moderate Republican viewers — important voters — from using Fox as an information source, and making it harder for Republican politicians who have to deal with Fox’s views, or try to ape them.

    Fox hasn’t been marginalized by the White House because the WH plans to still have aides come on Fox’s shows. They will still deal with Fox, but every time they do, everyone watching will be very aware of that 600 pound gorilla sitting there. And when Fox does get called out on its yellow journalism, it’s now going to have a slightly larger impact. Additionally, Obama scored points with progressives who feel he’s been too wimpy, not stood up to Fox and far right bullies enough.

    But unfortunately for the White House, the rest of the media isn’t attached to their butt. The rest of the media also chases ratings and so analyzes Obama’s every choice of mustard, wonders if he’s messing up every five seconds, complains about how everything isn’t instantly fixed, etc. There are media folk like racist Lou Dobbs on CNN, Morning Joe (why is that guy not on Fox?) and Elizabeth Haselbeck on the View droning on essentially Fox’s message on other networks. There are conservative columnists who ravage Obama regularly in the New York Times, the Washington Post and Time Magazine. Rabid conservatives like Anne Coulter get interviewed or do commentary on other news outlets than Fox or conservative talk radio.

    And that’s okay because it is the job of news and editorial to do that, to present a wide range of views and information. But Fox doesn’t do news. Fox fakes a lot of its stories, gets its usually erroneous data from Republican lobbyist organizations (and admits it,) and offers editorial commentary as no different from factual news coverage. Fox orchestrates mass yelling for the cameras of the tea party protesters in D.C. and lies about how many people were there (issuing a rare correction because of the dated photo scandal,) and virtually ignores the equally large gay rights protest. It not only covers controversies that support a neo-con agenda, but goes out and manufactures them.

    It’s unlikely that Fox, successful in its niche, is going to be taken down by anyone in the near future as long as Ailes is in charge. But the WH did do an effective move to check Fox’s wider influence. The fact that Fox has backed down from its sponsorship of the tea party movement after claims of its astro-roots involvement shows that Fox is aware that they can only push things so far. In the meantime, Fox and the WH will continue to use each other and the Republican party will continue to dither about what it wants to be while people in the country are hurting.

    And I’m so bummed about Dollhouse — not real happy with Fox broacasting either right now.

  60. Interesting post, Mr. Scalzi.

    I find it very curious that you (and many of the other commentors here) have assigned Fox News as the role of the “extreme right.” What do you have to say to the studies that have been done that shows that Fox News isn’t actually all that conservative? (On an absolute scale, if we’re grading on a curve then they are conservative as heck.)

    http://www.newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/Media-Bias-Is-Real-Finds-UCLA-6664.aspx?RelNum=6664

    Might I suggest that Fox News has the following it does not because of the hardcore fundies who will blindly follow where it leads, but simply because it appeals to the greatest number of people?

    And before you blow me off due to my “conservative indoctrination” or a brief repartee of “NUH-UH,” I am not a fan of Fox News (or any news organization really, as I find they all have their own ax to grind). I often joke that Fox News is so far right they lean left.

    On a related note, I think that you and many others have missed the larger issue here.

    The larger issue isn’t Fox News boo-hooing that the White House says they aren’t a “real” news organization, but that this attack (whether a serious attack or simply a clever ploy by the administration) is actually an attack on everyone who reports news.

    In this day and age, the line between “journalist” and “blogger” is grey, blurred, and disappearing rapidly. Not all of us are here simply because we are fans of your work or because we want to see more pictures of cats with bacon taped to them, but because your blog is a news source in an of itself.

    News: a : a report of recent events b : previously unknown information c : something having a specified influence or effect

    Certainly your blog falls under all three categories. (a : This post is a perfect example of a report of recent events b : You have recently posted previously unknown information about Stargate Universe c : Bacon cat. Need I say more?)

    If the White House can suggest that Fox News–an organization that is setup as a traditional news organization and actually has news in it’s name–is not actually a “news organization” then consider the chilling effects that it can have on someone who is merely a “blogger.”

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090704/1355045441.shtml

    Cory Doctorow has an excellent book (Makers) that touches on the line between “journalist” and “blogger” blurring.

  61. KatG – Great post, I totally agree. Especially about Dollhouse, it is just starting to get good! Ever since Fox killed Firefly I’ve attempted not to watch any new shows on Fox. Why should I? If they are any good Fox will cancel them. I broke the rule for Dollhouse because, well, Joss Whedon, need I say more?

    However, I still maintain that the Fox pushback is part of a larger, long-term strategy of redefining the word “conservative” the way the GOP redefined the word “liberal.” If the administration can link the word “conservative” to the likes of Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh then none but the most right wing will be willing to call themselves conservative.

  62. Josh @ 43

    ORLY?

    You know, public opinion is funny. So this poll shows a majority of people support a public option, but when asked (in that same poll) 42% believed that it would create too much government involment as opposed to 34% who thought it was the right amount and 21% who thought it still doesn’t provide enough.

    But what do people think when they hear public option? What do they think it means?

    Mark Blumenthal of Pollster.com asked that very question the other day:

    Recognizing that the term “public option” has something to do with health care does not mean you can explain what the term means, how it might work or who it might cover. At least we know that nearly half of Americans (44%) have no clue that the term even involves the health care debate.

    How many Americans both know what the public option is and “want” it? Unfortunately, the Pew survey includes no favor-or-oppose questions, so we have to guess, but the number probably falls far short of a majority.

    We here can’t even answer that question because we don’t know what will be presented in the final bill.

    The real interesting questions will be asked when we know specific details about the plan.

    Assuming they let us in on it.

    WizardDru @58

    I think it reveals something different than what Frank thought it did.

    What I think it means to the Administration is that given the context of the political climate, the fact that people are apparently moving from delf-identifying as Democrats to self-identifying as Independents AND the fact that people moving from self-identifying as Liberals and moderates to self identifying as Conservatives is being viewed as disapproval for the current suite of ideas on the table.

    It doesn’t matter what’s behind the numbers so much as the fact that the numbers are moving in the “wrong” direction in the current political landscape.

    Scalzi @37

    That you suggest I’m trying to mind-read is nice rhetorical maneuver to suggest that your position is inherently more rigorous than mine, but, eh. No, not really, not in the least because of the following:

    OK, fine, so the numbers are improving, however they have yet to cross the line. And that was only one data point.

    You, however, have yet to provide a single data point to support your supposition. In fact, you will not even be able to tell if your theory accurately predicts behavior without establishing a baseline of supposed “Fox extremism” against which to measure the amount of extremism they display as a result of the President’s supposed strategy.

    And I suspect, if the President is engaging in such a strategy, he won’t be able to tell if it’s working or not either.

    Further, it is possible to rationalize that the strategy is working whether or not viewership increases. It is also possible to rationalize that the strategy is working by noting the passage of a health care bill. But there will in fact be a healthcare bill passed regardless of whether or not it worked. The theory has no supporting evidence and no means to assess its success. (In this sense it is almost exactly like anthropogenic climate change).

    I think the goal of the President’s strategy was intended to decrease the viewership of Fox news and directly de-legitimatize them so as to blunt the concrete reality of election losses this year, next year and in 2012.

    The President is very aware that getting health-care to pass this year is dicey. He is also aware that next year people are going to be looking towards getting re-elected. And he is aware that the elections this year could be viewed as a referendum to vulnerable Democrats in Congress. All of this could add up to less sweeping changes in the health care legislation than the President would like. So he must do something.

    He does not want things to get harder for him in 2010.

    But, the thing with Fox isn’t working.

  63. Gabriel B:

    “an organization that is setup as a traditional news organization and actually has news in it’s name”

    Huh? Just because someone puts “news” in their name does not make them credible. And I wouldn’t necessarily claim that they are set up as a traditional news organization.

    Here’s where Fox News really chafes my ass. I’m not surprised that they are a foil for the current White House…it’s to be expected. However, during the Bush years, I’ve never seen so many fluff pieces about Bush being a great President (until the end where it seemed all of the neo-cons and Republicans distanced themselves as quickly as possible) as Fox News would put out on a regular basis.

    Also, I don’t think of Fox News as a news operation. When you say Fox News, you think of the shouting personalities on their network…Hannity, Beck, O’Reily. That’s not news. It’s just opinionated white guys spouting talking points. Also, it’s fun to hear these guys talk from show to show using the same exact phrases to describe their latest outrage of the day.

  64. @MattMarovichon

    I, myself, consider myself a financial conserative but a social liberal (and registered as independent, before anyone thinks one way or the other).

    As do I. Financial conservative + social liberal = (little L) libertarian.

  65. @75

    MSNBC’s opinion folks do the same thing as Hannity, Beck etc. They also have news reporters who report the news. Shep Smith makes frequent snarky conservative comments… but he anchors news shows and reports the news. So, yes, Fox News *is* a news network that struggles like all other news networks to fill 24 hours a day with the 3 or so hours of real news generated every day. They just fill a lot of it with opinion and most of the rest of the day is filled with anchors who I will happily watch with the TV muted.

  66. Frank

    I remember you from the healthcare discussion a while back. You’re spending alot of time demanding increasing mountains of evidence from others while feeling free to hurdle your opinions to and fro without much to back it up.

    Your signal to noise ratio is depressingly low. Mixed metaphors and malaproprisms.

  67. Frank:

    “OK, fine, so the numbers are improving, however they have yet to cross the line. And that was only one data point.”

    Translation: “Okay, fine, you provided a piece of information that completely invalidated my assertion that the numbers were declining. But I’m going to try to pretend that this is not actually significant by adding on a qualification not in my original assertion.”

    As for it being “only one data point”: Really? You’re comfortable making an argument using data which are wrong, as long as it’s just “one data point”? How much data needs to be wrong before you’re uncomfortable making the argument?

    “You, however, have yet to provide a single data point to support your supposition.”

    I link to a fair amount of verifiable data in the entry, Frank, such as television ratings and the current state of GOP popularity. I’m using that data in a manner you don’t think adds up to much, which is fine. But to say it’s not there isn’t accurate.

    Also, more to the point, lecturing me about providing data points when the ones you are asserting are wrong is kind of, you know, funny.

    I think you should probably not attempt to lecture me about data any further in this particular thread, Frank.

  68. Fox News is headed by Roger Ailes. It is a partisan organization and is in no way impartial. For goodness sake, they organized the “tea bagging” of this summer. When was the last time a legitimate news organization organized an anti government protest? That it has “News” in its title is irrelevant.

    But so what? Fox “News” came on the scene in the mid 90′s and look at the approval ratings of the GOP since then. One can argue that overall Fox has already hurt the Republicans by allowing them to push any meme it wanted to. That can be very helpful in the short term, like when there is an election coming up, but long term?

    While it is only my opinion, I think Fox hurts, in the long term, the very causes they are trying to help. By giving the crazies like Coulter and Beck a megaphone they are painting the entire GOP as a bunch of wackos.

    Which brings me back to my original point from earlier; the Fox push back is part of an ongoing effort to rebrand the GOP and conservatism as a whole. About time.

  69. IME there is a bit of a political double standard in the USA:

    If someone influential on the Right behaves badly[1], the Left calls them on it, the Right defends them, and there is a big fight where the nature of actual transgression is largely ignored in favor of partisan bickering. The right is united against outside threats, even if they have to unite around folks like Rush.

    If someone influential on the Left behaves badly, some of the Left as well as the Right calls them on it, some more of the Left defends them, and there is a big fight where the nature of actual transgression is largely ignored in favor of partisan bickering. The Left is open to many points of view, all willing to stab each other in the back for political advantage.

    For a long time, this has dragged US politics steadily rightwards, since one team was fighting itself.

    My *hope* is that it has dragged things so far that the GOP is becoming a parody of itself, Poe’s Law style. Mr. Scalzi seems to think that various methods of exploiting this is the Obama plan. I hope he is right.

    Because my *fear* is that things will continue to get dragged to the right until it becomes ideologically incompatible with the rest of the industrialized world. This will inevitably lead to disappointing shenanigans.

    [1] “Behaves badly” intentionally fuzzy. As far as the GOP is concerned, health care reform is bad behavior. As far as the Dems are concerned, wars are.

  70. Frank – You know, public opinion is funny. So this poll shows a majority of people support a public option, but when asked (in that same poll) 42% believed that it would create too much government involment as opposed to 34% who thought it was the right amount and 21% who thought it still doesn’t provide enough.

    Try polling for who’d want to end medicare right now.

    KatG -

    The neocon and far right wings of the GOP are fast becoming all that’s left.
    Read Bill Kristol celebrating it

    Bien-pensant conservative elites and establishment-friendly Republican big shots yearn for a more moderate, temperate and sophisticated Republican Party. It’s not likely to happen. And probably just as well.

    The remains of the GOP, after the fallout from the 2008 elections is purging moderates as fast as they can.

  71. “Fox News garners the viewers for whom ideology trumps news; every other news organization splits the rest of the viewers.”

    No, not really. Fox News garners the viewers for whom *conservative* ideology trumps news; every other news organization splits the rest of the viewers *including those for whom *liberal* ideology trumps news*. And if there’s anybody out there who believes that there aren’t news organizations that deliberately cater to them, I’ve got a bridge for sale.

    “I suppose my response to that is that’s why it’s nice to get one’s news from more than one outlet.”

    It’d be nice to have more than one that isn’t formally approved by the current administration.

  72. Frank: “You know, public opinion is funny. So this poll shows a majority of people support a public option, but when asked (in that same poll) 42% believed that it would create too much government involment as opposed to 34% who thought it was the right amount and 21% who thought it still doesn’t provide enough.

    But what do people think when they hear public option? What do they think it means?”

    So, if the majority approves of the real-world concept of the public option, but (possibly, and barely) not the words used to describe it, that means they don’t want it? What kind of bass-ackwards logic is that? By your logic, if I was to say that I like the taste of peanuts ground into a paste, combined with a gelatinous fruit product and spread on a flat piece of milled grain, but I did not like the phrase “peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” that would mean I didn’t like PB&Js.

    And of course, when the proper terminology is used, there is majority support.

    What I think it means to the Administration is that given the context of the political climate, the fact that people are apparently moving from delf-identifying as Democrats to self-identifying as Independents AND the fact that people moving from self-identifying as Liberals and moderates to self identifying as Conservatives is being viewed as disapproval for the current suite of ideas on the table.

    It doesn’t matter what’s behind the numbers so much as the fact that the numbers are moving in the “wrong” direction in the current political landscape.

    No, it means that one set of numbers with iffy self-applied concepts with–and this is very important–no standardized definitions of the labels is being presented with very little context.

    OK, fine, so the numbers are improving, however they have yet to cross the line. And that was only one data point.

    0 for 3! It’s not just one data point, nor has approval for reform “yet to cross the line.” In fact, polling has actually showed that the plurality (often a majority) has supported reform since the beginning! Yes, even during the “Tea Party” nonsense. And that’s from an insurance-affiliated organization, no less…

    The theory has no supporting evidence and no means to assess its success. (In this sense it is almost exactly like anthropogenic climate change).

    If by “no supporting evidence” you mean “evidence from almost every single climate study from the last 4 decades,” then yes.

  73. I don’t care why Obama’s administration decided to take the position they did on Fox “News”, I’m just glad they did. It is wonderful to see democrats growing spines and actually standing up to the bullies. And to those who cry foul, where was your outrage when Bush tried similar tactics — or worse, limited lawful, peaceful protest at his appearances? And to those who cry “censorship,” Fox is not being shut down or told what to report; they are still free to operate as they see fit.

    However, I doubt the Obama team has thought this through as carefully as Mr. Scalzi has. I suggest that President Obama consider offering Mr. Scalzi a position as an advisor — they could certainly use his talents.

  74. Frank: I mean, if they were demonstrating smartness with their relations say, with, Russia, or Iran, or even the Dalai Lama, I might grant you your analysis.

    As compared to “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran”?

    But I’m skeptical at the moment.

    You mean you have what is called a pre-judgement before the facts are in, and you have what is called a bias in interpreting the facts when they are presented to you.

    So is Fox a shill for the Republican Party or not?

    Rupert Murdoch on whether or not his media empire affected world public opinion on teh war in Iraq.

    “We’ve tried. We supported it (the war) We supported the bush policies.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K2pLo8JV5Y&feature=player_embedded

    So, yeah, from the horse’s mouth, they’re a political machine, with an agenda for a certain political outcome, not a news machine, with an agenda for reporting the facts.

    But please try to continue asserting that the data is ambiguous and that there is no way for us to know.

    . So this poll shows a majority of people support a public option, but when asked (in that same poll) 42% believed that it would create too much government involment as opposed to 34% who thought it was the right amount and 21% who thought it still doesn’t provide enough.

    so a majority supports the public option and a minority (42%) think it might create too much government, meanwhile another majority (34+21=55%) think it will be just right or not enough.

    I guess we should let the vocal minority win? Is that what you’re saying?

    We here can’t even answer that question because we don’t know what will be presented in the final bill.

    It sounds like Reid is going for a public option that states can choose to opt-out of. So if you really, really, don’t want to be part of the public option, you won’t. The insurance companies in your state won’t have to compete with a public option, and if you’re premimiums are higher than the rest of the country, you are to blame.

    And you’ll take personal responsibility for that, right? Right?

    I think the goal of the President’s strategy was intended to decrease the viewership of Fox news and directly de-legitimatize them so as to blunt the concrete reality of election losses this year, next year and in 2012. … But, the thing with Fox isn’t working.

    If you hate Obama’s very fiber, if you hate his very being, then, yeah, you’re going to say he “failed” no matter what he does.

    Further, it is possible to rationalize that the strategy is working whether or not viewership increases. It is also possible to rationalize that the strategy is working by noting the passage of a health care bill. But there will in fact be a healthcare bill passed regardless of whether or not it worked. The theory has no supporting evidence and no means to assess its success.

    Hm, now that is interesting. Here you’re saying that there is no way to determine whether it is successful or not.

    But you end your #74 post with “it isn’t working”.

    There is no means to assess its success, but you know it isn’t working.

    That would be your bias and your prejudice showing through.

    The theory has no supporting evidence and no means to assess its success. (In this sense it is almost exactly like anthropogenic climate change).

    Yay! a real live global-warming denier!

  75. The Brightest Bulb:

    “every other news organization splits the rest of the viewers *including those for whom *liberal* ideology trumps news*.”

    So you’re saying that those people are served by actual, non-ideological-driven news channels and organizations. Well, yes.

    As to there being liberal news outlets, sure. Although not in cable news, since even MSNBC has Joe Scarborough, and in a general sense, not toeing an ideologically conservative line does not mean one is actively ideologically biased in another direction.

    You seem to be one of those people under the impression that anything not actively conservative is inherently liberal. This is not actually the way it works. Although again, it’s nice to see several decades of conservative indoctrination on this score paying off.

  76. “I guess it will be just fine when a Republican President goes after MSNBC and tries to “marginalize” them.”

    “Once they actively tried to remove Fox News access to a WH official”

    Does no one remember Knight-Ridder?

  77. That’s what they get for scheduling it up against Stargate: Universe.

    Yeah, I hate them for that. I record both while watching SGU live, then watch Dollhouse later. They did the same thing with Firefly, by the way—put it up against FarScape. I never watched Firefly until I bought the DVDs, because I didn’t have a DVR back then, and my cable company didn’t allow me to watch one program while taping another.

  78. I tend to think any administration would just prefer that all media outlets simply went along with its agenda. Reduced to it’s most basic component, the “media” are simply meme vectors. All power structures desire the memes to flow out nice and easy into the robotic population. Anything else is noise and undesirable–something to be eliminated if at all possible.

  79. Hell, I remember the Bush WH leaking the name of a former NOC agent to the media in order to torpedo her husbands claims on WMDs. Obama refused entry on one journalist for one interview and later backed down. You’d think he had the FCC take them off the air the way the crybabies on the right are reacting.

    This whole beleaguered noble opposition act would work better if the people getting anything like flack weren’t’ such scum, and the flack was anything real.

    Instead, what we’re seeing is the old GOP play of creating a phantom menace, which they tried on Obama (terrorist! Muslim! Kenyan!) they tried on Iraq (WMDs!) and they tried on Clinton (He murdered Vince Foster!)

    There is no phantom menace, and the GOP can’t engage without nonsense like claims of death panels and first amendment violations. If Obama really is engaging in a tactic with FOX, it’s to get them so riled up about how they’re being attacked that they sound like frightened children.

  80. As to there being liberal news outlets, sure. Although not in cable news, since even MSNBC has Joe Scarborough, and in a general sense, not toeing an ideologically conservative line does not mean one is actively ideologically biased in another direction.

    This here makes a basic mistake: even if MSNBC didn’t have Joe Scarborough, if they instead turned those three hours over to some Democratic windbag instead, it still wou;dn’t really be a Democratic equivalent of Fox News. The issue here isn’t really the professional opinionators at Fox News versus those elsewhere, it’s the actual news content. the News at Fox News is ludicrously slanted and frequently dishonest, in a way that you don’t see at any other similarly prominent outlet, no matter the slant of their editorial output and indeed even though the opinionators of all the networks suck up a massive amount of their airtime. Fox simply lies to advance its prejudices in a way the other don’t.

    The classic counter-example is the Wall Street Journal. Their op-ed pages are easily as partisan, as crazy and as dishonest as, say, Sean Hannity; they even scale the heights of Glenn Beck from time to time. But despite this, and despite their sharing an owner with Fox News, the WSJ’s news content is relatively trustworthy, and frequently excellent. Fox News’s isn’t.

  81. “You seem to be one of those people under the impression that anything not actively conservative is inherently liberal.”

    You *seem* to be saying that Fox News is the only conservative news outlet, or that all conservative news outlets are equally ideologically driven.

    I said no such thing, and I’m willing to believe you didn’t either.

    You do genuinely seem to be claiming there are no liberal news outlets as ideologically driven as Fox News is for the conservative side. And frankly, that doesn’t even pass the laugh test. How much are you offering for my bridge?

  82. TBB: name one. Name a “news” outlet as left-wing freakazoid as Faux Noise is right-wing freakazoid. (Much as you and they would like to claim so, there’s nothing “conservative” about Faux Noise at all; they’re radical right, not conservative.)

    Name, for example, an organization that when reporting alleged news of a Democrat in a sex scandal, misidentifies him as a Republican for the first day of coverage, as Faux Noise has done (in reverse, of course) twice.

  83. You do genuinely seem to be claiming there are no liberal news outlets as ideologically driven as Fox News is for the conservative side. And frankly, that doesn’t even pass the laugh test

    Well, there is Pacifica Radio, I guess. Not exactly on the same scale, though.

  84. # Frankon 27 Oct 2009 at 9:10 am

    ……..Fox news = Russia or Iran……..are you serious…….this comment says more about the poster’s perspicacity than the White House’s

  85. Xopher (nice to see you again), I tend to think Fox leans one way, then leans the next. Some of their talking heads are obviously driven by far right insanity, but there is some good common sense too. It’s not all black and white.

  86. Josh Jasper @ 91 – While the Valerie Wilson treason was horrible, as far as abuse of the press during the Dubya years go it isn’t #1 in my book. That honor would go to either 1) Paying columnists to write glowing reviews of Dubya policies or 2) Jeff Gannon / Jim Guckert.

    Can anyone imagine the uproar from the right if the Obama administration had a gay hooker spending the night at the White House?

  87. @#91:
    That canard needs to die, and it needs to die now. It wasn’t the White House, it was the State Department, Dick Armitage, to be specific.

    Dick “Against The Iraq Invasion”, Deputy Sec. of State Armitage. (ref. this Novak piece)

    Make your arguments with real facts, please, and not just incorrect information that has so permeated the culture as to be thought of as CW.

    @#95:
    TPM, Huffington Post come readily to mind. Both are attempting to garner reputations as “news” orgs.

  88. Josh Jasper@8:
    They don’t want another Olympia Snowe.

    I’m pretty sure the Democrats don’t want another Republican with Snowe’s record of pure win — she’s served in both houses of the Maine and federal legislature, not lost an election in almost forty years, and the last time she was up for re-election the only Republican Senator who won by a larger margin (Dick Lugar) didn’t even have a Democrat opponent.

    Sometimes, I think Fox News are actually Cylon-style sleeper agents for the liberal media. :)

  89. nisleib – How could I have forgotten one of my least favorite people on earth, Maggie Gallagher, being a paid shill for the Bush administration.

    Can anyone imagine the uproar from the right if the Obama administration had a gay hooker spending the night at the White House?

    FOX has been front and center in attacking any gay member of the Obama team they can manage. Heck, FOX has been consistently bigoted against GLBT people.

  90. The Brightest Bulb:

    “You *seem* to be saying that Fox News is the only conservative news outlet, or that all conservative news outlets are equally ideologically driven.”

    Only if one reads very poorly, I’m afraid. Nowhere have I suggested or implied the first assertion. I noted rather specifically Fox’s nature as a cable news outlet and confined discussion therein; the only way to say I am suggesting it is the only conservative news outlet is to assume cable TV is the entire universe of news. Which is just silly.

    And as I did not discuss any other conservative news outlet (Limbaugh is not a newscaster), the second half of your assertion is not in evidence.

    “You do genuinely seem to be claiming there are no liberal news outlets as ideologically driven as Fox News is for the conservative side.”

    That’s apparently because you didn’t read where I said “As to there being liberal news outlets, sure.” Please read more closely in the future.

    I did say Fox has no equivalent ideologically in cable news (and in a larger sense, in US TV news generally), because that’s accurate.

    Meanwhile, I’m still not getting any sense that you believe that news outlets that not ideologically conservative are anything but ideologically liberal. If you do believe otherwise, please let me know.

    So: You fail both snark and logic, TBB. But thanks for playing.

  91. And the funny thing about Snowe is that anywhere else on earth — certainly down here in New Zealand — she’d be considered firmly on the right: genuinely fiscally conservative and hawkish on defense and foreign affairs. Only in the alternate universe Fox exists in would she be some kind of God-damed commie.

  92. # Lubert Dason 27 Oct 2009 at 10:28 am
    John,

    I have to disagree with your assessment of the WH tactics against Fox News.

    Once they actively tried to remove Fox News access to a WH official by dictating to the news channels that Fox News would NOT have access to pool reporting from the “Pay Czar”, they crossed a line.

    Lubert, they didn’t actually actively try “to remove Fox News access to a WH official” that’s just babble – this issue was covered recently and clarification was issued. The WH asked which networks were interested, and Fox wasn’t listed – they weren’t intentionally left off the list. Google it. There’s nothing sinister going on here – just calling ‘em as they see ‘em.

  93. Jasper – It wasn’t just Maggie Gallagher, there were also two other columnist being paid to rave about Bush “Policies.” Armstrong Williams and Michael McManus were also on Team Cheney’s payroll.

  94. Frank @ “”It doesn’t matter what’s behind the numbers so much as the fact that the numbers are moving in the “wrong” direction in the current political landscape.”

    Actually, the numbers don’t show that at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. If you looked at the first link I provided, you’ll see that the general overall numbers of people who identify themselves as liberal and conservative hasn’t really fluctuated that much in the last 30+ years.

    More importantly, the 2009 gallup poll data shows that people identify themselves as ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ without mapping 1:1 to a party. There are liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats and independents. In fact, the Gallup poll states the number of people identifying as liberal is UP from the 1990s.

    In other words, the poll indicating people labeling themselves as ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ doesn’t have the bearing on the White House you seem to think it will. Especially for a president who has made treading the middle his goal. The poll shows that plenty of ‘conservatives’ are solid Democrats who are in Obama’s court, so to speak. And it’s equally likely that many of the liberal Republicans are not. And for independents, that label may well be meaningless.

  95. For everyone who is wondering if this Administration is politically astute enough to have planed this. Let me remind you that they beat the entrenched democratic machine headed by the Clintons. Then, once they won the election, went on and co-opted every single moderate Republican that they could. Which just so happens leaves them unavailable to run in 2010.

  96. Josh Jasper@107:
    If anyone ends Snowe’s career, it’ll be the Republicans.

    Indeed. And when you’ve got your own leadership (RNC chairman Michael Steele) threatening “payback” to moderates like Snowe and Susan Collins who actually win elections, because they’re insufficiently ideologically pure, then some fabricated “war on Fox” is the least of the GOP’s — and so-called movement conservatism’s — problems.

    It’s about time for the American right to be put on suicide watch.

  97. Josh Jasper@112:

    I think Sullivan is more obsessed with Palin’s Tourette-like inability to tell the truth about anything. Which does kind of matter when the moon-bat is still being touted as the front-runner (and a serious candidate) for the presidency.

    I can get how that’s a month of Christmas Days for liberals/Democrats, but like Sullivan I actually think a serious and credible opposition is an important part of a functioning democracy.

  98. John said, “I did say Fox has no equivalent ideologically..”

    I think the only ideology at Fox is the one that tells them to fill a niche so it can make money. Each media outlet (cable or otherwise) is simply looking to sell ad time. If Fox has a conservative agenda, it’s the one that says Bad is News, the rest is Snooze. Aren’t all the networks guilty of that? Fox just does it better than some of the others. I’ve been trying to figure out their demographic. I watch Fox and I’m pretty darn liberal. I don’t watch because I need to agree, but to see things from a different perspective. On many issues (not all) there is no difference in facts, just in how they are presented. Fox is more theatrical, more engaging than CNN or CNBC. News is so personality driven. It’s almost cultish.

  99. Doug Stewart: TPM, Huffington Post come readily to mind. Both are attempting to garner reputations as “news” orgs.

    Tell you what: Come up with 10 examples of where each of those sites (both of which have the word BLOG clearly printed on every page) presented as news without analysis or opinion blatantly false information, lied about someone’s party affiliation, reported as fact a known lie, or tried to use legal or political favors to silence their critics. And not from random submitters, but from paid employees. Then we’ll talk.

  100. You know, I think that’s the third time that particular TPM article has been linked to in the thread. Let’s try to be aware of what others are doing/saying in the comment thread, please.

  101. “Only if one reads very poorly, I’m afraid. ”

    No more poorly that you thinking I’d said that, and I quote, “anything not actively conservative is inherently liberal.” I said no such thing, nor did I imply any such thing.

    I also note that you seem to have ignored the part where I said, explicitly, that I was quite willing to believe you didn’t mean that.

    You’re being very belligerant, and confrontational, and frankly, you’re putting words in my mouth in a very offensive way.

    In short, you’re trying to pick a fight, but you can’t find anything I’ve actually *said* to fight with.

    “I did say Fox has no equivalent ideologically in cable news (and in a larger sense, in US TV news generally), because that’s accurate.”

    How much are you offering for that bridge, John?

    “Meanwhile, I’m still not getting any sense that you believe that news outlets that not ideologically conservative are anything but ideologically liberal. If you do believe otherwise, please let me know.”

    Meanwhile, I’m still not getting any sense, from what you’ve actually said, that you do not eat live babies and rape infants for fun. Perhaps that’s because you didn’t say anything to indicate, even if I read poorly, that you did either of those things. Likewise, I never said anything to suggest, even if you read poorly, that I believe that anything not conservative is liberal. You seem to think I’m a liberal. Let me clear that up for you: I’m not. In fact, I’m about as political agnostic as you will ever find. I have no use for *either* end of the spectrum, for values of “either end” that include “anyone who find any use whatsoever for either, or any, organized political party in existance today.” They’re all equally corrupt, useless and dishonest.

    I haven’t said, though you might believe I have, that I disagree with you in any way about Faux News. I don’t. They’re ideological liars, and idiots. So is -every otheer professional news outlet in the US-, and pretty much all the rest of the world, too. I can’t name a liberal equivalent to Faux News, because I don’t watch televison news. At. All. Because whenever I do, no matter what station, no matter what network, no matter what talking head, they’re all the same. They all lie, viciously so, to boost their ratings, and their shareholder values. It has been years since I’ve seen an ad for the 11 (or 10, or 5, or any other) O’Clock News (any station, any network) that didn’t boil down to “Watch our program or you will die.” They’re all, every one of them, vile, disgusting, subhuman profiteers who have proven, again and again, that if they can’t find some sensationalist drivel to sell advertising in, they’ll simply make it up. *All* of them. Every. Single. One.

    When one of the most credible “news reporter” in the business is actually a profesionall comedian, *doing a comedy show*, that’s all that needs to be said.

    Somebody wanted an example of the left’s equivalent, how about CNN “fact checking” a Saturday Night Live *skit* – soemthing that is explicitly fictional – because it implied Obama was not, in fact, Jesus.

    The differences betwen Fox News and CNN, and *all* the rest, is one of degree, not kind. The left’s ideological equivalent of Fox News is all of them that exhibit a liberal bias, and the right’s
    equivalent to CNN fact checking an SNL skit is all of them that exhibit a conservative bias.

    And *all* of them exhibit their own bias, all the time, in every broadcast. Some more than others, and often on different subjects, but they are *all* biased, all the time.

    They have advertising to sell, after all, and it would literally be criminal for the people who run the network to let anything like the truth interfere with protecting shareholder value.
    “So: You fail both snark and logic, TBB. But thanks for playing.”

    And so far, John, you’re failing at both honesty and the ability to reply to what I’ve actually said. So I guess we’re about even.

  102. TBB at 119 – I’m fairly certain Scalzi doesn’t think you are a liberal.

    Also, Scalzi is right about Fox having no equivalent ideologically in cable news. You can stick your fingers in your ears and scream, “Humina, humina, humina,” all darn day and it won’t change that fact. Fox “News” organized the tea party protests, what other TV news channel organized anti government protests? Heck, the anti war marches of 2003 were huge and the media barely covered it at all. Further, give me an example of MSNBC saying anything on par with, “Terrorist Fist Jab,” “Indoctrination,” or, “Death Pannels.” You can’t, because they don’t.

  103. TBB:
    And *all* of them exhibit their own bias, all the time, in every broadcast. Some more than others, and often on different subjects, but they are *all* biased, all the time.

    Pardon my French, but what a bullshit copout. I used to work as a journalist, and regular readers will know I have very strong views on all kinds of topics. I’ve been a news reporter, and written opinion pieces (reviews, columns etc.) and was taught the difference between reportage and editorial.

    I don’t mean to be off-topic, but there’s no conflict between having a strong editorial line and playing your news content straight. I read a lot of British newspapers: The Daily Telegraph is editorially as far to the right, as The Guardian is to the left. But both have credible and serious news content. Fox doesn’t care about that distinction, and even though I’m on the right that’s a problem for me.

  104. Jesse:
    That’s a random number, just pulled out of the air, but I’ll oblige with at least a few that come readily to mind:

    For HuffPo:

    1) Running defamatory “quotes” attributed to Rush Limbaugh in order to skunk his participation in a bid to buy the St. Louis Rams. (ref, an incident that indicted a CNN anchor too)

    2) Planted questions for Nico Pitney at an Obama presser. (ref)

    3) Running an edited clip of Fox News’ John Gibson that made him look like he was uttering racist commentary about Attorney General Eric Holder (ref)

    4) Fake medical experts dispensing advice. (ref)

    None of this would be quite as worrisome if so many traditional outlets’ reporters weren’t turning to them for news, scoops, etc.

  105. The Brightest Bulb:

    “You’re being very belligerant, and confrontational, and frankly, you’re putting words in my mouth in a very offensive way.”

    Well, no. I’m telling you how I think you’re coming across, based on what you’re saying. And I think your standard of what is belligerent may be a little low. Saying you appear to believe that news outlets that not ideologically conservative are anything but ideologically liberal is not particularly belligerant, either in content or phrasing. Nor is it putting words in your mouth; I told you how I think you’re coming across. These are two separate things.

    It may be that you don’t like that I’m suggesting you need to read more carefully. But, you know. Read more carefully. Likewise, you may have been upset that I said you failed at both snark and logic. But again, I think you did, and I don’t see it as being a problem to note that. To be fair, both are hard.

    As for the rest of your post, well. At this point I’m not terribly convinced that on this thread you actually live up to your own title, so I didn’t bother reading it. I gave you two shots to make your point, which I think is quite enough. So while I don’t think I’ve been particularly belligerent or confrontational, at this point I am being dismissive.

  106. TBB @119 – Follow up on my earlier post. So CNN fact checks an SNL skit and that freaks you out? Really? That is what you use to say CNN is as bad as Fox? Really? You must be kidding. If that is the best comparison you can come up with you are lost, give it up.

  107. nisleib: What John believes and what he seems to believe are not necessarily even remotely related to each other. He is certainly capable of clearing up any confusion by himself (if he reads what I wrote carefully enough to grasp it). But at the moment, he seems – there’s that word again – *far* more interested in simply picking a fight at random, whether his target actually disagrees with him or not.

    I speak only from my own observations of the news. But I have not seen a single TV news story in 20 years that didn’t show some sort of bias, not a single one. They *all* play the “watch our show or you’ll die” games, because it *sells* *advertising*. And the present business model used, particularly for publicly traded corporations, pretty much requires them to do whatever they can to sell advertising, including, if need be, make stuff up. And you can stick your fingers in your ears and believe in puppies and sunshine all you want, but that’s still the reality of the news industry.

    And for counterexamples, I mentioned CNN “fact checking” an SNL skit already, and you have completely ignored that. I know you read the post – you replied to it. So there’s no much point in trying again.

    Craig Ranapia: I find your position does not pass the laugh test for me. Only a reporter could say, with a straight face, that *any* news outlet does not have bias that affects what stories they choose to cover, much less how they cover them.

    I have *never* seen a news story, ever, anywhere, that, for example, accurately covered gun control. Not. One. Ever. Abortion is much the same, and at the moment, anything to do with national politics whatsoever. Both sides have simply lost the ability to be rational, and there is no middle ground any more. Anybody who doesn’t have an extremist perspective has been driven out of the subject entirely, to the point where they simply refuse to listen to *anyone* about any political subject. I know I have.

  108. Shazbot, methinks I b0rked a couple of those links in re: HuffPo.

    In re: Armitage:
    His disclosure to Novak lead directly to Novak publishing his piece, which was the first public airing of Plame’s relationship to Wilson. Libby and Rove had no connection to Dick Armitage and his revelations to Novak.

  109. TBB @ 126 – Actually I did see your SNL comparison. It was funnier than the actual skit it mentions. That you can’t do any better than that says your argument is silly and that John is right about your name being inappropriate.

    And what other “News” channel has ORGANIZED anti government protests?

  110. John: You say, “I’m telling you how I think you’re coming across, based on what you’re saying.”

    Well. I’m tlling you how I think your’e coming across, based on what you’re saying.

    “It may be that you don’t like that I’m suggesting you need to read more carefully. But, you know. Read more carefully.”

    Well. It may be that you don’t like that I’m saying outright that you need to read more carefully. But, you know. Read more carefully.

    “Likewise, you may have been upset that I said you failed at both snark and logic.”

    I’m not trying to be snarky, and you have now twice accused me of doing so. But hey, maybe you’re not trying to put words in my mouth. Maybe you just need to. Read. More. Carefully.

    As to logic, well. You should agree that it’s impeccable. Since it’s your logic. Or would you agree that you have failed at logic, as well? Because it’s your logic that I’m using, you know. Or were you not trying to be logical, only snarky? Cuz it’s OK to not be logical when you’re being snarky. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    As for not reading the rest of my post, that’s not a surprise. You’re quite experienced at responding to stuff you haven’t bothered to read.

    But feel free to look for an easier target to pick a fight with. I’m sure one of the fanboys will oblige you.

  111. nisleib: So it’s OK for liberal biased news outlets to make stuff up, as long as they do it less than the other side?

    That’s not what I would call a good thing.

    They fact checked a comedy skit, and they called it news. Period. Once, twice, a hundred times, it’s all the same: dishonest and stupid.

    And they *all* do it.

  112. nisleib:
    You keep making the claim that Fox News “organized” anti-gov’t rallies. What are you referring to, and what evidence do you have to back it up?

  113. TBB:

    I see you’ve responded to me but once again haven’t bothered to read the response. What part of “you’re not actually worth my time to argue with” are you having trouble understanding?

  114. [Deleted -- TBB, I don't think you quite grasp that you're done addressing me in this thread because I don't think you rate my attention. However, feel free to talk to other people who still feel you are worth their time.]

  115. TBB@126:

    I suspect that I’m on a hiding to nothing here, but if your definition of “bias” (an enormously loaded pejorative) is so broad it includes editorial selection then I doubt any further meaningful discussion is possible.

    But when it comes to not passing the laugh test, I don’t take kindly to being called a liar or having my professional integrity attacked, however passive-aggressive you are about it.

    It’s a useful cop out to say “everybody does it” and climb inside a cocoon of glib cynicism, but that’s just not true in my experience. If you actually bother engaging with the point I was making, there’s no conflict between having a strong editorial POV and solid news coverage. Beg to differ? Make an argument, with examples, not an assertion.

  116. TBB @ 130 – How does fact checking a CNN skit show bias of any sort? It doesn’t. What it shows is that CNN is, well, silly (I can think of other words, but it is my birthday and I’m trying to be nice to everyone.) If that is the best example you can come up with, you have nothing.

    Doug Stewart @ 131 – The 9/12 tea bagging protest was organized and pushed by Fox News and, specifically, Glen Beck.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3LUid0IZ2w

  117. Craig: For you to be lying, you would have to know that what you are saying is untrue. It is quite apparent to me that you believe every word. I will cop to implying you’re a fool. Your professional integrity is irrelevant if, as you say, you *used* *to* work as a journalist. And if you are, as I implied, a fool, and not a liar, then your personal integrity is also not an issue. I’ve known lots of fools with great integrity (and historically, fools with great integrity have been known to change the world for the better, far more often than wise, but immoral men).

    So, once again, it would appear that what you read what not what I wrote, which is nearly universal in any political discussion these days. At least I can admit it.

    As for copouts and glib cynicism, well, I didn’t engage your point because I don’t disagree with it. There is no inherent conflict between a strong editorial POV and solid news coverage. But everyone *does* do it, because news is a for-profit business, and shareholders have expectations. And in the current political environment in the US, “if it bleeds, it leads” isn’t just a damned good business model, it’s virtually a religious commandment. Copout or not, it’s true. There are two things that I have found to be very, very true of my cynicism: 1) I am rarely surprised, and when I am, it’s usually a pleasant surprised. and 2) I am rarely wrong.

  118. nisleib:

    “How does fact checking a CNN skit show bias of any sort?”

    They chose to treat it as news. They chose to treat a comedy sketch, that could not possibly be taken by any sane person with a room temperature IQ as anything *but* a comedy sketch, as news. And attack it on its facts.

    The bias is in choosing to devote finite air time to that, instead of, say, how much Obama’s healtcare program is going to cost taxpayers, or how the wars in Iraq and Afganistan are going, or any of a thousand other things that actually *are* news.

    Somebody said something bad about Jesus II, so it *had* to be refuted immediately.

    “It doesn’t. What it shows is that CNN is, well, silly (I can think of other words, but it is my birthday and I’m trying to be nice to everyone.) If that is the best example you can come up with, you have nothing.”

    Once again, if you think it’s OK for news outlets you like to lie, so long as they do it less than the ones you like, I feel sorry for you. Seriously. That’s a said way to live, accepting that the side you like are the good guys because they lie *less*.

    “Doug Stewart @ 131 – The 9/12 tea bagging protest was organized and pushed by Fox News and, specifically, Glen Beck.”

    Was Beck acting as a representative of Fox News? If so, what documentation do you have to back this up? Or are political commentators not allowed to have any political life of their own, outside of their job?

  119. 140 – Every President tries to control the media. If you read the comments on this thread you will get plenty of examples. Heck, Bush used to pay journalists to write glowing reviews of his policies. And Bush did the same thing to MSNBC that Obama is doing to Fox. Not only that, but does the name “Jeff Gannon” ring a bell?

  120. I stopped watching cable news altogether. All three of the networks offer nothing but biased editorials, opinions and scaremongering. I’d much rather get my news from NPR and the BBC. Honestly, TV just seems to be a waste of time in general. (Sorry John, I realize you work on SG:Universe)

    Also, I do wish people would stop confusing GOP, Conservative and FOXNews viewer. The three do not describe the same group of people.

  121. Galj , I do wish people would stop confusing GOP, Conservative and FOXNews viewer

    If an GOP member or an American conservative watches a news network regularly, it’s most likely to be FOX. It’s not confusion at all.

  122. TBB:

    OK, so I’m not a liar simply a delusional fool. You really have no insight into why the White House doesn’t have a lot of time for Fox News?

  123. Xopher: Wastn’t last week’s “funny list” include ten laws of the interent? And wasn’t one of them that anyone who proclaims they’ve won has automatically lost?

    (And, if you bother to. Read. More. Carefully. you’ll see that what I actually said was that I am rarely wrong _in my cynicism_, and you are, as expected, the proof if its truth.)

  124. TBB @ 142.

    A few things.

    1) There is NOTHING finite about air time on cable news. That is part of the problem.

    2) As you yourself pointed out up stream some of the best news we get is from comedy shows. I seem to remember the “News” fact checking the Palin SNL skits too. Does that make CNN conservative? No, it makes them silly.

    3) The only people who call Obama “Jesus II” are retarded right wingers, and that is being nice.

    4) I can’t stand CNN. Have you ever watched Lou Dobbs? He does not like brown people, not a bit. Wolf Blitzer, in my opinion, is the dumbest man on cable news, and that includes Glen Beck.

    5) Fox News pushed the tea parties, provided resources for people who wanted to participate and actually sent representatives to the Tea Parties, not to cover the protests, but to participate in them.

  125. Also: Let’s avoid gratuitous personal comments whilst having discussions. Consider the Mallet raised, and at least one of you is already close to being moderated. As a hint, it’s the one who thinks he’s cleverer than he actually is.

  126. Craig: Where did I say you were delusional? It is entirely possible for reasonable people to simply be mistaken, especially when it comes to thinks like identifying their own bias. In point of fact, it is nearly impossible for *anyone* – including me – to identify *their* *own* bias. The entirely of the scientific method is built on that assumption, and science deals with objective, measurable fact. If you think you, or me, or *anyone*, even John, are even *capable* of recognizing their own biases on a regular basis, well, that could be delusion. Or it could simply be your own unrecognized bias about your own abilities.

    And I actually agree with John’s point up at the top: The White House is *very* happy with how things are right now. To claim they “don’t have much time for Fox News” when they’re putting so much effort in to *saying* they don’t have much time for Fox News is, well, funny. In point of fact, they are devoting a *lot* of time to Fox News, and Fox News is devoting a lot of time to the White House.

    And both are reaping considerable benefit from the fight.

    Am I the first to make a comparison to professional wrestling?

  127. @#137:
    a) Glenn Beck, an opinion-spouter if ever there was one, used his platform to encourage attendance. One opinion does not an “organizer” make.

    b) Rachel Maddow? Seriously? You use Rachel Maddow and MSNBC to try to make a point about “news” and “organizing” protests? That’s mighty rich:

    The specific tactic, as Olbermann explained, is to target six Democratic senators –Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Max Baucus, D-Mont., Ben Nelson, D-Neb., Mary Landrieu, D-La. and Harry Reid, D-Nev., by shaming them with these free clinics.

    “I want Sens. Lincoln and Pryor to see what health care poverty is really like in Little Rock,” Olbermann said. “I want Sen. Baucus to see it in Butte. I want Sen. Ben Nelson to see it in Lincoln. I want Sen. Landrieu to see it in Baton Rouge. I want Sen. Reid to see it in Las Vegas.”

    And Olbermann admitted he would participate in this endeavor, all in the name of battling big insurance.

    “I’ll donate,” he said. “How much will you donate? We enable thousands of our neighbors to have just a portion of the bounty of good health and we make a statement to the politician, forgive me William Jennings Brian, ‘You shall not press down upon the brow of America this crown of insurance. You shall not crucify man kind upon a cross of blue.’”

    Olbermann said the MSNBC-orchestrated efforts would even include Web sites and reminders on his nightly show.

    “We think these events will be firmed up presently,” Olbermann said. “You will be able to link from our website. Trust me. I will remind you.”

    Maddow reiterated Olbermann’s plea on her Oct. 7 show. (She said they would be held in the capital cities of these senators, which is a little different than what Olbermann had proposed on his show. That might be something they’d want to work out beforehand given MSNBC’s difficulties with geography not once, but twice.)

  128. nisleib:

    “There is NOTHING finite about air time on cable news. That is part of the problem.”

    It is limited to 24 hours per channel per day. It is also limited to how much money the network(s) have to pay for producing it, and that is limited by how much money they have.

    Perhaps “finite” does not mean what you think it means, or perhaps you are engaging in hyperbole.

    As John has noted (he’s my hero, and I try to emulate him as much as I can), when you’ve failed at logic that badly, there isn’t much point in reading the rest.

    John: As you have noted, my reading comprehension is pretty poor. And frankly, I’m hardly the only one. Perhaps you’d better be more explicit.

  129. Xopher: So that was just a personal insult? (Which was, obviously, supposed to be funny – and it was – but given the nature of this particular circle jerk, it seems a little overly optomistic to think that everyone will see that.)

  130. Whoops, sorry John. Didn’t see your 151 before posting my 155. If it falls into the category of “gratuitous personal comment,” I will accept moderation with calm humility.

  131. Doug @ 153 – I posted the Maddow link becaus it has footage of Fox pushing the tea bagging events. But I find it hillareous that you are comparing Olberman trying to set up free health clinics for poor people with Glenn Beck pushing the tea parties. 1) Olberman was trying to presure Democrats to do something they didn’t want to do. 2) There is a HUGE difference between the tea parties and free health clinics. I’ll let you work out the difference.

  132. Thanks for the Hulu tip John. I’m watching Ep 1 right now (I had a dentist appt, and to make up for that crappiness I get the rest of the day off). Good show so far!

  133. TBB: My primary motive was humor. It wasn’t trying to enter the conversation seriously in any way. I do think you’re wrong, but I don’t think my joining in on my host’s side will do the conversation any good at this point; in fact it might smack of sycophancy.

  134. Bush refusing to meet with Cindy Sheehan or NAACP is somehow the same as Obama saying the administration should not meet with FOX?

    Sorry no. the two are not even in the same league.

    Not since Nixon have we seen a President so opposed to Free Speech. He’s still got all the anti-freedom policies of the Bush years in place and even expanding (warrantless wiretapping, etc, still happening) and on top of that is giving speeches to the UN that we should regulate speech that “offends religions” (as if religions were persons and capable of being offended).

    I didn’t like Bush and his arrogant attitude, but he never tried to ostracize one of the major networks. The new President seems even more arrogant. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  135. TBB @ 156 – The funny thing about one 24 hour period is that it is always followed by another 24 hour period. And since cable news is on all the time, it is infinite. Please don’t insult my logic because you are incapble of counting past 24.

  136. Whew! Having narrowly escaped the Mallet, I will bow out at this point.

    *bows repeatedly, stepping back each time, until exit is reached*

  137. @#158
    It’s precisely the same thing. An on-air opinion-spouter pushes an event (or series of events) that seek to pressure politicians into acting in a manner that they (the opinion-spouters) approve of.

    Your link showed an MSNBC opinion-spouter running VERY edited clips (with little-to-no context) from a single FNC opinion-spouter (who by the way used to do the same schtick on CNN/HN, now known simply as “HLN” [ptui!]). This “organizing”, to quote Inigo Montoya: “I dunna think eet meens what you think eet meens.”

    And you’re right in re: there being a difference between the tea parties and the free health clinics: one is a cynical manipulation of people’s needs in order to forward an agenda while the other encourages people to take to the streets in protest.

    Frankly, the whole free health clinic thing as a pressure point is just a little too Dickensian-waifish for my tastes.

  138. chrisb @162
    “I didn’t like Bush and his arrogant attitude, but he never tried to ostracize one of the major networks.”

    Fail. The Bush administration admitted they ostracized MSNBC near the end of the Bush administration.

  139. TBB @ 142

    The bias is in choosing to devote finite air time to that, instead of, say, how much Obama’s healtcare program is going to cost taxpayers, or how the wars in Iraq and Afganistan are going, or any of a thousand other things that actually *are* news.

    So, you’re an arbitor of what is news channels should be repoting on?

    The only thing I can agree in your statement was that there were better things that they could’ve been reporting on but CNN wasn’t showing bias. CNN was being ridiculous.

    Once again, if you think it’s OK for news outlets you like to lie, so long as they do it less than the ones you like, I feel sorry for you.

    So far you haven’t given any examples of a news channel lying, although plenty have been given about Fox News. Do you have any?

    Was Beck acting as a representative of Fox News?

    Well, as far as I know the only time the company has ever distanced themselves from him was when he made particular comments about Obama, then yes. Whether he intends it or not, his actions and the things he say reflect on Fox just as the behavior and words of Rachel Maddow reflect on MSNBC.

    Or are political commentators not allowed to have any political life of their own, outside of their job?

    Sure, if he was doing it on his own time but when he devotes a significant amount of time on his Fox paid-for show on Fox-paid for air time then it’s not such a stretch to see that Fox does have something of a role in Beck’s support for the Tea Party Rallies as they’re giving him money to endorse them (by speaking about them on his show) and the television time to show his face with the Fox logo beneath it.

  140. MattMarovich: Are you seriously defending “fact checking” a comedy sketch as newsworthy?

    Once again, I retreat to My Hero’s methods: Your logic has failed to the point where there’s no reason to even read the rest.

  141. TBB – Unless you have news that CNN is going to go off the air then the default assumption is that their air time is infinite, or as close to infinite as can be currently determined. Look at the definition you post, we know when CNN began and we know that CNN is on the air all day and all night. We have NO reason to think it will go out of business. It is your logic that is lacking.

    That said, yes, this is a stupid point. But so is your asertion that somehow fact checking SNL makes CNN partisan. Like I’ve said before, the Sarah Palin SNL skits were fact checked as well, that does NOT show bias, what it shows is that people were talking about the SNL skits in question and some producer, no doubt trying to fill time on his/her vapid show, tried to add context to a comedy skit.

    Yes, they spent time covering a non-story. So? That doesn’t prove bias, it proves that they were trying to fill time.

  142. nisleib:

    Give it up. We both think the other is an idiot, and nothing either of us, or anyone else, can possibly say with change either of our minds.

    You’re not worth the time to read, and clearly, you feel the same about me.

  143. I don’t drink wine that has grapes on the label.

    I don’t eat anything that puts the word “food” in the name.

    And I don’t get my news from a bunch of yahoos who feel the need to proclaim they’re “fair and balanced” every five minutes.

  144. omg NO don’t cut out Fox !!! god forbid thats these delusional fools actually start watching truthful reporting from the other 2 new organization god for bid they might have to go and see how distruthful Fox is !!!!
    they are not going to chance there veiw i know this cause like others have said here they just refuse to see or hear the truth
    the refuse to see that the rest of the country who is obvisouly way more informed then these are looking at them like there crazy !
    Any more i find republican distasteful hateful and delusional and real hard to respect any of these people. Maybe i’m Disenfranchising them my self but who am I you know no one , how ever people who refuse to watching nothing but are already Disenfranchising them selfs there are tons of way for them get the news and much more reliiable news weather they choose to like it or not so i’m all in favor of the WH refusing fox in anyway i’m all in fovor of banning them frommmm the WH and any new interveiw until these commontators can be required to tell the truth and be held responible for these mistruths
    if you lie or misrepresent the truth your out plain and simple , what happen to be about getting the truth out they have lied about most everything they report and the rest is there straight up hateful oppinions with lies included sooo why would a person watch it in the first is beyond me and whyyyyy would you limit your knowledge one set of people on tv anyway they ofcourse don’t tell the whole story that goes for all new they don’t have the time to report everything so Like why would you not research the things going on aorund you , are these people so oblivious and lazy ???????? i don’t get i stopped watch fox a long way back when 5 out of 8 sotries they report ended up being stretch twist or FALSELY REPRESENTED soo i stop that alongggggggg time ago as i keep hearing apparently “people are stupid ” beginnng to think it’s true or so they keep proving them selfs to be stupid anyway !!!!!

  145. TBB – Yes, but in this case I’m right. If the best example of bias you can come up with is fact checking CNN then you have nothing.

    Have a good night everyone, I’m out of here.

  146. @The Brightest Bulb

    Are you seriously defending “fact checking” a comedy sketch as newsworthy?

    Not in the slightest, in fact if you read more closely (funny how often you’re told that) you’d see that I agreed that it wasn’t particularly good news and that there were better things to report on at the time. However, I disagreed with you in that I don’t particularly think it shows bias. Bad news? Yes. Rampant liberal bias? No.

    Your logic has failed to the point where there’s no reason to even read the rest.

    Actually, I think the logic of my arguments to your points, which I find interesting that you chose not to address them and resorted to handwaving them away, stands pretty firm in the absence of any rebuttal from yourself.

    It is more telling that you have to lean so heavily on bad news on a comedy sketch that no one is disagreeing with you that it wasn’t ridiculous.

  147. Apparently, TBB’s definition of “lie” is a broad as his definition of “bias.”

    One of these things is not like the other.

  148. Whoops, I meant fact checking SNL.

    Dumbest. Arguement. Ever. Especially from someone who says the best news program is the Daily Show (not that he is wrong about that.)

  149. nisleib:

    http://tinyurl.com/ygx8wdz

    6. Danth’s Law (also known as Parker’s Law)
    States: “If you have to insist that you’ve won an internet argument, you’ve probably lost badly.”

    MattMarovich:

    So you, and you alone, are the sole arbiter of what is and isn’t bias?

    “Actually, I think the logic of my arguments to your points, which I find interesting that you chose not to address them and resorted to handwaving them away, stands pretty firm in the absence of any rebuttal from yourself.”

    So you would agree, then, that John admitted I was right when he did *exactly* the same thing? Enquiring minds want to know.

  150. do you realllyyy need us to list them how about you go and seee what were talking about i garentee you you’ll find out !!! how you looking up foxs story and fact checking them like cnn did freaking SnL yes that was highly baised and omg if you need an example of fox baisness then your prolly just as delusional as the rest of the people I can seem to gain any repect for !!!!

  151. @ #146 Josh Jasper

    “If an GOP member or an American conservative watches a news network regularly, it’s most likely to be FOX. It’s not confusion at all.”

    Ok, not sure what that statistic came from. However, if I recall John’s comments from earlier in this thread, the portion of people who actually watch FoxNews is pretty small. They are not in fact a good representation of the American conservative. Nor is the GOP at this actually.

    I could just as easily say “If a democrat or an American liberal watches a news network regularly, it’s most likely to be MSNBC”

    This still does not mean that the terms MSNBC viewer, American liberal or Democrat are synonymous. To judge one by the other seems to me to be a false stereotype.

    Really, these generalities seem to be pointless. You can say what you want about the average Fox viewer and in some cases I will agree with you, but generalizing from there to all people with some conservative opinions seems to encourage partisan politics and not any sort of intelligent discourse.

  152. doh! Forgot the word “point” in my post. Sorry for the double post. Just wanted to correct #186. I should have said “Nor is the GOP at this POINT actually.”

    I swear I proofread that too, that’s the annoying part.

  153. Oh good grief, what Obama is doing to Fox has nothing on what Bush did for war propaganda. Specifically, the “Pentagon Pundits” were paid to push the invasion of Iraq on television. There are a list of known pundits here:

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Pentagon_military_analyst_program#Program_participants

    I count about 55 participants. Their associations with specific stations are as follows:

    Fox: 11
    MSNBC: 2
    CBS: 2
    CNN: 3
    NBC: 4
    ABC: 1

    The rest were unaffiliated with any specific station.

    Wesley Clark says he was approached after 9/11 to propagandize for the war for Bush but declined.

    By those numbers, I believe we can say that Fox “News” isn’t news at all, but has been operating as a propaganda channel for the last 8 years.

  154. TBB @ 181:

    No, I suspect Scalzi did exactly what he said he did, and exactly what almost everyone else on this thread is doing – writing you off as not worth arguing with.

    You’ve defined the argument in nonstandard terms that guarantee your victory (editorial selection = biased coverage? In what world? As Craig said, the Torygraph and the Grauniad are both serious news outlets, and their non-editorial coverage is only slightly different, even with very different political slants). You’re dismissing arguments that oppose your view without actually engaging with them. In short – arguing in bad faith.

    Thanks, though. Useful to know for future reference that you can be added to the (short) list of regular Whatever commenters that can be assumed to be arguing in bad faith.

  155. “The conservative war on the media was Clausewitz; the Obama war on the media is Sun Tzu.”

    Er, how do you figure? I’d like to discuss this analogy more, since you seem to be placing Clausewitz and Sun Tzu in opposition, and suggesting that Clausewitzean warfare is behind the times while Sun Tzu-influenced warfare is the cutting edge. I submit that this is very far from the truth; both Sun Tzu and Clausewitz provide advice as to how to approach warfare, but Sun Tzu places a larger focus on tactical precepts of the time, rather than discussing how to contextualize and think about the problems associated with command, as Clausewitz does.

    Besides, considering that one of (if not THE) most important points in On War is that defense is a stronger form of warfare than the attack, I’d say that it doesn’t mesh too well with the conservative approach to the media.

  156. TBB @ 181

    So you, and you alone, are the sole arbiter of what is and isn’t bias?

    Not at all. Simply, I fail to see how doing bad reporting on a comedy sketch equals positive evidence of bias. You are the one who seems to be deciding what is and is not bias by claiming CNN’s reporting on SNL is bias.

    So you would agree, then, that John admitted I was right when he did *exactly* the same thing? Enquiring minds want to know.

    I do no such thing, and not at all in part because such a question you ask is so broad that you could stretch it to mean anything at all.

    I brought up several points in my original response to you that you have failed to address and you’ve had more than an ample amount of time to do so, yet you continue to go back to the CNN thing. This to me says that you either chose not to engage them for whatever reason or you have no logical rebuttal. Either way, the logic of my previous arguments stands and I would request that you not muddy the dialog by trying to bring in a conversation with someone else in a misguided attempt to support your argument when you’re not even addressing what’s being said between you and I.

  157. Palin is dead politically, except to the fringe right, but she does have zombie-ish qualities. And she fascinates the media, so we’ll probably end up stuck with her as a commentator.

    I don’t have a problem with conservative editorial commentators. I don’t like David Brooks, for instance, or agree with many things he says, but the guy doesn’t lie about statistics and facts. Fox, on the other hand, makes it a point of honor to do so. Ailes has publicly admitted that he gets talking points from the Republican party and orders the newscasters on Fox to use them. That’s not news, that’s propaganda.

    Fox reported that 1-2 million had attended the D.C. tea party protest, based on information supposedly from ABC News, and showed a photo of the crowd. In reality, ABC News had said no such thing and the photo was revealed to be a hoax about five minutes after it appeared on the Internet. Where did Fox get the supposedly ABC News blessed attendance figures and the photo from? The blog of the guy who organized the tea party protest — a political lobbyist known for his dirty tricks. They never bothered to check with anyone about the photo or with ABC News, the way a normal news organization would check facts. They issued a rare correction because of the blow-out over the photo and because ABC News threw a hissy fit. But they didn’t care that they had bungled the news. All that was important was the initial propaganda, which many people refused to believe wasn’t true. (And same with this Pay Czar thing.)

    Fox edited part of Obama’s historic Middle East speech into a clip that made it sound as if Obama was saying the exact opposite of what he was actually saying in the speech and also giving the impression that Obama was clearly a Muslim sympathizer if not an outright Muslim himself, all to stoke the conspiracy theories in that area. They got called on that too, but again, neither they nor their audience cares; it’s regarded as daring. That’s not news, that’s deliberate propaganda.

    As has been noted, Fox identified two Republican politicians under legal investigation as Democrats. They routinely misquote people, get their information from far right blogs instead of investigative reporting and don’t fact check, and make-up erroneous statistics that they claim are from the Congressional Budget Office.

    They will report that some people are claiming that Obama is a socialist who is trying to take over the whole country as a “news story,” will ask, is Obama a socialist who is trying to take over the whole country?, and bring in only Republican politicians and far right commentators to comment who of course say that it does look like Obama is a socialist trying to take over the whole country. That’s not news, that’s carefully staged propaganda.

    If any other cable or broadcast news network did this sort of thing as regularly as Fox does, made as many factual errors, the whole staff would be fired. Because it is not ethical journalism, even in the let’s stir up a bit of fear mongering and controversy for the ratings sort of bent. And to top it off, the editorial commentators on Fox — Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity, Beck — who are frequently presented as newscasters (and then claim they aren’t when challenged,) and who much of their audience believes are newscasters relating facts — are openly and frequently racist, which with a black president just gets nastier and nastier.

    I expect the Wall Street Journal and business news to be conservative. I expect there to be a lot of conservative commentators on talk radio. But what Fox does is a far right PR circus pretending to be news reporting and deliberately misleading their audience, much of which gets whipped into a frenzy, believing that World War 3 is soon to be upon us. It’s a throw back to the old days of yellow journalism and it’s exactly what the country doesn’t need right now.

    No one is going to stop Fox from its lucrative profit formula. But pretending that Fox is the conservative side of the argument is ridiculous. Fox is not ideological, Fox is just sleeze.

  158. TBB@181: “If you have to insist that you’ve won an internet argument, you’ve probably lost badly.”

    assuming that’s correct, why do you keep insisting that you’ve “won” even a few sentences later?

    John admitted I was right

    Uhm, yeah, about that…

    Somebody wanted an example of the left’s equivalent, how about CNN “fact checking” a Saturday Night Live *skit* – soemthing that is explicitly fictional – because it implied Obama was not, in fact, Jesus.

    Jon Stewart, liberal that he is, points out here:

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-october-12-2009/cnn-leaves-it-there

    That CNN has allowed rightwing nutjobs to assert batshit insane nonsense only to respond with “We’re out of time, we’ll have to leave it there” on many occaisions. Which is to say, if it screwed up the “fact check” of an SNL skit, it’s also let a lot of rightwing nonsense go unchallenged. So, if you wanna cherry pick one story and ignore all the other rightwing stuff that it let fly by, then by all means, “you win”.

  159. @GregLondon

    It’s ok for him to admit he’s right because apparently other people have admitted he’s right.

    At least I think that’s the “logic”.

  160. Brightest Bulb

    You explicitly stated (in #119) that you DO NOT WATCH TV NEWS. Therefore, you have strongly implied that you cannot possibly form an informed opinion about any of this, so why are you bothering?

    Please stop. You’re draining bandwidth that can be put to better use… spam comes to mind.

  161. GalJ @ 186 – there was a Pew survey last year on the topic of media and political affiliation. I’m sure you can find it if you look.

    Ok, not sure what that statistic came from. However, if I recall John’s comments from earlier in this thread, the portion of people who actually watch FoxNews is pretty small. They are not in fact a good representation of the American conservative. Nor is the GOP at this actually.

    These days, outside of being pro-war, “conservative” has come to mean anti-liberal, and not much more.

  162. I have coworkers who are registered republicans, and vote party line constantly. This even though when stripped of affiliation and presented with raw data, they are actually liberal on almost everything (with a few financial exceptions). They have one issue – ONE ONLY – that they care about that drives all other considerations aside. I find this unconscionable.

    It’s also not particularly germain to the issue at hand – I’m certain their are 1 issue voters on all parts of the political spectrum. This just came to mind given the current discussion, adn I felt the need to rant a little. You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming – whatever it may be.

  163. At the risk of appearing absolute, I just might add that CNN’s time is definitely finite, because the universe will either collapse in on itself or give way to entropy. Either way, CNN will end.

  164. For those who are saying, “well Bush never did this,” uh, Bush did far worse things. See this link, fifth paragraph down:
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2009/10/23/carlson/index.html
    Among other things, Bush

    1) threatened to *criminally prosecute reporters*

    2) Spied on American reporters for ABC (completely illegal)

    3) Illegally obtained their phone records

    4) Barred reporters they didn’t like from flying on their planes.

    And there’s more… read the whole thing.

    As for Fox News itself, Bill O’Reilly did 26 segments in four years calling Dr. George Tiller a babykiller, and now Dr. Tiller’s dead. (If you can show me a “liberal” American news organization who inflamed its core audience so much one of them went out and murdered a doctor, please name them.) The fact that O’Reilly is still on the air after that means the Fox News leadership doesn’t if Americans they disagree with live or die. (And before you use the phrase “isolated incident,” google Richard Poplawksi and Jim Adkisson.) So I’m glad the administration is calling a spade a spade.

  165. Re: John Scalzi

    Re: your blog post.

    Sun Tzu. Clausewitz. Fox News and Whatever.

    I’m a little late in this thread but I think you are onto the deep strategy here. Like any strategy, however, there are many levels to this movement all of which can or won’t make it more effective. Like love and war and such, all is fair, especially when our politics has been such since the beginning (watching the HBO John Adams miniseries really drives this home). The only problem, however, is when total defeat in one arena pushes for action in others. I refer you to post #24 who said it best.

    That said, I am a big fan of your fiction and of Stargate: Universe that I just watched (Episode 5) on Hulu.com with your blog open on the other tab. I can see your influence in certain places and characters and it makes this Stargate watchable for me.

  166. late to the party here, but there’s actually a quite simple way to end the “who’s biased” argument.

    put down cash.

    Pick the major network of your choice and count their negative stories about Obama over the past year. I’ll take Fox and count their positive ones. He with the highest number pays $100 per number of difference.

    I’d love to get a taker on this–I have some bills to pay.

  167. MattMarovich @168

    Sure, if he was doing it on his own time but when he devotes a significant amount of time on his Fox paid-for show on Fox-paid for air time then it’s not such a stretch to see that Fox does have something of a role in Beck’s support for the Tea Party Rallies as they’re giving him money to endorse them (by speaking about them on his show) and the television time to show his face with the Fox logo beneath it.

    The libertarian in me was curious so I actually attended the San Antonio Tea Party when Beck was here. I posted on Twitter at how much of a Fox-sponsored event it seemed to be and got a bunch of angry replies for saying so. I just can’t imagine any actual “fair and balanced” network getting involved the way that Fox got involved with this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbRr-wCH6Rc

  168. “actual number of viewers is minuscule?” Fox News beats the ratings of CNN, MSNBC and HLN COMBINED during primetime every day. So I guess by your rationale, the other cable outlets REALLY don’t matter because their numbers are really, really minuscule compared to Fox. They, along with the broadcast channels are nothing more than Democrat propaganda mouthpieces. They don’t cover half the news Fox covers, because they don’t want to make Obama look bad. Fox is only asking the questions the other outlets should be covering if they call themselves true journalists. They are so in the tank for Obama it is really pitiful. At least Fox anchors don’t let “shivers running up thier leg” get in the way of covering the news!

  169. Long as we’re talking about Fox News, what is going on with Shep Smith? Is he going rogue and becoming a moderate, or is he being positioned that way so as to be something fox can point to and say “Look! This one is liberal. We R FARE AND BALANSE!”

  170. mizsak:

    “‘actual number of viewers is minuscule?’ Fox News beats the ratings of CNN, MSNBC and HLN COMBINED during primetime every day.”

    And CBS Evening News beats all of them combined (5.9 million viewers), and it’s the least watched network newscast. The combined viewership of the daily network evening news (CBS, ABC and NBC) is 22 million, or about ten times the primetime viewership of Fox News.

    So, yes: Minuscule.

  171. @Josh Jasper #198

    “there was a Pew survey last year on the topic of media and political affiliation. I’m sure you can find it if you look.”

    Thanks, I’ll look for it.

    “These days, outside of being pro-war, “conservative” has come to mean anti-liberal, and not much more.”

    I would argue that this is not true at all, at least for me. This is the same as saying liberal means antiwar, pro big government.

    For example, I am fiscally conservative. That means I like small government and no deficits. It doesn’t mean I’m a religious nutball (I’m atheist) or pro war (most definitely against war and I believe dollars are better spent on education than defense). Again, these generalities are ill defined at best and counter productive at worst. People should make up their mind on each topic based on the merits on the topic and not based on some meaningless terms like liberal or conservative.

    Along the same lines, identifying everyone who watches FoxNews as a conservative and vice versa is counterproductive. All you’re doing is alienating people by labeling them, and incorrectly at that.

  172. Mr Scalzi I am a great fan of your work, but I take exception to your analysis here. This is a silly move by the President that only reinforces this President’s issues with moving forcefully on unimportant things, and moving slowly, if at all, on important things.

    If your analysis of Fox ratings is correct, then the President is picking on a much smaller target, and perceptually diminishing himself. It is a waste of political capital. There are important things going on in the world, and any minute given over to WH communication strategy with respect to a single domestic media outlet is time taken away from communication about the economy, unemployment, the H1N1 virus, the status of Iran’s nuclear program, our negotiations with Russia over nuclear arms levels and the roughly four thousand other things a President should be dealing with before getting to a network with lower ratings than ‘Dollhouse’.

    The ultimate effect is probably designed more to snap the NYT and WaPo and other media outlets back into line, rather than punish Fox. There was a NYT article recently that stated that the precipitating incident in Operation Murdoch was the NYT and WaPo admitting that they’d gotten scooped by Fox in a couple of instances. Can’t have the rest of the cheerleading squad desert the team before the first quarter is over, can we? So we’ll kneecap the misbeahving mascot and see if that puts the rest of cheerios back in line.

    The question is not whether Fox can be marginalized. The question is whether or not the other 95% of the media stays Obamified or gets Foxinated. The people in the media are biased, not stupid. The revolt over the pool camera and Ken Feinberg is just one example of what happens when the WH tries to dictate media policy in a blunt fashion. This is perilously close, in perception if not in reality, to censorship, which is something even the Bushies didn’t do when the New York Times was printing national secrets.

    The strategic flaw in choosing this fight is that the White House has made the whole media a battlefield, and while there may be some distaste over Beck and Hannity the threat to Fox is an implict threat to every news media outlet that does not toe the White House line. At this point, media loyalty to the idea of being able to chase down and report a valid news story is with Fox, not the White House. The race now is between Fox and the WH in terms of who screws up the least, with the team being more offensive losing the perception war and the more adult and mature side pulling in more adherents. And unfortunately for the President, Robert Gibbs does most of the talking for him, so the adult and mature thing is not a lock just because the venue is the White House.

    The WH won’t make more Fox News Channels in this, but they may certainly make a bunch more Woodward & Bernsteins in every other news department by threatening the independence of journalists. The jackals are going to chase one of these two groups — and there’s a lot more meat in the WH than at Fox News.

    The GOP has a lot of issues now, the greater threat is internal issues from fiscal conservatives (NY-23, for example) moreso than external ones from the Obama Administration. The party lacks focus, the only thing they have going for them is that the current Congress’ profligate spending and opaque manner are annoying people more than the GOP’s inability to get out a coherent message beyond ‘no’. I just don’t buy your idea that the GOP is the eventual loser from this Obama strategy, that’s a very long-distance knock-on effect that depends on a lot of things breaking the President’s way.

    Sun Tzu? I see your strategic genius and raise: Col. John Boyd would tell you that there are a lot of OODA loops between here and the 2010 midterms.

  173. Darren:

    “Mr Scalzi I am a great fan of your work, but I take exception to your analysis here.”

    Well, you know. I could be wrong.

    That said, inasmuch as no other major news outlet has the ideological leanings of Fox News, and therefore can’t be directly used as a lever to kneecap the GOP at critical points in a major legislative battle, I’m not terribly convinced by the argument that the press as a whole is threatened by the White House’s tiff with Fox News. It’s sort of a singular event, based on what Fox News is other than a strictly journalistic endeavor.

    I do think it’s accurate to say that the White House is likely to be happy to manipulate other news organizations for its own aims, but this is neither new or remarkable in the history of American presidential administrations.

  174. GalJ – Conservatives such as yourself are already a minority in government. Without political power, there’s not much more to represent you, especially not FOX, which is populist, anti-immigrant, anti-GLBT rights, pro-religious right, pro-war, and rabidly anti-democrat.

    If the majority of conservatives are like you, then they suck horribly at getting represented in government and media. And I don’t buy that.

  175. If there is no threat to the other media outlets, then why the revolt over the Feinberg interviews? The pool coverage costs are shared equally by the five networks in the pool, which would mean that Fox could opt out of the pool and increase everyone else’s costs — but the pool cost is negligible given the size of the organizations involved and I do not see the objection as being on cost grounds alone.

    We don’t know what was in the minds of the media folks who made that decision. If it was a question of simple fairness (“Fox paid their bill this month, they should get the time”) then the WH is on good ground. If it was a question of press freedom (“First, they came for Major Garrett…”) then the WH is on very, very bad ground, and further attempts of this sort will only uncover more and more dangerous journalistic IEDs.

    Jake Tapper is the canary in the mineshaft here. He’s a MSM journalist who has staked out a position as fair but unyielding. He does not throw softballs. If he comes down repeatedly on this Fox thing, the WH is going to have to isolate him and extend the battle — at which point it definitely becomes a press freedom quagmire — or stop making such foolish noises. Fox cannot really get themselves out of this hole, after all, it’s the very hole they’ve been digging for 14 years or so. But if other folks get the idea that they’ll be put in the hole with Fox News, this is going to turn into a bloodbath. No administration wants the full glare of the media turned on all their activities, which is an unfortunate statement that is nevertheless true.

    And as far as kneecapping the GOP — beating a figure in the fetal position is never seen as a great victory. The problem the Obama Administration has on legislative issues like health care and greenhouse gas limitations is that the public is against them. The GOP are absolute minorities in both houses of Congress, their input is not needed if the Democrats can get their own ideological house in order. Attempting to use Fox to beat the GOP may be an entertaining sideshow, but it’s not leadership, and the loss of support from independents suggests that it is also not what they voted the President into office for in the first place. After all, the voters already gave the GOP the beating they felt they deserved in 2008.

  176. Fox isn’t a news organization no matter how much they (or their shills) pretend it to be.

    Their audience numbers are highly inflated by the propensity of people to linger and watch any buffoon try and stuff his head up his ass. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    The newest variety of self-advertised “bright” bulbs are never as bright as they attest on the label.

  177. Rob H @ 207

    Indeed. I’m sorry, but if I stand in front of the MegaCorp sign, wearing a MegaCorp shirt, on MegaCorp TV, it’s a fair assumption that I am speaking for MegaCorp or that MegaCorp has no issue with what I’m saying (as they are letting me have their air time) and thus implicitly agreeing with me by doing so. Otherwise MegaCorp wouldn’t have me on their channel.

  178. It is interesting to me that in recent weeks (since this criticism has started being tossed at Fox) that I’ve seen a lot more people (usually people on the right, defending Fox) refer to Hannity, O’Reilly, and Beck as “opinion” shows; as in, they aren’t the news they’re just people expressing their opinion as if that excuses A) the opinion they have (because everyone’s entitled to their opinion, right) and B) makes it so they aren’t a part of Fox’s “news”.

    It’s further interesting that the people putting forth this argument don’t then extend that to the liberal talking heads like Maddow; they’re just part of the “liberal media”.

  179. When you are surrounded you can attack in any direction… also, merging Sun Tzu and Clausewitz results in some interesting speeches:

  180. #219: They are not going to say that Keith Olbermann is doing an opinion rant that is no different from Glen Beck doing an opinion rant (although Olbermann actually has accurate data,) because that’s a loss. In the same way, they criticize Obama and the White House and “liberal” protesters for the very same things for which they praised Bush and conservative protesters (which the Daily Show has great fun with pointing out.) Fox doesn’t have to worry about consistency, so they don’t. Again, it’s not Fox’s ideology that’s the problem — though their racist, extremist part of that sensation-mongering is problematic — it’s their dirty tricks yellow journalism tactics where they deliberately use false data, both in news casting and opinion shows.

    But the White House denouncement of that yellow journalism was effective, because it forces Fox on the defensive. Yes, it gets it more ratings, and lets it crow how they scared the President, and all that, but that just makes them look even more extreme than the White House claims they are. And now they have to deal with the bias extremism issue every time — which is why they are talking about the “opinion” shows — and when they do the dirty tricks faking, they can get uncovered a lot faster. The White House didn’t use manacles, they used a spotlight.

    That spotlight isn’t going to work with the tea party people who believe that Beck relays factual news, not entertainment opinion. (And that Obama wants to take all their guns and bury them in shallow graves in the desert.) But it is going to make independents and more moderate Republicans think carefully about what Fox is saying and be less willing to get hoodwinked. It squashes Fox’s ability to claim that it is at all centerist in what it is doing.

    As for Shep Smith, he’s clearly a moderate conservative who takes his journalism ethics seriously. For which he receives death threats from Fox viewers. I don’t think Fox is going to get rid of him, anymore than MSNBC, the supposedly liberal bastion, is going to get rid of far right Sean Hannity copy-cat Joe Scarborough. But it does sound like Smith’s getting a little fed up and I won’t be surprised if he leaves them, or if Scarborough decamps to politics or to Fox. As for CNN, continually letting Pat Buchanan spew and Lou Dobbs rant about brown people does not a convincing liberal bias make.

    There are liberal media outlets. I would count Huffington Post as one, though they are careful to label their liberal editorial columnists from their news coverage, and offer digest links to conservative sites like the WSJ and Politico. Air America is another, but again, their shows are clearly labeled opinion shows. But Fox’s track record of getting erroneous data from conservative bloggers, cooking their data, doctoring news clips, presenting propaganda as a news story, witch hunting, attack interview styles, and PR work for conservative causes and events like the tea parties is so egregious that even a lot of the conservative pundits are stunned by it and have come down on them for it.

    Criticism on Obama abounds on both cable and broadcast news, and if you don’t know that, then clearly you aren’t watching the news besides Fox. (Or even the Daily Show.) Bush had far more luck using the media as his bitch because of 9/11, until Hurricane Katrina. As the first black president, as a centerist, Obama’s constantly scrutinized by right and left. Which is a good thing. But Fox’s smear campaigns that they claim are news — not just of Obama but of innocent people who they think they can paint as enemies to please their audience — are a sad, backwards conjob.

  181. I’m late to this party and not particularly interested in wading in, but I just want to mention that I find it positively hilarious that folks can, with an apparently straight face, say that “all cable news networks” are one thing or another — and then somehow assert that the fact that they don’t watch any cable news networks somehow proves this.

    There’s, uh…there’s a piece missing there, folks.

  182. #222 said: Actually, this is just Obama’s attempt at pretending to be more progressive than he actually is. And, a lot of people are falling for it.

    Do you really think Omama is manipulative? I do. But I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s my internal BS/lie detector that seems to sound when I hear the guy talk.

  183. I think it might be interesting if the White House (this or any other) did shut out the media. The White House press pool might have to do some actual journalism for a living.

    That’s exactly how I feel.

    Everyone should just embargo the idealogues on every network, then we would be watching reporters, rather than characters.

  184. GOP /= conservative. Fox’s opinion shows are generally conservative leaning which is sometimes to the benefit of the GOP. But not always. See, Beck’s NY-23 discussions.

  185. Not sure I agree with all of your points, but it’s a very very interesting idea. Whether the Obama administration figured it out in advance or not, it does seem to be working as you describe.

    By the way, “The conservative war on the media was Clausewitz; the Obama war on the media is Sun Tzu” are lovely metaphors.

  186. @215 – Josh Jasperon

    “GalJ – Conservatives such as yourself are already a minority in government. Without political power, there’s not much more to represent you, especially not FOX, which is populist, anti-immigrant, anti-GLBT rights, pro-religious right, pro-war, and rabidly anti-democrat.”

    Now that’s a better way of describing FoxNews and probably a better way of describing the average FoxNews viewer, although even here, what does average really mean?

    “If the majority of conservatives are like you, then they suck horribly at getting represented in government and media. And I don’t buy that.”

    The majority of conservatives aren’t like me. Each person is individual. Just like each liberal is an individual with individual views. The problem is people like you who insist on generalizing and marginalizing anything that goes counter to their world view.

    This isn’t meant to be a personal insult so I hope you don’t take it as such but I find it sad that you cannot bring yourself to believe that most people with some conservative views are not in fact a rabid homogeneous mass of “anti-immigrant, anti-GLBT rights, pro-religious right, pro-war, and rabidly anti-democrat” mutant flesh. I think that we’ve gotten to this point where we cannot see each other in anything but the most broadly painted brushstrokes is a sad reflection on American politics.

  187. Humza at 230: I read your post at 190. I am uncertain as to why you think I’m trying to make you cry. My post was intended to distinguish the GOP from conservatives, as they are not synonynous. NY-23 is a prime example of the conflict between the two groups.

    You are absolutely correct that Sun Tzu and Clausewitz are very similar thinkers, though each focused on different aspects of warmaking. I found Handel’s Masters of War: Classical Strategic Thought which compared and contrasted the beliefs of Clausewitz and Sun Tzu, with anecdotes from Machiavelli, Jomini and Mao Tse Tung, to be very good. I highly recommend it, for those interested. If a leader had both Clausewitz and Sun Tzu both advising him, there would be very little conflict between the two.

    I did not address the assertion that Fox is Clausewitz and Obama is Sun Tze, as it is largely a matter of opinion. My opinion, having read both, is that whomever has that opinion is not familiar with the writings of either, and grabbed the names out of the ether to illustrate a point based on some vague perception of what each stands for, not the reality. Very similar to the public bad rap Machiavelli gets for “The Prince” by those who have not read “Discourses.”

    My opinion is that Obama’s attack on Fox is bone-headed and that neither Sun Tze nor Clausewitz would have approved. Any perception of possible gain is far outweighed by real risks. Scalzi’s belief as to Obama’s objective is pure (though clever) fantasy, as the “plan” is far too convoluted and relies on far too many variables to have any realistic chance of success.

    Now that I’ve clarified my opinions, I hope you can dry your eyes. And if you disagree with my opinions, that is fine. You are entitled.

  188. #231 — “The problem is people like you who insist on generalizing and marginalizing anything that goes counter to their world view.”

    I think you are missing the point of the post, GalJ. It’s not that he’s marginalizing you. It’s that you are letting people whose views you don’t agree with, such as the gang on Fox, speak for you and claim to represent you. The far right claims that all conservatives belong to it and that all conservatives agree with their anti-gay, anti-poc, anti-health care, anti-non fundamentalist agenda. And if they don’t, they aren’t “real” conservatives. And as long as moderate Republicans and conservative independents let them do that, you might as well agree with them because you will be tarred with that brush from the far right, not the left or the Democrats, (who want you to come with them.)

    The more you stay silent and don’t denounce far right, protest, actively work to boot these people out of the Republican party if you’re a Republican, etc., leaving it to Democrats and progressives (who are demonized as the enemy,) the more power the far right gains — in the Republican party, in the media and so on, and the more they claim to speak for you and identify you. The Republicans marginalized themselves because they let the far right take over and speak for them, not because of the Democrats.

    While McCain lost the election largely on the economy, partly on Bush’s damage, the final part was hitching his star to Palin, with her whacky far right policies and associations, and having her and his strategists abandon her claims of bipartisanship that had worked in Alaska in favor of very scary rallies that enthralled far right believers by casting slurs on anyone who didn’t share the far rights views as a traitor and Obama as a scary black traitor. McCain did eventually stand up to that sort of rhetoric, but too little, too late. His biggest asset — that he was moderate, sensible, tough but fair — flew out the window. He was no longer seen that way by many swing voters because he let the far right take over his message and stayed silent.

    As long as Fox finds it profitable to tilt to the extreme far right — and with Beck, I think they’ve gone beyond what anyone expected — they will be speaking for you, and other media will assume that they are speaking for you. Republican politicians, including those courting independents, will assume this as well and gear their activism on your behalf towards the far right. If you don’t want them to, fight them on it. Denounce Fox’s views as not truly conservative, but what they are — fringe. Stop treating them as what they aren’t — a legitimate news organization.

    Because otherwise, they’re yours, whether you agree with them fully or not.

  189. Sir:

    I frankly don’t believe the level of intelligence rises that high with the Administration and the Congressional Dems – Note Pelosi’s eye rolling with Reid etc., Barney Frank’s we are saved, and the Government Health care option really isn’t a government option, and only $900 Billion to boot!
    I do not watch CNN because I get a completely Liberal point of view, and now that the screaming Joy Behar is on HLN, it gives a whole new meaning to “slanted viewpoints”. I am certainly not in agreement with GOP members like Graham and I have my issues with McCain. Just for the record, a true conservative does NOT believe in general entitlement, as supplied by the government for everything, everybody, forever. I was raised that you are entitled to what you earn by doing an honest days work. A Conservative firmly believes in a Social safety net for those who need help, but are unable to help themselves. A conservative believes that those who “linejump” immigration, should be returned home to try again LEGALLY. A conservative has looked at countries like Iceland and seen what irresponsible spending can do. A conservative also observes what the ‘socialist’ countries like Denmark are doing about immigration. A conservative also believes that we, the west, are engaged in a war with an theological ideology that is bent on destroying our way of life. Along with your books, I also read Kratman and others who have practical experience in such matters. I also firmly believe it is better to be prepared than caught unawares by a tide that keeps rising.

  190. A conservative believes in torture. A conservative also believes in faking evidence to trump up a war. A conservative probably shouldn’t be talking about himself in the third person.

  191. @233 Kat G I’m not sure how to respond to someone who tells me to loudly proclaim that FoxNews does not speak for all conservatives on a thread where I’ve been doing exactly that…

    Have you loudly proclaimed today that the drivel on MSNBC does not in fact speak for all liberals?

    Come to think of it, have you considered what these labels used to mean? Conservative used to mean (and still does to me) someone who avoids foreign entanglements and does not try to interfere with how others run their countries. By that definition, someone who wishes to pull our troops out of Iraq (which I do and which I assume you do as well) is actually a conservative. Welcome my fellow conservative! :)

    Ok, so all kidding aside. My problem is that you are falling for the same partisan crap that all network news spout (and yes, I definitely include Fox in that). They’re not seeking to inform us, they’re seeking to scare us and to divide us. That’s how they get loyal audiences after all.

    All I ask is that you don’t assume someone who says he hold some views which these days are identified as conservative is automatically the enemy. Don’t assume everyone who doesn’t agree with you is a religious nutball who watches FoxNews in their underwear while sipping a Pabst Blue Ribbon and watching NASCAR. Don’t assume everything labeled as liberal is automatically good.

    And Mr. Scalzi, I suppose that’s what bothers me about this whole Obama / FoxNews thing. Instead of uniting us, it’s dividing us. And yes, I know Bush did the same thing only much much worse. There’s a reason I didn’t vote for the idiot. That doesn’t mean Obama has to do the same.

  192. David:

    Let’s avoid derail.

    GalJ:

    “Instead of uniting us, it’s dividing us.”

    I’m not 100% convinced, mind you, that some of us wish to be united. Nor am I convinced Fox News would see that as a profitable business strategy.

  193. @ Scalzi

    Being united doesn’t mean agreeing on everything. :) Heck, I’d settle for not automatically hating each other or assuming the other person is a horrible waste of human flesh just because of some of their political views.

    Not sure if I understand your comment on FoxNews. Do you mean they wouldn’t want us united? If so, I heartily agree. Fox and their ilk (which includes the other networks) build viewer loyalty by catering to fear and hate. To enforce that you need an enemy. Muslim extremists make a nice target but they’re a bit distant. It’s much easier to make conservatives hate liberals and vice versa. So yes, every time we call each other names, every time we blindly generalize based on some political opinion and every time we fanatically adhere to some policy because its associated with some meaningless label we choose to wear, that strengthens this sort of hate and fear mongering. And I hate seeing Obama strengthen this sort of mentality by giving Fox more credibility. Honestly, I’d be happier if he and his administration stopped giving so many press conferences and focused more time on solving real issues.

    By the way, I find it incredibly sad that the most informative news show on TV today is The Daily Show.

  194. #236: GalJ: “All I ask is that you don’t assume someone who says he hold some views which these days are identified as conservative is automatically the enemy.”

    I don’t see you as the enemy at all and once again, you are missing the point. I’m not saying you’re like Fox. I’m saying Fox is something of your responsibility, even if you hate it.

    Ronald Reagan sold the Republican party to the far right decades ago, and they have loudly demanded more and more power and purity tests, increasing their influence until now they own the Republican party, much of the Libertarian party and a slice of the Independents. Moderate Republicans and conservative Independents, like yourself, voted for Republicans espousing far right rhetoric, which increased their power, and supported the Republican party as it tilted ever more rightward. Moderate Republicans, instead of fighting for their party, rolled over and let themselves be ousted or fled. Essentially, you thought you could have your conservative cake and own it too.

    I’m being simplistic here; reality is much more complicated and multi-faceted. But the point I’m trying to make is that I’m a liberal Democrat. I will, forever, be the enemy to Fox and the far right, (because it’s profitable that way.) But you, fiscal conservative, are their brethren. They claim you as their brethren, they claim the right to define conservatism and you, to speak for you, to scold you when you veer from their agenda and make sure you don’t interfere, and so on. No matter how much you may try to distance yourself from them verbally and say “that’s not me,” as far as they are concerned, you don’t actually get to make that decision.

    The kind of person you are — independent, fiscally conservative, socially liberal, is the kind of swing voter who got Obama elected and significantly reduced the far right’s power base. (Well done.) As far as I’m concerned, we’re sufficiently on the same side and where we’re not, we can discuss it and we’ll probably both have some good ideas. But the Fox world is the world of propaganda and it’s much more black and white. You don’t have to take back the word conservative from me, you have to take it back from them. And people have made a start.

    But Fox is still exerting a very large influence on far right and neo-con Republican politicians whom moderate Republicans and conservative Independents also unfortunately voted into office and that effects the government. That allows Fox to shape what conservative means and have the politicians echo their rhetoric. Until the centrist/middle right, (that would be you,) finds a way to take back the Republican party from the far right, Fox will control the definition of conservatism.

    In that sense, what the White House did helped you out. By acknowledging that Fox is not a news organization with a conservative slant (like say the Wall Street Journal,) but instead a far right propaganda machine trying to influence and promote the (far right) Republicans, the White House defined Fox not as the bastion of conservatism, but the extreme, distancing Fox from your brand of conservatism, diminishing their ability to claim to speak for you.

  195. @240 KatG

    “I’m saying Fox is something of your responsibility, even if you hate it.”

    No, not really. No more than reverend wright was Obama’s responsibility. No more than every piece of drivel on MSNBC is your responsibility.

    “much of the Libertarian party and a slice of the Independents. Moderate Republicans and conservative Independents, like yourself, voted for Republicans espousing far right rhetoric”

    Again, no, I pick and choose my candidates based on their individual views, not some sort of conservative label or rhetoric.

    “I’m a liberal Democrat. I will, forever, be the enemy to Fox”

    Not really. You forget that Fox is at it’s heart a profit driven corporation. You are in fact their best ally because you buy into their us vs. them mentality. Merely by stating that you’re their enemy you’re validating their whole marketing strategy. It would be far better if you simply ignored them.

    “But you, fiscal conservative, are their brethren. They claim you as their brethren, they claim the right to define conservatism and you, to speak for you, to scold you when you veer from their agenda and make sure you don’t interfere, and so on. No matter how much you may try to distance yourself from them verbally and say “that’s not me,” as far as they are concerned, you don’t actually get to make that decision.”

    I claim to be highlord of muppetland. So what? Doesn’t mean people believe me. Again, the only reason Fox has power is because people believe what it says. I don’t believe them.

    “The kind of person you are — independent, fiscally conservative, socially liberal, is the kind of swing voter who got Obama elected and significantly reduced the far right’s power base. (Well done.)”

    Actually, I voted liberterian last election. I was going to vote McCain because I liked his economic policies better than Obama’s but then he picked Palin and that was a bit too much for me to stomach. Locally, I’m a pretty steadfast Boxer supporter but I’m not a big fan of Feinstein and I’m ambivalent on Eshoo, my representative. Also, I’m leaning towards Campbell in the gov race.

    “But Fox is still exerting a very large influence on far right and neo-con Republican politicians whom moderate Republicans and conservative Independents also unfortunately voted into office and that effects the government. That allows Fox to shape what conservative means and have the politicians echo their rhetoric. Until the centrist/middle right, (that would be you,) finds a way to take back the Republican party from the far right, Fox will control the definition of conservatism.”

    Sure, but we can’t do that without you, the center/middle left. How about we all just stop believing Fox speaks for all conservatives? That would be a great beginning, wouldn’t it?

    “In that sense, what the White House did helped you out. By acknowledging that Fox is not a news organization with a conservative slant (like say the Wall Street Journal,) but instead a far right propaganda machine trying to influence and promote the (far right) Republicans, the White House defined Fox not as the bastion of conservatism, but the extreme, distancing Fox from your brand of conservatism, diminishing their ability to claim to speak for you.”

    I disagree. The White House helped Fox by merely acknowledging them. This further sets Fox up as the voice of the right, which is what we both seem to agree should NOT happen.

    My own preference would be for the administration to stop paying attention to the news organizations altogether. We’ve become far too wrapped up in this 24 hour news cycle and it’s distracting us away from real issues.

    Let the journalists dig up their own stories and let the White House focus on what they were elected to do, leading us and solving the giant gaping mess the previous administration left.

  196. GalJ: I’m evidently not explaining myself very well here.

    “Again, no, I pick and choose my candidates based on their individual views, not some sort of conservative label or rhetoric.”

    I didn’t say you. I said people like you. Over twenty years or so. Based on their individual views, not rhetoric. But the tolerance of much of the center for the far right controlling the debate had an effect on the political landscape that put the far right into power in the Republican party.

    “You forget that Fox is at it’s heart a profit driven corporation. You are in fact their best ally because you buy into their us vs. them mentality. Merely by stating that you’re their enemy you’re validating their whole marketing strategy. It would be far better if you simply ignored them.”

    I never forget that Fox is profit driven. I’ve been saying it throughout this thread. I didn’t state that I’m their enemy. I said that Fox regards me as their enemy, which are two different things. It’s not us versus them, but for them, that’s their strategy. Ignoring them while they pursue that strategy is what put the far right into political power and Fox in such an influential position with Republican politicians in the first place.

    “Again, the only reason Fox has power is because people believe what it says. I don’t believe them.”

    But you’re not happy that other people do believe it and think that as a conservative, you’re far right, are you?

    “Actually, I voted liberterian last election. I was going to vote McCain because I liked his economic policies better than Obama’s but then he picked Palin and that was a bit too much for me to stomach. Locally, I’m a pretty steadfast Boxer supporter but I’m not a big fan of Feinstein and I’m ambivalent on Eshoo, my representative. Also, I’m leaning towards Campbell in the gov race.”

    Yeah, I pretty much picked up the libertarian bent. But the far right has co-opted a lot of the libertarian movement, again.

    “Sure, but we can’t do that without you, the center/middle left.”

    You already have us. And unlike the far right, the far left has very little impact on the Democrats. Many of them aren’t even Democrats.

    “How about we all just stop believing Fox speaks for all conservatives? That would be a great beginning, wouldn’t it?”

    I don’t believe Fox speaks for all conservatives. But Fox does, or rather, it helps its money making to claim it does. And that claim has to be continually challenged, and the people who are most credible challenging it are not Democrats, but the center and moderate right. I think we’re pretty much in agreement about that.

    “I disagree. The White House helped Fox by merely acknowledging them. This further sets Fox up as the voice of the right, which is what we both seem to agree should NOT happen.”

    I disagree. It questioned the legitimacy of Fox as an organization, as newscasters relaying the news. Which undermines their position as the voice of the right because it presents it as far right and too extreme. So more people like you, the center, are disgusted with them, even if their ratings go up with the far right. And it gives more moderate Republicans more wiggle room, which could help erode the far right’s grip on the Republican party in the primary dog fights that are shaping up.

    I don’t think it’s going to make a huge difference or make Fox less money, but it actually did put Fox on the defensive, and it’s going to hurt them in encounters with the White House, not because the WH is repressing them but because everyone will be thinking and talking about whether they are being real newscasters every time there is an encounter.

    The White House is very focused on issues and a number of things have gotten done. But the big domestic issues are ones the social conservatives will fight tooth and nail — health care, climate change, financial reform, education funding, etc. — and they are going to be slow going. And the international issues are going to be even slower.

    My own preference would be for the administration to stop paying attention to the news organizations altogether. We’ve become far too wrapped up in this 24 hour news cycle and it’s distracting us away from real issues.

    Let the journalists dig up their own stories and let the White House focus on what they were elected to do, leading us and solving the giant gaping mess the previous administration left.

  197. Oops, those last two paragraphs of my last post are GalJ’s words that weren’t supposed to be in the post. :)

  198. GalJ @ 236 –

    “Don’t assume everyone who doesn’t agree with you is a religious nutball who watches FoxNews in their underwear while sipping a Pabst Blue Ribbon and watching NASCAR.”

    I have seriously got to disable that live Internet cam I got. My Thursday night is getting splashed around everywhere as a bad example. That’s right, I TiVo NASCAR.

    KatG @ 240 -

    “Moderate Republicans and conservative Independents, like yourself, voted for Republicans espousing far right rhetoric, which increased their power, and supported the Republican party as it tilted ever more rightward.”

    I’m not sure that’s it, exactly. I think more accurately, moderate elected officials heard the loud clamour of the far right, and moved themselves in that direction slowly, to retain their political relevancy.

    “Moderate Republicans, instead of fighting for their party, rolled over and let themselves be ousted or fled.”

    that definitely has been a problem. I don’t even think of the republican party as itself anymore. It’s been completely taken over by the far right. As such, it’s hurling itself, laughing maniacally all the way, into third party irrelevancy.

    To an extent, I’m not even sure most of the moderates could have prevented themselves from being ousted. There’s just no way for them to beat a primary challenge and still have any moderate street cred left over. I recall Kathleen sebelius trying her at hand at entertaining the notion of considering the importance of state secession.

    Regarding the intent/effect of the White Houses challenge: (snipped in whole from KatGs post @ 242, including the quote from GalJ)

    ““I disagree. The White House helped Fox by merely acknowledging them. This further sets Fox up as the voice of the right, which is what we both seem to agree should NOT happen.”
    I disagree. It questioned the legitimacy of Fox as an organization, as newscasters relaying the news. Which undermines their position as the voice of the right because it presents it as far right and too extreme. So more people like you, the center, are disgusted with them, even if their ratings go up with the far right. And it gives more moderate Republicans more wiggle room, which could help erode the far right’s grip on the Republican party in the primary dog fights that are shaping up.”

    I think that’s probably more accurate there, Kat. While calling Fox out gives the far right a rallying point to talk unabashedly aboutthe resurgence of nixons enemies lists, it also hangs a lantern on the absurdity of the whole thing.

    The White House should have beenbetter organized about their position though. The story is in how the actual news shows pick, present and lead their “news”. But every time I saw them discussing it, someone was making a crack at Becks expense. I definitely harbor no feelings of goodwill for the guy, but he isn’t really an example of where I think the story is. It’s more in the way they cherrypicking and misrepresent studies, for example, that they run on straight news programs.

    “The White House is very focused on issues and a number of things have gotten done.”

    and this is where I think the story gets awkward. I agree whole heartedly with that sentence. But the story du jour on every news channel this week has been about Obama not getting anything done. And to that extent, all the news organizations are interested in (some way more so than others) in creating and then covering conflict. For example, instead of covering the facts of the situation in Afghanistan, we’ve been shouted at by every news network aboutthe so called McChrystal vs Obama non issue because of a few speaking engagements that happened three weeks ago. Where are the detail oriented cost layouts on the troop surge/deployment? Lengthy commentary on the viability of a hulked out COIN strategy? It wasn’t until they started covering the old news that Karzais brother is a big time drug man that the snippet stories moved on to that.

    I wholly recognize that at least that derailment starts at actual facts, where I find fox generally starts at whatever crazy is hot on the interwebs.

    I’ve just depressed myself. Can someone more wise in the way that only years on the calander can provide comment on whether or not the days of yore which news anchors were crafting the news actually existed?

    Apologies for interjecting into a two person discussion.

  199. Other Bill: “But the story du jour on every news channel this week has been about Obama not getting anything done. And to that extent, all the news organizations are interested in (some way more so than others) in creating and then covering conflict. For example, instead of covering the facts of the situation in Afghanistan, we’ve been shouted at by every news network aboutthe so called McChrystal vs Obama non issue because of a few speaking engagements that happened three weeks ago. Where are the detail oriented cost layouts on the troop surge/deployment? Lengthy commentary on the viability of a hulked out COIN strategy? It wasn’t until they started covering the old news that Karzais brother is a big time drug man that the snippet stories moved on to that.”

    Why, you mean the rest of the media isn’t tied to Obama’s butt and promoting his agenda? Is criticizing him? Is simplifying everything into a cage match sound bite? Is putting forth that the, gasp, SNL skit might have been right? Who would have thought it. :)

    My favorite right now is the public option. The far right put out the propaganda point that the public option is dead back in the summer, Fox beat the drum continually like a good propaganda machine, and the other media would pick it up because apparently no one trained the t.v. news journalists anymore to understand how Congress actually works to create legislation. So when the public option suddenly isn’t dead, they are terribly, terribly confused, while Fox keeps asserting that really it is dead. It’s bizarre.

    Even the broadcast shows are a mess, though it’s the screwed up cable networks that get all the attention. But I disagree with you, Bill, that Beck is not a real issue. He’s not just confined to his morning zoo conspiracy hour, he’s all over the network. And his McCarthy witch hunts are yellow journalism at its finest, and very damaging. It would be nice to have a real watchdog — every White House needs one — but Beck isn’t it. He ascribes to the cult philosophy of this really weird guru and is wildly racist. The idea that we just ignore Beck, Fox and they’ll go away — small audience that they are — is again a boon to the far right. I’m not that worried about the media, but I am worried about politicians, and too many of them ape Fox.

  200. I’ll try to respond as best I can. I’m in class at the moment so I should probably not spend too much time debating politics on the interwebs :)

    # KatGon 29 Oct 2009 at 11:51 pm

    “I didn’t say you. I said people like you. Over twenty years or so. Based on their individual views, not rhetoric. But the tolerance of much of the center for the far right controlling the debate had an effect on the political landscape that put the far right into power in the Republican party.”

    I would change that somewhat. The problem is that we in the center (and I include moderate liberals here too) have allowed both extremes to gain too much power. That’s very obvious on the right because the extreme right is, well, I’m trying to find a good word for this and failing so I’m just going to use the word “simple”. However, it’s also obvious on the left if you look hard enough. The extreme left is just better at camouflage :)

    “I never forget that Fox is profit driven. I’ve been saying it throughout this thread. I didn’t state that I’m their enemy. I said that Fox regards me as their enemy, which are two different things. It’s not us versus them, but for them, that’s their strategy. Ignoring them while they pursue that strategy is what put the far right into political power and Fox in such an influential position with Republican politicians in the first place.”

    Based on what I encounter every day and a lot of what I’ve seen on this thread, it is in fact us vs. them for many democrats.

    “But you’re not happy that other people do believe it and think that as a conservative, you’re far right, are you?”

    I’m not happy that people (especially those who vote) form simplistic opinions based on surface impressions. I’m also unhappy about the fact that holding some views which are labeled as conservative, makes me into some kind of war mongering monster in people’s eyes. This by the way is a quote from a post right here on this thread. Not you, but emblematic of what I have an issue with:

    “A conservative believes in torture. A conservative also believes in faking evidence to trump up a war.”

    If I’m responsible for the crap Fox spouts then aren’t you responsible for this kind of crap?

    “Yeah, I pretty much picked up the libertarian bent. But the far right has co-opted a lot of the libertarian movement, again.”

    Yah, although I’m happy to say I’m seeing more people declare themselves independent. I would love to see all Americans do that and simply choose candidates by their views and not their party affiliation.

    “You already have us. And unlike the far right, the far left has very little impact on the Democrats. Many of them aren’t even Democrats.”

    Just like the far right aren’t really conservatives.

    “I don’t believe Fox speaks for all conservatives. But Fox does, or rather, it helps its money making to claim it does. And that claim has to be continually challenged, and the people who are most credible challenging it are not Democrats, but the center and moderate right. I think we’re pretty much in agreement about that.”

    Almost. I think of Fox (and MSNBC and CNN…) as those kids on the playground who likes to tease people about their clothes. They’re not big enough to be a real bully but they gain power because people laugh at their jokes. So my solution? Stop listening to the jokes. Remember, they’re media companies, they gain power from gaining attention because that means more of an audience. The best way to kill a media company is not to fight it, it’s simply to ignore it. That’s why movie boycotts never work by the way, because they just generate more publicity for the thing you’re trying to fight against.

    “I don’t think it’s going to make a huge difference or make Fox less money, but it actually did put Fox on the defensive”

    They love being on the defensive. That way they appear like the innocent victim being attacked.

    “and it’s going to hurt them in encounters with the White House, not because the WH is repressing them but because everyone will be thinking and talking about whether they are being real newscasters every time there is an encounter.”

    And lots of people out there wonder why Obama doesn’t do this with the rest of the craptastic newscasters which paints him as partisan and as no better than George Bush. Again, back to Partisan politics.

    “The White House is very focused on issues and a number of things have gotten done. But the big domestic issues are ones the social conservatives will fight tooth and nail — health care, climate change, financial reform, education funding, etc. — and they are going to be slow going. And the international issues are going to be even slower.”

    I disagree. Nothing real has gotten done and I’m ok with that. He’s only been in office for less than a year. I didn’t expect him to solve all our problems in that period of time. I think the people who claim he’s gotten a lot done are just as misguided as those who deride him for getting nothing done. He’s working on a lot of different things and that’s great. I’ll hold off judgment for a few years and see what happens.

    From your other post:

    “But I disagree with you, Bill, that Beck is not a real issue.”

    By the way, I’d like to remind you that Glenn Beck started out on CNN. Just pointing out that Fox is no worse, it’s just better at marketing.

  201. # Other Billon 30 Oct 2009 at 3:17 am

    “I have seriously got to disable that live Internet cam I got. My Thursday night is getting splashed around everywhere as a bad example. That’s right, I TiVo NASCAR.”

    We’re watching you at all times!

    “that definitely has been a problem. I don’t even think of the republican party as itself anymore. It’s been completely taken over by the far right. As such, it’s hurling itself, laughing maniacally all the way, into third party irrelevancy.”

    Sadly true. Also a bit scary since I’m not sure what will happen when the democratic party has unchallenged power. However, to their credit, the democrats are better at running moderate candidates these days.

    ““The White House is very focused on issues and a number of things have gotten done.”

    and this is where I think the story gets awkward. I agree whole heartedly with that sentence. But the story du jour on every news channel this week has been about Obama not getting anything done. ”

    See my other post. I wish we lived in a country where it was ok to admit that the president hadn’t gotten much done yet because it’s only been 9 months since he took power.

    “Apologies for interjecting into a two person discussion.”

    If it was a two person conversation we wouldn’t be having it in public on the internet :)

  202. KatG @ 245 -

    “But I disagree with you, Bill, that Beck is not a real issue. He’s not just confined to his morning zoo conspiracy hour, he’s all over the network.”

    I should have been more specific. I didn’t mean to say that beck isn’t an issue, more that he’s not the issue when it comes to fox news’ and it’s bias. I didn’t want to derail onto a glen beck. I find a lot of what he does to be much more insidious than some radio talk show shennanigans.

    And to the extent that he appears on the actual news shows as some sort of expert commentator, he is very much relevant to this. You are absolutely correct.

    GalJ @ 247 -

    “Sadly true. Also a bit scary since I’m not sure what will happen when the democratic party has unchallenged power. However, to their credit, the democrats are better at running moderate candidates these days.”

    I think that’s part and parcel of being a party in power. The longer your side is solidly in control, the easier it is for the fringier elements to creep their way into your elites mainstream.

    I think Fox News has, to an extent, helped to facilitate that process for the republican party. You have the RelCons, the NeoCons, and the moderate republicans (who probably self identify as independents now). And the libertarians are probably starting to reconsider some core issues as various republican factions try to devour their cause.

    ” I wish we lived in a country where it was ok to admit that the president hadn’t gotten much done yet because it’s only been 9 months since he took power.”

    it isn’t so much that I oppose talking about what he hasn’t done. He’s not even a year in. Most of what he wants to accomish will take much longer than that. I think that for ninths months in, I’m happy with the ratio of what he’s done to what he should have done.

    But I think every story I saw onthat subject was headlined as harshly as possible, in order to create conflict over a nonissue. It was more to reflect on the general tenor of the news than a commentary on the appropriateness, for either side, to comment positively, neutrally or negatively on the progress of the president.

  203. And Kat, this public option public debate has been like watching a tennis match where the players have been replaced with those tennis ball shooting cannons.

    Not really any back and forth, little aiming, just thunking away on whatever talking points someone else has loaded into the hopper.

    “No, it isn’t dead.”

    “yes it is dead.”

    “you’re wrong”/”you’re wrong”

    confusing multiparty cross talk.

    “Obama wants to kill your grandmother.”

    “that’s just simply not true.”

    I mean, those are the conversations. And I think both sides are way off in their level of response. Those cannons definitely need some recalibration. Or, maybe we could just replace the machines with some players who understand that Upon which they are bloviating. (Full disclosure: I’m involved in a short term love affair with the word ‘bloviate’)

  204. OB, how do you know that? Are you saying that you aren’t even going to try to keep it going? You never know, things could work out between you two if you put in a little effort—you know, buy flowers and stuff.

    And announcing that it’s short-term right here is a little gauche, if I may say so. You may think ‘bloviate’ has no feelings, but that’s just logophobia.

  205. Xopher – you can’t say words like logophobia and gauche around me. ‘bloviate’ is a jealous type. We’re just fighting is all. Plus, there are some latent issues over my past relationships, particularly with her sister ‘pontificate’. But you’re right. And ‘bloviate’ and I do agree that goonies never say die.

  206. I’m afraid that I cannot say anything better on this subject than the Daily Show did on its first segment of its October 29th episode, including looking at why MSNBC isn’t really a dog in the fight and the White House’s flubs in follow-up.

  207. KatG – I just watched that clip. Best quote:

    “What the what? truth to power? You are the White House.”

    and, yes, I’d say that sums it up.

  208. You see through the haze; no one can fool you.

    Congratulations, you identified the secret motivation behind an elected official blacklisting an entire news organization – and it didn’t even shake up your preconceptions.

  209. I think it’s a bit short-sited to say that Conservatism and the GOP being synnomous. The nearly 2 million that marched on DC on 9/12 wasn’t a gathering of Republicans; it was a gathering of Conservatives.

    Yes, it’s true that the Republicans are the party of Conservatives given our two-party system, but it’s not that black and white. The NY 23 race proves this. Whereas Newt Gigrich, the local GOP and the NRCC supported Dede Scozzafava, Conservatives around the county demanded that they dump Dede.

    Even opposition to Obama’s “Healthcare Reform”, Cap & Trade and Card Check is starting at a local level and percolating up. The GOP has pretty much stayed away from those issues. Citizens of this great nation are becoming informed and concerned and are looking to get involved in politics after twenty years of apathy.

  210. “I think some people are under the impression that the White House wants Fox News to disappear. Nothing, I suspect, could be further from the truth.”

    I smiled and laughed knowingly. Don’t they see that this is exactly what Obama wanted all along. Rolling my chair back, expertly reaching the exact edge of the clear rubber mat protecting the carpet, I scanned my blog post one last time. It’s all so obvious, I thought. Those middle-american plebes just can’t get it, can they. With expert precision I clicked “submit Post” and left my office for the restroom. “I’ll be right back” I said to my office mate, tapping the I voted sticker I put on the door frame on my way out.

  211. Professor Tom at 257: 2 Million? It was more like 65,000. It was about the same amount of people as showed up for the gay rights march a couple of weekends ago.

    For future reference, in case you didn’t know, 2 million is not at all the same as 65 thousand.

  212. OK, I call bullshit on two assumptions of fact.

    One, that FNC is biased across the board. Like MSNBC, CNN, et al, they have a news team and commentators. No argument here that the commentators swing right but the news team is pretty good at what they do in a non-biased way. In fact, Shepard Smith, their anchor, is not conservative at all.

    Two, Fox viewers are all drooling conservative idiots. In fact, studies have shown that FNC has the most balanced viewership in cable news. I think, and this is pure speculation, that the majority of FNC viewers for Beck, O’Reilly, and the other commentators watch for entertainment value not because they are in political lockstep.

    Here’s one last thing to consider: Most of the FNC hosts welcome guests from the left so you are generally getting both sides presented. That’s good TV – it’s almost like a sporting match. OTOH, when you have crazed, intolerant ideologues running things – like MSNBC has with Olbermann, you only hear one point of view and the host is never challenged and that’s not generally entertaining.

    I could be wrong….but I don’t think I am.

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