Posted by: Rick | Tuesday, November 10, 2009

FOX News and the Mainstream Media: Partners in Crime

In this column for The Nation Eric Alterman nicely sums up the case against FOX.  Their “news” product simply isn’t journalism, and the Obama Administration is right to confront them.

Alterman also calls out media hacks who have so little regard for their own profession that they’ll defend a straight-up propaganda outfit:

Howard Kurtz, whose talent for clueless conventional thinking is exceeded only by his ability to juggle his myriad conflicts of interest, thinks Obama’s reaction to Fox is no different from JFK’s complaints about the Herald Tribune, LBJ’s unhappiness with the New York Times and various (and endless) Republican attacks on the media, so he finds it “no surprise that the Obama White House isn’t happy with its coverage and is battling back.” Baltimore Sun critic David Zurawik professes to hear “echoes of Nixon-Agnew” in the Obama White House and then accuses the administration of failing to “respect press freedom.” The Times‘s David Carr concludes, “So far, the only winner in this latest dispute seems to be Fox News. Ratings are up 20 percent this year, and the network basked for a week in the antagonism of a sitting president.”

Look, here’s the deal, kids: The mainstream media, far from being “liberal”, is always just a shot away from a right-wing takeover.  McCarthyism was before my time, but I am — unfortunately — an expert on the media’s collaboration in the nineties with Ken Starr, Tom DeLay and a rogue’s gallery of Republican “ratfuckers” and far-right hate merchants in a single-minded campaign to destroy Bill Clinton.

Jeff Gerth of The New York Times got the ball rolling with his bogus Whitewater reporting, and pretty soon Chris Matthews and Michael Isikoff were in bed (not literally, I don’t think) with Linda Tripp, Kathleen Willey and Lucianne Goldberg.  (If you don’t know these names, you missed quite a spectacle.  Believe me, between Monica Lewinski and O. J. Simpson, I didn’t have time for much else!)  It all led to an impeachment that seems completely ridiculous only a few years later.  Even wingnuts don’t want to talk about it.

For a time in those days of insanity, you couldn’t go to the networks or to The New York Times or to Newsweek for any honest reporting.  You had to consult — more names again! — Gene Lyons or Bob “Daily Howler” Somerby or — I kid you not — Geraldo Rivera! — to find anything that couldn’t have come straight from the Republican National Committee.

Mainstream media pundits today want to defend FOX News because they themselves used to be in the same rotten business.  And they’d have no problem going back to the right-wing extremist well, if the times seemed to demand it.

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