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Ruth Marcus blindly defends Fox ‘News’ to be this week’s Media Putz

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Originally published on on October 22, 2009

Ruth Marcus

“For entertainment purposes only” is the warning you get when you watch TV ads for psychics. This warning is certainly implied every time Fox “News” Channel comes back from commercials.

But the MSM by and large ignores the warning and bends over backward to swear that FNC is just like any other news outlet.

In the White House vs. Fox “News” battle, many MSM defenders came forward to Fox’s rescue. But Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post set a record per word in her 388-word essay for excessive ignorance as to what Fox News does.

Marcus starts with concern over the White House:

It makes the White House look weak, unable to take Harry Truman’s advice and just deal with the heat. It makes the White House look small, dragged down to the level of Glenn Beck. It makes the White House look childish and petty at best, and it has a distinct Nixonian — Agnewesque? — aroma at worst.

Does Marcus even know what is going on outside her window? This isn’t The Washington Post investigating Watergate in the 1970s, diligently pouring over every bit of information, making sure they can print it. This is Fox “News” making stuff up, starting rumors, and engaging in activities that every journalism organization in the world should be protesting.

Marcus’ take is even more startling given that the Washington press corps meekly laid down for the eight years of George W. Bush. Where was “the heat” then?

Agnewesque? Spiro Agnew’s attacks on the press were designed to get the press off the back of the Nixon Administration — all the press, not just one outlet. And it worked. If Obama’s people went after multiple outlets with crazy accusations, Marcus might have a point. But of course, she doesn’t.

Marcus tries a comparison between Bush and Obama to show that everything is exactly the same.

The Bush administration routinely briefed conservative columnists before a big presidential speech; the Obama White House tends to call in ideological sympathizers. This is the way the game is played.

Before you make equal comparisons, we only need to trot out the names of Armstrong Williams and Jeff Gannon. If there is any Democratic president that does something even comes close to these two stories, please let us know.

In the world of Ruth Marcus, both sides are exactly the same all the time. Later, she tries to prove her thesis.

Imagine the outcry if the Bush administration had pulled a similar hissy fit with MSNBC.

Of course, the Bush people didn’t have to do this, since MSNBC cheered on the pending Iraq War as much as any of the MSM outlets, and made sure Phil Donahue was off the airwaves before the start of the Iraq War. Marcus also ignores the fact that President Obama — in nine short months — has been on Fox more than George W. Bush was on MSNBC in eight years.

The comparison also isn’t valid since MSNBC hosts regularly criticize Obama, something Fox “News” rarely did with Bush.

Jake Tapper gets runner-up Media Putz status for his staunch defense of “one of our sister organizations.” At the White House briefing on Tuesday, Tapper went on the attack with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

Tapper: How are they any different from, say –

Gibbs: ABC –

Tapper: ABC. MSNBC. Univision. I mean how are they any different?

Tapper could be right in the sense in that the MSM’s news gathering and judgment skills have slipped badly. But as horrible as they are, none of them are swimming in as much filth as Fox “News” Channel.

Tapper also asked “why it’s appropriate for the White House to decide that a news organization is not one.” The White House didn’t declare this out of the blue; if anything, other legitimate MSM outlets should have stepped up first. If a pizza place started selling things that looked like pizza and clearly wasn’t, wouldn’t other pizza places object, if for nothing else but to prove that pizza should be pizza?

Perhaps we’re biased in the sense that we pay attention to what Fox “News” has done, and we do know it’s not a news gathering organization.

Sean Hannity has won two Media Putzes this year for butchering quotes from President Obama.

Fox “News” has won two Media Putzes this year alone, one for deliberately mislabeling scandal-ridden Republicans as Democrats and for sponsoring teabagger events.

If The Washington Post had done something similar, they might have to apologize. Then again, no apology ever came when Katie Couric at CBS flipped out a real John McCain answer to save him embarrassment.

If the MSM is afraid that delegitimizing Fox “News” delegitimizes them, that reality is already happening. Journalists realize they have a bad reputation in part because they don’t address the discredible news sources. When MSM journalists think Fox “News” is as legitimate as ABC News or The Washington Post, this attitude gives Fox “News” undeserved credibility, the journalism world more ethical problems, and consumers of news a lot more cynicism over whether they are being told the truth.

It certainly has been said that Ruth Marcus must not watch Fox “News.” Not knowing your subject matter makes it difficult to write a column about it, but that didn’t stop Marcus. Next time, if Marcus is going to defend Fox “News,” she should do some research, including being forced to watch the Fox “News” Channel. Until then, Ruth Marcus will have to settle for this week’s Media Putz award.


Written by democracysoup

October 22, 2009 at 6:00 am

Posted in media criticism, MSM

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