Saturday, October 31

MediaMatters: Comparing FOX/MSNBC

Jamison Foser of Media Matters wrote a great piece about the FOX/MSNBC/White House nonsense. In a nut shell, the White House has come to the conclusion that FOX News is not a real news organization, FOX says that MSNBC is the left version of them, and a ridiculous amount of people in journalism have decided to not only defend FOX, but also accept that equation. This is something Aaron Sorkin would pitch as a movie idea. Foser puts it all into a perspective that ignores the petty pundit soundbites and gets to the heart of the controversy.

First, he discusses the actual programming content and the time allotted to partisan ideals on both networks:

But hey, guess what? Maddow, Schultz and Olbermann account for three hours of original programming a day -- exactly the same as Joe Scarborough, who hosts the agenda-setting Morning Joe. That's conservative Joe Scarborough. Former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough. And if you watch MSNBC during the day, you'll see a parade of anchors and reporters who frequently adopt conservative frames, pass along GOP spin, and routinely fail to challenge obvious falsehoods from conservative guests. I'm not saying these daytime reporters are conservatives, but I am saying they frequently (unknowingly, I'm willing to assume) traffic in conservative misinformation. Taken as a whole, it's awfully hard to say with a straight face that MSNBC leans to the left.

And yet reporters keep insisting that not only does MSNBC lean to the left, it leans as far to the left as Fox. (And, in the process, they ignore or downplay the central truth that the real problem with Fox isn't merely that it leans to the right, but that it is fundamentally dishonest; that its goals are not to inform the public, but to destroy people it sees as its enemies.)

Next, Foser demolishes CNN's Campbell Brown for attempting to capitalize on this feud by agreeing with the FOX/MSNBC comparison:

And in Brown's telling, MSNBC "leans left" just as much as Fox "leans to the right." Of course, Brown doesn't actually provide any examples; doesn't even name any names. In a segment that ran nearly 1,000 words, Brown didn't provide a single example of slanted commentary, flawed journalism, false claims, or anything else at all. No facts, no details, nothing.

It sure is easy to insist that Fox and MSNBC are equivalent when you don't have to actually assess what they do, isn't it? But that isn't really journalism; it's just pontification and spin.

But Brown can't offer examples; can't get into details, because if she did, the fantasy she constructs that Fox and MSNBC are polar opposites would fall apart.

She'd have to try to find MSNBC equivalents of Fox -- not just Hannity, but Bill Hemmer and Brett Baier, too -- falsely accusing an Obama administration official of covering up statutory rape. And of Hemmer falsely claiming Democrats "voted to give special protection to pedophiles."

She'd have to find the MSNBC equivalent of Fox reporter Jon Scott repeatedly being caught passing off GOP talking points (typos and all) as his original reporting. She'd have to find the MSNBC equivalent of Fox anchor Martha MacCallum having to apologize for passing off a six-month-old Joe Biden quote about the economy as a current comment -- a clip Fox deceptively cropped to make it appear Biden was saying something that he was actually criticizing John McCain for saying. And of White House correspondent Wendell Goler cropping an Obama comment and taking it out of context, completely reversing the statement's meaning in the process. Not Sean Hannity, not Glenn Beck -- Wendell Goler.

She'd have to find the MSNBC equivalent of Chris Wallace calling the Obama administration the "biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington." Anyone think David Gregory ever said anything like that about the Bush administration?

Campbell Brown knows she can't find any of these things, so she doesn't even try. And I haven't even scratched the surface of Fox's malicious and deeply dishonest attacks on those they disagree with; their assault on fact and reason, or their cheerleading for pet causes.

But even if Brown could find the MSNBC equivalent of all that and more -- which, again, she simply cannot do -- she'd still have to find the Fox equivalent of MSNBC handing over three hours a day to former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough. And of MSNBC employing Pat Buchanan, the nation's most famous bigot. And of raging Clinton-hater, liberal-basher and on-air misogynist Chris Matthews hosting one of MSNBC's signature shows. And of MSNBC's "straight news" reporters regularly adopting conservative frames and failing to challenge right-wing lies during interviews. She'd have to find the Fox version of MSNBC's use of Michelle Bernard, a right-wing activist who has been sending out false and despicable anti-health care reform attack emails, as host of a special forum dealing with health care.

Campbell Brown can't do that, either.

Read the whole thing here.

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