The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Few would argue that the Fox News Channel (FNC) has its collection of doctrinaire, Right-leaning commentators, or that the likes of Glen Beck or Sean Hannity don’t go hyperbolic in their criticism of the President or the Democratic majority in Congress. Most of us in the Center recognize that Fox takes strong positions and that those positions are antithetical to those of President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and their supporters on the Left.

But it’s time to get real. For every Right leaning talking head on FNC, there are dozens of Left-leaning talking heads, commentators and newsreaders on MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC who are only too willing to defend the President and trash his opposition at every turn. The problem is that progressives don’t perceive the Left-leaning bias of other cable and broadcast networks – they’re nothing more than “centrist” or “mainstream” as far as they're concerned.

The reason that many on the Left become unhinged when discussing FoxNews is that a Right-leaning cable/broadcast network is a relatively recent phenomenon. For three television generations, if you watched TV, you were subject the center-Left ideology in everything from news reporting to investigative reports.

But let’s get back to FoxNews.

President Obama said in an interview in Rolling Stone:
Obama: “[Laughs] Look, as president, I swore to uphold the Constitution, and part of that Constitution is a free press. We’ve got a tradition in this country of a press that oftentimes is opinionated. The golden age of an objective press was a pretty narrow span of time in our history. Before that, you had folks like Hearst who used their newspapers very intentionally to promote their viewpoints. I think Fox is part of that tradition – it is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view. It’s a point of view that I disagree with. It’s a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world. But as an economic enterprise, it’s been wildly successful. And I suspect that if you ask Mr. Murdoch what his number-one concern is, it’s that Fox is very successful.”

The President is correct. The total daily viewership of FoxNews’ is greater than all other cable news outlets (CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, HLN) combined. I can only wonder why he doesn’t ask himself how that can be if their point of view is “ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world.” In fact, a smart guy like President Obama might think critically for just a moment and further assess why his own poll numbers are plummeting while FoxNews’ rating are soaring.

David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun comments on the President’s obsession with FoxNews:
And I guess, it is even okay if Obama wants to say he believes Fox News has a point of view and that it's "ultimately destructive" for America. That is a pretty serious charge for the president of the United States to make against a media outlet. I wonder if Obama realizes that he carries the history and the weight of the presidency behind him when he say such things -- words that seem more suited to the slash-and-burn rhetoric of a politician on the campaign trail than the president of the United States.

But, after all, Fox News is winning with the viewer-voters of America, and Obama has been losing support for his party left and right. And nothing rallies the left, which is pretty disllusioned with Obama these days, like an attack on Fox -- especially on a week of more great ratings news and the release of a study that finds Fox a winner when voters are asked what news outlets are having a positive impact on American politics.

But you don't deny Fox News or any other news organization access to pool interviews with administration officials as was done last year or have your top aides go on Sunday morning public affairs shows and tell other journalists they should cut Fox News from the journalistic herd.

I have written this before, but it bears repeating: Outside of Richard Nixon, I have never seen a president with the profound contempt for the press that Obama has.

The historic relationship between any administration and the media is adversarial. It's for that reason that no President loves the media. But today we live in an era in which the media has been the Obama administration’s biggest booster. It’s ironic, therefore, that the President is so thin-skinned that he cannot help but publicly denigrate his sole media adversary.