— a random comment on “The Bush Years And What A “Lapdog” Press Really Looked Like”
(Media Matters) - Perpetually fuming about President Obama, Sean Hannity widened his rant Wednesday night on Fox News and condemned the “lapdog, kiss ass media” that allegedly lets Obama have his way. Echoing the same attack, Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week that ”Mr. Obama is a once-in-a-generation demagogue with a compliant press corps,” while the anti-Obama Daily Caller pushed the headline, ”Lapdog Media Seeking Lap To Lie In.”
Complaining about the “liberal media,” has been a running, four-decade story for conservative activists. But what we’re hearing more of lately is the specific allegation that the press has purposefully laid down for the Democratic president, and that it’s all part of a master media plan to help Democrats foil Republicans.
The rolling accusation caught my attention since I wrote a book called Lapdogs, which documented the Beltway media’s chronic timidity during the previous Republican administration, and particularly with regards to the Iraq War. I found it curious that Hannity and friends are now trying to turn the rhetorical tables with a Democrat in the White House, and I was interested in what proof they had to lodge that accusation against today’s press.
It turns out the evidence is quite thin. For instance, onenever-ending partisan cry has been the press has “ignored” the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last year; that they’re protecting Obama. Yet theNew York Times and Washington Post have published nearly 800 articles and columns mentioning Benghazi since last September, according to Nexis.
What the lapdog allegation really seems to revolve around is the fact that conservatives are angry that Obamaremains popular with the public. Rather than acknowledge that reality, partisans increasingly blame the press and insist if only reporters and pundits would tell ‘the truth’ about Obama, then voters would truly understand how he’s out to destroy liberty and freedom and capitalism.
Sorry, but that’s not what constitutes a lapdog press corps. And to confuse chronic partisan whining with authentic media criticism is a mistake. The Hannity-led claim also isn’t accurate. Studies have shown that during long stretches of his first term, Obama was hammered with “unrelentingly negative” press coverage.
By contrast, the lapdog era of the Bush years represented nothing short of an institutional collapse of the American newsroom. And it was one that, given the media’s integral role in helping to sell the Iraq War, did grave damage to our democracy.
I’ve been though 6 presidents in my lifetime and I’ve heard the same complaint of “the media being too easy on them” about each of them from the opposite party.
I don’t think the issue here is conservative or liberal bias in the press, but a bias in general toward the president.
Given how popular Bush was immediately following 9-11 when he was polling at 90% approval by 9-23-01 and had an average approval rating of 62% during his first term, the press jumped right on the bandwagon.
I see the same thing happening with Obama, as his approval ratings increase, the mainstream press has been going easier on him, not to the same effect they did with Bush, but there are several other factors as to why not (including the surge of nationalism directly after 9-11 and leading into the war with Iraq).
It all comes down to the press kissing a president’s ass the higher their approval ratings are.
PoliticusUSA has covered this subject in this space before. But never in the depth you’re about to witness. The “Liberal Media”, is a tiresome and wholly inaccurate screed that is the centerpiece of right-wing propaganda.
(Salon) - MSNBC, we’re told all the time, is the liberal Fox News. That’s reductive and stupid. It isn’t. MSNBC isn’t the liberal Fox News for two very important reasons: It usually demonstrates a greater respect for the truth than Fox News, and it’s not as good as Fox News. It’s not as good at being liberal as Fox is at being conservative. Fox is rigidly ideologically consistent, with its “straight news” programs echoing the same talking points and pushing the same slanted stories as its opinion shows. While there’s no doubt that MSNBC is more unapologetically liberal than it used to be, it’s still over the place, with a conservative anchoring its flagship morning show, objective Beltway “straight news” proponents like Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell dominating in the day time, and weekends full of… prison shows. But more importantly, it’s not as good as Fox at being compelling TV, which is why millions more people watch Fox every day. (There are demographic reasons for Fox’s advantage, too, but it’s still a huge number.)
There’s a reason Ed Schultz — the most Fox-like of MSNBC’s liberal hosts — has great ratings. That’s also what makes it so funny that MSNBC is supposedly planning on replacing him with Ezra Klein, which is like Fox deciding to replace Sean Hannity with Ross Douthat. Good for respectability. Bad for ratings.
Cable news as a medium is basically a nightmare, with its oversimplification, artificial theatrical performances of ideological debate, and endless mind-deadening repetition. Fox at least goes directly for the lizard brain, offering hot newsreaders sneering outrages at you during the day and fired-up true believers in the evenings. There’s no subtlety, just lots of primal tribal red meat married to a tabloid sense of newsworthiness: shocking videos, car chases, women in bikinis doing something or other somewhere. It’s a deplorable mechanism for radicalizing old people, but it’s better entertainment than Chuck Todd interviewing Blanche Lincoln.
I’ve always been of the belief that the whole “MSNBC is the liberal Fox News” meme is simply a lazy way for folks to dismiss criticism of Fox’s utter disregard for facts.
Fox News hosts and contributors have campaigned for Republican candidates and organizations from coast to coast this election cycle.
According to a Media Matters review, at least 32 Fox News figures have backed Republican efforts in more than 300 instances during the 2011-2012 election cycle. The Fox News personalities have campaigned for Republicans nationally and in more than 40 states.
These Fox News campaigners have officially endorsed candidates; advised campaigns; played key roles in fundraisers and events; recorded advertisements and robocalls; and helped direct expenditures to support Republicans and oppose Democrats through Republican-aligned groups.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is the largest beneficiary of the Fox News campaigning. Five Fox News figures are advising Romney’s campaign, and nine have been featured in a Romney event.
The Fox campaigning involves hundreds of millions of dollars, with participants’ activities ranging from collectively being featured in more than 100 fundraisers to advising organizations like American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS.
Media Matters previously examined Fox News personalities who have rallied for Republican causes in prior years, Fox’s active role in the GOP presidential primary, the network’s support for the Tea Party movement, and Fox’s four-year campaign to make Barack Obama a one-term president.
Media Matters produced this report based on various Internet searches and an examination of Nexis, Facebook, Twitter, and campaign finance databases such as OpenSecrets.org and FEC.gov. This report is intended to be a snapshot of Fox’s campaign activity and not an absolute count. Since many Republican events are not publicly promoted, this report undoubtedly undercounted the extent of Fox’s campaigning.
The War on Objectivity: How the right’s smearing of Nate Silver is just a piece of a larger movement towards removing facts from objective reality if they don’t fit a narrative.
By Paul Krugman
Brad DeLong points me to this National Review attack on Nate Silver, which I think of as illustrating an important aspect of what’s really happening in America.
For those new to this, Nate is a sports statistician turned political statistician, who has been maintaining a model that takes lots and lots of polling data — most of it at the state level, which is where the presidency gets decided — and converts it into election odds. Like others doing similar exercises — Drew Linzer, Sam Wang, and Pollster — Nate’s model continued to show an Obama edge even after Denver, and has shown that edge widening over the past couple of weeks.
This could be wrong, obviously. And we’ll find out on Election Day. But the methodology has been very clear, and all the election modelers have been faithful to their models, letting the numbers fall where they may.
Yet the right — and we’re not talking about the fringe here, we’re talking about mainstream commentators and publications — has been screaming “bias”! They know, just know, that Nate must be cooking the books. How do they know this? Well, his results look good for Obama, so it must be a cheat. Never mind the fact that Nate tells us all exactly how he does it, and that he hasn’t changed the formula at all.
This is, of course, reminiscent of the attack on the Bureau of Labor Statistics — not to mention the attacks on climate science and much more. On the right, apparently, there is no such thing as an objective calculation. Everything must have a political motive.
This is really scary. It means that if these people triumph, science — or any kind of scholarship — will become impossible. Everything must pass a political test; if it isn’t what the right wants to hear, the messenger is subjected to a smear campaign.
I would argue that the last paragraph has already happened.
What happens when public officials don’t tell the truth? Traditionally it’s been the role of the media to point this out. It is the role of the media not only to uncover hidden deceit, but also to point out deceit in plain sight. The media should not and cannot hide behind the phony gauze of neutrality. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously quipped, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.”
It is the job of the media to distinguish between the two, and to clearly and blatantly point out the discrepancies to the public.
And yet, too often, they do not. The media, too often, reports what officials say and how they say it, and doesn’t delve into the substance and accuracy of the statements.
The truth is objective, a presentation of both sides of an argument is not necessarily objective.
When a topic is noisily debated, journalists go to pains to present, with equal space and import, both sides of the topic. Usually this is a good thing. The public should know the arguments from all sides of a contentious issue.
But sometimes, and this may sound overly simplistic, but it remains true, there is only one credible side to a debate.
The earth is getting warmer, and man-made carbon emissions are causing it.
Humans evolved from apes. You cannot cut taxes by 20 percent and close enough loopholes to be revenue neutral without raising taxes on the middle class.
Study after reputable study has shown these statements to be true. (Admittedly there have been fewer studies of the last claim because it is so much newer, but every reputable study has found the above statement accurate). Yet we still see news stories in which “experts” from both sides of the argument are called upon and given equal standing to make their case.
Paul Krugman, the Nobel-winning economist and unabashedly liberal New York Times op-ed columnist, wrote about this phenomenon in 2000.
“If a presidential candidate were to declare that the earth is flat, you would be sure to see a news analysis under the headline ‘Shape of the Planet: Both Sides Have a Point.’ After all, the earth isn’t perfectly spherical.
That analysis is equally applicable today. The mainstream media (with the exception of nakedly partisan outfits like Fox News and MSNBC) are so desperate to appear unbiased that they go out of their way to point out inconsistencies on both sides of the political spectrum even when it may not be appropriate.
This false equivalency, the effort of the news media to remain at the political center of an argument, no matter the merits or truthfulness of either side of the argument, is sometimes labeled as a bias towards objectivity. This is a false and misleading turn of phrase.
Journalists should always exhibit a bias towards objectivity. Being objective — dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings — is always the goal. The trouble comes when objectivity is confused with neutrality.
It is fine to be partial, indeed it is imperative if, after a careful examination of the facts, one concludes that the truth lies on one side of the argument. This is being objective. Examining the facts on their merits and presenting the truth is a journalist’s job.
A long read but worth it. The article outlines most of my personal frustration with journalism and the media as it exists today.
I can’t believe how much people are arguing over what the President said after the Benghazi attack when we have freaking VIDEO of what he said from several sources.
I suppose it will never end.
Now that Fox News has latched onto it and keep pushing the inaccurate statement that Romney made at the debate, Fox News and the rest of the right wing echo-chamber will continue to hammer on it and the people who get all their news from said echo-chamber will never stop repeating it.
Just like the birther BS, just like the “Obama is a Muslim” BS, it will never completely go away no matter how much proof is provided.
Rather than admit that their guy, Mitt Romney, didn’t just lose the last debate but specifically blew it on the right wing’s pet witch hunt of Benghazi, Fox has been trying to blame moderator Candy Crowley both as a scapegoat and as a dust cloud of distraction. But this morning, Fox & Friends kicked both the scapegoating and the distraction up a notch by starting a new witch hunt for Crowley’s head.
For those not following the issue, Crowley halted Romney’s rude and disrespectful attack on Obama for supposedly not using the words “act of terror” for 14 days when referring to the attacks on the American consulate at Benghazi. Crowley interrupted to say that Obama had, in fact, used those words. And he did, the very next day. But on Fox News, fact-checking in a debate is bias – when the facts are not in the Republican candidate’s favor, of course. Can there be any doubt that Fox would be cheering Crowley had she done the same thing to Obama?
Now, to up the ante, Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson started calling for Crowley’s firing.
I thought this was the defining moment in the debate… I was stunned. You literally couldn’t have a more destructive moment in a debate. You couldn’t more clearly help one candidate against the other. This is the kind of moment where, you know, people’s careers are destroyed. In a normal world, you couldn’t work in journalism again after doing something like that.
Well, unless she had caught President Obama in a falsehood. In that case, she might have been offered a job at Fox News on the spot. Then she could have joined birther Heather Childers, still playing an objective news host on Fox, even after she sent a tweet asking for “thoughts” as to whether or not the Obama campaign threatened to kill Chelsea Clinton in order to keep Bill and Hillary Clinton from spilling the beans about then-candidate Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Or birther and bigot Lou Dobbs, now at Fox Business but a regular on the News Channel.
Speaking of Dobbs, Carlson was on Dobbs’ show last night where he compared Crowley to John Wilkes Booth. Now THAT’S journalism, Fox style.
This is fucking hilarious. I want you “both sides do this” people to tell me this is what happened on MSNBC after the first debate. I fucking dare you.
Fox News and Right Wing Media has done more damage to this country than any terrorist or outside force.
How is this country ever expected to move forward when an entire alternate narrative has been constructed where the followers of that narrative write off all information that is contrary to what the narrative tells them as a conspiracy or bias?
In the weeks leading up to the debate, right wing media claimed that the polls were biased (right up to when the polls started swinging in favor of Romney). When the jobs numbers came out last week, it was claimed that The Bureau of Labor Statistics “cooked the books” for Obama.
I’ve also noticed that as much as conservatives cry about the “liberal media” the rest of the media picks up stories and drops them from news cycle to news cycle and news items are quickly and easily forgotten among much of the general population - but conservative media will hammer, hammer and hammer and even manage to get traction in the rest of the media that is either too timid to call them out on it, or finds that it isn’t in their best interest to do so.
Which brings me to another point. It seems like a lot of people, in the media, and within day to day interactions with others are to the point were they are almost afraid to call out the people who follow this alternate narrative. They get called stupid, told that they are brainwashed by the “lamestream media”, mocked, or if all else fails, the followers of the right wing alternate narrative will play victim or claim that somehow their rights are being trampled.
This problem goes even further than just die-hard conservatives as well. I can not count the number of times when fabrication of “facts” coming from right wing media has been pointed out only for it to be dismissed with “Well the other side does it too.”
Well no, they don’t. Not to the same degree, and not the same way. Liberals don’t have a Rush Limbaugh, a Glenn Beck or a Sean Hannity. They don’t have the gaggle of pundits that Fox News has that are echoed by the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, and Hannity.
As I stated above, the rest of the media tends to drop stories quickly for the next big story in the next news cycle while right-wing media will hammer and hammer and hammer a point, even after it’s been refuted or proven to be false over and over again (the whole birther issue comes to mind). The rest of the media doesn’t do this, and if they did I guarantee you that you wouldn’t be able to hear yourself think over the sound of conservatives crying about it.