PDA

View Full Version : Fox News A Factory of Lies


TwinSwords
12-09-2010, 09:15 PM
Remember when Obama made a mild criticism of Fox News and it was portrayed by a united media as an attack on the foundations of Western Civilization? (That was when the "Obama as Mao" meme took hold, because of a dumb but offhand comment by White House Communcation Director Anita Dunn, the official who started the controversy with the reckless observation that Fox News "is opinion journalism masquerading as news." You know, just like a despotic mass murderer.)

Digby, today (http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/no-more-secrets.html):

No More Secrets

by digby

It's not just Wikileaks, folks. The recklessness, lies and failure of the ruling elite has finally reached critical mass and average people in all walks of life are refusing to be a part of it. Here's just one little example.

Sources familiar with the situation in Fox's Washington bureau have told Media Matters that Sammon uses his position as managing editor to "slant" Fox's supposedly neutral news coverage to the right. Sammon's "government option" email is the clearest evidence yet that Sammon is aggressively pushing Fox's reporting to the right -- in this case by issuing written orders to his staff.

As far back as March 2009, Fox personalities had sporadically referred to the "government option."

Two months prior to Sammon's 2009 memo, Republican pollster Frank Luntz appeared on Sean Hannity's August 18 Fox News program. Luntz scolded Hannity for referring to the "public option" and encouraged Hannity to use "government option" instead.

Luntz argued that "if you call it a 'public option,' the American people are split," but that "if you call it the 'government option,' the public is overwhelmingly against it." Luntz explained that the program would be "sponsored by the government" and falsely claimed that it would also be "paid for by the government."

"You know what," Hannity replied, "it's a great point, and from now on, I'm going to call it the government option."

On October 26, 2009, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced the inclusion of a public insurance option that states could opt out of in the Senate's health care bill.

That night, Special Report used "public" and "government" interchangeably when describing the public option provision.

Anchor Bret Baier referred to "a so-called public option"; the "public option"; "government-provided insurance coverage"; "this government-run insurance option"; the "healthcare public option"; and "the government-run option, the public option." Correspondent Shannon Bream referred to "a government-run public option"; "a public option"; "a government-run option"; and "the public option."

The next morning, October 27, Sammon sent an email to the staffs of Special Report, Fox News Sunday, and FoxNews.com, as well as to other reporters and producers at the network. The subject line read: "friendly reminder: let's not slip back into calling it the 'public option.' "

Sammon instructed staff to refer on air to "government-run health insurance," the "government option," "the public option, which is the government-run plan," or -- when "necessary" -- "the so-called public option"

Media Matters has the memos.

Now everyone has known forever that Bill Sammon is a rightwing hack of epic proportions. But the Network has defended Sammon as a straight reporter and the Villagers have had fits if anyone suggested otherwise. So this just proves something that was already obvious. What's interesting about it is that FOX employees have had enough and are leaking the secrets.

The Wikileaks issue is fascinating, for sure, especially the idea that they can use the internet to disseminate information beyond a chosen few who are allowed to see it. But this is about the failure of our leadership and institutions over a long period of time and the culture of secrecy and corruption that's brought us to this point. The system itself is leaking because its been compromised so badly. They can shut off the flow at any point and it will just leak elsewhere.

digby

chiwhisoxx
12-09-2010, 09:20 PM
Remember when Obama made a mild criticism of Fox News and it was portrayed by a united media as an attack on the foundations of Western Civilization? (That was when the "Obama as Mao" meme took hold, because of a dumb but offhand comment by White House Communcation Director Anita Dunn, the official who started the controversy with the reckless observation that Fox News "is opinion journalism masquerading as news." You know, just like a despotic mass murderer.)

Digby, today (http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/no-more-secrets.html):

There are plenty of legitimate things to complain about when talking about Fox News; them calling a government insurance plan a government insurance plan is not one of them.

Don Zeko
12-10-2010, 10:00 AM
There are plenty of legitimate things to complain about when talking about Fox News; them calling a government insurance plan a government insurance plan is not one of them.

It's not that their terminology is obviously inappropriate or biased, it's that they're taking marching orders on political messaging from Frank Luntz.

bjkeefe
12-13-2010, 02:06 PM
[...]

I saw this story elsewhere but was too discouraged to pass it along. Thanks for posting it.

I see it provoked an immediate kneejerk response of "nothing to see here!!!1!" (Contra reality (http://www.google.com/search?q=fox+news+memo+public+option).)

I suppose the surprising thing is that there was only one. The rest of the operatives must have had the weekend off.

bjkeefe
12-13-2010, 02:16 PM
It's not that their terminology is obviously inappropriate or biased, it's that they're taking marching orders on political messaging from Frank Luntz.

Well, no, to your opening clause. The terminology FoxNews management directed its staff to use was inaccurate (http://mediamatters.org/blog/201012090003) or at least highly misleading:

From: Sammon, Bill
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 8:23 AM
To: 054 -FNSunday; 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 069 -Politics; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 036 -FOX.WHU; 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -Producers
Subject: friendly reminder: let's not slip back into calling it the "public option"

1) Please use the term "government-run health insurance" or, when brevity is a concern, "government option," whenever possible.

2) When it is necessary to use the term "public option" (which is, after all, firmly ensconced in the nation's lexicon), use the qualifier "so-called," as in "the so-called public option."

3) Here's another way to phrase it: "The public option, which is the government-run plan."

If you say (1) "government-run health insurance" or (3) "the government-run plan" without mentioning that it's just one part -- and crucially, one optional part -- of a proposed program, you are creating a much different impression in the minds of your audience. Further on (3): to say "plan" without saying "insurance plan" strongly suggests that that the dreaded gubmint is going to be your health care provider. Especially, this being FoxNews, given the tone of the surrounding discussion.

And regarding (2), when you put "so-called" in front of something (in American English), there is a strong implication that the term following is not true. As in FoxNews's so-called Fair and Balanced reporting.

So, if you want to claim that you're a legitimate news source, then the misleading nature of the ordered replacement terms makes them inappropriate. And that they are chosen because they have been shown to be a turn-off to the audience self-evidently makes their use biased.

Starwatcher162536
12-13-2010, 04:01 PM
It's somewhat depressing that the substitution of government for public impacts public opinion to such an extent.

chiwhisoxx
12-13-2010, 04:08 PM
I saw this story elsewhere but was too discouraged to pass it along. Thanks for posting it.

I see it provoked an immediate kneejerk response of "nothing to see here!!!1!" (Contra reality (http://www.google.com/search?q=fox+news+memo+public+option).)

I suppose the surprising thing is that there was only one. The rest of the operatives must have had the weekend off.

First of all, find a thesaurus for "immediate kneejerk response" please. And the response wasn't defending Fox...it was saying there are much better things to criticize Fox for (which there are) and that getting really worked up into a lather over this is probably a waste of time. Although I suppose you don't view complaining about right wing media as a waste of time, as you seem to do it for a living.

bjkeefe
12-13-2010, 04:52 PM
First of all, find a thesaurus for "immediate kneejerk response" please.

Who needs one, when you keep providing such illustrative examples?

And the response wasn't defending Fox...

Did I say it was? No. Once again you have tried to change what someone else said. Either because you can't help but be dishonest, or because you'd rather change the subject to something for which you can look up a pre-approved response in your operative's handbook.

I said it was an effort to downplay the revelation. Maybe you should consult a thesaurus, for the meaning of "nothing to see here."

bjkeefe
12-15-2010, 05:20 AM
There are plenty of legitimate things to complain about when talking about Fox News; them calling a government insurance plan ...

We might from now on want to refer to the junior operative as Howie (http://rogerailes.blogspot.com/2010/12/media-matters-uncovers-exhibit-b-that.html) the junior operative.

chiwhisoxx
12-15-2010, 08:30 AM
We might from now on want to refer to the junior operative as Howie (http://rogerailes.blogspot.com/2010/12/media-matters-uncovers-exhibit-b-that.html) the junior operative.

I love it when you use the royal we

eeeeeeeli
12-22-2010, 01:54 PM
It's somewhat depressing that the substitution of government for public impacts public opinion to such an extent.

Just goes to show how powerful propaganda is. The right has been relentless on their campaign to make government into a dirty word. If they were honest, they would say "certain types of government". But then they're starting to sound like Democrats - you know, acknowledging nuance, putting things in context, speaking clearly and without misleading and dishonest overgeneralizations.

But hey - it works. Maybe if we start talking about government libraries, government parks, government education, and government-works projects we'll really save the Galts some cash.

At the risk of going full-bore partisan here, let me just ask why the right seems so much more comfortable with dishonesty. As exhibit A let me just introduce basically every AM radio personality. "Lying" might sound too offensive, so how about a continuous stream of half-truths and mischaracterizations. And then there's the anger and hatred. It's been a while since I've stomached a listen, but I remember a lot of schoolyard name-calling, yelling, and endless ad-hominem attacks on "liberals": retarded, mentally ill, out to destroy America, etc.

I mean, when I meet people like that in real life, I get really creeped out. The general word for them is "A-hole" or "bully". So why are they so integral to conservatism's trajectory in the past few decades? We've got a few random people on the left who are comparable, but they're hard to find. NPR would be a much more accurate picture of what is driving left-wing debate. Although even there, the idea that NPR "drives" politics in the same way as a Glenn Beck or Limbaugh is kind of ridiculous.

operative
12-22-2010, 04:26 PM
Just goes to show how powerful propaganda is. The right has been relentless on their campaign to make government into a dirty word. If they were honest, they would say "certain types of government". But then they're starting to sound like Democrats - you know, acknowledging nuance, putting things in context, speaking clearly and without misleading and dishonest overgeneralizations.


Yes, they should be more like Democrats, telling people to vote against their "enemies", calling their opponents evil, racists, encouraging people to lie to help the cause, etc.

eeeeeeeli
12-22-2010, 08:03 PM
Yes, they should be more like Democrats, telling people to vote against their "enemies", calling their opponents evil, racists, encouraging people to lie to help the cause, etc.
Obviously the left has it's share of dishonest rhetoric. If you have an issue with a particular line of rhetoric, feel free to raise it. I brought up some specific issues and I welcome your critique. But saying "oh yeah, well you guys do it to" just isn't interesting, right?

I think your mention of race is interesting and a more fleshed out statement would give me something to work with. I'd begin, however, by saying that I think some very serious arguments can be made that the right is in some cases acting out of very real racism. (edit: this get's nuanced and needs more explanation, but in many cases the racism isn't something driving right-wing policy, but actually an outgrowth of the policy implications of the conservative world view. You can find more of my thoughts on this here (http://supervidoqo.blogspot.com/2010/03/logical-racism.html)).

But getting back to my original post, the conservative line that "government is the problem" is a vast overstatement and I think not only divisive but largely fallacious and in bad-faith, if not outright dishonest. I think it's a big problem and something conservatives need to respond to seriously because it is essentially their #1 philosophical premise.

The best comparison I can make on the left is the old communist notion that business is evil. But that kind of crazy has in reality all but disappeared, while anti-governmentalism (the right's equivalent form of brain-dead demagoguery) is as strong as ever, and coming straight from the movements "leading lights".

operative
12-22-2010, 09:29 PM
Obviously the left has it's share of dishonest rhetoric. If you have an issue with a particular line of rhetoric, feel free to raise it. I brought up some specific issues and I welcome your critique. But saying "oh yeah, well you guys do it to" just isn't interesting, right?

I think your mention of race is interesting and a more fleshed out statement would give me something to work with. I'd begin, however, by saying that I think some very serious arguments can be made that the right is in some cases acting out of very real racism. (edit: this get's nuanced and needs more explanation, but in many cases the racism isn't something driving right-wing policy, but actually an outgrowth of the policy implications of the conservative world view. You can find more of my thoughts on this here (http://supervidoqo.blogspot.com/2010/03/logical-racism.html)).

But getting back to my original post, the conservative line that "government is the problem" is a vast overstatement and I think not only divisive but largely fallacious and in bad-faith, if not outright dishonest. I think it's a big problem and something conservatives need to respond to seriously because it is essentially their #1 philosophical premise.

The best comparison I can make on the left is the old communist notion that business is evil. But that kind of crazy has in reality all but disappeared, while anti-governmentalism (the right's equivalent form of brain-dead demagoguery) is as strong as ever, and coming straight from the movements "leading lights".

The cases of actual racism that I've seen (eg Council of Conservative Citizens) aren't exactly what I would call established voices in mainstream conservatism. I've seen far too much of the "x" is codeword for racism. So if you call Obama a socialist, you're a racist. Or if you oppose his various plans, it's actually because you're racist.

Slogans in general are dramatic oversimplifications, whether "it's the economy, stupid" or "government is the problem." I'd caution against grouping Republicans into one category here--we have plenty of big-spending, pork rolling House members and Senators, such as Dick Shelby and Jim Imhoffe. Any time they parrot that line, it's pretty fraudulent. But the slogan can also be representative of a broader, deeper commitment to a limited model of government, one upheld by people such as Tom Coburn and Jeff Flake. And it's a simple way of expressing that often the answer is less government, not more (the latest would be considering whether the FCC should simply be abolished).

A big problem in both parties is the commitment of some Senators and House members to a form of state capitalism, where the government assists certain chosen industries and companies.

eeeeeeeli
12-24-2010, 01:05 PM
The cases of actual racism that I've seen (eg Council of Conservative Citizens) aren't exactly what I would call established voices in mainstream conservatism. I've seen far too much of the "x" is codeword for racism. So if you call Obama a socialist, you're a racist. Or if you oppose his various plans, it's actually because you're racist.

Slogans in general are dramatic oversimplifications, whether "it's the economy, stupid" or "government is the problem." I'd caution against grouping Republicans into one category here--we have plenty of big-spending, pork rolling House members and Senators, such as Dick Shelby and Jim Imhoffe. Any time they parrot that line, it's pretty fraudulent. But the slogan can also be representative of a broader, deeper commitment to a limited model of government, one upheld by people such as Tom Coburn and Jeff Flake. And it's a simple way of expressing that often the answer is less government, not more (the latest would be considering whether the FCC should simply be abolished).

A big problem in both parties is the commitment of some Senators and House members to a form of state capitalism, where the government assists certain chosen industries and companies.

On racism: it's something that is just so hard to prove. We know that unconscious racism exists. We know that people who exhibit it are usually unaware of it and will always deny it. So you can have liberals making wild claims with little to go on but grand sort of psycho-conspiratorial theories of mind. Are they correct? It's almost impossible to tell. I generally think of it as a kind of background noise - I know it's partially driving a lot of anger at Obama from many conservatives, but these are people who still have very principled disagreements. Or at least they're listening to people who do.

But that's not a huge worry of mine. I completely respect the principle of limited government. And I think as a defining issue, there is no reason conservatives shouldn't be constantly emphasizing it. But again, my whole problem is the way in which so much of the "movement" has been about demonizing government in general, and specifically for things where it isn't government that is the problem per say, but an existential disagreement over the actual service being rendered.

So for example, as a good liberal I'm opposed to large portions of military spending. But I don't say it's a problem of "government" - it's just a service I think is a waste of money. Now, it's true on average I'm going to be supportive of a lot more government spending because there is a longer list of things I think ought to be done that wouldn't be otherwise. But that doesn't mean I support any and every wasteful program - "bridges to nowhere", etc.

I feel like conservatives and liberals are really actually pretty similar in that we both want a mixed market: smart government, smart regulations and a healthy business environment. We simply differ on the details. We both want police, schools, libraries, roads, parks, national defense, safety and environmental regulations, social security and medicare. Yet so much of the time conservatism frames the conversation as if liberals just want to waste our money on all these things ("spend your tax dollars") and that conservatives are defenders against a big, scary government. When in reality most conservatives actually like government just as much, they just want it in different, generally smaller amounts.

Like I mentioned before, this politics is extremely divisive, even cancerous. Liberals are not the "party of government" and conservatives the "party of business". And neither of those things are necessarily good or bad. Liberals I think finally gave up on the idea that "business is evil" because historical events just proved that to be a retarded idea. My worry is that conservatives have not yet learned this lesson - or at least they have forgotten how bad things were 100 years ago when when the modern age began to run into what true "limited government" actually looked like.

Final note on "pay to play": I completely agree. This is a truly horrible problem. Hopefully in moving past the divisive politics we can all come together to solve this problem. My feeling is that conservatives think that by simply cutting government they'll remove what it is that is being captured. But I think this is incredibly facile and kind of utopian. The reality is that we all want the government to do a lot of important things and so there will always be plenty for special interest groups to capture. (I think we can both agree there is enormous waste and essentially corruption in the defense industry). I think the reality is that this just turns into a sort of lobbying arms race that creates more and more corruption and weakens democracy.

Unfortunately, it seems we have no good consensus on effective solutions. My feeling is that restrictions on money in Washington (and everywhere, really) is good because it nips the problem in the bud. Yet when money is equated with speech, we have a really problem. (To me, the practical effect of this is even less speech, as now the few with lots of money can drown out the many without). There's also just the problem of interests being very sneaky and finding ways around restrictions. In the end, I'd favor less "freedom" and more restrictions, than the current situation which just seems incredibly corrupt.