Friday, October 30, 2009

Yes, This Spanking Will Continue...

...Until these children smarten up

Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart addressed the matter of the controversy surrounding the Obama administration and its recent comments on Fox News.

"What I think is fair to say about Fox -- and certainly it's the way we view it -- is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party," White House communications director Anita Dunn had told CNN. "They take their talking points, put them on the air; take their opposition research, put them on the air. And that's fine. But let's not pretend they're a news network the way CNN is."

This, of course, has attracted a great deal of scrutiny regarding MSNBC and its cozy relationship with the Democratic Party and the Obama administration.

There's very little question in the minds of most people that MSNBC has been acting as the pro-Democrat version of Fox News. But some people want to pretend otherwise.

The Daily Show clip, featured only in part above (and more on this later) sheds some light on not only how Fox News has synergized its news and opinion reporting, but how many other news networks do as well.

As his case study, Stewart uses insipid the school song controversy that erupted last year.

The story was drug up months later by Matt Drudge, at which point Fox took up the issue.

The story was reported in the morning during the network's news cycle, then commented upon later by the likes of Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck (Alan Colmes was not available for comment).

The next news cycle -- back to reporting again -- would then report upon the commentary offered by the network's pundits.

Curiously enough, this is where the Media Matters video ends. But the segment continued after the portion that Media Matters chooses to show viewers, and what followed was every bit as enlightening -- about MSNBC -- as the rest was about Fox.

The segment continued with a CNN interview with White House advisor Valerie Jarret. When asked if Fox News was biased, Jarret explained that "of course Fox News is biased." But when asked about whether or not MSNBC was biased, Jarret began to soften up and back off. "I don't want to just generalize all Fox is biased or that another station is biased."

There may have been a reason why Jarret suddenly became so reluctant to declare any news network to be biased. After all, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow had recently met privately with US President Barack Obama. When challenged on this, Olbermann essentially defended the meeting as koscher because George W Bush had done the same thing with Fox News personalities.

Olbermann had previously criticized the cozy relationship between Fox News and the Bush administration.

Stewart suggested that Jarret should of said "of course MSNBC is biased, but they agree with us so we're not fighting with them."

When Jarret later suggested that the administration was going to "speak truth to power", Stewart could only muster an incredulous "what the fuck!?" (Watch it, Stewart, that's our bit. I'm looking at you too, Olbermann. -ed) It's almost as if the Obama administration doesn't understand that they're the power.

But there's a reason why Media Matters cut the clip before getting to this point. They decline to report on MSNBC's ideological excesses because they share MSNBC's bias.

For example, Media Matters makes no mention whatsoever of Contessa Brewer's own adventures in creating the news. Brewer's famed race-baiting episode in which MSNBC edited news footage to conceal the race of a man with a gun is not mentioned on the Media Matters website.

One of the two mentions of Brewer from August 2009 -- when the incident occurred -- however, provides a telling point about Media Matters and their complaint that Fox News creates its own news.

In the story, Brewer interjects her own political views into an interview concerning an op/ed article written by Nancy Pelosi. Brewer's interview addresses complaints by Fox News that Pelosi was accusing opponents of health care reform of being un-American.

In this particular sense, Fox News commentators don't just create Fox's news. They also create MSNBC's.

From a marketing perspective, this actually makes perfect sense. As Stewart notes, Fox News has news anchors, but nobody knows who they are. They aren't marketable. The real bread and butter of the Fox News network is their commentators.

So -- for good or ill -- this synergy is a natural extension of the for-profit news industry. News anchors report the news. Commentators offer their opinion. Then later news anchors, because the ad sales for highly-rated commentary shows are so lucrative, report on the commentary taking place to lure viewers back to watch the pundits offer their take.

MSNBC does the same thing -- commenting on Fox News' commentary, so their pundits can later offer their take on the matter, as they so often do during segments such as Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World".

But MSNBC creates its own news, too. Of course, MSNBC has different methods of creating the news. Returning to Brewer and her race-baiting episode, MSNBC concealed the race of the man in question (as mentioned previously, he was black) in order to mix it with sensationalist implication in order to insist that white racists were planning an armed insurrection or assassination attempt against the President.

When called to account for the incident, MSNBC didn't issue a mea culpa, but rather stated that Brewer was commenting not on the specific incident at hand, but rather on a general state of affairs.

For the record, here's Brewer once again, putting her news anchor-y on public display once more:

Because with the American economy in the midst of a full-on meltdown at the time (February 2009), the real story is the guy standing next to Rick Stantelli and whether or not he has a YouTube channel.

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