Thoroughly traumatized and disillusioned by the blatant partisan cheerleading on CNN’s “American Morning”–courtesy of Carol Costello and Soledad O’Brien—-I made the quite idiotic mistake of having today’s morning coffee to “Fox and Friends,” the Fox News counterpart. Despite the fact that I already knew that jumping from CNN to Fox News as a respite from biased reporting was like leaving the Titanic for a quiet voyage on the Hindenburg, I was still shocked at what I saw.
Head morning stooge Steve Doocy introduced “a look back” at President Obama’s 2008 campaign. What followed was a long, slick attack ad, contrasting film footage of various Obama “Hope and Change”- themed speeches and campaign pledges, such as his infamous promise to halve the deficit by the end of his first term, intercut with contrasting images, statistics and graphs making a mockery of his words. “Ah!”, thought I. “They are showing the latest Republican National Committee ad. I certainly hope the Republicans paid the going rate for this, because it would be unethical for Fox to show a complete, three-minute GOP anti-Obama ad gratis on the pretense of analyzing it.” I have seen this trick on CNN and NBC, and it is abysmal broadcast journalism.
I am relieved to report, however, that this is not what Fox News did this morning, because the video was not made by the RNC, and it wasn’t produced by an independent pro-Republican PAC, either.
It was produced by Fox News.
“We want to thank our producers, who did a wonderful job on that montage,” said Doocy, and the generic Fox Blonde in the middle of the two white-bread guys nodded solemnly and the goofy Fox Neanderthal who completed the bimbo sandwich grinned. That’s right—this was a Fox News anti-Obama attack ad.
The content and message of the ad itself were not unfair or especially inaccurate. I think it was more effective and professional than most of the RNC ads I’ve seen in the campaign so far. The problem is, and I can’t believe anyone has to write this, news networks aren’t supposed to be showing their own partisan attack ads favoring one candidate over another. News networks cannot be trusted to report objectively on a political campaign when they have joined one of the parties openly, and they can’t be trusted to report on the performance of a President when they are making and broadcasting negative ads about him. What Fox News has done leaps past bias to outright advocacy.
Roger Ailes cried foul two years ago when Obama Administration spokespersons called Fox an arm of the Republican Party, and so did I, finding it more than a little hypocritical for this Administration to treat the partisan news manipulation of ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC as thoroughly professional and objective while condemning the one network that didn’t throw kisses its way. It is Ailes, however, who is the hypocrite, and I was wrong.
Fox’s “Fair and Balanced” mantra was always tongue in cheek, but it is now officially a lie. The network’s breach of broadcast journalism ethics is now open, complete, and beyond debate. Can President Obama or Democrats possibly receive fair treatment from a network that is producing and running its own attack ads against them? Sure, it’s possible. With such blatant advocacy, however, it is not possible to know when Fox is being fair, if it ever is.
To be clear, I have seen enough evidence of clear bias and pro-Obama advocacy at CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS that I feel they cannot be trusted either. In their cases, however, there is room for argument. Not at Fox, not any more. The network’s abandonment of any pretense of fairness or objectivity is now absolute, and apparently Fox believes there is nothing wrong with that. But there is.
At least Fox News is no longer pretending to be ethical. That’s something, I guess.
Tomorrow morning, I’m starting my day with the Cartoon Network.
Spark: Fox News
Graphic: Reporter 101
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