On October 23rd Rachel Maddow took to the air explaining why, according to her, Fox News isn’t news. She steered clear of the stereotypical reasoning, the reasoning espoused by President Obama, that Fox News is right leaning. Recall that President Obama quipped that Fox News was operating as “talk radio,” a thinly veiled swipe at conservative discourse. Ms. Maddow took the position that Fox News is not news because of it’s supposed promotion of the “Tea Parties.”
After hearing her argument, I searched through my memory of the events. As someone who watches Fox News (the channel most of the cable news audience chooses), I didn’t recall Fox News “promoting” the Tea Parties. What I do recall were the outlets that Maddow still considers news choosing not to cover the Tea Parties and when they did the reports were obviously biased and deragatory. Let’s not forget Janeane Garafolo’s tasteful label of anyone who disagrees with the President as “Teabaggers.”CNN’s Anderson Cooper apparently thought teabagging references were appropriate terms to use while covering the event. That’s just good objective journalism.
Media Matters and the Huffington Post were quick to accuse Fox News of promoting the protests. Looking back at the coverage, it seems that Fox News promoted their coverage of the events, not the Tea Parties themselves. Media Matters declared that Fox News Contributor’s were listed as sponsors on TaxDayTeaParty.com. The operative word here is contributor. Not Fox News as a network, Fox News contributor. The only misstep that I could see was Glenn Beck’s call for Fox News viewers to join in and celebrate with Fox News. Considering that Glenn Beck is on Fox News, and Fox News cameras would be there, it seems like at best Beck, who never claims to be a journalist (unlike Keith Olbermann), committed a simple slip of the tongue. Of course though, that can’t be the case, this is an example of evil right wing Fox News.
By this standard, is MSNBC to be held accountable for the antics of Keith Olbermann? Are they to be held accountable for Janeane Garofalo’s deplorable comments? What about MSNBC’s deep connections to GE? That doesn’t bode very well for responsible journalism. Why doesn’t President Obama compare MSNBC to left wing talk radio? Considering both Fox News and right wing talk radio have stellar ratings, MSNBC and left wing talk radio is the next logical comparison.
The Tea Parties were major events and large scale examples of Americans exercising their first amendment rights. Shouldn’t this be covered by American media outlets? I would think that even Columbia J-School grads would concede that their job is to cover the news, even if the people involved are, gasp, right leaning. Then again Sean Hannity was involved, and as we’ve learned from Columbia J-school students, Hannity and Fox News are crazy.
It seems that Ms. Maddow almost had it right. If she would have chosen better sources than the Huffington Post, or maybe if she had actually watched the Fox News promotions, as well as her own stations’ coverage, she would have found that Fox News is in fact news. News stations cover major events. News stations don’t allow “comedians” to so crudely mock people who exercise a fundemental American right. It looks like Fox News is standing alone in a sea of media outlets that no longer have the benefit of the false consensus effect. The MSM now has to compete with a news organization that covers news that center right America wants to see. When the left couldn’t compete in talk radio, they cried to the government. Now that the MSM can’t compete with Fox News, they cry to the government and attempt to discredit Fox News for doing what they should be doing, covering the news.