While the Obama administration continues its war against its media critics, well-known liberal journalists — instead of defending freedom of the press — are joining the attack on a news network they despise as much as does the administration. Gone is any seeming concern for the right of commentators to voice their own opinion, because mainstream liberal editorial writers are sure their opponents are both extremists and wrong.
Take, as our first example, Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief of The Slate Group. Writing in last week’s Newsweek, Weisberg explained at the start that anyone who watches Fox News knows immediately that Anita Dunn’s charge that Fox has a “right-wing bias” is correct, since Fox always confirms “it with its coverage.” Referring to Fox’s own reporting on the administration’s attacks on the network, he notes that Fox showed what he calls a “textbook example of a biased journalism.” If it is true, it is hardly surprising, since the very network under attack might be expected to come to its own defense.
Next, he refers to its commentators as “platinum pundettes and anchor androids.” He offers no names. Could he be referring to Chris Wallace, whose weekly Sunday broadcast is widely acclaimed as one of TV’s best weekend programs, and who publicly complained that never in his decades of broadcasting has he come across more of a bunch of “whiners” than he has seen in the Obama administration? Is he referring to Megan Kelly, who did a yeoman’s job questioning ACORN founder Wade Rathke in a long and exclusive interview? Wouldn’t he want a defender of ACORN to speak on the one network that reported on its scandals? Is he upset, perhaps, that Kelly came off better than Rathke did?
He thinks it is a silly comparison to their charge that the war on Fox is similar to Nixon’s enemies list. Of course, he gives no reason why the analogy is false — perhaps because to most observers, it isn’t.
Next, he attributes the success of the many “tea parties” as due to Fox’s sponsorship of them — ignoring the fact that it was an internet created phenomenon that Fox alone chose to cover when others ignored them. Evidently, Weisberg can’t distinguish between paying attention to events it finds newsworthy and sponsoring them. [I acknowledge that Glenn Beck anchored his show’s special coverage of the Washington DC tea party, which he supported.] Weisberg’s fear is that now “ideologically distorted news” drives ratings up, and that others will soon imitate them in order to gain more viewers.
Not one word by Weisberg about MSNBC’s equally tilted drift to the precincts of the far left. Chris “thrill up my leg” Matthews is an unabashed liberal whose brand of politics stands at the left end of the Democratic spectrum, and its mainstays in prime time, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, are as far Left as O’Reilly, Hannity and Beck are on the right end of the conservative spectrum. If Fox reports critically about ACORN, for example, one can count on Maddow and Olbermann to offer unabashed defenses of the group presented as accurate news analysis.
Weisberg’s problem is that he takes pride that the press had an “old tradition of independence,” one that serves the “public interest” and not “parties, persuasions, or pressure groups.” He claims to be standing firm with this model instead of the Murdoch “model of politicized media” that is slanted in one direction. Does he really act on this? Look at his own publication, Slate. Is there any reader of it who believes for a moment that it is anything but reflective of a certain kind of left/liberal mentality? Sure, it has one maverick — Christopher Hitchens — whose fame and persona as a media star allows them to run him, even though he alone continues to support a tough foreign policy against Islamic radicalism. Just look through their list of columnists on their home page, and I defy you to find one voice aside from Hitchens who is outside of the liberal consensus.