Monday, October 26, 2009

"Don't FOX Me In"

Over the weekend a spirited but civil debate about Obama's dislike for FOX News took place on my Facebook page. It was prompted by this comment that I posted on Saturday morning: "Obama's attempt to squelch free press through marginalizing FOX--whether you voted for him or not, don't you find this disturbing?"

Many answers, in a word, were "Yes." Here are a few other comments:

"How can he possibly take on something as fundamentally important to democracy as free press?"

"No one is forced to watch Fox, and it should be available as a choice."

"Seems there are more checks than balances."

"We no longer watch any TV. We used to be especially disgusted by news bias. We get our news from other sources."

"Journalism should cover only the facts. Let us decide whether we agree or disagree."

"I kind of like FOX being silenced."

"You may like Fox being silenced. But will YOU be next?"

"I think it's shameful that this even happened but I do think Fox News had it coming."

As for my thoughts: Regardless of whether you like FOX or not, I think what Obama tried to do is very disturbing. This isn't about politics. It's about the freedom of the press to disagree with the president. And that is why the other news organizations said "no way" to FOX being left out of the Pay Czar's interview. I doubt they have any love lost for FOX (whose ratings are often higher than theirs), but they're thinking, "We could be next."

Further, the exclusion of FOX as a perceived dissenter of this administration inherently implies that the other news organizations are saying just what the president wants. They're the "good guys" of whom he approves. You might as well boil a true journalist in oil as tell him that. Biased or not, all true journalists like to think of themselves as reporting the "truth," not what the president or any other politician wants them to report.

This brouhaha, in my opinion, has make Obama look petty at best and scarily controlling at worst. And ironically, it has only served to drive more viewers to FOX. Their numbers are soaring.

Hmm. Maybe the marketing plan for my next suspense novel needs to include royally ticking off the president ...


Mark said...

What I find ironic is everyone who claims Fox deserves it, is just a right-wing outlet, etc - the same people had no problem with the media bashing Bush for the last eight years - and he took it, and took it well.

It all boils down to the current administration's inability to take criticism and disagreement - something they had better learn to do.

I like Fox - all of the other media outlets are pro-liberal, anti-conservative, anti-Christian, no matter who is president, so I am glad Fox is different. What kind of country would this be if we couldn't have one news organization slanted in our favor, if they really are - I do think they are balanced - they have conservative and liberal contibutors.

Daniel Smith said...

Agreed, Mark. Though I think Obama's administration is more than capable of handling dissent. (The man himself is a rock.) They are just doing it very, very badly. And they're taking more and more criticism (I think justly) for things that they haven't done like release all of the toture memos and reports. IMO, the truth should be allowed to come out.

And that made me think. This is not the first political "mistake" they've made. When Rush Limbaugh was identified as the leader of the Republican party by the Obama administration it did effect change. Initially, Rush's numbers soared (just as Fox News' numbers are now) but they have since come back down. (It's hard to find reliable statistics...) Now Rush is no longer constantly in the news so people are not paying as much attention to him anymore.

So I wonder if this isn't a deliberate tactic on the part of the Obama administration to ultimately reduce the influence of Fox News? The tactic is akin to burnout. Either way this is a game-changer but we must wait to see the final outcome. Give it a month.

Nicole said...

Daniel and I strongly disagree fundamentally, so I won't comment on his comments.

I agree with BC wholeheartedly, and finding a true journalist today is like finding a ray of bright sunshine on this total downpour of a day.

Mark, you're spot on.

And write that book, BC. Your sales will soar even more. ;)

Cindy Q said...

I'm not surprised, in fact I'm sure we will see more of this behavior from this administration over the next 3 years. The only question is, who will be the next target? One can only imagine if Reagan or either Bush had told party-approved cbs, nbc, abc, or cnn to take a hike. The biggest fear of this administration is the truth--and anyone who has the audacity to tell it.

Eddie Q

Sheila Deeth said...

Not heard about it before, but I'm not sure how uninvited is the same as silenced - just assumed there were certain qualifications required for invitation. Still, I'd need to know more to have a worthwhile opinion.

Barbara Scott said...

Just to answer your question, Sheila, the administration tried to exclude FOX from the press pool, which includes the major networks. It is sacrosanct and assures all major outlets have access to the same stories. It's their job so that the news is fairly distributed to numerous outlets.

When the administration tried to exclude the FOX press pool reporter from interviewing the Pay Czar, the other networks, whom I applaud for their integrity, said that if FOX had no place at the table then they wouldn't conduct the interview either. Then CBS, NBC, etc., reported on their network shows that the administration was out of line. FOX even ran coverage of other reporters on the other networks, who were expressing concern.

Why did the press pool reporters stand in unison? Real journalists get it. If one news outlet is excluded because they are perceived as not being "friendly" to the White House, who's next? Richard Nixon tried this with the New York Times when he was President, and it backfired...big time.

Our free Democracy thrives because of freedom of the press. Words matter. We have the privilege in this nation of disagreeing with our government. When the news media is controlled by the government, we lose one of the most important tools we have to keep the people informed and the government accountable to the people.

If you only watch CNN, or restrict your viewing to MSNBC, or CBS, or NBC, or ABC, you restrict your pool of knowledge. I've seen more great debates on FOX between Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and Libertarians than I've every on any other network. In fact, pollsters have found that their viewing audience includes a balance of all political persuasions.

Do they have opinion shows that are conservative? Absolutely. But if we can't tell the difference between opinion/talk shows and real news, we should take a Journalism 101 course. No government has the right to dictate what IS and IS NOT news. Only the people have that right.

You're right on, Brandilyn!