Who’s Really Trying to Control Editorial Content of Journalists? There’s No Debate About It…

The Cable Gamer watched some Thomas Roberts today, because somebody has to. She didn’t expect any surprises, and sure enough it was two hours of Lean Forward style news:

  • Analysis by Huffington Post‘s Howard Fineman (everything is going great for the Dems)
  • “Reporting” by ex-opinionizer, Salon scribe Steve Kornacki.
  • Political guest: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D).
  • “Reporting” by ex-Howard-Dean staffer Jacob Soboroff.
  • Insights from Chuck Todd (he’s a straight newsman, though that came after he worked to elect Tom Harkin, running for President to the left of Bill Clinton).
  • A clip from the big Lester Holt interview of Obama (we’re going to come back to this).
  • More Kornacki, chewing over a clip from Morning Joe‘s Koch interview.
  • Political guest: Steve Israel (D), to tell viewers that Republicans want to stop people from voting.

We hope you didn’t expect any pushback on that last one from Mr. Roberts. After all, he’s said the same thing himself! It hardly seems necessary to point out the lack of any conservative or Republican representation. That, after all, is how Lean Forward news works. But something in that Obama clip did spin the tumblers of The Cable Gamer’s mind.

The producers chose a soundbite where the President ridiculed the GOP complaints over the CNBC debate. Har har, they’re afraid of CNBC moderators! This echoes the meme that has been spreading among mainstream media voices that it’s outrageous, even “delusional,” for Republicans to push back on moderators, even ones as clumsy and incompetent as the CNBC hosts. Candidates shouldn’t be permitted to exert influence on questioning, graphics, moderators, or anything else. At least they shouldn’t when they’re Republicans.

Does anyone in the media have any institutional memory? Is it so hard to remember all the way back to 2007? That’s when the Democratic party went far beyond trying to influence the questioning or the choice of moderators. They completely cancelled a debate, because it was on Fox News. And Barack Obama was one of the angry villagers who demanded it be shut down. As is so often the case, the push to destroy the Fox Democratic debate was based on a shameless, thoroughly dishonest torrent of outright lies, capped by a fabrication about a Roger Ailes joke. (It poked fun at Bush, but was deliberately misrepresented as an insult to Mr. Obama in order to further the narrative.) And now here’s Rachel Maddow in 2015 going after the GOP because they’re “attacking the media,” as if that isn’t exactly what the Democrats did in 2007.

In fact, they’re still doing it. As Bret Baier has noted multiple times, Fox has repeatedly asked to host a Democratic primary debate but have been rebuffed at every turn. The Dems are exerting the ultimate control over the Fox News moderators—they’re not just nitpicking their questions but silencing them entirely by denying them the forum to ask anything. Yet we don’t see Ryan Lizza or James Warren writing lengthy pieces about the “outrageous, delusional” Democratic stonewalling of Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace. And Ms. Maddow has not expressed any of her uniquely clownish outrage.

Why do you suppose that is?



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