Journalistic Outrage: Separate, and Unequal

08FOXweb-master675Recently there was a disturbance in the journalism force when the Republicans decided they’d learned their lesson after the disastrous CNBC debate. As a result they pulled out of a scheduled debate on NBC (a corporate sister to CNBC and MSNBC) and took their business to CNN. And that was too much for the cognoscenti. Washington Post‘s Erik Wemple, a close follower of all things Cable Game, did not mince words:

RNC to broadcast outlets: No ‘gotcha’ questions, or else: When the Republican National Committee levels a threat, take note…High numbers explain the creepiness behind the arrangement. If you anger the RNC, that is, you stand to lose money, bonuses, congratulatory memos from the boss. The RNC’s actions against NBC will have a leveling effect. Get ready for a lot of network cautiousness in the coming debates, because sponsors know what will happen if they don’t play by the rules, ill-defined as they are.

Wemple’s concern that politicians should not “forum shop” to avoid unfriendly or challenging questions is a fair one. Inside Cable News took it a step further, coming down on CNN for agreeing to pick up the debate that NBC lost:

CNN should have refused the debate because it sets a bad precedent where political parties can shop their debates just to punish networks regardless of the validity of the “crime”…All the networks should have stood firm in supporting NBC given the circumstances (NBC being punished for something it had no part of).

“Spud” is making the point that NBC shouldn’t be blamed for CNBC’s lousy debate, but even if the lousy debate had been NBC’s own production, this would still be forum shopping. To be sure, as soon as the GOP voiced its criticisms over the CNBC questions (rightly so according to critics) there was President Obama to say Republicans were afraid of tough questions:

They can’t handle a bunch of CNBC moderators … If you can’t handle those guys, then I don’t think the Chinese and Russians are going to be too worried about you.

You would think the irony of the President’s critique would have been noted by somebody in the mainstream media. This is Barack Obama, the man who avoids Fox News like the plague. It took a Big Fox airing of the Super Bowl two years ago to get Mr. Obama into the no-spin zone, and that’s pretty much been it. How often do you see Hillary Clinton on Fox News? This past Sunday Mrs. Clinton did the rounds of all the Sunday news shows, except Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. At least a half-dozen serious FNC program hosts have repeatedly requested an interview with the likely Democratic candidate for President, and have been turned down. The Cable Gamer doesn’t recall Mr. Wemple’s post decrying this blatant forum shopping, but maybe we overlooked it.

Mind you, this sort of thing is encouraged by many blogs and anti-Fox sites. So Jason Easley congratulates Hillary for being afraid to go on Fox: “The Democratic Party has finally wised up.” As a side benefit this helps feed the narrative that Fox News avoids interviewing Democrats, even when it’s a lie.

And lies bring this discussion full circle, for it was a campaign of falsehoods and fabrications that succeeded in getting the Democrats to permanently boycott Fox News for any of their Presidential debates. In 2007 a pair of blogs cited a Fox News Democratic debate from 2003 and lied about Juan Williams’s questions, the language used, the post-game analysis, and—wouldn’t you know it?—how many Democrats were interviewed. To no one’s surprise, the Democrats cancelled their 2007 debate on Fox News, and the precedent was set.

Eight years later Fox News is still proposing Democratic debates, but the Dems won’t give FNC the time of day. Forum shopping has become their default. The champions of capital-J Journalism get worked up when the GOP cancels a debate with the parent company of Lean Forward. But when Fox News is frozen out, election cycle after election cycle, people like Mr. Erik Wemple can’t seem to summon up the same level of outrage. But why should they? After all, it’s Fox. Bret Baier? Megyn Kelly? Chris Wallace? Who really expects the Democrats to talk to those people?

 

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16 comments

    • Sydney Bloom

      Not exactly comparable. Fox News has actual journalists who moderate their debates and anchor their political events. They don’t use partisans (Matthews, Sharpton, etc.) to do election nights and conventions. Also the top GOP candidates willingly appear on Meet the Press. The top Democrats again froze out Fox News Sunday just this past weekend.

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      • Michael Bennett

        My take is a little different Sydney Bloom as far as moderators from MSNBC.

        I submit that Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell are no more partisan than Bret Baier and Chris Wallace.

        Eye of the beholder, right?

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      • Sydney Bloom

        I don’t think the GOP has a problem with Chuck Todd; they go on Meet the Press all the time. Andrea is a different kettle of fish and there are reasons why they might not have confidence in her impartiality. If I ran the Republican Party I’d do a debate with Chuck Todd moderating, even if it’s on MSNBC, but for years he wasn’t on the MSNBC schedule at all and I don’t know when all the debate negotiations originally took place. Still you don’t justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavoir so the sins of the Republicans don’t excuse the Dems or the media acquiessence by silence.

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  1. notfoxy

    Conflating debate schedules with specific Dems choosing not to appear on Fox confuses the topic. All politicians do whatever appearances they feel benefits their message the best, including Republicans who skip MSNBC. Also, Megyn Kelly is an opinion host. She’s quite good as a debate moderator, but she’s not an impartial journalist. Neither is Neil Cavuto, who moderated the FBN debate.

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    • Sydney Bloom

      Perhaps you could document that a bit better. What are Megyn Kelly’s positions on a) abortion, b) the flat tax, and c) the legality of drone strikes? Should be easy to document with direct quotes if she is, as you say, an opinion host.

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      • notfoxy

        If you run a political advocacy show from one POV, you’re an opinion host. The Kelly File is heavily weighted conservative, even going so far as to actively promote a Dinesh D’Souza hit piece on President Obama. Whether these are her actual politics, or she’s just going by the Fox script, is up to the viewer decide. I suspect she could morph into a lib on MSNBC just as easily as she does a straight journalist on debate and election nights. But for the purposes of what she does for a living most of the year, she’s a conservative opinion host.

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      • Sydney Bloom

        I have no problem telling you what Hannity or O’Reilly think about abortion, flat tax, etc. Because they’re opinion hosts. I put three questions off the top of my head about Megyn Kelly’s opinions and you couldn’t answer even one of them. Opinion hosts by definition give their opinions. It’s a snap to pinpoint where they stand on the issues they discuss. If they don’t give their opinions, they’re not opinion hosts. A person who fixes refrigerators is not a trombone player, no matter how many refrigerators he fixes.

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  2. notfoxy

    You established a criteria I didn’t present, then claimed I had to meet it. I’m telling you what Megyn does, not what I think she believes in. As I said, I wouldn’t be surprised if she could play a liberal as well as she does a conservative. She has said in the past she didn’t grow up a political person, and I think it’s quite likely she still isn’t, and his arguing the conservative position like a DA. She’s an opinion host.

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      • notfoxy

        It’s an opinion on an opinion blog. You disagree with it because you agree with most of what you hear on her show. This fact should concern you, but I’ve found that this delusion with Fox defenders is widespread: They presume that the conservative POV is “the truth”, and therefore “fair and balanced.” I think it’s a bizarre position to take.

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      • Sydney Bloom

        I see. You can read my mind, plus you can tell an “opinion host” by the fact that she doesn’t state opinions. Go ahead and have at it again. I wouldn’t want you to lose sleep because you didn’t get the last word.

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  3. notfoxy

    Sure, be a smartass because someone dares criticize your bizarre contention that an opinion show is not an opinion show. Feel better now?

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    • Sydney Bloom

      Look Mister, you try to tell me what I’m thinking, then somehow divine what my motivations are, and cap it off with a crack about me being delusional. Then you whine that I’M a smartass? Don’t spew personal attacks at me and then complain because I don’t just sit and take it, because I won’t.

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      • notfoxy

        Look Miss, I don’t appreciate someone pointing at a thing and telling me “this is not a thing” because of some weird allegiance to a TV channel. It’s insulting. Have a nice day.

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  4. ceceliamc

    Joe would save everyone a lot of time if he’d just go straight to saying people are deluded for not agreeing with him and that he doesn’t appreciate such an effrontery and cut out the middle mumbo-jumbo.

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