Sophia A. Nelson is a smart and incisive observer of Washington politics who recently penned an essay for The Root entitled, “5 Reasons Why President Obama Should Go on Fox.”
I like Sophia. She’s smart, honest and outspoken about what the GOP needs to do to reach African-Americans and people of color. I’ve been reading her essays for months now and even though she holds a far higher opinion of Sarah Palin than I do, I’m not going to hold that against her. I’m also asking for her assistance on a project so I’m going to phrase this very delicately: I don’t think she could be any more wrong if she tried.
The president is a congenial guy who wants to sit down and reason together. That’s one reason he’s made overtures to Iran, Cuba, North Korea and the Republicans. But Obama is also a politician and should take to heart John F. Kennedy’s admonishment to “Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.” FOX News is the enemy of the agenda of the Obama Administration.
White House officials have instituted a freeze-out of the right-wing cable news channel with White House communications director Anita Dunn firing the opening shot when she said of FOX, “It’s opinion journalism masquerading as news. They are boosting their audience. But that doesn’t mean we are going to sit back.” White House senior adviser David Axelrod appearing on ABC’s This Week took it even further when he told George Stefanopolis, “It’s really not news. It’s pushing a point of view. And the bigger thing is that other news organization like yours ought not to treat them that way. We’re going to appear on their shows. We’re going to participate but understanding that they represent a point of view.”
Axelrod is absolutely correct. The agenda of FOX News parallels the agenda of The Republican Party. No network has flogged Obama on “issues” such as Bill Ayers, Rev. Jeremiah Wright or ACORN as FOX has. But it’s hardly straight reporting and it certainly isn’t objective. As demonstrated by their cheerleading and promotion of the tax day tea parties, FOX doesn’t just report on the issues; it tries to create them as well.
Nelson writes in her article:
“I am a frequent commentator on Fox News and on Sean Hannity, but let me be clear: As a Republican African-American woman, I do not always agree with Fox’s coverage or the incendiary comments of Fox hosts like Glenn Beck. That does not, however, stop me from going on the news channel and stating my opinions—which are many times at odds with the more conservative point of view expressed there. My good friend/liberal black Professor Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is a Fox contributor, and he goes toe-to-toe with Bill O’Reilly regularly—the two of them make for great theater and “balance”—that’s what I like about O’Reilly.”
Past tense, Miss Nelson. Dr. Hill was fired Friday from his contributor gig. News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch announced at a shareholder’s meeting that Hill was let go after he was asked why the network had hired someone with “a reputation of defending cop killers and racists.” Hill had come under attack by right-wingnuts such as David Horowitz who said of his firing, “He never should have been hired.”
Apparently, there’s no room for any progressive perspectives on FOX unless they come from tired, neutered in-house liberals such as Alan Colmes.
I really don’t get the point of President Obama making nice with Fox. What is Fox doing to make nice with HIM?
The president is the leader of the free world. What good does it do him to show up on “The Factor” or parry GOP talking points from Sean Hannity? If FOX is truly a legitimate, mainstream news organization they need to be able to cover the Obama White House the same way CNN, MSNBC and the other networks are able to.
Between Beck, O’Reilly, Hannity and Van Sustren, that’s four hour of unabashed Obama bashing and if you want to throw Cavuto and “Fox and Friends” into the mix, that’s cool too.
Obama has to recognize Fox with it’s promotion of the tea parties, regurgitation of Republican talking points and relentless criticism of his policies and policies is not even remotely “fair and balanced” and it is folly to act as if they are.
Jacob Weisberg of SLATE makes a credible case as to why the president is right to give Fox the cold shoulder. Certainly, it will only convince those who hang on every word of Beck, O’Reilly and Hannity that the president is barking up the wrong tree, but I disagree with Miss Nelson that this will hurt Obama in the long run. By pointing out Fox’s demonstrable bias, it forces them to either reassess their coverage or double-down and further make their negativity even more obvious and overt.
I don’t believe the president should totally freeze out Fox by ignoring them at press conferences or taking away their press pass, but until Fox begins to live up to their own motto, there’s no reason for Obama to treat Murdoch’s propaganda machine as a legitimate, mainstream journalism outlet. It’s not.