October 21, 2009 Leave a comment
Mickey Kaus, whom I am generally not at all a fan of, has a pretty spot-on post about Fox news as compared to other TV news channels that hits at some of the themes I addressed the other day, and does it better.
I guess there are two distinct axes on which you can judge press
organizations–actually, there are many more than two (see below), but
two are important here: 1) Neutrality–Are they
attempting to be "objective," trying to serve the "public interest" in
some balanced way, or are they ideologically (or otherwise) driven in a
way that inevitably colors their coverage–what topics they pick, what
'experts' they rely on, etc. 2) Independence–Whether
they are biased or generally neutral, can somebody–a political party,
a Mafia family, a government– tell them what to do?
I think it's pretty clear MSNBC and the NYT and Breiibart.tv are not neutral. They all have an agenda and they pursue it. But they are
independent. The Obama White House can't tell Bill Keller what to do.
They can't tell Keith Olbermann what to do. (They can suck up to him,
and it will probably work, but that's a different issue.) Breitbart is
for sure independent–I can't see anyone telling him what to do.
I think Fox is also not neutral (which, again, doesn't bother me) but it's also not independent (which does).
This isn't because it's owned by Rupert Murdoch–moguls are,
typically among the more independent sorts. It's because it's run by
Roger Ailes. I have zero faith that Ailes is independent of the
Republican party or, specifically, those Republicans who have occupied
the White House recently–the Bushes. As I said, I think if Karl Rove
called Ailes in 2003 and said "We don't want so much coverage of
X" it's extremely likely that X would not be covered on Fox. A … suggestive
example of Fox's loyalty is the debate on immigration, in which Ailes'
network initially seemed to try valiantly–against the beliefs of most
of its audience–to push the Bush White House line in favor of
"comprehensive" legalization (while brushing aside its viewers' views).
It's also worth noting that the "agenda" of the other organizations is not particularly liberal, while Fox undoubtedly pursues a conservative agenda, in addition to not being independent.