Sunday, March 14, 2010

Is This Satire?

Well. I opened my Washington Post today, and came across this beauty in today's Outlook section: "Fox News: unfair, unbalanced, unchecked," by former New York Times Executive Editor Howell Raines. Interestingly, the online version of the article has a different title: "Why don't honest journalists take on Roger Ailes and Fox News?"

I guess my first reaction to an ideologue like Raines was "Well, on the issue of 'unfair, unbalance, unchecked,' Howell Raines certainly knows from whence he speaks." And when I saw the online title, I had to ask whether Raines even knows any honest journalists (certainly he didn't hire many), or would recognize one if he tripped over him.

But the funniest parts of the article were Raines protestations about his perceptions of bias in Fox News reporting.

For instance, Raines proceeds from the assertion of Fox News' "endless repetition of its uber-lie: 'The American people do not want health-care reform.'" Note that it's in quotation marks. Followed by "Fox repeats this as gospel." Not that Raines bothers to cite the date, or time, or anchor who uttered such an uber-lie. No. He just asserts that it's endlessly repeated. But doesn't bother to tell us of even one occasion when it's been uttered. Or by whom.

And never mind that it's rather silly. Even Republicans concede that some reform is in order. Just not the scheme for socialized medicine advocated by President Barry, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-People's Republic of San Francisco), and Senate Majority Leader "Dingy" Harry Reid (D-Nevada). Just not the "Holy Grail" of government-controlled health care inherent in every far-Left scheme to control of our lives.

But then there's the endless sanctimony that one would expect of someone associated with the New York Times:

1) the condemnation of "the world of Foxian reality, whose actors are brought on camera to illustrate a preconceived universe as rigid as that of medieval morality";

2) the caricature that "when Fox does trot out a house liberal as a punching bag, the result is a parody of reasoned news formats," as though the New York Times, with its well-documented history of Liberal bias, holds a monopoly on "reasoned news formats," apparently defined by Raines as one in which the only Conservative views which are acceptable in polite company are those that concede the far-Left premise, and merely want to slow down the inexorable march of history to the Socialist Utopia;

3) the implication that Fox News does not present "information free of partisan poppycock," or --- incredibly arrogantly --- that Raines has ever been responsible for providing such information;

4) the notion that "Fox legitimize[s] a style of journalism that is dishonest in its intellectual process, untrustworthy in its conclusions and biased in its gestalt," again, as though the New York Times represents "a style of journalism that is []honest in its intellectual process, []trustworthy in its conclusions and [un]biased in its gestalt"; and

5) the accusation --- more indicative of the psychological condition of "projection" more than anything else --- that Roger Ailes and Fox News are "responsib[le] for creating a news department whose raison d'etre is to dictate the outcome of our nation's political discourse," as though Raines' New York Times were utterly innocent of the same offense.

Perhaps most outrageously, however, is Raines' accusation that:
For the first time since the yellow journalism of a century a,go, the United States has a major news organization devoted to the promotion of one political party.
Who does Howell Raines think he's kidding? Does anyone out there believe that Raines' New York Times has been, for decades, "a major news organization devoted to the promotion of one political party," specifically, the Democrat Party? Or that Fox News is even alone? Well, perhaps has a promoter of the GOP, if promoter is it, then it might be alone. But certainly not as "a major news organization devoted to the promotion of one political party," a capacity in which many of our "major news organization[s]" have enthusiastically served for years. Only they have done so in service to the "right" (to Raines) political party: the Democrat Party.

But it's not as though Raines relies wholly upon his own opinion. Instead, he offers evidence published in --- you guessed it! --- the New York Times:
This year, Freud, a public relations executive in London and Murdoch's son-in-law, condemned Ailes in an interview with the New York Times, saying he was "ashamed and sickened by Roger Ailes's horrendous and sustained disregard" of proper journalistic standards. Meanwhile, Gabriel Sherman, writing in New York magazine, suggests that Freud and other Murdoch relatives think Ailes has outlived his usefulness -- despite the fact that Fox, with its $700 million annual profit, finances News Corp.'s ability to keep its troubled newspapers and their skeleton staffs on life support. I know some observers of journalistic economics who believe that such insider comments mean Rupert already has Roger on the skids.
Raines is certainly entitled to his opinion. But his charges have the overwhelming stench of one complaining of getting caught at his own game. For what Raines practiced for years as an executive with the New York Times, well, Raines is guilty of his own charge: he "dare not call it journalism."

No comments: