Monday, August 23, 2004

Vindictive bastards

One of the immediate obstacles facing any effort to reform the nation's media will be the fact that the Foxcists who are now driving our national discourse have no intention of surrendering control.

Just as they stopped at nothing to achieve their current position, they clearly will have no compunction about being every bit as ruthless to maintain it. If anyone fails to toe their line, they'll be threatened with exile from the halls of power. In other words -- and this is especially the case for those working inside the Beltway -- they will be rendered incapable of doing their jobs.

This was made abundantly clear awhile back when Republicans threatened to "boycott" CNN's Crossfire. The boycott never really materialized, but the show decidedly toned down its act in the meantime.

Now they're turning the same guns on Chris Matthews now that he has begun showing signs of departing from the preferred script. According to an item in U.S. News and World Report titled "Blackball", Republicans are putting the clamps down:
You might notice something missing from Hardball With Chris Matthews soon: Republicans. "Hardball may seem more like badminton during the Republican National Convention," threatens a GOP insider. What's up? The GOP thinks Matthews has gone over to Sen. John Kerry's side and is too critical of the Bush campaign's editing of a Hardball interview with Kerry posted on the party's negative site, As payback, they've stopped urging Republicans to appear on the show. Hardball executive producer Tammy Haddad dismisses charges Matthews is biased: "We beat everybody up." So far, nobody from the White House has told her of the show's being blackballed.

Of course not. They never work that way. They just send out the word through backchannels like this.

This, of course, is only occurring at MSNBC, which despite its obvious predilection over the past few years to attempting a "Fox Lite" approach to programming remains outside the circle of Conservative Media Insiders. That status in the cable biz is largely relegated to Fox News.

And heaven help anyone inside Fox who decides his journalistic integrity is more important than the Agenda.

Take, for instance, the case of Jon Du Pre, the Fox News reporter who made the mistake of appearing in the MoveOn documentary Outfoxed and telling its audience exactly how the "fair and balanced" channel operates.

According to Arizona Republic columnist Richard Ruelas, Fox has been getting even ever since:
On its Web site, Fox News released a statement about the documentary, saying that any news organizations that run stories on the film "is opening itself to having its copyrighted material taken out of context for partisan reasons." The statement does not say the documentary is in error nor deny the authenticity of the internal memos.

The network, on its Web site, also tries to discredit its former employees, including Du Pre. It says Du Pre left Fox News because "as his personnel file states, he was a weak field correspondent and could not do live shots." Du Pre said that claim is false.

Du Pre, who left Channel 5 this year, has twice been denied anchor jobs at Fox affiliates in other cities because of his appearance in the documentary.

"Even if I don't get another job in this business, it will have been worth it," Du Pre said of the Outfoxed interview. He got into this business to tell the truth, after all.

I was especially interested in Du Pre's description of how Fox operates even beyond what's portrayed in Outfoxed:
Du Pre hit pause. "This is presented in here as some sort of nefarious or hidden agenda," he said. "It wasn't so subtle." In reality, his bureau chief, who would have been a recipient of the daily memos, would relay the messages to him in much more colorful and blatant language. Reporters knew who the enemies were. They were ordered to deliver stories that made Democrats look bad and Republicans look good.

Du Pre said most Fox News Channel employees figured the bias was so obvious that audience would be able to see it as well. "Nobody thought that what we were doing was 'fair and balanced,' " he said, quoting the network's slogan. It was more "an attempt to balance out what everybody else was doing." He also said such rationalization was "survival."

"Their point of view is their point of view, and they have every right to it," Du Pre said. "But to hold themselves out as a fair and balanced source of news and information, let alone the truth, is abhorrent."

The truth, unfortunately, means nothing to the people currently in power.

Anyone who has been watching is already well aware of this, as well as the depths of their vindictiveness, which extends to anyone -- even former administration members and allies -- who fails to toe the line. Just ask Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke and Joe Wilson.

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