Why Media Matters Should Stop Picking on Fox News (This Time)

white house press roomIn its campaign to drive Fox News from the front row of the White House briefing room, the liberal watchdog group Media Matters did one thing right: It waited until the last week of August. Only in this most barren stretch of the traditional summer news doldrums could this utter non-issue be mistaken by anyone for a matter of genuine importance.

Actually, it's not one non-issue but two non-issues rolled up into one. The first is the now-settled question of which news organization deserved to occupy the seat previously held by now-retired reporter Helen Thomas. Fox won out over Bloomberg and NPR, scoring the coveted privilege of asking the President's flack questions and then writing down what he says while 48 other people do the same, from slightly farther away. If the purpose of a political reporter is to break actual exclusive, agenda-setting stories, there's no worse place to do it than from the front row of the White House briefing room.

Then there's the non-issue of the $1 million donation by Fox News parent News Corp. (NWS) to the Republican Governors Association. Though Media Matters and other critics have tried to paint this as devastating to the credibility of News Corp.'s various news outlets, in fact, as I've written, there's nothing in the least unusual about a media conglomerate giving money to a partisan political campaign.

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Still, Media Matters persists in its attempt to manufacture outrage, calling for the White House Correspondents Association to reconsider its utterly inconsequential decision. That call resonated with former WHCA president Ed Chen, who says giving a front-row seat to Fox was "a travesty of a decision." Noting that the seat only opened up because Thomas couldn't keep her anti-Israel views to herself, Chen adds, "To fill the vacancy with another cloud of ideological conflict was most unfortunate and inappropriate."

And what has Chen been doing since his days as a White House correspondent, you ask? Good question. He's now the communications director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, the environmental lobbying group whose board of trustees is replete with Hollywood liberals like Leonardo DiCaprio, Laurie David, Robert Redford and James Taylor. I point this out not because I think it ought to disqualify Chen from serving as head of the WHCA but because I think it ought to disqualify him from bitching about Fox News's "ideological conflict," or at least disqualify him from being taken seriously when he does it.

Kicking Fox out of its new place in the White House press room isn't going to solve the problem of political bias in the media. It would merely be a victory for a different brand of bias.

Clarification, 8/25/10: The initial version of this post read as though Fox News had moved into Thomas's seat in the briefing room. In fact, the Associated Press moved into that seat, with Fox filling AP's previous front-row seat.

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Al... You are really a moron. Our border means any border that we and other countries are protecting against the Taliban. CNN left that little part out. Now do you get the picture? No dear, they are not a part of American Idol.

August 26 2010 at 1:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The seating arrangement makes no difference at all. There is a pecking order among the journalists and the press sec. follows this. But, that being said, I disagree with the author about the Fox contribution being insignificant. 1mil dollars to any party is huge..and the fact that fox tries to define itself as balanced makes it worse. Fox really just lies too much. This whole week every show on the network has attacked the mosque in NYC, the Imam who is supporting it and the money that is funding it. They keep crying terrorists, extremists and the like and yet the one they are attacking they supported a year ago. Hell even Bush called the Imam an example of moderate Islam. And the money...that just makes me laugh. The financing is coming from Bin Talal...the 2nd largest share holder in News Corp...So yeah...taking money from "terrorists" is bad...unless they are your boss.

August 25 2010 at 10:58 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

I recall when Obama was campaigning I could not imagine a President with a Muslim background. I was stymied. Who is he, where did he come from So I turned to CNN hoping to better my understanding. I recall them speaking about Pres. Bush and throwing up, and seeing countless hours of Sarah Palins clothes.Politics are certainly not in my expertise, so I was beginning to feel foolish. I thought, maybe because CNN is broadcast all over the world they have to send many condensending msgs. But then, (I really wish I logged the exact date and time to back this up), but Rachelle Maddow ended her time slot with "Bush just fired on Afghanistan", "Is that his departing speech" and laughed. I immediately turned to all of the other stations to hear that Afghanistan crossed our border and Bush retaliated. How could she leave that part out? I never watched CNN again. The media is certainly doing an injustice to the American people. But I do notice you cannot keep the American people down. They come up fighting with what they feel is right. Love them, proud of them, and lucky to be a part of them. I switched to Fox, and other stations to get all the news. Somehow I can piece them all together and decide what the right thing is to do. So far America is doing. Thank God. The Sleeping Giant is waking up.

August 25 2010 at 10:18 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Paula's comment

Afghanistan crossed our border? Really? OMG. I sure hope they didn't blow up anything important like the American Idol studio or my neighborhood bar. An invasion of the US by Afghanistan? Are you sure they were Taliban? Maybe they were just Texans. It's hard to tell the difference, you know. An invasion across our border? And the damn liberal press covered it up.

August 25 2010 at 11:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mount carmine

This is the second day that the writer: of this story has taken a shot at Fox news. I stated yesterday tha ABC,NBC,CBS, PBS and Cnn are the happy group who has been responsable for the current administration. What left wing club do you mr.borcivi belong to. AOL seems to be loaded with leftys also.

August 25 2010 at 9:31 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

europlan... sit down before you hurt yourself! what a load of garbage. it amazes me how people can be so dense lol thanks for the laugh haha

August 25 2010 at 8:59 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Fox television is not a news organization. It is, indeed, the propaganda arm of the Republican Party. Last week, for two straight hours, I watched Fox and all I heard was bashing President Obama, the Democrats are all socialists and facists, they hate this country, everything they say is a lie and the Republicans are the saviors of the world. I just about lost my lunch!

August 25 2010 at 5:21 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to valofnc's comment

Fox is not just a propaganda arm of the R Party. It is ,even more significantly, a propaganda arm for the globalists, one world economy/governmenters who want to see the USA fall,while China, Brazil, India, etc rise. The two priamry owner investors are Rupert Murdock, an AUstralin gazzillionaire who owns Newscorp - grandmother company to Fox,Wall Street Journal. Natiaonal Standard,Sky Com in the Eu etc, and now. in cahhoots with Murdock, Prince Alwaheed of Saudi Arabia. That is what blows me away. All of the white guys in my area who faithfully listen to the Foxites bash everybody who does not agree with their pro billionaire, pro foreign domination , pro use of the US military to meet globalist goals etc etc. Most people around where I live listen to FOX,especially those on Social security, social securtiy disability, veterans pensions and workers comp. For years they have been listening to people like Micheal Savitch and Glen Beck spew out their "hate your fellow citizens", we are the "only patriotic Americans" rhetoric, "Democrats dont care about you, only republicans care about you' line of BS. Then after their people get into power they support neo -con foreing policy and fiscal policy that supports the globalist billionaires at the expense of everybody else and the rapidly deterioration of American infrastructural systems.

August 25 2010 at 7:48 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

A president should be able to answer a question from ANYONE in that press room not matter WHERE he or she is sitting. Anything else smacks of fear, the fear that the president will be unable to answer without a teleprompter or prepared speech. It is pathetic that this debate even exists.

August 25 2010 at 3:18 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

Ive been following politics and the media for 40 years a free press of coarse is paramount to a free society im neither republican nor democrat but it is so obvious that fox news is so biased in their reporting its almost a moral crime to a free press thats supposed to be unbiased the dis service that they do to the american public is such a travesty of huge proportion lots of people are swayed by their reporting and in that fact alone i cant think of anything more that has divided our country what fox does on so many levals is so destructive im saddened that they exist and deliver news the way they do im even more saddened that people believe that they are legitimate

August 25 2010 at 11:28 AM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to ajcp2006's comment
dc walker

fox news is conservative. They tell you that especially in their 8-11pm slot in their opinion section. At least one knows turning them on that they are speaking from a conservative point of view THAT IS NOT THE TRUTH when you listen to Couric or Lauer, Williams or King. You can take or leave what they say and/or listen to the others. It takes a grown up to decipher the difference.

August 25 2010 at 3:20 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Interesting name, Media Matters, matters for what would be my first question? Matters for free speech and the exchange of ideas or, as we all know, matters that the agenda on the table matches their idealogical positions ? Matters that the only non-sycophantic administration network out there is the very one they want to preclude from this venue, excuse me the very important first row ? Hmmm, interesting that once again they have focused on the key issues that affect the lives of most Americans. Jobs, taxes, debt....back of the bus. Fox being sanctified with a front row seat to get to listen to Robert Gibbs on a daily basis, critical. Seems to me they were doing pretty well reading through the BS from their non-prestigious 2nd, 3rd or 4th row ! Something tells me they could sit in the balcony and still figure out what wasn't being said by what was being said.

August 25 2010 at 11:11 AM Report abuse +13 rate up rate down Reply


August 25 2010 at 11:11 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply