In the Arena

Just Desserts

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You could see this coming a mile away, and it’s appropriate pushback by the Democratic Party. The reason why you could see it coming was Fox’s outrageous treatment of Barack Obama, going back to the “madrasa” story–and Obama’s reciprocal treatment of Fox: he wouldn’t let the Fox crew on his charter plane the weekend he announced. It was one of several moves Obama made to show his toughness coming out of the gate, which set an example that John Edwards and the Nevade Democratic party have now followed. (I think it was Carl Cameron who paid the price with Obama, which is a shame because he is a solid professional who actually does try to be fair and balanced.)

Why is it appropriate pushback? What about the First Amendment? Because Fox just isn’t your normal mainstream media outlet. On other networks, you might find the occasional, often unwitting, liberal bias in straight news coverage that conservatives have been complaining about for years–and even the occasional show, like Keith Olbermann’s, that has a liberal point of view…but Fox is an entire network devoted to a point of view. It is subtly done, most of the time. The operative metaphor here is Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes.

But at crucial moments in recent political campaigns, Fox has opened the spigot on the vilest trash–it was chief publicist for the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth in 2004. Which is why the Democrats are justified, ultimately, in stiffing Roger Ailes and his gang.

A few months ago, when Swampland started, I suggested that Fox owed Obama an apology for the madrasa story–and that it should be delivered by someone prominent, like Brit Hume, and rebroadcast several times. I’m still waiting for that. And the Democrats–especially the eternally myopic Congressional Black Caucus–should have not grant Fox any benefits, like allowing the network to sponsor a debate, until that apology is issued and there’s other tangible evidence of a “fair and balanced” network emerging from the coy bias.

Update: Right, right. There’s no first amendment issue here. That was just me clearing my throat.