Does the WashPost's Ruth Marcus even watch Fox News?

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

After reading her predictable, talking points-approved condemnation of the White House's push back against Fox News, my suspicion is that the Post columnist doesn't watch Fox News. And my guess is she's not alone among the growing army of Village pundits who have all stepped forward to uniformly announce that the White House is way off the mark in deciding to fact check Fox News.

In a way, Marcus is simply reinforcing the age-old Beltway truism: When Democrats criticize the press it's whiny and petty, but when Republicans do it, it's savvy and brash. (Just ask veterans of the Clinton administration.)

But more specifically, Marcus is commenting on a media landscape of which she is completely ignorant. For instance, she claims Fox News operates just like MSNBC did during the Bush years. MSNBC featured Bush bashers Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann, and today Fox News boasts Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, so c'mon what's the big deal. I guess the big deal is I don't remember either Olbermann or Maddow comparing MSNBC employees to persecuted Jews during the Holocaust, which was the twisted comparison Beck recently made regarding the Fox News staff.

In other words, I don't recall Olbermann or Maddow going bat shit crazy on national television, scribbling away on a chalkboard as they fantasized about connecting George Bush to every conceivable strain of historical evil. And I don't remember either MSNBC host launching hateful and hollow witch hunts against semi-obscure administration officials, the way Hannity has latched onto the homophobic attacks against Kevin Jennings.

But guess what? The same elite pundits who are telling the White House is chill out over Fox News are the same elite pundits who for weeks have refused to acknowledge the hateful Jennings witch hunt. Which brings me back to my original question: Do journalists like Marcus even watch Fox News? Do they understand what its programming day now looks like? My guess is the answer is no, even though lots of them have taken it upon themselves to speak out as Fox News experts; to lecture the White House about how normal and mainstream the cable outlet is.

For Marcus' edification, here's a recent example of where the Fox News family broke from the standards of professional journalism and clearly pushed a falsehood.

Here's another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another.

Yes, that list just covers a sampling from this October. And no, I don't recall MSNBC flooding its airwaves with provably false programming the way Fox News now does on a routine basis.

Can any serious journalist look at the kind of media malpractice record that Fox News has accumulated this year and really claim that it's not doing anything that's unusual or unique in the ranks of modern-day American journalism? Or that it's just like MSNBC, but from the right? Or that the White House should not be concerned about the nearly uninterrupted falsehoods unleashed in its direction?

Can any serious journalist look at that record and claim that it's the White House that ought to change its behavior? They can if they don't actually watch Fox News.

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