UPDATED: Baltimore Sun TV critic can't figure out how Fox News is different from MSNBC

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

The Sun's David Zurawik has made quite a splash online in recent weeks as he relentlessly attacks the White House for criticizing Fox News and calling it out as illegitimate. While defending Fox News, Zurawik claims the fact that White House aides have an opinion about Murdoch's faux news channel means administration officials are attacking journalism across the board; that critiquing the press now represents a chilling campaign of intimidation.

Zurawik has trotted out the comically inaccurate Nixon's "enemies list" comparison, and generally laid on the rhetoric quite thick: "This campaign by the Obama administration is dangerous to press freedom, and it should concern everyone in the press, not just Fox."

Last night Zurawik was rewarded for his pro-Fox News campaign, in which he completely ignores the "news" product produced under its name, and was invited onto The O'Reilly Factor, where he and the host were in heated agreement that the White House's decision to fact check Fox News was insane. (How original.)

On O'Reilly's show, Zurawik also hit his latest talking point that Fox News is just like MSNBC, and if the WH is critiquing Fox News it ought to take on MSNBC for being unprofessional. We've seen this lazy analogy a lot in the last couple weeks; because MSNBC has a couple liberal hosts, that means its around-the-clock product is exactly the same as MSNBC. Except it's not, which I previously noted:

I don't remember either Olbermann or Maddow comparing MSNBC employees to persecuted Jews during the Holocaust, which was the twisted comparison [Glenn] 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 for Zurawik, because MSNBC plays hosts a couple liberal talkers, it's just like Fox News. Of course, MSNBC also devotes its entire morning programming to a show hosted by conservative, former Republican member of Congress, but Zurawik doesn't address that fact; Zurawik can't point to the daily Fox News show that's hosted by a proud liberal.

But since the TV critic is so sure that MSNBC is just like Fox News, I'd like him to back up the claim. Last week, I produced this cheat sheet for the WashPost's Ruth Marcus and ABC's Jake Tapper *after both seemed to imply that Fox News was similar to MSNBC and ABC News, respectively.

But here's an example of how the Fox News family isn't quite like MSNBC. Here's another 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, and another.

If Zurawik is so sure MSNBC is just like Fox News, than he ought to produce a similar, detailed list showcasing obvious examples of how MSNBC has walked away from the traditions of mainstream journalism and has purposefully pushed falsehoods, lies and smears under the guise of news. I'm not looking for Zurawik to explain that Olbermann and Maddow lean left. Everybody knows that. And the White House isn't attacking Fox News because it leans right.

The White House is attacking Fox News because it no longer functions as a legitimate news org. I'd like Zurawik to match my two dozen examples above, most pulled from 2009, and show everybody how MSNBC is just like Fox News.

Good luck.

UPDATED: Earlier this year, Zurawik attacked MSNBC this way [emphasis added]:

Even Rachel Maddow, who is the nicest, with her snide smile and arched eyebrow and mocking, they target people and hold them up for ridicule. It's exactly what happened in propaganda in the '30s in Europe. I'm not kidding you.

But today, Zurawik, a media critic, defends Fox News.

UPDATED: Ironic. From last month:

*I updated the original language, which claimed ABC' Tapper had insisted Fox News was "just like" ABC News. That was too literal. Instead, Tapper last week wondered if it was "appropriate" for the White House to suggest Fox News was not legitimate, and pressed White House spokesman Robert Gibbs to explain how Fox News was "any different" from ABC News.

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