The right-wing media have attacked President Obama for commenting at a conference that "we've been a little bit lazy" about attracting foreign investment in America, claiming that he is "attacking Americans." However, several independent analysts have said that this line of attack takes Obama's comments out of context and that the president "wasn't calling Americans lazy."
From the November 14 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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One of the myths that Fox uses to prop up its credibility as a news-gathering operation is that it has "straight news" shows that possess the same integrity as those on any other channel.
It's a helpful argument for them, made all the more believable because these shows really look like news. Fox makes use of television conventions to convince its audience that what they are seeing is "news."
But anyone who closely watches these purportedly straight-news shows knows that, in fact, they're unlike any other news on television.
Actress Ellen Barkin recently made this point in an interview with the Los Angeles Times Magazine. Discussing "the enormous success that has killed us in terms of Fox News," Barkin said:
The blatant lying that passes itself off as journalism. I don't even need to get there to go mental. Can you imagine a legitimate newsperson -- Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw -- just lying on the news?
This earned her a jab in Bill O'Reilly's daily briefing*. (The instinct to defame critics, rather than engage them, is one of the qualities that separates Fox from legitimate news operations -- see here, for instance.)
The evidence that Fox disregards journalistic ethics, including outright "lying on the news," is extensive.
Imagine this: A news anchor uses talking points cribbed from a document released by a political party and presents them as his own news outlet's research. So faithfully, in fact, that the outlet reproduces a typo in the original document. When pressured on the issue, the anchor apologizes ... for the typo.
Jon Scott, co-anchor of one of Fox's daytime straight-news shows, Happening Now, did exactly that on Fox News. Plenty of other Fox straight-news shows have presented Republican Party research as their own.
Guest-hosting Monday's edition of America Live, Martha MacCallum appropriately led off with the big news of the day -- allegations that Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain sexually harassed two former employees while he headed the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. She even brought on Fox digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt to discuss the controversy. MacCallum ended the segment by noting that Cain was then speaking at the National Press Club and teased an appearance from the Washington Examiner's Byron York in the next hour "with news from those remarks today."
So far, so good. The Cain story is obviously big, and it would be expected that MacCallum would start the next hour of her two-hour show by highlight the latest words from Cain on the burgeoning controversy.
Except that's not quite what happened.
From the October 28 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Yesterday on Imus in the Morning, Imus and his guest, America's Newsroom co-anchor Martha MacCallum, rehashed the usual argument Fox employees trot out when they want to insulate the network's supposed "journalists" (like MacCallum) from accusations of partisanship -- that there exists a firm line between the network's "news" and "opinion" programming.
During the discussion, Imus praised MacCallum and her co-host Bill Hemmer, saying that there is "no editorializing at all" on their show. While attacking the partisanship of other networks, MacCallum said, "a lot of people are sort of brainwashed into believing that line of thinking that we're not fair and balanced, and everybody else is."
MacCallum explained that "during the daytime, we try to shoot as straight we possibly can. Everybody is a human being -- there's going to be times when your feelings about something enter a discussion."
MacCallum's claim echoed comments made by Bill Hemmer last year, when he told TVNewser that the opinions of Fox's right-wing primetime hosts don't carry over into America's Newsroom because "our broadcast, with Martha MacCallum and me, we shoot it down the middle."
Setting aside the larger problems with Fox's supposedly unimpeachable "news hours" -- complicated by things like having a Washington managing editor that orders network journalists to routinely cast doubt on climate science -- America's Newsroom often resembles Fox's "opinion" shows. While MacCallum suggests her and Hemmer's "feelings about something" only occasionally enter the discussion, they both have a record of echoing GOP talking points, and MacCallum has even flatly endorsed conservative policies.
Fox News has a bad habit of pretending that while its opinion shows have a point of view, its news programs are purely objective. The network routinely makes a mockery of that purported distinction, and tonight was no exception.
Martha MacCallum, a co-host of Fox's America's Newsroom, filled in for Greta Van Susteren during On the Record. The problem with this is that On the Record, which airs weeknights at 10 p.m., is billed by Fox as an opinion program, while America's Newsroom, which airs weekdays from 9 to 11 a.m., is part of Fox's "straight news" division. Indeed, in 2009 The New York Times reported, "Fox argues that its news hours -- 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on weekdays -- are objective," and quoted Michael Clemente, the channel's senior vice president for news, as saying: "The average consumer certainly knows the difference between the A section of the newspaper and the editorial page."
Clearly Fox doesn't find anything wrong with treating its opinion and "straight news" hosts as interchangeable. And while MacCallum has in the past filled in as a co-host on Fox & Friends, another of Fox's opinion programs, anchoring a primetime opinion show is a significant step beyond that. This isn't surprising, of course, but it is further evidence that there is no distinction between Fox's "straight news" and opinion divisions.
From the October 20 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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From the October 18 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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From the October 12 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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In a Newsweek article titled "Roger's Reality Show," Howard Kurtz wrote that Fox executives acknowledge that the news channel "took a hard right turn." This admission confirms what has long been clear: that Fox's news division has been slanted.
At the Fox News-Google GOP presidential debate, co-moderator Chris Wallace used the pejorative term "illegals" to refer to undocumented immigrants and read a question from the public that used the term, as well. Journalists have called on the media to stop using the term "illegals," but Fox's "straight news" shows use it consistently nonetheless.
In another installment of Fox's ongoing series bemoaning the purported job-killing effect of regulations, America's Newsroom anchor Martha MacCallum called a new Seattle ordinance requiring paid sick leave for employees another "entitlement" that could put small businesses "under water."
Fox spent last week promoting GOP talking points on regulation, obscuring the myriad public health benefits from the conversation. In this case, paid sick leave for employees -- particularly in the food service industry, where access to such leave is the least accessible -- has obvious public health benefits.
A 2008 study [PDF] by Human Impact Partners, an Oakland, California, nonprofit organization, found significant benefits from a similar law proposed for the state of California:
As part of a weeklong series helping to push an anti-regulatory agenda, Fox News is citing a discredited estimate that regulations cost businesses on average $161,000 each year. The estimate, which comes from a report prepared by outside researchers for the Small Business Administration, has been criticized for using a flawed research design, cherry-picking the highest cost estimates, and relying on "crude" data.
Fox News' opinion shows predictably bashed President Obama's jobs plan after it was introduced during a joint session of Congress Thursday night. Making a mockery of Fox's claim that there is a distinction between its news and opinion programming, Fox's supposedly "straight news" shows picked up right where its opinion shows left off.
During an interview with Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ) on today's edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, purported "straight news" anchor Martha MacCallum attacked Obama's jobs plan as unlikely to succeed claiming that the "original stimulus plan ... didn't work, as evidenced by the employment numbers and every other indication in the economy that we've seen." The claim that the stimulus failed is a myth that economists have debunked, although that hasn't stopped Fox from pushing the claim.
The following hour on America's Newsroom, Chris Wallace, the host of Fox News Sunday, repeated the myth that the stimulus failed, saying that "the part" of the plan calling for increased infrastructure spending "sound[ed] like 'Son of Stimulus,' like we were back to the future in February of 2009, and it just hasn't worked." He later added: "You know, you look at the results of the stimulus from 2009 where they promised it would keep unemployment under 8 percent and we haven't been -- you know, we've been over 8 percent for the last 28 months."
Shortly after Wallace made his remarks, MacCallum again bashed the plan, this time suggesting that what the economy really needs is renegotiation of union contracts. MacCallum said: "A lot of the union membership out there has been very supportive of a lot of more conservative ideals. The union leadership has fought tenaciously to hold onto its political position, even though the membership in this country is down to something like 7 percent of American workers that are in unions." She later said: "It is simple math in terms of many of these contracts that have been promised that simply cannot be fulfilled in so many cases for unions. So we need to go back to the drawing board in a lot of those cases."
Fox News routinely blurs the line between its supposed "straight news" and opinion programs. This is just one of the more obvious efforts of the two divisions to campaign against Obama.