Howard Kurtz's Hollow Defense Of Fox News

Howard KurtzCNN's Howard Kurtz is running to the defense of Fox News, accusing President Obama of “whining” that the organization prevents Republicans from engaging in bipartisanship, while ignoring the actual history of Fox News preventing Republicans from engaging in bipartisanship.

In a February 4 Daily Download post, Kurtz lamented what he called “the whining” about Fox News and the conservative echo chamber, including from President Obama. Kurtz added:

Now it's true that Fox or Rush can boost or batter any lawmaker, and that they can help drive a controversy into the broader mainstream media. But we're talking here about the president of the United States. He has an army, a navy and a bunch of nuclear weapons, not to mention an ability to command the airwaves at a moment's notice. And he's complaining about a cable channel and a radio talk show host?

Kurtz's post echoed an earlier criticism he made of Obama, on CNN's Reliable Sources. During the show, Kurtz questioned if Obama was overstating Fox's role, pointing to the president's comments in The New Republic where he claimed that “if a Republican member of Congress is not punished by Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you'll see more of them doing it.” Kurtz asked if there was “any possibility that President Obama thinks that Fox News and Rush Limbaugh have more influence than they actually have” and pressing them to identify Fox's influence.

But it's not just Obama who says that Fox prevents Republicans from compromising - Republicans themselves have acknowledged the role Fox plays in politics. In a December 2012 New York Times article, former Republican Rep. Tom Davis (VA) explained that Republicans might resist compromise on raising taxes for the wealthiest Americans despite the popularity of the measure, in part because of Fox News. The Times reported: “Reaction from the conservative news media poses another risk if Republicans compromise. 'How does Fox play this?' asked former Representative Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican and former chairman of his party's campaign committee.”

Additionally, in 2010, The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza reported that Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) advocated in favor of climate change legislation early in the year, but warned his Democratic colleagues to “get as far as they could in negotiating the bill 'before Fox News got wind of the fact that this was a serious process.'”