A FoxNews.com article reported that the “refusal by ABC and NBC to run a national ad critical of President Obama's health care reform plan is raising questions from the group behind the spot -- particularly in light of ABC's health care special aired in prime time last June and hosted at the White House.” Fox News, however, previously refused to air ads critical of the Bush administration, to which it had “unprecedented access.”
Fox News: Ad refusal is “raising questions”
Article quotes Dick Morris on ABC's “chutzpah.” Fox News contributor Dick Morris also said of ABC's refusal to air the ad: “It's the ultimate act of chutzpah because ABC is the network that turned itself over completely to Obama for a daylong propaganda fest about health care reform.” From the August 27 FoxNews.com article:
The refusal by ABC and NBC to run a national ad critical of President Obama's health care reform plan is raising questions from the group behind the spot -- particularly in light of ABC's health care special aired in prime time last June and hosted at the White House.
Dick Morris, a FOX News political analyst and the League of American Voters' chief strategist, conceptualized the advertisement and said its purpose was to “refocus” the debate on health care reform.
“I feel the whole debate on health care reform needed to be refocused on the issue of Medicare,” he told FOXNews.com. “Most of the debate had been on issues of socialized medicine and cost. I felt that the impact of the legislation in cutting the Medicare program and enforcing rationing needed to be addressed.”
Morris, a onetime advisor to former President Bill Clinton, said he was particularly troubled by ABC's decision not to air the spot.
“It's the ultimate act of chutzpah because ABC is the network that turned itself over completely to Obama for a daylong propaganda fest about health care reform,” he said. “For them to be pious and say they will not accept advertising on health care shuts their viewers out from any possible understanding of both sides of this issue.” [FoxNews.com, 8/27/09]
Fox News refused to air anti-Bush ads, boasted of White House access
Ads criticizing torture, Alito were refused. As Media Matters for America noted, Fox News previously refused to air an ad produced by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) that criticized the Bush administration for “destroying the Constitution” through the use of renditions, torture, and other tactics. In an email provided to Media Matters by CCR, Fox News account executive Erin Kelly told the center's e-communications manager that Fox would not run the ad, but said that "[i]f you have documentation that it [the Constitution] is indeed being destroyed, we can look at that." Additionally, in 2005, Fox News refused to run an ad critical of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who then-President Bush had nominated to succeed retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Fox News boasted of its “unprecedented access” to Bush White House. Morris is just the latest Fox News personality to attack ABC for its June 24 exclusive prime-time special, "Questions for the President: Prescription for America. During the Bush years, however, Fox News made much of its “unprecedented access” to the White House, using that access to ask softball questions of Bush administration officials and run specials about the administration.
- During an exclusive interview with Bush on the June 8, 2005, edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto asked Bush questions such as: “Almost any objective read tells you that we're still doing very, very well. ... Do you think you get a bum rap in the media on the economy?” and “Do you ever get mad at your fellow Republicans?” As Media Matters noted at the time, Media Research Center president L. Brent Bozell III defended Cavuto from criticism that he had lobbed “softball” questions to Bush, asserting that Bush was asked “some challenging questions” and that the interview “was no puff job.”
- Similarly, Cavuto's July 31, 2006, exclusive interview with Bush also featured softballs, false assertions, and a failure on Cavuto's part to ask any substantive questions regarding the Iraq war, as Media Matters documented. In addition, Cavuto rarely challenged Bush's answers, including Bush's claim that “I think about Al Qaeda every day” -- even though he previously asserted that he was “not that concerned” about Osama bin Laden. After the interview, Cavuto repeatedly praised the president and his ability to withstand the Miami humidity, telling Fox News' Brian Wilson that Bush “was dry as toast” and “looked great.”
- On February 16, 2006, then-Vice President Dick Cheney granted his first interview after accidentally shooting a hunting companion in the face to Fox News' Brit Hume. As Media Matters noted, in airing the interview, Fox omitted Cheney's comments about drinking a beer the day he shot his hunting companion, Harry Whittington, and even excluded the comments from what it said was the “full interview” posted on its website. Yet, on the February 19, 2006, edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, Hume gave himself high marks for the manner in which he had conducted the interview, saying, “The last thing in the world that Dick Cheney needed on that day was a soft interview,” and “my job was to simply sit there and walk through this episode with him and ask all the relevant questions.”
Moreover, Hume neglected to ask a number of “relevant” questions, as Media Matters noted. For example, Cheney appeared to accept responsibility for shooting Whittington ( “Well, ultimately, I'm the guy who pulled the trigger” ), but Hume failed to ask Cheney why he allowed surrogates -- without challenging or correcting them -- to publicly blame Whittington for the accident.
- On September 30, 2006, Fox aired a special on then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, titled "Why He Fights," which promised to “examine why President Bush stands behind him and what drives the 73-year-old Rumsfeld to soldier on.” In a "Reporter's Notebook" entry on the documentary, Bret Baier, who interviewed Rumsfeld, wrote: "[F]or me, Rumsfeld continues to be one of the most fascinating figures in President Bush's war cabinet." He continued: “At 74 years old, he is a self-made millionaire many times over. He once served as the nation's youngest defense secretary
now he's the oldest. So what keeps him going? What makes him continue to fight?”
Baier further described the special as a “series of one-on-one interviews with Rumsfeld that took place over the course of several months,” adding: “I traveled with Rumsfeld to Iraq numerous times, spoke with him at the Pentagon, and even rode along with him as he traveled to and from the White House.”
- On the October 16, 17, and 18, 2006, editions of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly aired portions of his October 16 interview with Bush, which consisted of such “tough questions” as whether then-Sen. Hillary Clinton is “soft on terrorism,” whether “the anti-Bush press” is responsible for popular opposition to the war, and whether Bush was aware that critics “are trying to destroy you.” O'Reilly also asked Bush: "[Y]ou work hard, right?"
In his introduction to the October 16 interview segment, O'Reilly stated that "[b]ecause every presidential interview is finite," he would concentrate on “what is happening now.” Absent from the interview, O'Reilly stated, would be any questions that “look back,” because, "[w]hat good does it do to rehash WMDs?" According to the onscreen text, “Looking back doesn't do anybody any good.”
- On October 13, 2007, Fox News aired "Dick Cheney: No Retreat," which was described as “an exclusive interview” with Cheney and teased as “a rare glimpse into the life of the vice president.”
- On February 2 and February 3, 2008, Fox News aired a documentary titled, "George W. Bush: Fighting to the Finish," after, as Fox itself described, Baier “was granted unprecedented access by George W. Bush as the president begins the final year of his extraordinarily consequential tenure.”