On Countdown, Media Matters' Burns says Fox News is "no longer a news organization. This is a political organization"
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From the September 29 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
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DAVID SHUSTER (guest host): Joining us now is the president of MediaMatters.org, Eric Burns. Good evening, Eric.
BURNS: Good evening, David.
SHUSTER: So explain to me, why is it indoctrination when kids sing about President Obama, but it's patriotism when kids sing about President Bush and FEMA?
BURNS: Well, David, it's not indoctrination to anybody except Karl Rove, Josh Bolten, Roger Ailes -- the rest of the Bush administration in exile over at Fox News, because they are trying to push a political agenda. And they're trying to destroy this administration, and they'll use any means necessary to do it.
And just to give you a little example of this, James O'Keefe, who is the author of one of the suspect ACORN videos that there have been a lot of questions surrounding, told Chris Wallace recently on Fox News that he was employing tactics that would, quote, "destroy his political enemies." So that's what this is about.
There's nothing abnormal about folks talking and children learning about their president and learning to be -- learning about their democracy through talking about the president. I did it when I was a kid.
SHUSTER: The videos that were posted did not blur the children's faces. Both schools have pointed out that the parents were not angered by the performances but were angered over their children's privacy being violated. Where is the right's outrage over that?
BURNS: That's a great question, especially for a movement that typically pays a lot of lip service to caring about local control, about families and about kids. And as I understand it, it wasn't just the YouTube videos where their faces weren't blurred. The initial Fox broadcasts of these videos, their faces weren't blurred either. And what -- the question I have is, did Fox go out and get waivers from each and every one of these parents to broadcast their children's image on national television? And if they did, they ought to produce those. Because frankly, it's illegal if they didn't.
SHUSTER: As far as teaching our kids about the president, is there something wrong with teaching our kids to respect the president, to sing in praise of the office of presidency in an office of the first African-American president?
BURNS: Absolutely not. You know, as I said, look, I went to Catholic school in Texas. I was taught about the president and learned to respect the presidency of the United States, to be a patriotic American. My parents were taught the same thing.
This is a very normal and appropriate way to educate young children about our democracy. It's important, and it's -- it just goes to show you to what lengths the folks at Fox News will go to derail the political discussion in this country and what deplorable tactics they will do -- exploiting our nation's children. I think it's really disgusting.
SHUSTER: And is that the general theme here with the right-wing media, I mean, undermining the president by manufacturing controversies, because many of the actual Obama policies are favored by the majority of Americans?
BURNS: Absolutely. We've seen it day after day. You know, Glenn Beck is the smearer in chief over at Fox News. And we see new charts, you know, documenting some new vast conspiracy theory every day, new attacks, and it's a constant barrage.
And I'll tell you, this right-wing noise machine has been ginned up. It's never been more ferocious, and their goal is simple -- as Rush Limbaugh stated at the beginning of the year -- they want Obama to fail. Roger Ailes said that this is the Alamo for conservatives and that Fox is the voice of the opposition.
So, this is no longer a news organization. This is a political organization, and their aim is to destroy a progressive policy agenda. They'd rather win in the ballot box than see any sort of real debate on health care. It's a real shame.
SHUSTER: Eric Burns, president of Media Matters for America. Eric, thanks as always. We appreciate you coming in.
BURNS: Thank you, David.