Who the President talks to...

>> Friday, October 23, 2009

Reading Salon over here at Freeman's Pub while I eat lunch downtown, I came across yet another piece regarding the Obama Administration's "war" against Fox News. The Administration, if you've been sleeping under a rock, basically called Fox News out for being nakedly partisan--which is, of course, completely true--and announced they weren't going to treat Fox as a news organization anymore. Which, I have to admit, makes a certain amount of sense--I mean, isn't it some of the best-known faces at Fox News, Beck and O'Reilly, who like to insist they're entertainers, not journalists, whenever they get their fingers caught 'neath the lid. Anyway, it seems that some of the other media outlets have gotten their knickers twisted over this one, and are rushing to the defense of Fox News, refusing to agree to interviews themselves unless Fox is allowed to play, too, etc. Salon's general take has been that the purportedly-liberal MSM outlets are wrong and that the President's Fox boycott is justifiable, if perhaps ill-advised as a matter of policy. My take is who the fuck oughta care?

Seriously. One of my little peeves is the delusion the media is under that they're special, they're the Fourth Estate and all that rubbish. The First Amendment doesn't say anything about the press being special, it says that their freedom won't be abrogated by Federal legislation (a limit on Federal power that is expanded to State legislatures--who used to be able to censor the press as much as their individual State constitutions permitted--by the Fourteenth Amendment). Specifically:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


Nowhere in the text does it say that the President of the United States has to give access to any journalist, pundit, camera crew, commentator, editorialist or anybody. The President can damn well deny access to Fox News--or to NBC, CBS, ABC, C-SPAN, Tommy Perkins from the Winnsleydale Junior High Informer, or to anyone else he damn well pleases. It might be stupid of him to do so as a matter of policy or public relations, but y'know, whatever.

The press does this kind of thing all the frickin' time and it frankly pisses me off. The press doesn't have privileges as a matter of law, rather it has the same exact rights as every other American citizen combined with a pseudo-special status that accidentally arose from the high bars to entry caused by the technological limitations of the actual media being used to communicate and their forms of distribution. That is, a printing press is a big heavy machine that costs lots and lots of money to feed and maintain and then you have to actually figure out how to get the resulting pages out to people. Similarly, a television camera used to be a big heavy thing that you had to have an entire truckload of gear to support unless it was anchored in a giant expensive building, and broadcasting the results to everyone in your vicinity a daunting technical process. So it was sort of inevitable, really, that there would come to be a professional class of reporters and their support system--e.g. editors, publishers, typesetters, circulation managers, deliverymen and so forth in print journalism. (It follows, at least somewhat, that the Internet, in removing barriers to entry, makes those in traditional journalism less special since they're no longer unique in their ability to deliver information; the major remaining exception being that news corporations are better suited to fund international travel for news reporting. Further, none of this says that there's no role for specialists or for those willing or able to pay specialists for their time; i.e. not every blogger, for instance, will have the time or resources to spend days and days gathering information and assembling it into a polished, informative communication. On the other hand, anyone who's willing to take the time can, theoretically, assemble a perfectly good news story, film it on an inexpensive-but-quality digital camera and, say, post it on YouTube for instant international distribution.)

Getting back on topic--I fear I've digressed a bit into something else I wanted to write sometime: I suspect the President would be a bit more "presidential" if the Administration sucked it up and pretended that Fox gave a crap about arcana like facts and truth, and shutting Fox News out may not be particularly sustainable or wise. But that really doesn't have anything to do with the wagon of donkey crap that is Fox News, or the other wagons of donkey crap in the caravan like NBC or CNN and all the rest of them. They aren't special and nobody has to talk to them, not even the President.


17 comments:

Leanright,  Friday, October 23, 2009 at 2:10:00 PM EDT  

It's easier for this administration to point the finger at Fox. Their just one target. There were PLENTY of instances when the Fox team blasted Bush.

On the other hand, Bush contended with MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, PBS, and CBS while he was in office. NEVER once giving a shit about what any of them had to say. Regardless, yes, there is bias on the part of Fox News, much of which I agree with, but hey, that's my stance. No more biased that say, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow, Katie Couric and Charles Gibson are for the other side.

Anyway, I see no good that can come from Mr. Obama pointing fingers at Fox. Wasn't it Mark Twain who said "Never start a fight with people who buy ink by the barrell".?

(I'm fully prepared for the repercussions of my comments)

Random Michelle K Friday, October 23, 2009 at 3:41:00 PM EDT  

There were PLENTY of instances when the Fox team blasted Bush.

(falls off chair laughing)

You're so funny Leanright!

MWT Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 12:38:00 AM EDT  

The sad thing is, even with all the extra fundage and all the time on their hands (because, you know, they're being paid to do it as their jobs), bloggers doing it in their free time STILL often end up with better quality journalism.

Leanright,  Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 2:25:00 AM EDT  

Michelle, I'm sure you spend all sorts of time watching Fox News. I'm sure you heard plenty regarding Bush's hideous immigration policy and the pointless TARP program. I mean, you would surely be on top of all of that since it seems to me that you must tune in nightly.

Nathan Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 10:51:00 AM EDT  

I don't have cable so I don't watch Fox and I can't really speak to how blatant they are on a regular basis. (I'm always a little amazed when I do get a chance to see what they're up to.)

Anyway, when the health plan debate got started, there was a lot of trash being talked and I found myself really frustrated when the Administration was trying to take the high road by dismissing "rumors". I thought they should have been calling people out on blatant "lies". (You don't have to name names when the lies are so easily attributable.) Then Obama promised, in a speech, that they were going to start doing just that.

I haven't really seen it. So, on the one hand, I agree with you that nobody (including the Administration) is required to speak to anyone in the press. On the other hand, I think Fox makes a fine foil. Instead of ignoring them and refusing to speak to them, they'd do better to have someone in the Press Office who does nothing but counter lies...and call them that.

Someone edging toward Jon Stewart's attitude would be a lot of fun. And no...I'm not kidding. Laughing at lies while you call them lies is a lot more effective than just getting all foamy and acting like your feelings have been hurt.

Random Michelle K Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 11:17:00 AM EDT  

Leanright,

I don't watch TV. The only reason we got Dish TV was for my grandmother.

I'm only inflicted with cable news via the internet.

However, any station that keeps Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly and claims they are fair and balanced deserves no respect on any front. Hate mongers do not belong in the public eye.

Eric Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 11:51:00 AM EDT  

You forgot Glenn, Michelle; how could you forget dear Glenn? The mad lad belongs on cable access, not a so-called news network.

Leanright,  Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 12:39:00 PM EDT  

Has anyone ever noticed that the "New Cool" is to claim to not watch nor even OWN a television?

Just find that interesting.

Nathan Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 1:58:00 PM EDT  

Hey! I watch TV all the time!

I love TV. I just watch the free shit that shows up on the invisible aether.

(And yeah...I'd be super pissed if I paid someone and all I got for my money was Glen and Sean. Feh!)

Random Michelle K Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 3:11:00 PM EDT  

Leanright,

Cable didn't come out to my parents house until I'd graduated from college. We had about four stations that came in okay, but that was only to the main TV, and my parents preferred to watch things like "Washington Week in Review" and other shows that were utterly boring to a teenager (I may have loved listening to NPR even in jr high, but Washington Week in Review bored me to tears.).

I couldn't afford cable when I was in college, or for years after while I was underemployed.

Once I get a decent job, I had other things to spend my money on, and by the time we could afford it, I simply didn't care.

We have a blu-ray player and a nice TV (Michael wants to upgrade to an HDTV for the blu ray movies) and watch some shows on DVD (esp SF shows--my grandmother loves SF shows), but for the most part I'd rather spend my time reading.

So far this year I've read 124 books. My high year was 2006 with 164 books read that year. And I don't claim to read "quality literature" either. (Well, OK, I suppose some of it is quality, but that's only because it's good, not because it's popular.)

Spending more than a decade where I didn't have access to TV more than broke me of the habit.

As I said, we got Dish TV when my grandmother moved in, but the last thing I set out to watch was the Rose Bowl Parade.

In regards to being the "new cool," believe me, not having access to MTV when I was in high school was NOT cool. And in college everyone would talk about shows and I'd have to sit in the corner since I had no idea what they were talking about.

Again, not cool.

I am a geek. I have always been a geek. I couldn't give a rats ass about what's cool and what other people like.

Amusing anecdote: Before Michael and I were married, his family came to visit, and his grandfather must have spent 20 minutes trying to find a station, incredulous that we got absolutely no reception.

Eric Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 5:02:00 PM EDT  

I hadn't actually noticed that, Dave. Or is there something you're trying to say; if so, maybe you should just come on out and say it, eh?

Leanright,  Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 11:47:00 PM EDT  

Nothing to say here in particular. I've noticed more and more people getting away from television. I assume it's because the internet has taken over as the new media.

Eric, 124 books, a blog and what I assume is a full time job as an attorney. I imagine somehow you find time to eat and sleep?

Eric Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 1:44:00 PM EDT  

I'm afraid the 124 books is Michelle, though I do try to read a fair bit.

Leanright,  Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 2:24:00 PM EDT  

My bad, my bad....

Michelle, kudos for keeping your mind sharp.

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