Obama v. Fox News, a long American tradition

In an interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama was asked a question about the impact and role of Fox News. He responded as follows:

“Look, as president, I swore to uphold the Constitution, and part of that Constitution is a free press. We’ve got a tradition in this country of a press that oftentimes is opinionated. The golden age of an objective press was a pretty narrow span of time in our history. Before that, you had folks like Hearst who used their newspapers very intentionally to promote their viewpoints. I think Fox is part of that tradition — it is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view. It’s a point of view that I disagree with. It’s a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world. But as an economic enterprise, it’s been wildly successful. And I suspect that if you ask Mr. Murdoch what his number-one concern is, it’s that Fox is very successful.”

Personally, I think that statement is A.) quite accurate; and B.) a natural, inevitable part of the give and take of politics. When media outlets run stories that are critical of a politician, the politician responds, sometimes with criticism of his or her own. Here in Georgia, politicians have campaigned against “those lying Atlanta newspapers” for generations, and they continue to do so to this very day. It comes with the territory.

And yeah, Obama’s the president, which means that his words carry a lot of weight. But Rupert Murdoch and Fox News are big boys too — somehow I think they can handle it. If you can’t withstand a little pushback from politicians, you better go find another line of work, because you’re too much of a wimp for this one.

However, some of my media colleagues disagree with me. For example, David Zurawik, a TV critic for the Baltimore Sun, claims to see Obama’s running feud with Fox as some sort of threat to “a press independent from the reaches and power of any of the branches of government” and further suggests that the president doesn’t respect the role of a free press.

I wonder what Zurawik and others would make of Thomas Jefferson, who wrote eloquently and often about the importance of a free press, calling it our single most important bulwark in defense of liberty. But in 1805, in his second Inaugural Address, Jefferson also complained bitterly that in order to destroy his administration, “the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare.” Again, that was in his inaugural address, not in some interview with Rolling Stone. And it was just one of many examples of Jefferson complaining about press abuses, which “have been carried to a length never before known or borne by any civilized nation.”

In his Rolling Stone comments, Obama mentioned another prime example in William Randolph Hearst, who in the first half of the 20th century owned a powerful chain of newspapers and used them to conduct a bitter assault on Franklin Roosevelt. For example, in one 1936 editorial that he wrote himself and published on the front page of every newspaper he owned, Hearst charged that FDR was doing the handiwork of the Communists in Moscow and had “adopted the platform of the Karl Marx Socialists in almost every word and letter.”

The FDR White House responded to what it called “a certain notorious newspaper owner,” releasing a statement that in some ways sounds eerily modern.

“Such articles are conceived in malice and born of political spite,” the statement read. “The American people will not permit their attention to be diverted from real issues to fake issues which no patriotic, honorable decent citizen would purposely inject into American affairs.”

Roosevelt himself, in an appearance at the annual Gridiron Club dinner in Washington, took playful note of the press campaign against him. Some character by the name of Franklin Roosevelt, a true villain, kept showing up in all his newspapers, FDR said. This guy Roosevelt, he said, “combined the worst features of Ivan the Terrible, Machiavelli, Judas Iscariot, Henry VIII … and Jesse James. He was engaged in a plot to wreck the American Constitution, to poison the Supreme Court, to demolish capitalism, to wreck old-age security…. in short, to blot from the face of the Earth the United States as we have known it.”

That too sounds familiar.

Obama, in other words, is doing somewhat gently what Jefferson, FDR and others had done aggressively, and in fact what politicians everywhere do. He has every right to point out that Fox has “a very clear, undeniable point of view,” because it’s the truth and everyone knows it. That point of view shows up in myriad ways, some large, some small. And the small ways are often the most telling.

In that same Rolling Stone interview, for example, Obama was asked about his musical tastes these days. He responded:

“My iPod now has about 2,000 songs, and it is a source of great pleasure to me. I am probably still more heavily weighted toward the music of my childhood than I am the new stuff. There’s still a lot of Stevie Wonder, a lot of Bob Dylan, a lot of Rolling Stones, a lot of R&B, a lot of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Those are the old standards.

A lot of classical music. I’m not a big opera buff in terms of going to opera, but there are days where Maria Callas is exactly what I need.

Thanks to Reggie [Love, the president's personal aide], my rap palate has greatly improved. Jay-Z used to be sort of what predominated, but now I’ve got a little Nas and a little Lil Wayne and some other stuff, but I would not claim to be an expert. Malia and Sasha are now getting old enough to where they start hipping me to things. Music is still a great source of joy and occasional solace in the midst of what can be some difficult days.”

Personally, the bit about Maria Callas gets me worried. But that’s not what caught the attention of those good folks at FoxNation.com. Here’s how they pitched it on their website:

foxrap

Hearst would be so proud.

839 comments Add your comment

TaxPayer

September 30th, 2010
8:46 pm

Doggone,

I got Mayapples on my property too. I be veeeeeery careful around those plants.

Doggone/GA

September 30th, 2010
8:48 pm

Josef…talk about “teaching moments” – the other day I mentioned a revelation I had listening to a show on NPR about Malcom X. They interviewed a man who had his own “revelation” at a Nation of Islam meeting when he was 15.

The rumor in his neighborhood was that to join the Nation of Islam you nad to kill a white policeman. He worked himself into a state where he thought he could do that, so he went to a meeting. The speaker was talking about (can’t quote him exactly) about stuff like, keeping clean, healthy, neat and getting education. But the kid wasn’t really listening, he was getting more and more worked up and finally he jumped up and shouted that he was ready to join, he was ready to kill whitey.

And the speaker called him up to in front of the desk where he was seated. He reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a pile of books, including the Autobiography of Malcom X, and handed them to the kid. And the kid said “What’s this, I thought you were going to ARM me!” And the speaker said: “Son, I just did”

BADA BING

September 30th, 2010
8:48 pm

Why does he listen to hip hop? Why would he embrace a culture that would call him a N_ _ _ _ and demean his wife and daughters?I thought he promoted family values.

Doggone/GA

September 30th, 2010
8:50 pm

“I be veeeeeery careful around those plants.”

Why careful?

@@

September 30th, 2010
8:52 pm

Hillbilly:

The new tile is the same size as the previous tiles. I just followed the original pattern. It’s a BIG kitchen, dining room with a YAMBO island in the center. Hallway and enclosed laundry room.

Where’s center?

We laid hardwood throughout the house. THAT were FUN!!!! Loved smackin’ that hammer contraption. P’CHOW…P’CHOW…P’CHOW.

Ooo Ooo Ooo

Doggone/GA

September 30th, 2010
8:54 pm

“Why does he listen to hip hop?”

Funny…I haven’t heard the he criticises the music YOU listen to.

josef nix

September 30th, 2010
8:54 pm

Doggone
“I just did.”

THAT is one of the most profound things I have heard in a while. Thanks for sharing it. It sort of puts what I do every day into perspective…

BADA BING

September 30th, 2010
8:56 pm

Do you think his music should demean his daughters?

Doggone/GA

September 30th, 2010
8:57 pm

“It sort of puts what I do every day into perspective”

It really does.

BADA BING

September 30th, 2010
8:57 pm

Do you think his daughters should listen to sexual and drug related references?

TaxPayer

September 30th, 2010
8:57 pm

Why careful?

From what I’ve read, they are very poisonous. Even the fruit if it is not fully ripened.

BADA BING

September 30th, 2010
8:58 pm

The music I listen to doesn’t tell me to use and degrade women. Just because you like to be degraded doesn’t mean we all should.

Hillbilly Deluxe

September 30th, 2010
8:59 pm

Where’s center?

Figure out which way you want it to run (hardwood). Find the center of one wall, then find center of opposite wall. Pop a chalkline between the two points. For square tile, do the same then repeat the process on the other two walls. Intersection of chalk lines is your center. Ceilings can be done the same way.

BADA BING

September 30th, 2010
8:59 pm

Some men respect women.

Doggone/GA

September 30th, 2010
8:59 pm

“From what I’ve read, they are very poisonous”

Nope, the fruit is edible…though it can be poisonous in large amounts.

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/Podoppe.htm

josef nix

September 30th, 2010
9:00 pm

Poisonous..? Have eaten them at all stages and am still here to talk about it…rather wretched tasting until ripened, so I guess maybe I didn’t eat enough to cause any damage…

Doggone/GA

September 30th, 2010
9:02 pm

Taxpayer…sorry, I meant “nope, not VERY poisonous”

Jay

September 30th, 2010
9:02 pm

Dog, that story brings back some memories. I was 15, maybe 16, and my dad, a USAF sergeant from the mountains of W. Va., tosses a book onto my bed and said here, you need to read this.

He never did that kind of thing.

So I read it. It was Malcolm’s autobiography. Really opened my eyes about how other people see and experience the world. I still have that paperback, all falling apart now, and I keep it largely out of tribute to my dad. I don’t know how he ran across it. Maybe as a result of the racial tolerance classes they were stressing in the military back then. But I was always impressed that he did that.

Doggone/GA

September 30th, 2010
9:05 pm

Jay – interesting story. I’ve never actually read it, but what they said about how it came to be written was also interesting. Infortunately, I never did catch exactly which show I was listening to…but it probably wouldn’t be hard to find.

josef nix

September 30th, 2010
9:07 pm

JAY

That book is interesting. Unmentionable read it when his mother, not known for her liberalism, told him to read it. It did a lot to “wake up” America. I think, myself, that it was written in a style and in a language which was accessible to middle America.

Doggone/GA

September 30th, 2010
9:09 pm

“I think, myself, that it was written in a style and in a language which was accessible to middle America”

Considering who the author was, that’s no big surprise.

josef nix

September 30th, 2010
9:15 pm

time to check out…see y’all tomorrow night, I hope…thanks for a pleasant evening with a little bit of opinion about a lot of things…

Del

September 30th, 2010
9:15 pm

If you really want to understand racial divisions and the common bonds during the civil rights era, read Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes. Raw and real if you can handle it.

Doggone/GA

September 30th, 2010
9:25 pm

Yeah, I’ve got to hit the hay too. Night all.

Lil' Barry Bailout

September 30th, 2010
9:46 pm

Health reform to worsen doctor shortage: group

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————————

Thanks, idiots.

AmVet

September 30th, 2010
10:10 pm

Hillbilly,

Your Cubs MAY just have put the Braves in postseason baseball, with that single run in the ninth!

Midori

September 30th, 2010
10:26 pm

Media Bias is just a one-note tune.

All day he’s been trying to justify Fox’s depravity by constantly YELLING that the other news sites/sources/medium is run by “the left”.

Hogwash.

Bull.

A most excellent piece done by Bartcop on the subject, cicra 2000: http://www.bartcop.com/libmedia.htm

I doubt very seriously if he/it will read it however.

He/It certainly fights against being educated.

md

September 30th, 2010
10:34 pm

Dog go to bed? Here’s what she was asking for – media bias as news:

http://www.mrc.org/biasalert/2010/20100924125744.aspx

Hillbilly Deluxe

September 30th, 2010
10:37 pm

AmVet

I think the Phillies are the class of the NL but the best team doesn’t always win. Ya’ never know. As for the Cubbies, the suffering that has been this season ends Sunday, mercifully. But just wait’ll next year. ;-)

Mick

September 30th, 2010
10:42 pm

md

When bush was in office, that kind of journalism was fox news daily programming.

md

September 30th, 2010
10:47 pm

“When bush was in office, that kind of journalism was fox news daily programming.”

Got a link for that Mick??

In today’s discussion, we were trying to differentiate between “news” and “opinion” pieces.

I don’t doubt they did it in their opinion pieces, got a link where they did it in their news segments?

@@

September 30th, 2010
10:59 pm

Did jay ban Wyld Byll?

I am Wyld Byll. Why has Jay banned me from the blog? Even a simple post that asked, “Why am I banned from the blog” was flagged for moderation!

Good grief!!!! Don’t kill Byll, jay.

Mick

September 30th, 2010
11:10 pm

md

Relax, just making a comment. Ultimately, one should hope that a discerning viewer has enough latent critical thinking skills to recognize a puff piece when it see’s and hears one.

RW-(the original)

September 30th, 2010
11:12 pm

RW-(the original)

September 30th, 2010
11:17 pm

@@,

Byll said that his posts went into moderation. Something has to have been added to the triggers for moderation to be grabbing him, but if he was banned he would have been placed in the dead zone area.

Doggone/GA alluded to it earlier and she’s wrong about how moderation works here, but she’s right about the non-banning.

Margo

October 1st, 2010
12:41 am

rock-n-roll is the devil’s music….

Bud Wiser

October 1st, 2010
6:00 am

Wow.

Now Obozo is being compared to FDR and Jefferson?

Bookman, you have absolutely lost all sense of reason, as your rag sucks Obozo’s crap like it was nectar, and unashamedly at that.

Other than the obvious hypocrisy and pointlessness of this article, what is your point, that Obozo deserves all the love everyone can give him?

Of course I knew you had totally given up your manhood and any sense of decency when you racially slurred me.

And I am still awaiting that apology.

When does hell freeze over, by the way? Your kind never admits wrong, do they?

Bud Wiser

October 1st, 2010
6:02 am

Wild Bill banned?

I suppose I, or anyone who doesn’t drink the Obozo Koolaid, is next.

May as well rename this so-called opinion column The Obama Love Fest.

You suck-ups are getting it big in November.

hahahahahahaha

Lil' Barry Bailout

October 1st, 2010
6:09 am

Let’s hope so, but the votes still have to be cast. The parasites could still show up on November 2 to help their Idiot Messiah continue shoveling cash their way, cash earned by the productive class.

When AMERICANS vote, Democrats lose.