Democrats Right In Denying Fox Legitimacy As A News Organization

We’ve come to expect right wingers like Tim Russert to echo the Republican Party line on debates, but it was disappointing to see a moderate site give some credibility to their memes. In discussing the boycott of debates hosted by Fox News, Joe Gandelman writes:

While those who advocate nixing Democratic debates list some intriguing reasons why, hopefully they also can see this decision’s potential impact — and the precedent. Some non-Fox types will conclude that the Democrats are afraid of getting tough questions in hostile territory (this is similar to all the Presidential candidates that now only invite blogs that they feel are already on their own side — “friendly blogs” — in on conference calls). And the stage is now set for in some future year Republicans refusing to debate on MSNBC or CNN.

It’s not a good precedent for candidates to pick and choose which networks they will appear on for debates. Unless we want totally polarized news media as well (and some will argue we are getting there…).

The decision not to give Fox News legitimacy by allowing them to cover a debate has absolutely nothing to do with avoiding tough questions. There are plenty of conservatives working for the other networks if that was the concern. Fox News should be avoided as in the past they have utilized such coverage not only to attack what is said, as opposed to providing objective coverage, but to also distort the Democrats’ message. If they responded with honest disagreement then there could be a source of dialog. Instead they concentrate on what Taylor Marsh accurately describes as “cheap shot theatrical diatribes.”

The problem is also misrepresented in raising a Republican refusal to debate on MSNBC or CNN as analogous. While MSNBC has improved with the addition of Keith Olbermann, this is the network which had moved so far to the right that not long ago they had a quota system to ensure that there were more conservative guests than liberal ones. They still have people like Joe Scarborough to keep the debates conservative friendly. CNN moved dramatically to the right since sold by Ted Turner, with people like Wolf Blitzer pushing the Republican line.

There is another fundamental difference. NBC and CNN are news organizations with a conservative bias, but this bias is not universal in their news. In contrast, Fox has crossed the line where they should not be considered a news organization at all. Fox was established specially to promote one party’s agenda and this agenda dominates both their commentary and news. Fox News should be considered in the same class as right wing talk radio or Air America, not CNN or MSNBC. When the Republicans hold a debate on Air America, the Democrats should consider returning to debate on Fox.

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  1. 1
    mtm105 says:

    How many times did you see Rodney King go after the police officers prior to getting beaten down?? I saw it once. CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN constantly ran streams of the police officers beating King. But when I saw King lunge after the officers, I understood why the police did what they did.

    The liberal networks all had their agenda to attack the legitimacy of LAPD, plain and simple. But you dismiss FOX news as legitmate.

    FOX news has as much legitimacy as all of the other networks put together, IMO.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    If you think that makes the slightest bit of sense, I guess Fox is the place for you.

    You give a twisted account of the coverage of one story, while ignoring the bias of Fox demonstrated every day.

    As for Rodney King, that wasn’t bias. That was the age old journalistic saying that dog bites man isn’t news, but man bites dog is news. The film of the police beating King, using excessive force, was the more significant and newsworthy segment.

  3. 3
    Ryan says:

    I can’t comprehend what your views might be if you think that NBC and CNN have a conservative bias when most conservatives including myself think the opposite. It’s shocking because I consider myself to be fairly moderate. If the chasm between our views is so great that we are diametrically opposed in our basic perceptions of reality then the future for this nation starts to look pretty grim. But considering how large the audience for FOX is, I don’t see how excluding them is desirable or so easily justified on your part. Denying the “legitimacy” of FOX is denying the legitimacy of the views held by millions of conservatives. How is that a good thing???

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    “Denying the “legitimacy” of FOX is denying the legitimacy of the views held by millions of conservatives. How is that a good thing?”

    This verifies my point. A news outfit shouldn’t be identified with a particular view point. A news organization should be objective, or at least make some attempt at objectivity.

    This is not about denying the legitimacy of any one’s views. This is about denying the legitimacy of Fox as a news organization.

    Conservatives tend to see any sourse which doesn’t share their extremist world view 100% of the time as liberal, thus finding even conservative news organizations like NBC and CNN to be liberal.

  5. 5
    Ryan says:

    I disagree. All reporters have their own viewpoint and even when they report on a particular story ‘objectively’ their viewpoints are illustrated none-the-less by the nature of the stories they choose to shine a light on. Thus I can watch Kieth Olbermann and Bill Maher for information on the failings of the Bush administration or concern on the recent ruling of the supreme court that I likely wont find on O’Reily and I can watch H&C or O’Reily for information on issues important to their viewpoint. Everyone has a viewpoint and issues that are more important to them than others so why boycott FOX? Shouldn’t people want to not only hear from all sides directly but hear those sides in dialog with each other? Sadly it seems no one on cable news has the courage to talk about the failed “The War On Drugs” but with the net it is quite simple to keep abreast of issues not reported on. And perhaps at the end of the day we all can sit down and watch The Daily Show and laugh at all of it.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    “Shouldn’t people want to not only hear from all sides directly but hear those sides in dialog with each other?”

    The problem is that Fox was set up for the specific purpose of promoting a single political viewpoint That is not the function of a true news organization. Sure it is best to hear from all sides, but a news organization should attempt to present objective news, not promote a specific viewpoint. Making matters worse, Fox not only promotes a specific view, but distorts information to justify their view and distorts the views of the opponents. If you watch shows like O’Reily you will get his opinion, but you can’t trust him to give accurate information on the issues that are important to him.

  7. 7
    battlebob says:

    Tell me why the high percentage of FOX viewers still beleive Sadaam had links to 9/11 and al Queada?
    Shouldn’t a new channel at least try to be a little bit objective?
    The “every new show is slanted or biased” is a lie. All the MSM shows go to some degree of effort to show a counter-opinion. FOX doesn’t even try.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    Similarly Fox plays up every unsubstantiated report of WMD in Iraq and fails to say much, if anything, when the report is found to be untrue. As a consequence a high number of Fox viewers believe that Saddam had WMD.

    If Fox covered a Democratic debate, their post debate coverage would be slanted as it was in the past. Regardless of what is said, we’d hear the right wingers at Fox claim that the Democrats were far left tax and spend liberals, are weak on national security, and would take away everyone’s bibles. They’d make no attempt to present what the Democrats really said.

  9. 9
    Ryan says:

    Hannity&Combs dosen’t have a counter opinion?
    I don’t believe that many people think there was a cache of WMD’s discovered by our troops. What was found were empty storage bunkers and warehouses. I think is it’s more than reasonable to believe they had chemical weapons and long range missiles that were moved in the lengthy period of warning time Iraq had before the first strike, perhaps to Syria. Keep in mind Iraq would not have been invaded had Saddam simply agreed to comply with the demands of the U.N which he had abided by for a period of time after the first war. He kicked the weapons inspectors out and refused to let them back in. I think he erroniously believed that his Arab neighbors would not stand for the invasion and that they would back him openly in war against the U.S.. I do not believe was in league with Al-Queda, I think he was a threat in his own right. I don’t understand the accusation that we are somehow not vigorously looking for Bin-Ladin or routing Al-Queda in Afghanistan and elsewhere. There has not been a successful large scale terrorist attack since 9/11 and that is not a result of passifism or poorly handled intelligence which the administration is so often accused of. I do think the alleged tie with Al-Queda was propaganda but pointless and unneeded as a justification for war.

  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    Polls show signiificant numbers of Fox viewers believe that WMD was found in Iraq and was in league with al Qaeda

    “Hannity&Combs dosen’t have a counter opinion?”
    Hannity chose who he would go up against. Combs is a joke picked by Hannity so he would have no real opposition on the show.

    “Keep in mind Iraq would not have been invaded had Saddam simply agreed to comply with the demands of the U.N which he had abided by for a period of time after the first war.”

    At the time the war began Saddam had allowed the insepctors back in. The UN did not support going to war. This was just an excuse Bush used but not the reason for the war.

    “I don’t understand the accusation that we are somehow not vigorously looking for Bin-Ladin or routing Al-Queda in Afghanistan and elsewhere. ”

    Resources which would have been useful there were prematurely pulled out, allowing the Taliban to retake many areas. Bin Laden was surrounded at Tora Bora and should have been captured if not for Bush sending in local people (who bin Laden paid off) instead of US troops.

    “There has not been a successful large scale terrorist attack since 9/11 and that is not a result of passifism or poorly handled intelligence which the administration is so often accused of.”

    That means little considering the time scale al Qaeda works on. 9/11 possibly could have been prevented if even basic law enforcement principles were carried out after there was specific warnings given to Bush of al Qaeda planning an attack with air planes. If they simply checked on people already on watch lists who were taking flying lessons or who had tickets they would have caught most. They would have caught the rest if they cross checked their addresses or frequent flier numbers as the other hijackers shared the same info with the hijackers on watch lists. The Bush administration handled intelligence poorly both with regards to the 9/11 attack and with regards to claims of WMD.

  11. 11
    Ryan says:

    “Together we must also confront the new hazards of chemical and biological weapons, and the outlaw states, terrorists and organized criminals seeking to acquire them. Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade, and much of his nation’s wealth, not on providing for the Iraqi people, but on developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them.”
    President Clinton, Jan. 27, 1998.

  12. 12
    Ron Chusid says:


    Supporters of the war have been taking stuff like this out of context from the start of the war.

    This means nothing. Clinton did not use this belief to justify going to war at the time it was said. Subsequently the inspectors were back in. At the time George Bush went to war we knew that we were not endangered by WMD and Bush had no justification for going to war.

  13. 13
    Ryan says:

    “In the 21st century, the community of nations may see more and more of this very kind of threat that Iraq poses now, the rogue state. … If we fail to respond, Saddam and all those who follow will believe that they can threaten the security of a vital region with impunity. But if we act now as one, we will send a clear message to would-be tyrants and terrorists that we will do what it takes to protect our security and our freedom in this new era.”
    “He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983.”
    Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998.

    “As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.”
    Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998.

    Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime …. He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation … And now he is miscalculating America’s response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction .”
    Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003.

    And it’s still all Bush’s fault

  14. 14
    Ryan says:

    His posession of WMD’s was not as much an issue as his desire to aquire them. The dude had to go and that’s the bottom line.

  15. 15
    Ron Chusid says:


    Taking statements out of context proves nothing. For example, the main topic of the Georgetown sppech you twist from Kerry was a plea to George Bush not to go to war. Convenient that you leave that part out, as well as how Kerry correctly predicted the consequences of going ot war.

    Quoting statements from 1998 are equally irrelevant as these were not used as justification to go to war at the time, and subsequently it was demonstrated that war was unnecessary.

    When you play these games of justifying Bush’s actions based upon taking such statements out of context, you not only show the weakness of Bush’s position, but you also call into question your own integrity.

    Saddam’s desire to acuire WMD hardly justified this war at a time when he was disarmed and successfully contained. Eliminating the threat from al Qaeda was the more pressing need, as opposed to starting a war which only acted to strengthen al Qaeda.

  16. 16
    Ryan says:

    Successfully contained? How can you contain a mad man at the helm of a militarized country with a history of brutality? I do appreciate your patience in explaining your views by the way. If you are right then perhaps someday Bush will be tried for war crimes, who knows.

  17. 17
    Ryan says:

    I did not purposefully take those quotes out of context. I thought they spoke for themselves but clearly I am guilty of not reading all the source material. My appologies. I’m simply trying to bridge the gap in my understanding of our views.

  18. 18
    Ron Chusid says:


    If you repeated these quotes without knowledge of the source material, this gets back to the problem with Fox News and the right wing media. They typically use such misquotations to make their claims, assuming people won’t check out the full context and correct quotes.

    As for containment, Saddam had effective control of only a portion of Iraq at the onset of the war. The portion he did control was packed with inspectors, preventing him from doing much. If the concern was WMD, Iran and North Korea presented far greater risks.

    As you like quotes, check out what Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice have said about containment:

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