Tea Party Nation Only Welcomes Friendly Press

The Tea Party Nation has issued a press release stating they only have room for five news organizations at their upcoming convention. They certainly are determined to ensure favorable coverage with all five being on the far right:

Fox News

Breitbart.com

Townhall.com

The Wall Street Journal

World Net Daily

This also demonstrates the degree to which The Wall Street Journal has fallen. Not long ago the editorial page was as far right and dishonest as the others on this list while the news department was excellent. The news department still has not fallen to the levels of the others on the list, but its quality has fallen since Rupert Murdoch bought the paper. The Wall Street Journal, as well as Fox, have not commented yet on this honor.

Conservative Bias At The Wall Street Journal

While the previous post noted the right wing spin at one Rupert Murdoch newspaper, The Times of London, I’m more concerned with the manner in which Murdoch is moving The Wall Street Journal to the right. I’ve continued my subscription so far, but the newspaper is certainly not The Wall Street Journal of three years ago. David Carr of The New York Times looked at this on the second  anniversary of the sale of this once great newspaper:

But under Mr. Murdoch’s leadership, the newspaper is no longer anchored by those deep dives into the boardrooms of American business with quaint stippled portraits, opting instead for a much broader template of breaking general interest news articles with a particular interest in politics and big splashy photos. Glenn R. Simpson, who left the newspaper back in March, is not a fan of the newsier, less analytical Journal.

“Murdoch didn’t ruin The Wall Street Journal; he just rendered it into a much more ordinary paper,” he said.

But there are growing indications that Mr. Murdoch, a lifelong conservative, doesn’t just want to cover politics, he wants to play them as well.

A little over a year ago, Robert Thomson, The Journal’s top editor, picked Gerard Baker, a columnist for The Times of London, as his deputy managing editor. Mr. Baker is a former Washington bureau chief of The Financial Times with a great deal of expertise in the Beltway. The two men came of age in the more partisan milieu of British journalism.

According to several former members of the Washington bureau and two current ones, the two men have had a big impact on the paper’s Washington coverage, adopting a more conservative tone, and editing and headlining articles to reflect a chronic skepticism of the current administration. And given that the paper’s circulation continues to grow, albeit helped along by some discounts, there’s nothing to suggest that The Journal’s readers don’t approve.

Mr. Baker, a neoconservative columnist of acute political views, has been especially active in managing coverage in Washington, creating significant grumbling, if not resistance, from the staff there. Reporters say the coverage of the Obama administration is reflexively critical, the health care debate is generally framed in terms of costs rather than benefits — “health care reform” is a generally forbidden phrase — and global warming skeptics have gotten a steady ride. (Of course, objectivity is in the eyes of the reader.)

The pro-business, antigovernment shift in the news pages has broken into plain view in the last year. On Aug. 12, a fairly straight down the middle front page article on President Obama’s management style ended up with the provocative headline, “A President as Micromanager: How Much Detail Is Enough?” The original article included a contrast between President Jimmy Carter’s tendency to go deep in the weeds of every issue with President George W. Bush’s predilection for minimal involvement, according to someone who saw the draft. By the time the article ran, it included only the swipe at Mr. Carter.

On Aug. 27, a fairly straightforward obituary about Ted Kennedy for the Web site was subjected to a little political re-education on the way to the front page. A new paragraph was added quoting Rush Limbaugh deriding what he called all of the “slobbering media coverage,” and he also accused the recently deceased senator of being the kind of politician who “uses the government to take money from people who work and gives it to people who don’t work.”

On Oct. 31, an article on the front of the B section about estate taxes at the state level used the phrase “death tax” six times, but there were no quotation marks around it. A month later, the newspaper’s Style & Substance blog suggested that the adoption of such a loaded political term was probably not a good idea: “Because opponents of estate taxes have long referred to them as death taxes, the term should be avoided in news stories.”

Ben Smith posted the Wall Street Journal’s response, noting that”the text is classically News Corp. in its treating the news business like a political campaign.”

The news column by a Mr David Carr today is yet more evidence that The New York Times is uncomfortable about the rise of an increasingly successful rival while its own circulation and credibility are in retreat. The usual practice of quoting ex-employees was supplemented by a succession of anonymous quotes and unsubstantiated assertions. The attack follows the extraordinary actions of Mr Bill Keller, the Executive Editor, who, among other things, last year wrote personally and at length to a prize committee casting aspersions on Journal journalists and journalism. Whether it be in the quest for prizes or in the disparagement of competitors, principle is but a bystander at The New York Times.

It does sound like a typical right wing political response: attack the enemy personally without any actual factual arguments. There is certainly nothing in their response which demonstrates any errors in Carr’s criticism.

Advertiser Pulls Ads From Glenn Beck, And Fox

Many companies have pulled their ads from Glenn Beck’s show, but Rupert Murdoch was not concerned as they had simply moved their ads to other shows on Fox. The Independent reports on companies in Great Britain as well as the United States which are boycotting Beck’s show. Today’s report also notes that one company is pulling its ads from all shows on the deceptively named Fox News Channel:

The presenter became embroiled in controversy by accusing Barack Obama of racism and claiming that the US President has a “deep-seated hatred for white people”.

His comments incensed the pressure group Color of Change, which called for advertisers to “exercise corporate responsibility” and boycott his show in Britain as well as in the US. Since his attack on Mr Obama, more than 60 major US companies, including Wal-Mart, Campbell’s soups, Bank of America and Capital One have stopped advertising during Mr Beck’s programme in response to the call.

Waitrose, the John Lewis Partnership-owned grocer, yesterday said it had taken action after receiving complaints from customers, although it declined to say how many.

A Waitrose spokeswoman said: “This is not a politically motivated act. It was simply listening to customers’ views and responding to them.”

Waitrose has withdrawn all advertising from the Fox News Channel with immediate effect and for all future television advertising campaigns.

AP has also reported on this story.

Earlier today Ben Cohen predicted at The Huffington Post that Murdoch will fire Glenn Beck. I’m not terribly optimistic of this, but the chances are greater if advertisers do remove their ads from all Fox shows and not only Beck’s.

Gerard Baker Moves to Wall Street Journal, Suggesting Further Move to the Right

My subscription to The Wall Street Journal is coming up for renewal soon, and I will have to reconsider subscribing. It has never bothered me that the editorial page is far right as it is sometimes useful to see what the other side thinks, and their news coverage has been excellent despite their conservative bias.

The question is what would happen with Rupert Murdoch taking over the paper.I fear things are now changing for the worse. The Politico reports that Gerard Baker of The Times of London has been named The Wall Street Journal’s deputy editor-in-chief. Jason Linkins explains why this is so bad:

… in case you were wondering precisely what sort of right-wing ideologue you were getting at the Journal, and whether it made it more or less likely that the paper’s famed editorial tilt would bleed its way into the news coverage, E&P’s Greg Mitchell is here to remind you that Baker famously penned a column titled “Obama: is America ready for this dangerous left winger?” back in February 2008, in which he fulminated on a worldview that he claimed Obama espoused, one that included a fundamental lack of love for his country…

To make matters worse, Baker isn’t particularly gifted with news instincts of intelligence or precision: “Though [Obama] talks with great eloquence about the future, he sounds for all the world like one of the long line of Democrats from George McGovern to Walter Mondale to Michael Dukakis, who became history by espousing policies and striking a rhetorical pose that was well out of the mainstream of American politics.”

That said, if there’s one area in which Baker truly excels, it’s definitely the production of batpoopy-wack videography. We hear that stuff is recession-proof!

Fox Defends Constitutional Right To Broadcast Whipped-Cream-Covered Strippers

For a few moments I’ve become a fan of Fox, and even Rupert Murdoch. Fox is standing up to the FCC on their ridiculous fines for “indecency” and fighting for the right to broadcast whipped-cream-covered strippers. Freedom of expression is freedom of expression after all. The Washington Post reports:

In an unusually aggressive step, Fox Broadcasting yesterday refused to pay a $91,000 indecency fine levied by the Federal Communications Commission for an episode of a long-canceled reality television show, even as the network fights two other indecency fines in the Supreme Court.

The FCC proposed fining all 169 Fox-owned and affiliate stations a total of $1.2 million in 2004 for airing a 2003 episode of “Married by America,” which featured digitally obscured nudity and whipped-cream-covered strippers.

Fox appealed immediately after the FCC ruling. Last month — four years later — the FCC changed its mind, saying it would fine only the 13 Fox stations located in cities that generated viewer complaints about the program. That reduced the fine to $91,000.

Despite the sharp reduction, Fox said it would not pay the fine on principle, calling it “arbitrary and capricious, inconsistent with precedent, and patently unconstitutional” in a statement released yesterday.

I’d feel even better about Fox if they wouldn’t falsely label one of their networks which specializes in broadcasting partisan political opinion as being a “news” network.

Fox News: The Unmaking of the Myth

Michael Tomasky has an op-ed in The Guardian describing Fox News. Most readers will not find anything unexpected, but with Fox still pretending to be a news organization it is enjoyable to see this shot down once again. Tomasky begins:

Britons may be familiar with Rupert Murdoch, but I don’t think the UK has a beast quite like the American Fox News Channel. Celebrating its 11th year on the air, Fox is a breathtaking institution. It is a lock, stock and barrel servant of the Republican party, devoted first and foremost to electing Republicans and defeating Democrats; it’s even run by a man, Roger Ailes, who helped elect Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush senior to the presidency. And yet, because it minimally adheres to certain superficial conventions, it can masquerade as a “news” outfit and enjoy all the rights that accrue to that.

Journalism with a point of view is a fine thing. It’s what I do. The difference is that I say I’m a liberal journalist while Fox executives and “reporters” insist they play it straight. But everyone in the US knows that my description is true. This is precisely why its fans watch it. Walk into any bar, hair salon, gym or motel lobby in the country; if the TV is tuned to Fox rather than CNN, you know that the owner or clientele or both are Republican. It’s a secret – although not actually secret any more – sign of fraternity among conservatives, the way a solid red tie worn by a single urban man used to signal to other urban men that the wearer was indeed “that way”.

So everyone knows, but, because of the conventions of journalistic propriety, Fox can’t admit that it’s a Republican outfit. It would have no credibility with politicians if it did and would be too easily dismissed as “ideological media”. To get around this problem, its marketers devised what must be the most deviously ingenious pair of advertising slogans of all time: “We report, you decide” and “Fair and balanced”.

Tomasky moves on from a general description of Fox to a discussion of Judith Regan’s wrongful dismissal case against Fox News. Not only does Regan have dirt on Fox, she has also had an affair with Bernard Kerik, which could also mean more embarrassing stories for Rudy Giuliani, who Roger Ailes is trying to help become the next president:

Regan, naturally enough given her special knowledge of the man, was questioned about Kerik by federal investigators. And she now alleges that two executives of Fox News instructed her to “lie to, and withhold information from” the investigators about Kerik. Regan charges that Fox executives did this because they feared the inquiry into Kerik might singe Giuliani, whose presidential ambitions, her complaint charges, Fox has long been intent on “protecting”.

Let’s linger over that for a moment. Two executives of a major news organisation may have told a citizen to lie to federal investigators to protect a presidential candidate. It’s a stunning charge. If proven someday, Fox will no longer be able to hide behind the fiction that it’s a neutral news outfit.

Tomasky has some advice for the Democrats:

In the meantime, Democrats should ratchet up their refusal to pretend that Fox bears any relationship to news. I’ve always felt they should just boycott the network en bloc. One can be pretty confident that if the situation were reversed – imagine a cable channel that was known as a Democratic house organ and run by, say, Bill Clinton adviser James Carville – Republicans would have done something like that long ago. I asked Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic speaker, about this last Friday, and she just replied wanly: “I think we have to reach out to all the viewers out there.”

Keith Olbermann To Air on Prime Time Network Television

Keith Olbermann is getting a shot at the big time. The New York Times reports (via TV Newser) that Countdown will be shown be shown by NBC on a Sunday before a preseason football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers:

Countdown’ is rocketing right now over at MSNBC — its ratings are going through the roof,” said Phil Griffin, senior vice president of NBC News. (In July Mr. Olbermann’s show averaged 721,000 viewers, an increase of 88 percent over last July, according to MSNBC.) Mr. Griffin added, “The world has changed, and I think people have come in line with the smart, focused approach he has on the show.” No immediate plans for additional network appearances of “Countdown” have been made, but Mr. Griffen did not rule them out. “It may be the first of several times you see Olbermann on the network,” he said.

Has the world changed in that people want the smart, focused approach, or are people getting smarter and want to hear views other than the conservative views normally spread by Tim Russert on NBC? Regardless, it will be nice to get more balance from NBC. I’ve always suspected that the turn to the right by NBC and MSNBC was more because of a perception of greater income potential than simple ideological bias. As modern conservativism continues to lose favor, maybe even Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch will make changes to avoid having their viewers limited to an aging fringe audience. The bias for profit will generally win out over ideological bias in the media.

Conservatives Taking Climate Change Seriously

There are two reports today on different conservatives taking the problem of global warming seriously. Former Bush speech writer Michael Gerson has a flawed column in The Washington Post but it is significant for at least admitting that there is a problem. While he returns to partisanship in claiming “Hysteria on the environment is a liberal temptation” he also admits that in some areas liberals have been right. David Roberts goes further into the problems with Gerson’s column.

Fortune reports on a surprising crusader against global warming–Rupert Murdoch:

…Murdoch has boldly promised to make News Corp. carbon neutral by 2010 and to weave environmental issues and themes into his newspapers, TV shows, movies and online properties – a tricky business, particularly when it comes to news.

“Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats,” Murdoch said last spring, in a speech webcast to all News Corp. employees (and available here.) “We may not agree on the extent, but we certainly can’t afford the risk of inaction.”

He went on to say, “Our audience’s carbon footprint is 10,000 times bigger than ours. That’s the carbon footprint we want to conquer.”

Murdoch has done considerable harm by degrading the quality of journalism and by spreading the propaganda of the right wing. At least his influence might be used in a more benefical manner if he is successful in both reducing this carbon footprint and in convincing viewers of Fox News that this is a real problem.

Hypocrite Watch Part 2: John Edwards and the News Corp. Money

John Edwards closely trails behind Rudy Giuliani on my list of my hypocritical politicians contending for their party’s nomination. Perhaps the best thing which could be said is that about Edwards is that he did a much smoother job of changing most of his previous views in preparation for a 2008 run than Giuliani did. Edwards succeeded where Giuliani has not largely due to adopting the views of a large segment of the liberal blogosphere. Unfortunately this also suggests that the liberal bloggers who accept Edwards’ new set of beliefs without question are less astute than those on the religious right who, despite all their faults, are smart enough to distrust Rudy Giuliani’s conversion to their point of view.

While Edwards has so far escaped much scrutiny on the changes in his political views, the hypocrisy underlying his attacks on other candidates continues to backfire against him. His initial attempts to attack other Democrats on their positons on Iraq were shot down by Barack Obama who reminded Edwards as to exactly which of the supported and which of them opposed the war before opposing the war became the politically popular position. Since then he has attacked Democrats for attacking other Democracts, and for accepting money from News Corp. The last backfired when it was found that Edwards received $800,000 in a book deal from News Corp.

Edwards claimed that the money was contributed to charity, but never provided the evidence or answered whether he took a tax write off for the donation. The Politico now reports that Edwards’ daughter and a senior political aide also received a portion of the money from News Corp.:

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards recently defended taking a lucrative book contract from a publisher controlled by Rupert Murdoch — whose News Corp. empire Edwards has sharply criticized — by insisting that “every dime” of his $500,000 advance went to charity.

Left unmentioned by Edwards, however, was that Murdoch’s HarperCollins paid portions of a $300,000 expense budget for the book to Edwards’s daughter and to a senior political aide, Jonathan Prince.

There very well is nothing wrong in  Edwards’ transactions with News Corp. The problem is the manner in which he claims to be more pure than all the other candidates.

Post Claims Times to Stop Charging for Content

The New York Post reports that The New York Times plans to stop charging for access to material such as their columnists. So far there’s no confirmation from the Times.

The New York Times is poised to stop charging readers for online access to its Op-Ed columnists and other content, The Post has learned.

After much internal debate, Times executives – including publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. – made the decision to end the subscription-only TimesSelect service but have yet to make an official announcement, according to a source briefed on the matter.

The timing of when TimesSelect will shut down hinges on resolving software issues associated with making the switch to a free service, the source said.

Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis would only say in an e-mailed statement, “We continue to evaluate the best approach for NYTimes.com

Now I hope that 1) Rupert Murdoch removes the subscription fees to the web version of The Wall Street Journal, and 2) that he leaves enough of the WSJ intack for it to remain worth reading.

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