In the cable news business there is one network that relentlessly boasts about its prominence and formidable presence above all others. Fox News is clearly taken with itself and is even promoted in its own ads as “The Most Powerful Name in News.” That makes it all the more curious that Fox seems to shudder when confronted with opposing arguments.
Fox News is often the subject of well-deserved criticism due to its aversion to facts and a long record of strident bias. However, its first reaction to reasonable rebuttals is to go on the attack against its perceived enemies. This is behavior reminiscent of schoolyard bullies with marshmallow centers who struggle to mask hurt feelings with forced bluster. Some recent examples illustrate just how thin-skinned this allegedly powerful network really is, and how prone it is to whining when it gets smacked down.
1. At a press conference, President Obama astutely noted that Fox News has a penchant for punishing Republicans who dare to work cooperatively with Democrats, which thereby discourages Republicans from such cooperation. That rather modest observation sent Fox News into a tizzy. Jumping immediately to the most absurd stretches of hyperbole, Steve Doocy of Fox & Friends fired up the outrage machine to accuse the President of attacking, not merely Fox News, but the First Amendment. Meanwhile the determinedly dishonest Fox Nation website declared the President’s remarks to be a threat. How Obama was infringing on freedom of the press or threatening anyone was never explained.
2. In an interview Al Gore commented on Fox News and right-wing talk radio saying, “The fact that we have 24/7 propaganda masquerading as news, it does have an impact.” Rather than try to dispute the truth of Gore’s comment, Fox’s Peter Johnson Jr. launched into a harangue about Gore permitting a news enterprise based in the oil-producing nation of Qatar to buy his network, Current TV. That had nothing to do with Gore’s remarks, but it did serve Johnson’s purpose of blindly lashing out at Gore for daring to besmirch Fox.
3. Author and military foreign policy expert Tom Ricks was invited on to discuss his new book, The Generals. Fox host Jon Scott thought he could get Ricks to join Fox’s crusade blaming Obama for the tragedy in Benghazi, but Ricks wasn’t cooperating. He told Scott that “I think that the emphasis on Benghazi has been extremely political, partly because Fox was operating as a wing of the Republican Party.” That was apparently too much for Jon Scott, who abruptly ended the interview less than 90 seconds after it began. After taking criticism from other media for that self-serving censorship, Fox VP Michael Clemente doubled down and disparaged Tom Ricks for not having “the strength of character to apologize.”
4. Greta Van Susteren saw an opportunity to whimper about how mistreated Fox is when she complained that the State Department had left it off the mailing list for a couple of news briefings. She said it was “a coordinated effort” to punish Fox by “denying Fox access to information.” What she failed to disclose was that the State Department had previously explained that it had only notified news organizations that had reporters assigned to cover the department and that, having none, Fox didn’t get on the list. But that explanation didn’t stop Van Susteren and others at Fox from assailing the administration for an imagined snubbing.
5. In a debate over whether NBC had ever criticized President Obama on the use of drones, Bill O’Reilly falsely claimed that the drone story never appeared on NBC. In fact, it was NBC that broke the story. The following night, after much ridicule for his egregious mistake, rather than apologize and set the record straight, O’Reilly lashed out at the “loons” who were engaging in “more deceit from the far left.” As usual, any critical analysis of O’Reilly or Fox News is viewed as liberal Fox-bashing and is met with name-calling and vilification…