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Archive for November 18th, 2009

Leftist Blood-Curdling Scream Alert: CMPA Reports That Fox IS Fair and Balanced

By Tom Blumer

Leftists including those in the White House who presumptively and obsessively attack Fox News will not be pleased with this.

At Forbes (HT Hot Air Headlines), S. Robert Lichter of George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs, asks the question, “Fox News: Fair And Balanced?” — and answers in the affirmative. In the process, the GMU Professor of Communications also makes a number of interesting points about Fox’s competitors, discusses the convergence of news and analysis, and provides useful historical context.

Using a methodology that would be difficult to refute, Lichter’s work relating to campaign 2008 is in sync with what CMPA found in late 2007 (noted at the time at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) during the opening stages of the presidential campaign.

Here are key paragraphs from Lichter’s commentary (bolds are mine):

Fox News has become embroiled in a nasty controversy over its ill treatment of President Obama. But are the charges true?

What if I told you that Fox gave Obama his worst press and John McCain his best press of any network during last year’s presidential election? If you work for the White House, you’d probably take this as proof that Fox is just a mouthpiece for the opposition. Now what if I told you that Fox had the most balanced coverage of any network during the same campaign? If you work for Fox, you’d probably say we told you so.

But what if I told you that both scenarios are true?

While it seems unlikely, that conclusion is precisely the case, based on an ongoing study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA). That both these seemingly contradictory scenarios are true tells us something important not only about the war between Fox and the White House, but about the changing nature of television news in America.

…. The CMPA study compares ABC, CBS and NBC evening news shows and the first half hour of Fox News Channel’s Special Report, which most closely resembles its broadcast news counterparts.

…. So how could Fox have both the most balanced and the most anti-Obama coverage? Simple. It’s because the other networks were all so pro-Obama. CMPA analyzed every soundbite by reporters and nonpartisan sources (excluding representative of the political parties) that evaluated the candidates and their policies. On the three broadcast networks combined, evaluations of Obama were 68% positive and 32% negative, compared to the only 36% positive and 64% negative evaluations of his GOP opponent John McCain.

In fact, Obama received the most favorable coverage CMPA has ever recorded for any presidential candidate since we began tracking election news coverage in 1988. The totals were very similar–within a few percentage points–at all three networks. (These figures exclude comments on the candidates’ prospects in the campaign horse race, which obviously favored Obama.)

Meanwhile, Fox’s Special Report was dramatically tougher on Obama, with only 36% favorable vs. 64% unfavorable evaluations during the same time period. But McCain didn’t fare much better, garnering only 40% favorable comments vs. 60% negative ones. So the broadcast networks gave good marks to one candidate and bad marks to another, while Fox was tough on both–and most balanced overall.

Other points Lichter makes:

  • The historical pattern during a president’s first year in office is that the establishment press tends to go negative. Lichter interestingly asserts that all networks have done so this year, with the Big 3 nets tallying 35% favorables for Obama vs. 27% for Fox on Special Report. Lichter’s take is that “Fox’s coverage has gone from being the worst of all to merely the worst among equals.”
  • The White House claim that Fox “really isn’t a news organization” is risible, given that in Special Report the channel at least runs “nightly news modeled on the broadcast networks.” MSNBC and CNN don’t even try.
  • Longtime NewsBusters and BizzyBlog readers will probably have a hard time with the final sentence of this assertion — “Obama differs from his predecessors mainly in the false hopes generated by sometimes fawning campaign coverage from jaded journalists who temporarily let themselves get carried away by his eloquence and the historic nature of his candidacy. When politics returned to normal, their coverage returned to form.” I definitely disagree, especially if you include the Big 3’s morning shows, which attempt to position themselves as every bit as objective as their evening news counterparts. But if anything, they’re worse. Perhaps a gravitation back to the norm has begun more recently, as the continued decay in the economy as people are experiencing it and the awful results of the administration’s attempts to do something about become ever more obvious.

Leftists who will predictably howl that CMPA is conservatively biased (because SourceWatch says so, as if that proves anything beyond paranoia) are going to have to explain what is wrong with CMPA’s scorekeeping methodology, which appears to be relatively immune from partisan slant, even if one had that as an objective. In any event, the footage is out there, and they are free to try to replicate and poke holes in what CMPA did any time. I bet they won’t; whining is so much easier.

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AP Turns Heads for Devoting 11 Reporters to Palin Book ‘Fact Check’

By Robert Shaffer

Sarah Palin is no normal politician, and at the Associated Press, apparently “Going Rogue” is no normal book.

When the former Republican vice presidential candidate and former Alaska governor wrote her autobiography, the AP found a copy before its release date and assigned 11 people to fact check all 432 pages.

The AP claims Palin misstated her record with regard to travel expenses and taxpayer-funded bailouts, using statements widely reported elsewhere. But it also speculated into Palin’s motives for writing “Going Rogue: An American Life,” stating as fact that the book “has all the characteristics of a pre-campaign manifesto.”

Palin quickly hit back on a Facebook post titled “Really? Still Making Things Up?”

“Imagine that,” the post read. “11 AP reporters dedicating time and resources to tearing up the book, instead of using the time and resources to ‘fact check’ what’s going on with Sheik Mohammed’s trial, Pelosi’s health care takeover costs, Hasan’s associations, etc. Amazing.”

The AP, an organization with over 4,000 employees and 49 Pulitzer Prizes earned for asking the hard questions, wouldn’t comment on their own reporting for this story.

Reviewing books and holding public figures accountable is at the core of good journalism, but the treatment Palin’s book received appears to be something new for the AP. The organization did not review for accuracy recent books by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, then-Sen. Joe Biden, either book by Barack Obama released before he was president or autobiographies by Bill or Hillary Clinton. The AP did more traditional news stories on those books. [emphasis mine]

The attraction to Palin doesn’t appear to be partisan, since AP didn’t fact-check recent political tomes by Republicans Rudy Giuliani or Newt Gingrich.

The AP, however, regularly writes “fact checks” for major political speeches, such as a September health care speech by President Obama.

Doug Underwood, a University of Washington journalism professor who covered Washington politics in the late 1970s for Gannett, said Palin brings some negative attention on herself with a history of bad interviews and misstatements. In addition, the press cannot ever be perfectly consistent or fair, he said.

Still, the media treated Biden and Palin differently, he said.

Biden’s book “Promises to Keep” became an instant best-seller when he was chosen to be Obama’s running mate, but was not fact-checked by the AP and only received passing interest. In a story last year on Biden’s Vietnam War draft deferments due to asthma, the reporter notes Biden didn’t mention the malady in his book.

Palin is not the standard presidential possibility for 2012, Underwood said.

“She’s a figure who’s a politician, but also a part of popular culture,” he said.

Palin supporters believe 11 reporters poring over every word of her book is excessive- and further proof of the media’s obsession and maltreatment of the hockey mom from Wasilla.

“They’re obsessed with trying to discredit her,” said Adrienne Ross, New York state organizer for the 2012 Draft Sarah Committee.

“Because she’s a conservative woman, they make fun of her accent, comment about her looks. She doesn’t come in the package they want her to come in.”

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AMEN!

Psalms 109:8:  “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”

Biblical anti-Obama slogan: Use of Psalm 109:8 funny or sinister?

By Tracey D. Samuelson

There’s a new slogan making its way onto car bumpers and across the Internet. It reads simply: “Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8”

A nice sentiment?

Maybe not.

The psalm reads, “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”

Presidential criticism through witty slogans is nothing new. Bumper stickers, t-shirts, and hats with “1/20/09” commemorated President Bush’s last day in office.

But the verse immediately following the psalm referenced is a bit more ominous:  “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

The slogan comes at a time of heightened concern about antigovernment anger. Earlier this year, the president’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, said that Tea Parties could lead to something unhealthy. In September, authorities shut down a poll on Facebook asking if President Obama should be killed.

Still, that doesn’t push the Psalms citation into the realm of hate speech, says Chris Hansen, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The use of Psalm 109:8 is ambiguous as to whether its users are calling for the President to serve “only one term, or less than one term,” he says.

Deborah Lauter, director of civil rights at the Anti-Defamation League agrees that the bumper sticker falls within acceptable political discourse.

For it to be considered hate speech, it “would advocate actual violence or cite scripture that was more clear in its message.”

But that doesn’t mean that it’s completely innocent.

“Are we concerned about real hostility towards [President Obama]? Absolutely,” says Ms. Lauter.

“Is this a part of that movement? It may be, but in terms of this message itself, we would not criticize it.”

“The problem is you don’t know if people who are donning that message in a shirt or on a bumper sticker are fully aware of the quote or what follows. Obviously that message makes the ambiguity disappear. If they’re just referring to him being out of office, that’s one thing. If they’re referring to him being dead, that’s so offensive. It’s protected speech, but it’s clearly offensive.”

For many, the slogan is just a humorous way express disapproval for President Obama. It’s been tweeted and retweeted by Obama critics with messages like “too funny” and “an excellent prayer for America.”

Twitter user Cheri Douglas felt compelled to share the psalm with others. Reached by phone, she said she found it on website while searching for Bible passages relating to leadership – a topic on which she writes, speaks, and consults for a living.

Ms. Douglas was unaware of the verses that followed the ones she referenced and doesn’t think that those who shared the psalm wish the President harm.

“I don’t believe there’s Christians who wish him ill will,” she says.

But Douglas does say she’s unhappy with the president and used the psalm to convey that she’d like him to serve only one term.

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