Apr
03
2012

The White House and the Fear of Fox

Today the New York Times (4/3/12) has a long report detailing how the Obama White House has politicized the regulatory process, apparently partly out of a fear of being portrayed by Republicans as "an overzealous and job-killing regulator." It's an interesting piece, covering an array of regulatory decisions. One of the more interesting media anecdotes was the suggestion that fear of Fox News motivates some of the White House's decision-making. A recommendation that calorie information for movie popcorn should be made public, for instance, was thought to be unnecessary and would probably be lampooned on Fox News as an especially […]

Mar
02
2012

How Breitbart Got Away With His Lies

Andrew Breitbart (cc photo: Gage Skidmore)

Kudos to Paul Farhi of the Washington Post (3/2/12) for talking about the obvious deceptions and inaccuracies in right-wing publisher Andrew Breitbart's work: News organizations found, for example, that the ACORN videos–which purported to show a young Mr. Breitbart ally named James O'Keefe posing as a pimp seeking advice from the organization about how to establish a brothel and evade taxes–actually presented a heavily edited account of what had happened. An investigation by the California attorney general's office concluded that O'Keefe had added footage of himself and an ally dressed in flamboyant costumes that they had not worn to ACORN's […]

Aug
04
2010

Howard Kurtz Defends His Defense of Fox in Sherrod Debacle

In Howard Kurtz's latest column (8/2/10), the Washington Post media reporter bemoans the new media atmosphere as a "search-and-destroy culture" that is "as likely to vilify journalists as political and corporate leaders." Kurtz counts himself among those vilified journalists, citing recent criticism over his defense (7/22/10) of Fox News' handling of the Shirley Sherrod debacle: I know what it's like to be caught in the crossfire. When I reported that Fox News did not air the Sherrod video until after she had been fired, I got hammered by the left, and some commentators just ignored the chronology. (And conspiracy theorists […]

Jul
26
2010

Missing the Point on Shirley Sherrod

The lesson of the Shirley Sherrod story would seem to be a simple one:A conservative blogger with a history of promoting inaccurate, racially chargedstories published another one, and people in the media (not to mention the White House) fell for it–again. But New York Times reporter Matt Bai wrote a piece in the paper's Week in Review section (7/25/10) that soughtto make things a lot more complicated. Under the headline, "Race: Still Too Hot to Touch," Bai laments that the country is still not having a meaningful discussion about race: In many ways, Ms. Sherrod's ordeal followed a depressingly familiar […]

Jul
23
2010

Sherrod Hoax Exposed, but Breitbart's ACORN Fraud Lives On

Reporting on Andrew Breitbart's latest bit of deceit–using a selectively edited video to paint a low-level USDA official Shirley Sherrod as a racist–has given the media a chance to resurrect one of their favorite myths: Breitbart's triumphant takedown of the community-organizing group ACORN. In September 2009, Breitbart's website BigGovernment.com posted videos, made by conservative activists Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe, supposedly showing ACORN employees counseling the pair–ostensibly pretending to be a prostitute and a pimp–on how to avoid paying taxes and other illegal activities. The videos were later found to be completely misleading. Among other things, it was revealed that […]

Jul
23
2010

Howard Kurtz Absolves Fox in Sherrod Smear

Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz (7/22/10) defends Fox News against charges it promoted Andrew Breitbart's fraudulent Shirley Sherrod story–because, he says, Fox's news division didn't even address the story until after Sherrod resigned. In an extensive defense of Fox, Kurtz also cites an e-mail circulated by a Fox executive to the channel's news division, cautioning news staff to be careful with the story. Here's Kurtz: But for all the chatter–some of it from Sherrod herself–that she was done in by Fox News, the network didn't touch the story until her forced resignation was made public Monday evening, with the […]

Jul
21
2010

Sherrod Story Raises Question: How Many Breitbart Frauds Will Media Fall For?

The lesson of Shirley Sherrod's disgraceful treatment by right-wing and not-so-right-wing media (followed by her equally squalid dismissal by an administration that took that media at face value) boils down to a single question: When will journalists see Andrew Breitbart as the serial promoter of journalistic frauds that he is, rather than as a legitimate source for story ideas? FAIR readers will remember Breitbart's dissemination of videos that purported to show ACORN employees advising a "prostitute" and her "pimp" — conservative activists Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe–on how to avoid paying taxes. The videos have since been heavily debunked. As […]