Media scholars have for quite some time dismissed “Fox News” as a news organization. So it is little surprise to us that the White House has said so. Roger Ailes, chairman and chief executive of Fox News, on the other hand, insists that there is a distinction between news and opinion programming on the network, provoking the ire of Media Matters for America.
The Media Matters email update I received is quite different from the linked blog entry. In the email update, Brian Frederick repeatedly attacks the network’s opinion programming and advocacy of right wing causes. He thus obscures the very distinction, whether or not it in fact exists, that Ailes is pointing to. This helps Michael Clemente, senior vice president for news and editorial programming at Fox, to accuse the White House (and, by implication, liberals) of, as the New York Times phrased it, a “strategy to marginalize critics.”
So here’s a suggestion: If people are having trouble distinguishing between Fox News and opinion programming and between Fox News and its advocacy work, then Fox, the network, should clearly label it for all us stupid liberals. Of course, to do so might undermine the authority which Fox commentators and advocates rely upon in whipping up all that Tea Party nuttery and racism. Then all the stupid conservatives who treat Fox as gospel might actually get a clue.
And if Fox won’t do this, then they are as guilty of confounding the distinction as anyone in the White House. Moreover, they’re taking advantage of this conflation to influence political discourse. That makes Fox News into an “arm of the Republican Party” whether or not their reporting is any more or any less biased than that of anyone else.