September 17, 2012

Fox &... Friends?

This morning on my drive to work I listened to a really dreadful interview by Gretchen Carlson on Fox & Friends.  I get Fox News Channel every on Sirius Radio and I listen to it every day on my weekday drives to work and home.

This morning Fox & Friends had on a recent college grad, whose name I don't recall.  He voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and he was on to explain why he now supports Mitt Romney.  Because of Carlson's completely inept handing, he never got to his explanation.

When the eager but unemployed grad was introduced he greeted Ms. Carlson as Miss USA, obviously trying to pay her a complement.  Apparently Ms. Carlson took offense.  She was Miss America, not Miss USA.  The grad said OK, and then went on to say something to the effect that she was Miss Universe in his book.  Again, he was obviously trying to complement Carlson, as clumsy as he may have been about it.  Carlson was at a total loss.  She said, "uh... OK." 

At that point I was thinking how maybe a "thank you" could work pretty well, but after a couple of seconds of silence Ms. Carlson plodded along into her interview.  She laid some groundwork, re-establishing that our young unemployed college grad had been an Obama supporter in 2008.  Young grad said yes, he was.  He went on to say that he had even met Barack Obama when he was in the third grade.

I waited for the, "Tell me about that.  You must have been quite an Obama fan after that."  It would have been nice to find out, actually.  But instead we got, "Uh... OK."  Some more seconds of silence.  "Are you being serious?" 

Young grad assured her he was being serious, but Ms. Carlson said she didn't think he was.  She told him he wasn't ready for prime time.  Maybe when you're serious we can have this conversation.  They went back and forth on this a couple of times.  "You're not serious."  "Yes, I am."  "No, you're not."  Then Carlson ended the interview.

She never asked about the grad's third grade meeting with Obama, never asked why he was changing his support from Obama to Romney, and never said "thank you" for the clumsily delivered complement.  Instead after a series of "Uh... OK"s she joined in with fellow hosts to insult the guy, saying he was not serious, and not ready for prime time.  In essence, "Come back when you grow up."

Now, if I had watched the segment on TV I might have gotten a different impression of the whole thing.  But hearing it on the radio, I can tell you who came across as not ready for prime time.  It was Carlson who wasn't sharp enough to see when her guest trying to complement her, or that her guest was giving her openings.  All she had to do was ask a question, show a little curiosity. Instead it was as if she expected the young grad to launch into a monologue.

So, who's the pro and who's the guest?  At Fox & Friends they're not sure.  I would like to think Gretchen Carlson is not the snotty ex-beauty queen who came across on Fox & Friends this morning, utterly incapable of thinking on her feet.  She owes the kid an apology.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 12:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 05, 2009

And Not Succeeding

FOX News won the election night prime time ratings war on this year.

Fox News was the clear winner in the cable ratings last night, averaging 4.04 million total viewers during prime-time, with 1.13 million in the 25-54 demo alone. Fox beat the other three networks combined.

MSNBC came in second (974K, 308K), according to Nielsen, with HLN taking third (842K, 341K).

CNN, which won the 2008 election night, continues to struggle in prime-time. The network placed fourth for the month of October, and claimed the same spot last night, with 826,000 total viewers and 227,000 in the demo.

Campbell Brown has an explanation for CNN's dismal finish.

Campbell Brown

Campbell Brown says that she and her "colleagues here at CNN are still trying to do journalism." (CNN)

"Journalism" from the network that taught us the term "tea-bagging".  Yes, they're trying over at CNN, but apparently not succeeding all that well.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 06:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 27, 2009

So Barry, How Goes The War?

The War on FOX, that is.  According to Hot Air, not all that well. 

It’s a nine-percent bump in the two weeks since Anita Dunn’s whine heard ’round the world — in terms of overall audience. Among the coveted 25-54 demographic? A 14-percent bump. Good work, Barry. People keep telling me that this PR offensive by the White House benefits both sides but I don’t see how that’s true. If the goal is to contain Fox by framing the stories it breaks — Van Jones, ACORN, etc — as somehow illegitimate, then every tenth of a point that Fox’s ratings go up undermines that goal. There will come a point where other news nets will follow Fox’s lead simply for business reasons, ideology or no ideology; follow the link, eyeball the list of top 20 news shows, and ask yourself how far we are from that point, really. To put it in perspective: “Red Eye,” at 3 a.m., is beating Campbell Brown at 8 p.m. on CNN in the demo. (Worse, perhaps: Anderson Cooper is getting beat by … re-runs of Nancy Grace.)

In fact, CNN is now dead last in the prime time ratings.  Don Surber writes,

I have been reporting CNN’s bad numbers for some time and now it will be official when the October numbers are in, CNN is in last place behind MSNBC, HLN and you know who.

CNN’s numbers have dropped in half overall (52%) and 68% in prime time comparing October 2008 to 2009, TV by the Numbers reported.

In the 25-54 demographic, CNN dropped 62% overall and by 77% in prime time.

Even the mainstream press is now reporting it.

In the meantime Power Line takes note of the resurgent conservatives.

Conservatives are growing at the expense of both moderates and liberals. I suppose that's why the folks at CNN have so desperately tried to denigrate the tea party movement and town hall protesters.

This is, of course, the asymmetry of American politics: there are more conservatives than liberals, but more Democrats than Republicans. Hence the constant anxiety among Democrats that their party could crash and burn; hence, too, the frustration by conservatives that so many Republicans can't bring themselves to embrace conservative ideals.

Battle lines are currently drawn in New York, where a three-way race for an open seat in District 23 is in progress. Local Republicans nominated a liberal, Dede Scozzafava, to run against liberal Democrat Bill Owens in this historically Republican district. On its face this makes little sense: shouldn't a Republican-leaning district have ONE conservative on the ballot? Doug Hoffman obliged. Running on the Conservative Party line with support from the Club for Growth and other conservative organizations, Hoffman has quickly gone from spoiler to front-runner.

In the most recent Basswood Research poll for the Club for Growth, Hoffman has sprinted to a 31.3%-27% lead over Democrat Bill Owens. The liberal Republican, meanwhile, is sinking like a stone at 19.7%

Tom Maguire wonders if we could be looking forward to another 1994-like midterm election.

As an utterly unrelated thought, what was the lesson of the Clinton train wreck and Republican wave of 1994?  Was it "Don't run as a moderate and govern as a lefty", with gays in the military, the assault weapons bans, the vanishing middle class tax cut and the health care debacle as evidence? 

Or was it "Don't promise health care reform and then fail to deliver"?

Although it is rare to have a controlled experiment on this scale in the social sciences, it seems that Obama, Pelosi and Reid are poised to help answer that question.

I'm betting on option one.  Campaigning as centrists then governing as socialists is going to sink the democrats in 2010.  We're looking at the writing on the wall.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 06:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 24, 2009

Historical Precedent to the War on FOX News

Voltaire famously declared, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."  But then, that was a long time ago and Voltaire was not a lefty.  In fact, lefties were not even invented then.  Nowadays we have lots of lefties who almost universally disapprove of what gets said on FOX News, and quite frankly they'd rather FOX not be allowed to say it.  So when the White House declared War on FOX, denizens of the internet Fever Swamps joined the fight offering up precedents and justifications. 

Here's one. The Bush administration War on NBC: 

Declaring War on NBC: White House senior strategist Ed Gillespie personally sent a letter to NBC News President Steve Capus in order to protest the way NBC was covering administration policies.  [Emphasis in the original]

A link is included, directing the reader to a 2008 post on Marc Ambinder's blog at The Atlantic where Mr. Ambinder published the full text of Ed Gillespie's letter with this introductory comment.  

White House senior strategist Ed Gillespie does not like the way that Richard Engel's interview with President Bush was edited to reflect the president's reflections on his remarks to the Knesset last Thursday.  [Emphasis added]

You may follow the link above for the full text of Mr. Gillespie's letter, but the shocking impact of the Bush administration War on NBC can be felt in the first paragraph.

Steve Capus
President, NBC News

30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10112

Mr. Capus:

This e-mail is to formally request that NBC Nightly News and The Today Show air for their viewers President Bush's actual answer to correspondent Richard Engel's question about Iran policy and "appeasement," rather than the deceptively edited version of the President's answer that was aired last night on the Nightly News and this morning on The Today Show.

Please air the president's entire response, Gillespie requested.  Lefties in the Fever Swamp were incensed over this blatant encroachment on NBC's freedom to expose the "real truth" through imaginative editing.  Air President Bush's actual answer?  What an outrage and an affront to journalism!   

That opening salvo in Gillespie's letter was followed by fourteen paragraphs disputing the accuracy of various NBC claims, and by this conclusion:

Mr. Capus, I'm sure you don't want people to conclude that there is really no distinction between the "news" as reported on NBC and the "opinion" as reported on MSNBC, despite the increasing blurring of those lines. I welcome your response to this letter, and hope it is one that reassures your broadcast network's viewers that blatantly partisan talk show hosts like Christopher Matthews and Keith Olbermann at MSNBC don't hold editorial sway over the NBC network news division.


Ed Gillespie

Counselor to the President

That's the heart of it.  Obama's War is being fought over the right of progressive journalists from NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and other friendly organizations to report their enlightened opinions as fact, free from rebuttal from anyone, particularly FOX News.  The White House attacks FOX with the claim that FOX News is not really a news organization. 

The Obama team may very well be thinking that if they keep working at it they can eventually exempt FOX from the first amendment and freedom of the press.  McCain-Feingold offers them some leverage:

In addition, the bill aimed to curtail ads by non-party organizations by banning the use of corporate or union money to pay for "electioneering communications," a term defined as broadcast advertising that identifies a federal candidate within 30 days of a primary or nominating convention, or 60 days of a general election. This provision of McCain-Feingold, sponsored by Maine Republican Olympia Snowe and Vermont Independent James Jeffords, as introduced applied only to for-profit corporations, but was extended to incorporate non-profit issue organizations, such as the Environmental Defense Fund or the National Rifle Association, as part of the "Wellstone Amendment," sponsored by Senator Paul Wellstone.

FOX is clearly a for-profit corporation.  Other mainstream media organizations would like to be, but they seem to be having a hard time with the profit part of it.  With FOX declared to be a for-profit, not-news organization we inch closer to a leftoid dream.  It's a stretch, but FOX could be conceivably be banned from identifying a federal candidate within 60 days of the general election.  What's left of our press would be free to adore Obama! 

Too bad there aren't any Voltaires in the Fever Swamp.  They just don't seem to be that bright, though.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 07:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 23, 2009

Obama's War On Fox News

Real Clear Politics carries dueling articles about the the White House war on Fox News.  According to Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times, this is just another news event and he reports it that way.  Just the facts.  His story is revealing as I suppose news stories ought to be.  Obama apparently held a strategy meeting for his War on Fox with a number of his allies. 

Speaking privately at the White House on Monday with a group of mostly liberal columnists and commentators, including Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann of MSNBC and Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich and Bob Herbert of The New York Times, Mr. Obama himself gave vent to sentiments about the network, according to people briefed on the conversation.

Then, in an interview with NBC News on Wednesday, the president went public. “What our advisers have simply said is that we are going to take media as it comes,” he said. “And if media is operating, basically, as a talk radio format, then that’s one thing. And if it’s operating as a news outlet, then that’s another.”

The collection of sycophants Obama invited to his strategy session includes the most heated and vitriolic Bush administration critics, who now apparently reap the reward of their partisan commentary.  Rutenberg said that the White House was happy to start this debate about Fox News, because, in the words of David Axelrod, “Our concern is other media not follow their lead.”  Not to worry, David.  The style of coverage they gave the Bush administration won't extend to this one.

I have to wonder about the wisdom of Obama's White House meeting with his lapdogs in the press.  He was, after all, was preaching to the choir.  Maybe he just wanted to ask them to hold still while he launched his attack on Fox, but even the mainstream media, cheerleaders for Obama that they are, are having a hard time with it.

In a sign of discomfort with the White House stance, Fox’s television news competitors refused to go along with a Treasury Department effort on Tuesday to exclude Fox from a round of interviews with the executive-pay czar Kenneth R. Feinberg that was to be conducted with a “pool” camera crew shared by all the networks. That followed a pointed question at a White House briefing this week by Jake Tapper, an ABC News correspondent, about the administration’s treatment of “one of our sister organizations.”

Give them time.  Obama hasn't shown them yet what he can do.  Not to worry.  Charles Krathammer is here to tell us.

White House communications director Anita Dunn said that Fox is "opinion journalism masquerading as news." Patting rival networks on the head for their authenticity (read: docility), senior adviser David Axelrod declared Fox "not really a news station." And Chief of Staff Emanuel told (warned?) the other networks not to "be led (by) and following Fox."

Meaning? If Fox runs a story critical of the administration -- from exposing White House czar Van Jones as a loony 9/11 "truther" to exhaustively examining the mathematical chicanery and hidden loopholes in proposed health care legislation -- the other news organizations should think twice before following the lead.

The signal to corporations is equally clear: You might have dealings with a federal behemoth that not only disburses more than $3 trillion every year but is extending its reach ever deeper into private industry -- finance, autos, soon health care and energy. Think twice before you run an ad on Fox.

You have to wonder, just how smart is it to pick a fight with the most popular cable news network in America?  In Krauthammer's view, and mine too, not very.  In fact Krauthammer believes it's surpassingly stupid.

Fox and its viewers (numbering more than CNN's and MSNBC's combined) need no defense. Defend Fox compared to whom? To CNN -- which recently unleashed its fact-checkers on a "Saturday Night Live" skit mildly critical of President Obama, but did no checking of a grotesquely racist remark CNN falsely attributed to Rush Limbaugh?

Defend Fox from whom? Fox's flagship 6 o'clock evening news out of Washington (hosted by Bret Baier, formerly by Brit Hume) is, to my mind, the best hour of news on television. (Definitive evidence: My mother watches it even on the odd night when I'm not on.) Defend Fox from the likes of Anita Dunn? She's been attacked for extolling Mao's political philosophy in a speech at a high school graduation. But the critics miss the surpassing stupidity of her larger point: She was invoking Mao as support and authority for her impassioned plea for individuality and trusting one's own choices. Mao as champion of individuality? Mao, the greatest imposer of mass uniformity in modern history, creator of a slave society of a near-billion worker bees wearing Mao suits and waving the Little Red Book?

Yet for some odd reason, the Obama White House is quite confident that this war on Fox is smart policy.  Confident enough that the kick off event for his attack on the independence of the press was a meeting with other members of the press.  Admittedly, these are the those same friendly journalists who pronounced him to be the smartest president ever.  Is it any wonder the mainstream media are losing money hand over fist?  Any wonder that Obama's approval rating is sinking like a stone?

Posted by Tom Bowler at 07:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack