Matt Stoller is a blogger for the leftist blog MyDD. Or so I had believed. It turns out he’s much more — he’s a “thought leader in the internet wing of the progressive movement.” Sounds like a nice gig.
What thoughts has the leader been having? For one thing, he thinks that pressuring the Democratic party to cancel the Nevada presidential debate was justified because “Fox News is not a news channel, but a propaganda outlet that regularly distorts, spins, and falsifies information.”
What’s Stoller’s evidence? Well, for one thing the head of Fox News, Roger Ailes, was a political operative who worked for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and the first president Bush. On the other hand, George Stephanopoulos, who runs ABC’s popular Sunday morning show was an operative for Bill Clinton. And the owner of Fox, Rupert Murdoch, has hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton. Ailes’ ancient connection with Republican politicians hardly means that Fox News a Republican instrument.
Stoller also cites some memos old memos from a Fox News executive that contain themes favorable to President Bush and unfavorable to John Kerry. But a month before the 2004 election, ABC News director Mark Halperin wrote a memo in which he instructed his news organization to “step up” and help rescue John Kerry from attacks by the Bush campaign that Halperin thought were unfair. Halperin would later tell Hugh Hewitt that “for forty years, conservatives have rightly felt that we did not give them a fair shake” (emphasis added). CBS News didn’t need a memo to run pro-Kerry propaganda — it used phony documents as the basis for a story attacking President Bush’s service in the National Guard. Does this mean that ABC and CBS are propaganda organizations that are unfit to carry presidential debates?
Stoller also argues that viewers of Fox News are more likely than other news consumers to hold “misconceptions” about the war in Iraq. There’s little doubt that Fox News viewers are more likely than other news consumers to be favorably disposed to the war. But Stoller doesn’t show that this is the result of unfair reporting by Fox. Indeed, Stoller presents no evidence that Fox’s coverage of the issues in question — for example, the likelihood that Iraq had WMD — was appreciably different than that of other U.S. news outlets.
It’s a bit unsettling when political partisans organize to deny a news outlet access to news opportunities because they don’t like the outlet’s news content and consider its executives to be political enemies. But this is what “thought leaders” tend to do.
UPDATE: At the Forum, GDLL provides examples of additional MSM mainstays with partisan political backgrounds. Bill Moyers at PBS is the president of left-funding Schumann Center for Media & Democracy, and was a key aide to Lyndon Johnson. According to GDLL, Moyers authorized the notorious LBJ
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