Days of Change

Day 357 – A Tale of One Story

October 27, 2009
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The White House’s war on Fox centers around the general premise that Fox researches stories to support the Republican Party and then flat-out lies in its programming, opinion or not. So, lets look at a story that Fox and another network are both covering and how they cover it.

I’m going to use Fox News and MSNBC because CNN is becoming an also-ran. CNN is in 4th place, behind even its own Headline News channel. CNN’s excuse is that people apparently want more opinion than straight news. That’s kind of ironic given that Headline News is airing heavily opinionated shows in prime time and the parent network isn’t doing anything to change it.

The story I’ve seen today is the contest for NY-23. In it, a Democrat, a moderate to liberal Republican and an independent Conservative are running for a seat in Congress in a Republican district. How is this race being covered?

Fox was covering this story earlier than MSNBC, even though the latter bills itself as the “place for politics.” They started with Newt Gingrich’s endorsement of Dede Scozzafava (the Republican) in the light of Doug Hoffman (the Conservative) running in protest, even though Gingrich is a proponents of conservative political values.

Were they promoting Hoffman? Only by mentioning that he was running. Was it helping the Republican Party? No, it was driving down the numbers of the Republican candidate. Two weeks ago, it was putting Owens (the Democrat) in the lead.

What about MSNBC? They only picked up the story days after Sarah Palin endorsed Hoffman. I won’t assign motives, but their story centered around how the Palin and Gingrich “wings” of the party were dividing the Republican vote. They left out nearly any information about Scozzafava, Hoffman or Owens themselves. For example, Scozzafava was endorsed by the owner of the Daily Kos blog. He actively worked for a Democratic candidate in Connecticut and appeared in his campaign ad. The owner is also a frequent guest on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown. Olbermann for his part writes for the Daily Kos but does not disclose this fact when the site or its owner is mentioned on his show.

But that’s opinion, even if they don’t admit that. However, during MSNBC’s news programming today, (4pm) David Schuster, Olbermann’s most frequent replacement host, also had a story about Palin vs Gingrich where a guest referred to the conservative wing of the Republican Party  consisting of “tea baggers.” The other guest had to interrupt him and ask why he used that term and that, unlike “tea party protesters,” it was a vulgarity. The guest played dumb and Schuster cut them off, as if he were afraid that the other guest might explain that the MSNBC analysts are employing a euphemism for oral sex to describe a political movement.

So, which is the real news? Is it the organization that was first with the story, interviewed Gingrich and Hoffman and showed polls when Scozzafava, Owens and then Hoffman was leading? Or is it the network with hosts working for political action websites, using offensive terminology, not interviewing any of the people involved and failing to provide polling context? I’ll report and you decide where the “place for politics” is.

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