Is Glenn Reynold's correct here when he writes, in the WSJ:
It is, after all, the Obama administration that declared that its critics at Fox News Channel are not real journalists, and that Fox is not a "legitimate news organization." In doing so—as White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs admitted with a reference to "brushback pitches" in baseball—the White House's goal was just the same as that of the prosecutors in the president's native city: To chill criticism, and to get journalists to think twice before stepping up to the plate.Of course Reynold's mischaracterizes what Gibbs was saying. But Reynold's see's Fox as "Fair and Balanced," so it would easy for him to do that.
But still, "brushback pitches? (Brushback pitches?!!) What kind of thinking is this by the Obama Administration?
The problem with Fox, it was pointed out here in October, is that:
Fox is...an advocacy organization either designed or with the effect of coming across as far more persuasive than an outright advocacy station, by selling itself as "news" and throwing in little tidbits of apparent "balance" amongst a barrage of slant, misleading innuendo, misleading statements, and wildly relevant omissions.Therein, it was also suggested that:
In other words, now the case is not about Fox, because what Fox does is pose as political and policy news station when it is actually in large part an ideologically motivated and highly manipulative advocacy station, but the case it about the entire media. This builds solidarity between Fox and the rest of the media, when exactly the opposite is required (let alone the fact that Fox often goes after the rest of the media, which in turn is too scared to make a real story out of Fox's constant distortions). And it also makes it seem now that the issue is not so much how bad Fox is (see above again for what it does), but simply that the "media is bad" and is thus about a thin skinned White House that seems to be attacking media and viewpoints that it does not like. [Update: on the day this suggestion appeared, and subsequently, numerous columns around the blogosphere popped up, bewilderedly asking, in effect "how can the rest of the media possibly get Fox's back on this?"]
This plays directly into Fox's characterization of what the White House is doing. And it bolsters the alarming argument, false as it is, that the White House is trying to have a chilling effect upon independent reporting and disparate viewpoints.Saying one is serving the equivalent of the "brushback pitch," as if one is only talking to one's base and no one else in America, in effect accomplishes much the same thing.
It is terrible framing.
But that is what Democrats do best. (Second best is argue self righteously about how good they are at framing, and how anybody who does not see it the way they see it, or, as they put it, "the truth," is hopeless anyway. Which is why they continue to let well meaning but profoundly biased people like Glenn Reynolds (see here, here, here, here, and here), have a profoundly disproportionate influence on the debate in America today. (For instance, a hundred and thirty one million pages views in one month period alone.)
Getting back to Reynold's op-ed, he is mixing apples and oranges (but one supposes that as a law professor he can't see that either). But while the first part of his article is pretty strong, saying that Fox is not real journalism is not remotely akin to accepting prosecutorial abuse of journalists, as he tries to falsely insinuate. But given Democrats poor framing of this issue, once again, it is easy to see how Reynold's can see it this way.)
What the Obama administration means is that an advocacy organization that sets itself up as a news station is far more effective than an outright advocacy organization, because it is designed with the purpose of making people think its purpose is objectively covering the news, when it's purpose is very different. By making people think they are coming to their own conclusions -- by occasionally throwing in a small tidbit of apparent balance by taking or arguing a position or fact contrary to what the station wants to maintiain, all the while reminding viewers how "fair and balanced" Fox is -- Fox has a far more powerful effect (and broader viewership) than outright advocacy ever could.
Of course, Reynold's can't see this, because as his blog almost constantly illustrates, Fox backs up his vision of the world.
The news is not supposed to do that. It is supposed to sober you up. Fox is exceptionally good at making you think it is doing that, while doing quite the opposite.