Sunday, March 14, 2010

They dare not call it journalism

Howell Raines, the former executive editor of the New York Times, takes on Roger Ailes and the “video ferrets” of Fox News this morning in the Washington Post:

For the first time since the yellow journalism of a century ago, the United States has a major news organization devoted to the promotion of one political party. And let no one be misled by occasional spurts of criticism of the GOP on Fox. In a bygone era of fact-based commentary typified, left to right, by my late colleagues Scotty Reston and Bill Safire, these deceptions would have been given their proper label: disinformation.

Under the pretense of correcting a Democratic bias in news reporting, Fox has accomplished something that seemed impossible before Ailes imported to the news studio the tricks he learned in Richard Nixon’s campaign think tank: He and his video ferrets have intimidated center-right and center-left journalists into suppressing conclusions — whether on health-care reform or other issues — they once would have stated as demonstrably proven by their reporting. I try not to believe that this kid-gloves handling amounts to self-censorship, but it’s hard to ignore the evidence. News Corp., with 64,000 employees worldwide, receives the tender treatment accorded a future employer.

That is, don’t bite the hand that might be cutting your next paycheck. Even if, as Jon Stewart put it this week, “Fox News might be the meanest sorority in the world.”

(Cross-posted from Scrutiny Hooligans.)