Media Matters Unintentionally Makes Case For Fox News’ Front Row Briefing Room Seat

In the wake of Helen Thomasuntimely retirement, immediate speculation on who would get her front row-center seat quickly turned into (non-gleeful) consensus that it would be Fox News. This didn’t sit very well with liberal media watchdog Media Matters. Ironically, though, their faint damnation of Fox News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett actually undercuts their larger point about Fox News.

The thing you have to realize about Media Matters is that when they come to get you, you’re gonna get got. They have a massive team of researchers, so if you’ve ever said something screwed up, they will find 3 camera angles of you saying it. I’ve never gotten an email from them that didn’t have 19 or so separate examples of whatever point they were trying to prove.

So, when I got an email from them pushing back against Fox getting the front row seat, I was prepared for a full-out link salvo of Fox White House reporters promoting right-wing talking points. What I got was one example, and a weak one at that:

Just this past August, Fox News White House correspondent Major Garrett used his seat in the briefing room to manufacture a controversy over a supposed White House email “list,” a controversy he subsequently fanned by falsely claiming that the concept of a “list” was first broached by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

First of all, “just this past August?” They had to go back almost a year to find this? Even I piss off liberals more often than that, and I’m one of them.

Still, I remember this story, and I was critical of it at the time. Not to get into the weeds, there was a sharp exchange between Gibbs and Garrett on the subject of complaints Major was receiving from viewers who were getting unsolicited emails from the White House. In the end, the weak link here were those viewers, as the unwanted emails turned out to be related to human error, visitors to WhiteHouse.gov who used blast email addresses on the site’s contact page. The fact is, though, that it was a legitimate question to pursue, and the White House did change the procedure by which online visitors sign up for email updates, making it less passive.

I actually pursued a nearly identical story a month later, and even though the culprit turned out to be an error by a Newsbusters reporter, no one on the right called for my head.

To be fair, Media Matters’ case doesn’t rest entirely on their criticism of Major Garrett, but it’s really the only thing that matters here. The editorial bent of Fox News Channel as a whole is a separate issue, both with regard to their “opinion programming” and the way those programs can occasionally bleed through to their “straight” newscasts. Recently, Chris Wallace even alluded to it.

But the White House beat really is a different animal.  For example, when Robert Gibbs scolded Wendell Goler for remarks that were made on Fox programs, neither Goler nor Major Garrett waded into the fray. The back-and-forth played out between Gibbs and Neil Cavuto,.

Whatever you think of Fox News, whether you’re a fan or a detractor, I defy anyone to demonstrate that Major Garrett and Wendell Goler are anything but top-notch journalists. If a thorough outfit like Media Matters rests its case on who said the word “list” first, I think that point is proven. As such, they have earned their way into the front row.

It is understandable that many liberals would be rankled by this development, given Helen Thomas’ iconic status and Chris Wallace’s recent, classless gloating. When it all shakes out, though, the seat that Fox ends up in might not even be Helen’s. To the extent that the center seat is more prestigious than other front row seats, Helen’s perch might end up going to one of the “Big 3″ networks, with Fox taking a different front row seat.

Sean Hannity And Glenn Beck Split #2 On Friday

Cable news ratings, June 11, 2010: Check out the highlights, and see the full ratings below:

Bill O’Reilly was the top rated cable news host Friday night, in both categories, but the #2 spot was a split. Glenn Beck was #2 in the A25-54 demographic, but finished 5th in total viewers. Sean Hannity was #2 in total viewers and 3rd in demo.

• The top non-FNC show in the demo was MSNBC’s 11pmET doc block hour, while MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann had the #1 non-FNC show in total viewers.

TV NEWS RATINGS: 25-54 DEMOGRAPHIC (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

496

Blitzer

121

Matthews

86

Showbiz

142

6 pm Baier

396

Blitzer

88

Ed Show

96

Prime

112

7 pm Shep

283

King, USA

126

Matthews

114

Issues

129

8 pm O’Reilly

592

Brown

112

Olbermann

223

Grace

194

9 pm Hannity

425

King

180

Maddow

150

Behar

99

10 pm Greta

340

Cooper

168

MSNBC Investigates

138

Grace

195

11 pm O’Reilly

386

Cooper

178

MSNBC Investigates

296

Showbiz

118

TOTAL DAY 309 148 129 132
PRIME TIME 452 154 171 163
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.
TV NEWS RATINGS: TOTAL VIEWERS (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

1743

Blitzer

598

Matthews

537

Showbiz

287

6 pm Baier

1818

Blitzer

420

Ed Show

590

Prime

279

7 pm Shep

1387

King, USA

430

Matthews

525

Issues

421

8 pm O’Reilly

2669

Brown

431

Olbermann

955

Grace

706

9 pm Hannity

2012

King

638

Maddow

582

Behar

449

10 pm Greta

1760

Cooper

491

MSNBC Investigates

315

Grace

519

11 pm O’Reilly

1379

Cooper

371

MSNBC Investigates

477

Showbiz

348

TOTAL DAY 1165 429 400 305
PRIME TIME 2147 520 617 552
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.

Glenn Beck: “If I Could Do Things Over Again I Would Be More Temperate On Everything That I Said”

Let’s cut right to the chase – we talked to Glenn Beck yesterday about The Overton Window: which character he most identifies with, his depiction of the good and bad in the tea party and much more.

This isn’t just a Q&A. It’s Part 2 in our 100-part review of Beck’s new “faction” book.

Krakauer: What compelled you to write a fiction book, or ‘faction’ book as you describe?

Beck: I started writing this two years ago. I was on the bus for The Christmas Sweater tour and I didn’t have anything to do. Part of it, for me, in the last two years has been trying to get people to think out of the box. It doesn’t mean things are going to happen, it just means you have all of the elements that have made a pretty nasty cocktail in the past. And so what I wanted to do was try to show how all these things could come together if you don’t pay attention or worse yet, think ‘ah well, America always gets through it.’

“I have taken inventory of my words over the last five, eight years. And if I could do things over again I would be more temperate on everything that I said only because, you know, people will misunderstand, or I will misspeak, or I will just say something stupid, or people will take out of context and twist.”

MacNicol: When I was reading it, I was struck by how grounded the story is in present-day details. You reference very specific news events and locations. And I’m wondering if that was intentional. I think sometimes for a novelist that can be difficult because it can date your novel. I’m wondering if you were intentionally trying to date it.

Beck: We went back and forth on whether it was going to be a little in the future but we decided to let it just be in today, but slightly different. The only problem with it was the book could be so dated by next week. And that has been a problem. Already, every day that goes by I think, ‘Oh, I wish I would have put this in, I wish I would have put that in.’ Because there’s so many possibilities and so many things that are Ayn Rand in nature. That are just happening, coming out everyday.

MacNicol: I’m so happy you said that because my next question literally was, broadly speaking when reading this I was reminded of The Fountainhead, in the sense you’ve taken a very strong political philosophy and fictionalized it. I was wondering if that was an influence.

Beck: Kind of, I guess. I’m an Ayn Rand fan. I love Anthem. What they said about her is a lot of the stuff they say about me now. The only thing I don’t like about Ayn Rand is her books are 900-pages long and I don’t need to know any more about the kind of steel, or the kind of parts on a train like in Atlas Shrugged. We tried to make it accurate and something that had real political philosophy in it, but without all the steel information. This is actually only half of the book I originally outlined. This ends at the halfway point. But we a) ran out of time, and b) I didn’t want to inflict an 800-page book on people.

Krakauer: Well assuming it sells well, and if I had to look at past history of your books I’d say it does, there’s a sequel coming?

Beck: Maybe. If people are attached to the story, that’s probably a better judge. If it sells well that’s great, but if people are attached to the story then yeah I’ve got probably the next eight in this. I feel a little like George Lucas on this one, where I can see why he had to write the prequels in his head beforehand. I kind of know where this story is going and where it will end. Whether we get there or not, I don’t know.

Krakauer: People will inevitably want to compare you personally to a character in the book, but it felt like certain moments from a few characters could be seen as representing some of your personal views? Were there particular characters or moments you most identify with?

Beck: There’s several. Not necessarily characters. I’d be interested in knowing who you think I’m most like.

Krakauer: I think there were moments in speeches from Noah from Danny.

MacNicol: Arthur.

Beck: Arthur! You thought Arthur? He’s a bad guy!

MacNicol: No, not so much what he says but what you argue against on your show.

Beck: So I’m not Arthur, I’m the anti-Arthur. Arthur was the most fun to write because I channeled Wilson and Lippmann and a little George Bernard Shaw. That was the most fun to write because I knew that a mass audience would meet the face of evil in a lot of these early 20th century progressives. I had to wade through their work for the last two years. I had the most fun writing him. I don’t think anybody has guessed the character I identify the most with.

MacNicol: Before you say it, when I first started reading the novel I thought Molly.

Krakauer: I thought Molly’s mom could be it.

Beck: Are you saying I’m an old woman?

Krakauer: No but her speech at the Stars & Stripes…

MacNicol: And her sense of idealism.

Krakauer: So who do you most identify with?

Beck: The tea party scene was hardest to write because we were trying to capture that it’s a collection of people that are completely different from each other. And the speech that she gives was really probably the most me. But the two characters, Noah and Molly are actually, when I started this years ago, were actually my business partner and I, without the…well we never had sex.

>>> NEXT PAGE: “Taking inventory” of past comments, loving/hating New York City.

“Potentially Dangerous”? Fox News Gets To The Bottom Of Bros Icing Bros

Are you familiar with the new Bros Icing Bros craze?

Well if you’re a Fox News viewer, you got a taste of the Smirnoff Ice activity/publicity stunt/viral marketing campaign with a news segment this weekend on the “potentially dangerous drinking game.”

“It’s called [pause for dramatic effect] Icing Your Bro,” said FNC anchor Gregg Jarrett, introducing a report this weekend about “Bros Icing Bros” (quick recap: force your bro to chug a Smirnoff Ice). “Should Smirnoff be on the offensive here, discouraging a game that flies in the face of responsible drinking?” asked Jarrett.

Luckily there was an actual guest to answer this question. Dominick Tavella, President of Diversified Financial Consultants got a chance to weigh in. “Let’s hope they act a little more responsibly and maybe this fad will go away,” he said.

Well…not likely, considering there are now news stories about the “fad,” complete with the anchors and guest laughing as they watch the user-generated icing videos. Meanwhile, Smirnoff is denying any involvement, but certainly having some fun with it – “we never want underage icing,” said their statement.

But Jarrett seemed to undermine his whole argument by revealing how non-threatening these Smirnoff Ice drinks really are. “It would take about a case of drinking these things to get tipsy, that’s how low the alcohol content is on these things,” he said. While he may know his beer and beer-like ultra-sweet bottled drinks, he isn’t too familiar with Jagermeister, which he referenced but used the hard J. (Co-anchor Juliet Huddy corrected the pronunciation.)

According to TV Eyes, this was the first cable news segment on the new game – so far. Also, check out the image. Did Jarrett ice Tavella via satellite?

Check it out:

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Carly Fiorina Faces Sean Hannity To Explain Open Mic Gaffe Comments

A few days ago, California Republican Senate Candidate Carly Fiorina was caught on an open mic calling fellow GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s decision to go on Hannity the day after her primary victory “bizarre” and calling Sean Hannity a “tough interview.” Last night, Fiorina went on the program herself to face the tough interviewer and say she’s sorry.

“It’s good to have you, I think?” Hannity opened the interview, and gave her time to explain what she was talking about. She was gracious and explained that, while her tone might have hinted otherwise, she was actually complimenting him:

“You’re a tough interview, Sean, that’s your job, and I was feeling protective of my friend Meg– by the way, she doesn’t need my protection, she perfectly able to take care of herself– but you can be a tough interview… that’s why I called on Wednesday to say I was sorry, because, and I’ll say that to your audience: this was not an insult to you at all. In fact, it was a compliment.”

Hannity was forgiving, sympathetic even, although he questioned her about the middle-voter theory and whether she was trying not to associate with “known conservatives.” Nothing of the kind, she replied, noting that she agreed to come on the show the night she won the primary– just not the day after.

As penance, Hannity made her compliment his hair. She gladly obliged. Video below:

Bill O’Reilly Debates Obama’s Anger, Still Doesn’t Understand ‘Angry Black Man’ Stigma

Bill O’Reilly has already admitted that he doesn’t understand the racial overtones of a Drudge Report headline saying “Obama Goes Street” in relation to his strong words against BP, but to explore the topic further, he had Democratic strategist Tara Dowdell and Tea Party activist Rev. C.L. Bryant last night for a second try at convincing him that there is a racial danger to the President expressing anger.

O’Reilly reiterated to both guests that “I don’t think Drudge said ‘Gee, let me use the word ’street’ so we can get everybody upset racially,’” which Dowdell disagreed with. She cited comments by Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, which O’Reilly criticized, that there is “a stigma attached to being considered an angry black man,” and there is a legitimate concern among the black community, even when the white community does not see it, that they will be stereotyped when expressing certain emotions.

O’Reilly replied that the point was “a non-sequiter,” because no white people were deliberately stimagitizing them. “When Obama said ‘I want to kick some butt’ I didn’t say ‘ooh, there’s a black guy who wants to kick some butt’ I said ‘Good! Do something!’” Rev. Bryant, a self-described “angry black man,” agreed and thought there was nothing wrong with Barack Obama’s “kicking ass” comment. “All we’re looking for is leadership,” he argued, “and that has nothing to do with race.”

Video of the discussion below:

Sarah Palin Says Breast Implant Rumors Make Her ‘Wear Layers’

Something funny happened to political satire blog Wonkette on the way to their latest joke: the media took them seriously. After editor Ken Layne wrote a post pondering aloud the possibility of Sarah Palin getting breast implants, the New York Daily News, the Washington Examiner, the UK Telegraph, E!, and myriad others in the media began to ask the same thing. The investigation culminated in a courageous Greta van Susteren popping the question to Palin herself.

Yes, in the middle of an interview about the “lamestream media’s” new distortion of Sarah Palin’s image from that of a Mama Grizzly to that of a “saint,” van Susteren abruptly changes the subject: “Here it is. Breast implants: Did you have them or not?” Palin– reporting live from the lobby of a New Jersey mall, apparently– thanks Greta for the question because “boobgate is all over the internet” and she wanted a chance to clarify (and tell off the speculating reporters, who she called “bored, idle bloggers and reporters with nothing else to talk about”):

“I think some of those folks, too, they need to perhaps grab a shovel, go down to the Gulf, voluneer to help, clean up and save a whale or something instead of reporting on such stupid things like that. Um, no, I have not had implants… I think a report like that is about as real and truthful as those reports that Todd and I are divorcing, or that I bought a place in the Hamptons, or that Trig is not my own child”

She also admitted that “it makes me wear layers, it makes me have to waste time figuring out what am I going to wear so that nobody will look in an area that I don’t need them to look at.”

Again, credit goes to van Susteren for asking the question– it’s not one most reporters would have been brave enough to bring up. Video below: