The REAL Health Care Debate: The Obama Administration Vs Fox News

Picture 28Watching a few hours of Fox News these days amounts to a non-stop infomercial opposing  the Obama Administration’s effort to reform Health Care.  While there is always room for a healthy debate on the issues, please don’t look to Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck for a measured discourse - they  rarely, if ever, present a constructive solution to the current health care problems (though there is the occasional admission that there is need for reform.) No single entity seems more entrenched in the opposition to the health care reform than Fox News.

The political bias of cable news is a time-worn tale, particularly with Fox News. But  it seems like that narrative has made us so numb to blatant subjectivity that we can no longer see clear bias when its right in front of our faces. Does no one care anymore? Or maybe it’s just August and everyone’s on vacation?  Simply put — the amount of propaganda put forth from Fox News is far from fair and balanced — they are very near inciting riots.

Not so? If you watch Glenn Beck or listen to his radio show, you hear a lot of phrases like “waking the sleeping giant” and “we don’t want this country to become Russia.” Cut to the language of protesters confronting their elected officials in the town halls of the past week and one hears the same exact phrases spoken through held back tears and barely restrained emotion.

During Wednesday’s “Talking Points Memo,” O’Reilly made the rather bold claim that the Obama administration is specifically targeting Fox News. How did he make the deduction? Because White House spokesman Robert Gibbs recently said “Well, I think we all have something to lose, Matt, if we let cable television come to town hall meetings and kill health care reform for another year and put the special interests back in charge.

Fox News – particularly O’Reilly – have always been quite savvy at “punching up” – that is, targeting entities that are well above their accepted station (i.e. their current debate with GE). Does claiming to be engaged in a “fight” with the White House serve their purpose? In terms of pleasing their audience it does — just hear the rabble rousers yell to their democratically elected representatives that they want their country back. From a publicity standpoint it’s a genius move – evil genius maybe.

There is  legitimate criticism that the Obama White House has not been able to articulate their new health care agenda in a simple and understandable way. The truth is that it’s currently a very complicated issue. But isn’t that part of the problem — that unnecessarily complex solutions create a multitude of loopholes that allow big corporations to turn a healthy profit? Is that how a free market is supposed to work? Is that the American way, or is it the problem?

The problem is not just with Fox News, nor with cable news in general. We are truly in a nation divided by media consumption, exacerbated by the rise of opinion journalism (at the cost of capital J – journalism). As Kurt Andersen has said, American’s now only consume media the reaffirms their pre-existing opinions.  The vacuum of differing views has been profitable for a number of media outlets, but what cost victory?


Mediaite Mash-up of Glenn Beck’s take on the health care debate:


NBC Airs Home Video of Hudson River Mid-Air Collision

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NBC’s New York local affiliate WNBC aired exclusive home video of the tragic collision between a small airplane and a tourist helicopter during their newscast  tonight. The video, shot by a tourist aboard a boat on the Hudson, captures the moments before and the stunning impact when the small plane collided with a sightseeing helicopter shortly after noon this past Saturday. Video after the jump…

Tragically, the footage appears to have been recorded by friends of the Italian nationals who were on the helicopter, and perished as a result of the crash. WNBC anchor Chuck Scarborough says that the video “may play a key role in the NTSB’s investigation of the tragedy that claimed nine lives last Saturday.” Warning: the video is shocking and may be upsetting to watch.



FNC’s Major Garrett Reflects On Pissing Off Robert Gibbs Today

garrett_8-13The White House briefing had a bit of extra excitement today as Fox News correspondent Major Garrett had a testy exchange with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

Reflecting on the tension a couple hours later, Garrett said he understood why Gibbs got annoyed.

The dissension came about when Garrett brought up that some people reported getting an email today from the White House after never having signed up for an email list before. He questioned whether it could have come from the campaign list, and that’s what set Gibbs off.

Said Garrett after:

That upset him, probably legitimately. I should not have done that because there is no evidence whatsoever that anything that’s at the Democratic National Committee comes anywhere near the White House in this health care debate or anything else. I want to get that on the record, absolutely clearly.

FNC host Neil Cavuto joked after watching the clip, “Major, if you’re trying to get out of the doghouse this little exchange today did not seem to foster that process.”

Major chuckled, but stood his ground. “”Neil I’m not in a doghouse,” he said. “I don’t try to get out of a doghouse, I don’t try to get into a doghouse, I just try to ask questions.”

Despite Garrett’s admission about one aspect of his question, Gibbs still didn’t give an answer. It will get replayed, and written about, and Gibbs will have to address the issue soon.

Here’s the clip from Cavuto today:


Chyron of the Day: “Pointless Babble” On Twitter

FNC, 12:46pmET:

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We were going to tweet about this instead of writing a post, but we were worried it might be classified as “pointless babble.” Courtney Friel reported on this study today on Fox News, and although the chyron may appear sarcastic – it’s actually very accurate.

The study looked at 2,000 tweets over the span of two weeks, chosen at random, and grouped them into six categories: News, Spam, Self-Promotion, Pointless Babble, Conversational and Pass-Along Value.

And the “pointless babble” was the overwhelming winner! Shocking. Reminder: this is an actual study (and report on Fox News). And now, we’ll go tweet about it.

Do you have a pick for Chyron of the Day? Email me at Steve@Mediaite.com with an image or time/network (and check out all the past Chyrons of the Day here)…

Bill O’Reilly To Glenn Beck: “I’m Not A Fearmonger Like You”

beck_8-12We’ll have to stop this daily look at how failed the GE/FOX deal has been at some point. But here’s what happened last night, on both networks.

Bill O’Reilly did his teased “Factor Investigation” about GE, and later had Glenn Beck on to expand on the “evil” company. Meanwhile, Keith Olbermann knocked Fox in general, and Bill-o specifically. Yes, just another night in Cabler-land.

Here’s O’Reilly’s first segment about GE, in which he expands on the GE/Iran connections. But the Beck segment is particularly juicy. After an initial debate over whether GE is actually an “evil” company, they decide it may be evil and move on.

At one point, Beck says, “The last thing I want to do is be the fearmonger.”

This sets O’Reilly off down a path that, while laughing, leads to him saying, “I’m a pretty straight talker, but I’m not a fearmonger like you.” Important note: O’Reilly is absolutely right. More on Beck’s fearmongering later.

Here is the O’Reilly/Beck segment:


And then there’s Olbermann. He found a way to attack O’Reilly based on his “televised self-gratification” (isn’t that what this entire feud has been?). But it also led to FNC in general. “What they do at Fox News…is not news,” said Olbermann.

Here’s his segment:


Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy


Bill O’Reilly Tops One Million Demo Viewers For First Time In 2009

Cable news ratings, August 10, 2009: Check out the highlights, and see the full ratings below:

• Last night’s The O’Reilly Factor was the Bill O’Reilly’s highest rated show of the year in the A25-54 demographic. It was the first time the program had more than 1 million demo viewers (1,072,000). Will he beat it tonight when he turns the spotlight on GE?

• FNC as a whole had a huge night in prime time. The network beat CNN, MSNBC and HLN combined in both the demo and total viewers.

• So how did CNN’s Kathy Griffin-Levi Johnston combo go last night? The Larry King Live show was the network’s top-rated in both categories.

Keith Olbermann had the top rated show on MSNBC in both categories, and MSNBC topped CNN as in prime time demo and total viewers.

Check out all the ratings below, and leave your own thoughts in the comments:

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

669

Blitzer

145

Matthews

174

Prime

144

6 pm Baier

490

Blitzer

115

EdShow

154

Prime

122

7 pm Shep

456

Dobbs

195

Matthews

188

Issues

148

8 pm O’Reilly

1072

Brown

225

Olbermann

406

Grace

327

9 pm Hannity

932

King

229

Maddow

327

Issues

172

10 pm Greta

645

Cooper

197

Olbermann

223

Grace

217

11 pm O’Reilly

533

Cooper

158

Maddow

225

Showbiz

187

TOTAL DAY 395 161 127 147
PRIME TIME 883 227 319 235
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

2417

Blitzer

716

Matthews

602

Prime

238

6 pm Baier

1988

Blitzer

522

EdShow

519

Prime

229

7 pm Shep

1833

Dobbs

675

Matthews

710

Issues

398

8 pm O’Reilly

3814

Brown

783

Olbermann

1243

Grace

875

9 pm Hannity

3118

King

810

Maddow

1082

Issues

431

10 pm Greta

2388

Cooper

636

Olbermann

733

Grace

493

11 pm O’Reilly

1657

Cooper

411

Maddow

530

Showbiz

411

TOTAL DAY 1410 511 413 297
PRIME TIME 3107 743 1019 588
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.

Meet The Prensa: Gerson Borrero on Univisión, Telemundo and the “Drive-By Racists” of Fox News

borreroIt started as a quiet radio talk show—a dialogue between two journalists from competing Hispanic television networks. Both were praising the way their stations had been covering the ongoing hearings of Sonia Sotomayor before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

It was the usual display of Hispanic pride, respect for the accomplished judge and her mother, and the reshaping of the American Dream.

Then NPR’s Tell Me More host Michel Martin asked what Gerson Borrero had to say.

“You’re a columnist, so I think you probably have a little bit more latitude in what you may say,” Martin said, a hint of irony slipping between her words.

“With all due respect to my esteemed colleagues, both of them…” Borrero said – and launched into one of his famous tirades.

Eighty seconds of ranting ensued, with Borrero calling the networks’ programming “ridiculous,” and denouncing “the suits” who ran them for not caring to “educate, illustrate and inform” Hispanics.

After being stopped by Michel to allow a reply from Univisión’s anchor María Elena Salinas, and Telemundo’s reporter Lori Montenegro, Borrero decided to abandon the conversation.

He felt he wasn’t given the chance to fully express his point of view.

Yet it was probably a good morning for Borrero, who seems to enjoy a good controversy as some enjoy a fine bottle of wine.

The Puerto-Rican-born New Yorker has been picking fights over Hispanic issues for decades, most notably when he lost a radio talk show after suggesting that three Hispanic Congressmen lacked political cojones (one of them was a woman, for whom he preferred the term “ovaries”); and when he resigned to the position of editor in chief of New York’s El Diario over a column on education reform in Cuba signed by Fidel Castro.

These days, Borrero is most recognized for his weekly appearances in NY1’s Inside City Hall, where he confronts Guardian Angels’ Curtis Sliwa, and his “Bajo Fuego” columns in El Diario. He has also recently added a new platform for his commentary with the Borrero Report.

In a conversation with Mediaite’s “Meet The Prensa,” Mr. Borrero addressed his position on the political status of Puerto Rico (”occupied”), his upbringing in the Bronx (”it made me tougher”), Fox News (”drive-by racists”), soap operas (”they make people stupid”), Hispanic radio (”full of Howard Stern wannabes”), and his insult-ridden journalistic style.

It was also the first time he addressed his NPR controversy on Univisión and Telemundo.

“As far as I am concerned, they could go out of business tomorrow,” he quipped.

Interview below:


Meet the Prensa #2: Gerson Borrero from josesimian on Vimeo