Reading through my list of American political blogs over the last two days, most of which have mentioned the White House announcement that whilst they will engage with FOX News, they won't treat it as a legitimate news service, reminded me of the brief discussion we had a while back about the state of the American news media. Amongst other things, I argued that a large part of the problem is that opinion is too often passed off as news, and that lies are too often passed off as opinions. FOX, of course, is the main offender regarding the former, and I held up the Washington Post op-ed pages as guilty of the latter.
I also reiterated my belief that there is little point wasting time chronicling FOX's total refusal to apply any journalistic standards to their news segments (as oppose to their opinion and editorial shows), because their scurrilous nature is so well-known nobody needs to be reminded of it.
Guess what? Turns out I was wrong. Someone out there still thinks FOX is just the conservative equivalent to MSNBC. And she's written an op-ed about it! In the Washington Post, of all places.
I can actually see the argument that it might not be a good strategy for Obama to freeze out FOX entirely. Pissing off the press is something to be avoided if at all possible, even if (or perhaps especially if) they're transparently in the tank for the opposition. It would be nice to read a smart piece on that. Does Obama do more damage to himself by dissing a propaganda outlet, or by legitimating it? There's probably a lot to be said either way.
Marcus can't manage that, of course. She doesn't have the chops. Instead, she asks us to imagine the uproar that would have occurred if the Bush White House had treated MSNBC that way. Which it did, of course, but this is an "opinion" piece, you don't need to let facts get in the way! Not content with that, Marcus goes back to the tried-and-tested fallacy that MSNBC and FOX are both "opinion journalism". Marcus offers no evidence for this claim, naturally. It's just an opinion! There's no need to back it up! Both sides are equally bad.
Yeah, sure they are. Even if both networks were equally devoted to making the news itself objective, it would be insane to suggest Olbermann and Maddow are simply the progressive equivalent to O'Reilly and Hannity (to say nothing of Beck). Of course, the two networks are not equally devoted at all. I'm not claiming MSNBC isn't biased, but it's not claiming Republicans are protecting pedophiles over veterans, or taking Democrat briefing memos and transcribing them into their newsfeed. Even if MSNBC is biased (and they have far more conservative commentators than FOX has progressive ones, which is to say they have any), "both networks are biased and thus equally worthy of condemnation" is no smarter than saying "chocolate and champagne both taste nice, thus they should cost the same."
Looks like I was right about the Post, but entirely wrong about it being commonly understood that FOX = bad.
Update: I had thought about finishing this post by conceding that as bad as the Post's opinion pages are, at least no-one had gone on a Jan Moir-style homophobic rant (apparently there is still some discussion as to whether referring to happy civil partnerships as a "myth" consitutes homophobia, I'm going with yeeeah). Hooray for Phil Donahue, then, who shows up just in time to warn us about the "perverted" gays, who "know, deep down, what they're doing is wrong". I'm also trying to decide which is more amusingly loony; suggesting the ALCU is similar to Fidel Castro; referring to the current majority in Congress as "the Party"; or suggesting that people dislike Mel Gibson because The Passion Of The Christ is nice to Jesus, as oppose to not liking him because he made a film that can be construed as anti-Semetic and because he thinks the Jews were behind every war in the world. I'll give a few points back to the Post for putting up a rebuttal, though.