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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The very definition of partisan ideology

... only this comes in the form of a "news organization."

As I write about in the book, we expect the news to be "neutral" and "objective" and to "tell both sides of the story" (even though I clearly show this is not possible and that there are almost always more than two sides to the story).

Many have written about bias in the news media. Some claim the media have a "liberal bias." Still others (like me) show the "corporate bias" in the news.

But almost no one thinks the media have a "conservative bias."

But check out the top stories on Fox News, a news organization owned and operated by prominent Republicans that still claims to be "fair and balanced" and following the motto of "We report, you decide." As of today, these are their top stories:

1) 'VERY TROUBLED': Lawmakers Rip Justice Dept. Over AP Records Grab

GOP Wants New Benghazi Testimony from Clinton

  • Benghazi Emails Underscore State Department's Failure to Act
  • OPINION: Media Can't Ignore the IRS and Benghazi Scandals
  • VIDEO: More Benghazi Fallout

  • 3)  IRS targeting went beyond Tea Party, conservatives
    - Attorney for Tea Party group: IRS told me a year ago about 'secret working group'

    Such stories are important to be sure. So I have no problem with them being covered in the news.

    My problem is the partisan ideology behind covering them during one presidential administration while ignoring similar (and worse) stories during the previous presidential administration.

    So, let's assume the worst about President Obama: A terrorist attack occurred on foreign soil (Benghazi, Libya)--a place known to be dangerous--killing four US diplomats. Let's assume he lied about it and covered it up.

    Let's also assume he personally directed the Justice Department to spy on AP reporters and that he personally approved the IRS targeting of the Tea Party.

    This would all be newsworthy.

    But, if such stories are covered because they violate some principle deeply held by Americans, then they should be covered regardless of who engages in the behaviors. That is, shouldn't Fox News have covered such events (and worse) by the Bush Admininstration?

    Like when President Bush authorized the illegal wiretapping of American citizens, which had to be later approved by Congress (ex post facto) to avoid criminal prosecution.

    Like when the IRS, under President Bush, targeted churches that promoted liberal messages about the coming Iraq war.

    Like when President Bush approved torture, a practice that was far more widespread than he and his employees downplayed significantly.

    Like when President Bush intentionally hyped and manipulated intelligence to justify the Iraq war, a war that was unnecessary and illegal and that killed more Americans than the 9/11 attacks.

    Oh, and like when President Bush ignored clear warnings of a forthcoming attack against the US homeland, which resulted in almost 3,000 Ameircan deaths (many more than the 4 killed in Benghazi), and then allegedly tried to cover up what he knew.

    What I am saying is that I have no issue with Fox News covering the abuses of the Obama Administration. But they should not claim their stories to be based on some kind of high level principle that transcends party lines unless they covered such stories when "their guy" was in office.

    Likewise, I don't blame normal citizens for being upset about abuses by President Obama. But they should not claim their concern is based on some kind of high level principle that has nothing to do with party unless they were also upset about abuses by "their guy."

    In other words, if Fox and normal citizens only get upset about abuses of power when it occurs by Democrats, then what they are expressing is nothing but partisan ideology. A principled objection is stated at all times, whenever principles are violated and regardless of who violates them.

    Here is an example: I wrote many letters to the editor during President Bush's time in office. I stated my objections to what I perceived to be illegal and/or wrong actions--things like targeting Americans for arrest or worse and then treating them as enemy combatants so that they have no right to trial. When Obama became President, I did not stop. In fact, I've written several letters expressing my disapproval of and serious reservations about Obama approving killing US citizens without trial. This is a principled objection based on the principle that Americans have the Constitutional right to due process, regardless of what actions of which they are accused.

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