Opposition and criticism of the government is part of American politics, and as long it is peaceful and civil, is a good for our country. This political season, especially this past summer, fireworks were lit and parades assembled. But unlike our normal Independence Day celebrations, this was a party based on criticism aimed at our current administration, some justified and others outright insane (i.e. the birthers, guns at town hall meetings, and nasty rhetoric). No baseball games with high fives, just political moments of low blows and innuendos. No picnics, barbecues and concerts with polite conversation; instead of debating the real issues of the day and ways we can make America better, we resorted to elementary behavior of name calling and drama, which included insults aimed directly at citizens.
MSNBC was out in full force to discredit conservative opposition with Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann and Ed Shultz asserting that the protests were “manufactured” and people were being “manipulated.” Shultz inserted that those showing up at town halls were “dumber than Joe the Plumber.” The left has labeled protesters as angry mobs, claiming that all opposition to Obama and his administration are rooted in stupidity and racism, and according the deranged wisdom of Janeane Garofalo, if you are a “black conservative” you must be suffering from Stockholm syndrome. Who could forget Nancy Pelosi’s and Barbara Boxer’s assault on concerned citizens; un-American, Astroturf, diversion by people who want to hurt President Obama, etc. By the way, all of these statements are pure speculation–opinions–, which is relevant to this article.
The latest in this saga: the White House has decided to take on the media, moreover, publicly setting its sights primarily on one specific news organization––Fox News. An October 8th article in Time Magazine, “Calling ‘Em Out: The White House Takes on the Press”, states that due to the criticism, the White House has developed a new strategy, “rather than just giving reporters ammunition to "fact-check" Obama's many critics, the White House decided it would become a player, issuing biting attacks on those pundits, politicians and outlets which make what the White House believes to be misleading or simply false claims." Obama's support was duly noted and was quoted as telling his aides he wanted to "call 'em out."
Anita Dunn, White House Communications Director, a fierce critic of, and leader of the charge against Fox News, which includes blocking Obama and other officials from appearing on the network, had this to say about Fox News, "it's opinion journalism masquerading as news.” "They are boosting their audience. But that doesn't mean we are going to sit back."
Well, if Fox News is masquerading as news, then MSNBC (Lester Holt, David Gregory, Joe Scarborough, Chris Matthews, and the sorely missed, Tim Russert––excluded) is a dismal reality show with Olbermann and Maddow as the stars.
And later in an interview with CNN, Anita Dunn elaborated, “the reality of it is that Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party." "And it's not ideological…but I think it's fair to say about Fox––and certainly it's the way we view it––is that it really is more of a wing of the Republican Party.”
Michael Clemente, Fox News Senior Vice President, had this to say on the matter, "it's astounding the White House cannot distinguish between news and opinion programming." "It seems self-serving on their part."
In our current culture of 24/7 news coverage we now find ourselves with a never-ending smorgasbord of “opinion shows" focusing on politics. Two stand out: MSNBC which worships Obama and Fox News who doesn't. And as Clemente pointed out, it's obvious which media outlets provide opinion shows as part of their programming and it is easy to distinguish them as that. Is there room in our political discourse for opinion? Yes, even if we disagree. However, some of these opinion shows on both sides of the political aisle many times lack civility and get me fired up. But at the end of the day, I can count on Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to calm me down.
Anyone who chooses to be in the public eye knows that they are an open target to all kinds of attention and attacks––just ask Britney Spears. Even we bloggers open door of criticism. So why is this White House shocked that they now find themselves the target of critics? They fail to remember that the Bush administration had its share of visceral attacks, which continue today. The majority of the media loves Obama. Why not, he's a likable, charismatic guy! It was odd to see those times when our President publicly pointed his finger at Fox News and it is one thing to dispel the myths and correct the lies, but a strategy that includes shunning and attacking an entire network is quite another. What's wrong with criticism aimed at policies? Ms. Dunn, I hear Glen Beck has set up a special red phone, just for confronting the so-called smears. Is the White House that arrogant, is it a sign of insecurity, or are they just overly sensitive? I don't know and won't speculate.
With all due respect, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen, because we, as concerned citizens, have a right to know when promises are broken and when we are being lied to. We have a right to be aware of the radicals now seated in high positions in the White House. We have a right to identify who in our congress is not doing the job they were hired to do: represent the will of the people, read the thousand-page bills and give the public access to them, as promised. We have a right to be aware of where our taxpayer dollars are going, including the stimulus package and all of its earmarks, the bailouts, ACORN, and any future legislation. We have a right to know where the corruption exists in our government; either by Democrats or Republicans.
With an administration set on expanding its power, we have a right to understand what Obama’s real agenda of “change” means. How are we the people going to find out what our government is up to? From the White House or from the media? Considering my sweatshirts have more transparency than this White House (another Obama promise), the odds are in favor of the media. As long as our First Amendment remains intact, which under this administration is at risk, I don't foresee criticism or Fox News going away soon, and I will continue to be one of their many staunch viewers.