As explained previously in this space, the “fair and balanced” discussion panels on Fox News tend to be particularly fair to conservative viewpoints. This impartial fairness becomes even more pronounced when the discussion centers on Fox News itself, as showcased in a segment that aired this morning.
Host Jon Scott invited Fox News mainstays Judith Miller and Kirsten Powers to discuss a quote that President Obama had made in a New Yorker interview. Arguing that “a Republican base of voters” view compromise with him as a betrayal, the president riffed, “Another way of putting it, I guess, is that the issue has been the inability of my message to penetrate the Republican base so that they feel persuaded that I’m not the caricature that you see on Fox News or Rush Limbaugh, but I’m somebody who is interested in solving problems and is pretty practical, and that, actually, a lot of the things that we’ve put in place worked better than people might think.”
At the risk of spoiling this Fox News segment for those who haven’t yet viewed it, there was a consensus among panelists that this complaint was lame: The president doesn’t appeal to conservatives, doesn’t try to enroll them in his work, doesn’t do a lot of things.
Yet what other conclusion could this panel have possibly reached? Look, for a second, at the questions posed by the host. In kicking off the discussion, Scott said this:
“Kirsten, to you first, I guess Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are the only problems that lie between the president and convincing the country that he’s doing everything right.”
After Powers finished her response, Scott came up with this: “And compromise is the key to getting anything done in Washington. Judy, is a president who so very often, it seems, has said, ‘My way or the highway’ — I mean, can he really blame all of that on Fox News and Rush Limbaugh?”
After Miller finished saying “no,” Scott roared again: “Let me read another part of the quote, and it touches on what you were saying, Judy. He says, ‘As long as there’s that gap between perceptions of me within the average Republican primary voter and the reality, it’s hard for folks like John Boehner to move too far in my direction.’ I guess, Kirsten, he’s saying that we just don’t understand him.”
Powers gave some authentically fair-and-balanced commentary, then yielded the floor to Scott, who delivered for Fox News: “Perhaps if the administration lived up to its promises, like promising to be the most transparent administration in history, they wouldn’t have so many doubters. Jill Abramson, the executive editor of the New York times, says this: ‘The Obama administration has had seven criminal leak investigations. That is more than twice the number of any previous administration in our history. It’s on a scale never seen before. This is the most secretive White House that, at least as a journalist, I have ever dealt with.’ Now, she’s with the New York Times, a paper that has traditionally liked this president pretty well. Judy, a final thought?”
The final thought eviscerated the president. The segment showed just how stuck Fox News remains in its tendentious programming rut. The president, after all, was complaining that he couldn’t get a fair shake from Fox News. What better time for Fox News to actually give the president’s comments a fair hearing, to actually pose the question of whether they’ve been too extreme on Obamacare. But no. In a segment designed to examine the president’s take on Fox News, Fox News confirmed the president’s take on Fox News.