Annals of Fox News reporting, Rahmbo edition

Media / journalism, Politics, US Politics

Many of the Americans among you, I suspect, will have heard of the telling incident┬áthis week in which Fox News aired a news item on the stimulus bill which repeated, word for word, the points in a press release from the Senate Republicans. Without ever mentioning that the analysis they were presenting came straight from Republican officials, of course. “It was so blatant,” Steve Benen notes, “Fox News’ on-screen graphic included the identical typo made in the original GOP document, making it obvious that the network used a party press release as a news script”.

But bias isn’t usually as jaw-droppingly stupid or outrageous. Subtle still isn’t quite the right word, but try this on: Some Critics Blame Emanuel for Obama’s Cabinet Troubles. I clicked the headline because, well, I don’t like Emanuel, so I’m in principle well-disposed to believing the diagnosis, even if it does come from Fox. (The HuPo, for example – admittedly not the most reliable source either – last week had a disturbing take on the stimulus negotiations, which alleged that Rahm had undermined Congressional Democrats and Nancy Pelosi in order to curry favour from moderate Republicans and deflect criticism of Obama.)

Alas. The Fox headline referred “some critics”. The opening sentence read, “President Obama’s latest Cabinet setback [..] has put the White House on the defensive, particularly Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, whom some critics blame for cracks in the vetting process.” So what inside sources had Fox News found dishing the dirt on Rahmbo? Who was blaming Emanuel, and what did they have to share about his role in these vetting mess-ups?

Um, well … “some critics” turns out to refer to exactly one person. And that person turns out to be “Kurt Bardella, a spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.” That’s it. The only person they got to blame Rahm was the spokesperson to a lowly Republican Congressman, who himself is a bit of a crackpot.

The whole story, in fact, quotes just two sources. One is, unsurprisingly, Democratic consultant Doug Schoen, the kind of Democrat Republicans love; but even he refused to play ball, saying that “it’s hard to defend or attack Emanuel without knowing how involved he’s been in the vetting process,” and that it “doesn’t strike me as fair or appropriate [..] to put it all on Rahm”. The other’s Bardella.

He gets no less than six paras, though.



  1. Corvus9  •  Feb 14, 2009 @6:56 pm

    Why don’t you like Rahmbo? Is it because he and Dean hate each other?

  2. nimh  •  Feb 14, 2009 @7:24 pm

    I see him as a hard-nosed pragmatist. Those are necessary, but I don’t trust him to look out for progressive interests for a moment. That HuPo story I linked in kind of confirmed my suspicions.

    EDIT: And yes, the Dean thing does too. In the big debate that engendered their feud, about pursuing a 50-state strategy vs. a more traditional focus on a select few key constituencies, Dean was right — and it seems Rahm never forgave him for it.

    The whole thing where a passionate disagreement on strategy turns into a private feud itself, to me, smacks of petty powerplay, and it seems the pettiness comes mostly from Rahm. And it’s now keeping Dean out of any position of power, when he laid the groundwork for Obama’s later success.

  3. Corvus9  •  Feb 14, 2009 @11:34 pm

    I am not sure I buy the Huffpo article. First off, it’s Hamsher, and Firedoglake, whenever I click there, seems to have a general mentality that the Obama administration is, not just incompetent, but actively up to no good. Which is, actually, what the tone of the article is, though it leans heavier on incompetence, which now, in retrospect, is total bullshit and FAIL at analysis.

    I don’t really see how Rahm’s pragmatism is any different than Obama’s, except Obama is probably slightly more idealistic. I don’t think you need everyboy to be “looking out for progressive interests,” you need somebody who will keep in mind what can actually be achieved. Rahm, from what I have read, doesn’t seem to actually have to many ideological concerns, and it’s useful to have someone without an emotional attachment to any issue, willing to call whether it’s achievable or not. Because if it isn’t achievable, we should take what we can get.

    I don’t know, I guess I have just completely stopped trusting any of the things that the Netroots honchos take as gospel. Rahm is evil and is undermining the cause. Obama is a Pollyanna. Harry Reid is a bad majority leader. (Jesus, do you realize how fucking impossible it is to impose discipline among a group made up entirely of people who think they should be president, while having much less institutional power than the head of any other branch?) Howard Dean is a saint. (The Netroots just like that he gave them face time. He seems like he probably has quite a prickly side when behind closed doors, and I am not sure I would completely put the feud upon Rahm’s shoulders.)