Gawker's John Cook yesterday published an exclusive report on a trove of documents from the Nixon Presidential Library tracing the development of Fox News to a 1970 internal memo annotated by then-consultant Roger Ailes. Part of a 318-page cache of similar documents, the memo -- "A Plan For Putting the GOP on TV News" -- called for the creation of a strongly pro-Nixon news outlet operated from the White House which would disseminate partisan news packages free of charge to local affiliates across the country. By coordinating release of these targeted reports with allied politicians and duping opponents into hostile interviews, Ailes hoped to bypass the "prejudices of network news" -- a desire which led him to advocate for some unexpected political policies at the time, from campaign finance reform to anti-poverty efforts. The report comes as Fox is waging an aggressive two-front PR war with perceived ideological enemies -- calling on viewers to file IRS complaints against Media Matters' tax-exempt status for their dogged fact-checking of the network, while on-air hosts launched a campaign to label Jon Stewart "racist" after he called out their record of falsehoods following a critical interview with Chris Wallace (previously).
This morning "The Daily Show's Jon Stewart entered the proverbial lion's den, appearing live [video highlights | 01:43] on Fox News Sunday to debate 'media bias' with host Chris Wallace." "The interview [video | 24:11] got off to a rousing start with Wallace almost immediately calling Stewart out for his criticism of the network and its brand of news coverage and went exactly where you'd expect it to from there." [more inside]
Fox News's bent on the news is well known, but recently the White House has begun actively excluding the network, including skipping Fox's Chris Wallace on a recent round of Sunday morning news shows. “We simply decided to stop abiding by the fiction ... that Fox is a traditional news organization.” says White House Depty Communications Director Pfeiffer (as has Press Secretary Gibbs and others). The responses range from concern about an attempt to control the media to a feeling that it's about time. Is it just about Fox's anti-Obama pundits, or is it also about Fox's consistent errors and misinformed viewership? Or is the White House attempting containment so that Fox's ratings-gold style and ideas don't take over the rest of the press?