We had Rather-gate. But Did the "Liberal Media" Pass on Cameron-Gate?
Compare the following:
-- Dan Rather, who conservatives perceive as having a liberal bias while working for a liberal news organization, showed incompetence in reporting a story related to the 2004 presidential campaign. Conservatives loudly protested, and like wildfire, the talk on radio and television was that Rather had shown his true colors. CBS and Rather later apologized.
-- Carl Cameron, who liberals perceive as having a conservative bias while working for a conservative news organization, showed incompetence in fabricating a story related to the 2004 presidential campaign. Liberals loudly protested, but the greater media generally ignored the story. Fox News apologized and said it had "reprimanded" Cameron.
Liberal media bias? Feh.
I learned about the latest Fox News $#*!$ moment on Friday reading Josh Marshall's website, talkingpointsmemo.com. He posted a story Cameron wrote for Fox News' website (the story has since been removed).
Rallying supporters in Tampa Friday, Kerry played up his performance in Thursday night's debate, in which many observers agreed the Massachusetts senator outperformed the president.
"Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" Kerry said Friday.
With the foreign-policy debate in the history books, Kerry hopes to keep the pressure on and the sense of traction going.
Aides say he will step up attacks on the president in the next few days, and pivot somewhat to the domestic agenda, with a focus on women and abortion rights.
"It's about the Supreme Court. Women should like me! I do manicures," Kerry said.
Kerry still trails in actual horse-race polls, but aides say his performance was strong enough to rally his base and further appeal to voters ready for a change.
"I'm metrosexual — he's a cowboy," the Democratic candidate said of himself and his opponent.
A "metrosexual" is defined as an urbane male with a strong aesthetic sense who spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle.
Marshall later wrote that he called Fox News for an explanation. Spokesman Paul Schur replied: "Carl made a stupid mistake which he regrets. And he has been reprimanded for his lapse in judgment. It was a poor attempt at humor."
Marshall's response: So the Fox reporter covering the Kerry campaign puts together this Kerry-bashing parody right out of the RNC playbook with phony quotes intended to peg him as girlish fool and somehow it found its way on the Fox website as a news item.
USA Today ran a small story, as did The New York Times and The Washington Post, and the news made the rounds among bloggers. But a quick scan of the Sunday talk shows -- Tim Russert, Chris Matthews, etc. -- found nothing. I'm waiting to read this week's issue of Newsweek, to see if there's a story about "another black eye for Fox" -- similar to the story they ran about CBS News.
It's not like this should come as any surprise. From the nightly talk show line-up to the Fox News "all-stars," the list of instances of conservative bias at Fox is long. David Brock's website, mediamatters.org, exhaustively covers all the omissions, half-truths, lopsided panels and other examples of bias on the network. And Robert Greenwald's recent documentary, Outfoxed, paints a similar portrait.
And maybe as a result, stories like the one that broke Friday don't make that much of a dent. Maybe the general media is so numb trying to follow the "fair and balanced" charade that is Fox News, it just doesn't pay that much attention when they commit another example of bias.
During the RNC convention, USA Today has a shameless story, in which it interviewed Fox News reporters about their fair-mindedness -- giving several of them a chance to say how "fair and balanced" they were. The story failed to mention Brock's website, although it did mention Outfoxed. I tried to reach someone at USA Today to explain, but my calls were not returned.
So what does Fox News do now? Will Cameron continue to serve as a leading political reporter? Will Fox overcompensate in its coverage of Kerry, to try to quell its critics?
Or, more likely, will the issue drift into the ether, like other lame conservative attempts at "humor." I fear it will have as much impact as Education Secretary Rod Paige "humorously" calling the National Education Association a "terrorist organization." Or Rush Limbaugh "humorously" suggesting that President Clinton wanted a quadruple bypass instead of a triple bypass to evoke more sympathy.
Those conservatives can be so funny sometimes ...