It’s been attributed to both Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde but, regardless of its source, the old adage “never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel” certainly holds true with regard to the current scuffle between the White House and the Fox News Channel, the latter being the only real critic of the former’s policies and proposals during the first year of the Obama administration.
Fox News Channel’s own Glenn Beck, who many on the left would say hastened the popular network’s slide to the right, has gone the slippery slope route and gone so far to argue that the White House attacks on Fox News is how brutal dictators and dictatorships get their start. Some, of course, call him crazy. I call him prescient.
A few weeks ago, after all, there was a reason I suggested that everyone consider this video–a Fox News report, of course–about the current media climate in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela:
Considering what President Obama’s own Chief Diversity Czar, Mark Lloyd, has had to say about Chavez, specifically the praise heaped upon him, his system and the way he manages the media, I don’t think that Glenn Beck’s scenario is far off.
Lloyd has characterized Chavez’s revolution as “incredible” and “democratic,” and has been quoted as saying that his focus is “not freedom of speech or the press,” that “this freedom is all too often an exaggeration, and that “blind references to freedom of speech or the press serve as a distraction from the critical examination of other communications policies.”
My personal favorite from Lloyd: “[T]he purpose of free speech is warped to protect global corporations and block rules that would promote democratic governance.”
Going back to his praise of Chavez’s revolution as “democratic,” I cannot help but wonder about the kind of governance to which he refers.
So, the question remains, what do we do about it?
Well, so long as media outlets critical of the administration continue to have an outlet, they must focus on truth. If and when Fox News turns into America’s Globovision, the American people must know ahead of time that the network was a bastion of fact-based journalism. And that goes for the opinion shows as well. Personally, I like how Beck has handled it, bringing online a Bat-Phone-like hotline straight to the White House so any factual inaccuracies can be corrected immediately and without delay.
He’s absolutely right. Put the accuracy ball in the White House’s court, and let them take advantage of it rather than recklessly and meritlessly deriding an entire network.
Consider, for a moment, the fate which has befallen talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, who has been outed as a minority member of a group hoping to acquire the St. Louis Rams NFL franchise. Completely fabricated and–of course–racially charged quotes have been discovered on the Internet and falsely attributed to Limbaugh, subsequently causing major media outlets from CNN to ESPN to run with the quotes as if true. Falsehoods are tolerated by the left, but truth is cause for a smear campaign.
Do I suspect that the First Amendment will go the way of the dodo under President Obama? Am I waiting for a sharp knock at my own front door one evening? No, on both accounts. Then again, though, even Chavez hasn’t completely shut down Globovision — he’s only disparaged the network constantly and made life difficult for its on-air reporters. Of course we don’t have anything to worry about!