David Brock: Fox Hound

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Of all of Fox News’ 2.6 million prime time viewers, none may be more troubled by the network’s success than Media Matters CEO David Brock. Obsessed to the point of paranoia by Fox’s reach and popularity, Brock has publicly dedicated Media Matters, the self-styled conservative media watchdog, to a campaign of “guerrilla warfare and sabotage” against both the network and its employees, whom he has contemplated harassing by staking out their homes and by hiring private investigators to sift through their private lives. Brock’s almost prurient interest in Fox News has now culminated in a new book compiled with the aid of his Media Matters researchers, The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine. Perhaps not surprisingly given its provenance, the book reveals far more about Brock and Media Matters than it does about Fox News.

The book begins with a potted and tendentious history of Fox News’s founder and president, Roger Ailes, much of it a rehash of media critic Michael Wolff’s earlier biography of Rupert Murdoch. What this history lacks in originality it does not make up for in gravity. As Brock and company tell it, Ailes is not only a smash-mouth partisan but he is a ruthless overlord, punishing anyone who dares to defy his dictates. As evidence, the book cites such bastions of credibility as online gossip site Gawker, which ran a story claiming that Ailes was having some of his employees followed. Sure, Ailes denied the allegations, saying they were “untrue and not in fact even reality based.” But Gawker‘s word is plenty good enough for Brock, who muses that Ailes was using News Corporation’s “personal security to deal with a personal conflict.” Curiously, such lapses in journalistic professionalism don’t prevent Brock from insisting that “our research and reporting stick to the facts and are painstakingly documented.” One dreads to imagine what he would consider shoddy research.

Still, one must be fair and balanced, to borrow a phrase. So it should be noted that the book does include the intermittent reference to things that actually happened. For instance, much attention is given to the partisan statements of conservative commentators who appear on Fox News. But what does this prove, precisely? Brock thinks it proves that Fox News is the leading “communications” and “mobilizing arm of the Republican Party.” A less excitable reading might be that Fox News is a center-right network whose shows feature conservatives and Republicans who express – scandal! – conservative and Republican views. One might point out in this connection that the network also regularly features liberal and Democratic commentators, including among many others Bob Beckel, Juan Williams and Kirsten Powers. Indeed, Brock at one point cites a heated exchange between Beckel and Fox News host Sean Hannity. But Brock is too invested in his caricature of Fox News as a right-wing monolith to consider the implications that the network’s intellectual diversity may have for his “propaganda machine” thesis.

Equally unconvincing is the book’s suggestion that Fox News served as an uncritical PR-arm for the Bush administration. To make that case, Brock relies on an unnamed “former Fox employee” who complains that “[w]e were a Stalin-esque mouthpiece” for President Bush. Never mind for the moment the less-than-impressive source. The claim is demonstrably wrong, as would have been clear to anyone who watched Fox News with something other than the selective lens favored by Media Matters. Throughout Bush’s two terms in office, Fox News programs and personalities criticized the administration’s policies on everything from civil liberties, to immigration, to hurricane disaster relief, to the environment. That is a far from exhaustive list, but it sufficiently gives the lie to the book’s claim that Fox News’ purpose was to “cheerlead for George W. Bush.”

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  • Amused

    Awww c'mon now , there aint no vast right wing conspiracy . LOL….there is however a vast right wing idiocy, with Fox a willing facilitator

    • WildJew

      I watch and read enough Fox News on the Internet. It's coverage, albeit right-leaning, is unremarkable.

      • Amused

        LOL…that's too bad for you man .

        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpgiYe6LToc Roger

          Unremarkable news is better than badly pushed propaganda on the socialist networks.

          Fox didn't create this group, it simply met a need already out there.

    • pagegl

      Are you perhaps a trifle confused and have things backwards? Isn't it the vast left-wing idiocy fueled by MSNBC?

    • aspacia

      Amused, how about a valid claim about this media source's idiocy? You are turning into another ignorant liberal with your fallacious ad hom attacks. Recently, you have offered little if any substance.

  • Ken

    Hey, look, the UNAmusing anti-Semite is back!!

    • kafir4life

      It went somewhere? You know who I miss? That islamic poser Crabdullard Mikey from Texas! He was a hoot!! Trying to defend that gutter cult of his! He went by the nickname of Cha Ching (I think he was Oriental), and suggested that any Christians that didn't like it in Egypt should just leave.

      • Chiggles

        Not complaining but Flipside has been conspicuously absent the last few weeks. Probably injured himself breakdancing.

    • Amused

      Hey look Ken the imbecile , who if he's read anything and comprehended what he's read , would know Amused is a JEW . And please don't think all jews think like you . We don't need anymore bad press .

    • aspacia

      Ken, I may be mistaken but amused is a zionist.

  • kafir4life

    David Brock, the defacto leader of the Democrat party is still having cocaine parties with his president. Apparently, Mr. Obama enjoyed snorting off of the members of his college pals in the back seats of cars on the down low. When he became president, he needed to cur back on the usage, and switched to David's member as the lines weren't as long or thick. Moochella the c#nt (Thanks for that, Mr Mahar!) likes to watch.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpgiYe6LToc Roger

      Boy, you're not one to mince words, are you?

  • davarino

    Ok Fox is leading the vast right wing and ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, XYZ are leading the left wing with propaganda soviet style Pravda would be proud of.

    • mrbean

      All the MSM media, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and most of the joutnalists have their tongues so far up Obama's A$$ that they have his dingleberries embedded in their chins.

  • Indioviejo

    Fox sold its soul to the Saudi Devil, and then it fired Glenn Beck David Brock is spewing venom because that is all he's got He is creating a straw man for his fantasies and some ratings, but it won't work. I watch some Fox NC sometimes because there is nothing better. The sold out communist networks are an indoctrination tool for the progressives. Even the History Channel, the Smithsonian and National Geographic channels are propaganda tools. So what are the criminal leftist crying about, since they control media everywere and are totally responsible for the poor educational level we are in.

  • Old_BBart_School

    FOX SCHLOCKS – Conservatives are worthy of better.

  • maturin20

    Brock likes to badger people.

    • aspacia

      From one badger to another short-legged omnivores in the weasel family.

      • maturin20

        I did like Red Dawn. But that was decades ago.

  • Jim_C

    We went through a brief period in this country, unique to most countries, where we did have something like a "national mainstream media." Consisting of a few television networks, your local newspapers, and a few magazines, it offered a reasonable level of quality and was not parsed daily for "offending" biases. Prior to this "golden age," journalism was a pretty rough and tumble business, full of screed and scandal that essentially mirrored its publisher's POV.

    Then came cable TV. News now had to be "invented," since it was 24/7. "Experts" and commentators began to take over from journalists. And it's much, much easier to be a commentator than to actually have to gather and report news.

    Then came Rush Limbaugh. Yes, I've been harping on Rushbo lately–because the man is a force unto himself. He gave a voice to a lot of people who felt "left out" of politics. His relentless attacks on liberalism found an audience. He was not only able to grow and maintain that audience–he is singularly as responsible for the success of conservativism as Ronald Reagan. Reagan was the "positive" terminal, Rush the negative. No Rush Limbaugh? No Fox News. Rush is important.

    Then came the internet–where I get nearly all my news, since I can't stand most televised news. Televised news since the 70s has become more and more silly and supercilious. The internet lets you get any point of view you're looking for.

    So I don't get too worked up about Fox, but I'll say this: it has succeeded in politicizing people who 30 years ago weren't especially political. It's journalism is OK. It's commentary shows are pretty awful, but hey, if people want that stuff….Liberal outlets since have tried to mimic it's style–not sure it works.

  • Sound&Fury

    Even as Brock accuses Fox of being a puppet of Rupert Murdoch, he avoids the fact that Media Matters is a Soros-funded propaganda group that is violating tax law regarding 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations.

  • 080

    What kind of a conspiracy can it be if David Brock knows all about it and it is publicly broadcast every day?

  • Amused

    Anyone who doesn't take everythingb the media states with a grain of salt …IS AN IDIOT .If you can't
    detect the partisanship or bias in Fox OR Media Matters ….you're an idiot . If you think you're any better than the other side …..you're an idiot .

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpgiYe6LToc Roger

      How is actually reporting the news a bias?

      I thought that was what journalists were supposed to do.

    • reader

      aren't you?

  • Flowerknife_us

    FOX news came along and I found out that I was not alone any more.

  • maria

    Fox News is only balanced channel. Liberals/socialists/marxists controls all others and it means they control 90+% of Media. It is sign of totalitarian regime. As I am originaly from former USSR I can say that MSNBC, NBC, ABC, etc so alike of communists Media in USSR. All of them just spews propaganda and now they tried to creat cult of Obama as it was in USSR with cult of Stalin, Lenin, Brezhnev… Leftists controlled Media either lie, distort facts or tell half of truth which is even worthe than open lie. Leftists are don't understand that they play roll "useful idiots" as it was with intelligentia in Russia which was mostly annihilated by bolshevics after they seized Power. Leftists will be victims as well as others. They are mostly ignorant or naive. Too sad.

  • Ghostwriter

    I saw that book when I was at my local Barnes and Nobles'. Not the most entertaining book I ever read. I thought it was rather shrill.

  • reader

    "However FPM wants to spin it, on questions of vital importance like "who attacked us on 911", Fox viewers were far more likely to think Saddam Hussein had attacked us. (there are many more obvious examples) So yes, I am in awe of the power that Fox wields in creating an alternate universe for it's viewers"

    Really. It looks like justquitnow has just created an alternative universe for self. Congratulations. Just quit now.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpgiYe6LToc Roger

    What does that mean exactly? Corporations are people, using and controlling their own resources.

    Some of your other talking points were even more convoluted. What is wrong with a sense of well being exactly?

  • KarshiKhanabad

    Most of the accursed Muslim "world" thinks it was DEM JOOOOOOZZ who perpetrated 9-11.

    This is possible since they worship a different god than the Almighty G-d of Creation. I'll let you guess the name of their god.

  • kentatwater

    You were whining about "footnotes" earlier. Here, have some "footnotes:"

  • aspacia

    valid sources justlies, sources.