Rabid Fox Gets Bitten Again

Bill Scher

Prolific and incisive filmmaker Robert Greenwald today launched the FoxAttacks website and unveiled an online video exposing Fox News’s efforts to smear Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama as he is being introduced to voters nationwide.

For Greenwald, shining a spotlight on such conservative propaganda is the continuation of his earlier important work, the documentary Outfoxed, which helped alert the public to Fox News’ aversion to reporting straight news.

This time, Greenwald is not merely trying to document the well-known hypocrisy of Fox’s “fair and balanced” journalism, but he has joined forces with MoveOn.org to try to get the Nevada Democratic Party to disinvite Fox News from sponsorship of a presidential candidate debate in August. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is quoted in a party news release as saying that Fox’s agreement to sponsor the debate was “great news.” But MyDD’s Chris Bowers writes about a Democratic candidate debate Fox sponsored:

Consider the September 9, 2003 Democratic debate in Baltimore, Maryland, hosted by Fox News in partnership with the Congressional Black Caucus. Fox News graphics, as well as a banner over the stage, titled the event as the “Democrat Candidate Presidential Debate,” a misconstruction of “Democrat” used as an an epithet. Fox News then summarized the debate with a story titled, “Democratic Candidates Offer Grim View of America,” continuing with such jabs as, “The depiction of the president as the root of all evil began at the top of Tuesday night’s debate….”

But this is not just about Fox, or Sen. Obama for that matter.

It’s that despite the public rejection of conservative government in November, the conservative misinformation machine is still cranking away, and shaping our media.

It was shown to be in full force recently when a bogus story about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s demands for an Air Force jet was fed to the The Washington Times, the right-wing mouthpiece underwritten by the Unification Church, and was amplified by the conservative blogosphere and by Republicans on the House floor. It was days before the mainstream media reported the truth: the demands came not from Speaker Pelosi but from the nonpartisan Sergeant at Arms Wilson Livingood, who is responsible for the Speaker’s security.

But the conservative misinformation machine is facing something they didn’t five years ago: a new media infrastructure that allows Democrats, liberals, progressives and moderates to speak for themselves free from the tarnish of unchallenged conservative smears.

With the blogosphere, Air America, other liberal talk radio, Media Matters, the Huffington Post and more, we now have our own perches and megaphones. We have the means to define what we stand for and quickly debunk conservative attempts to distort our beliefs and backgrounds.

The annual Take Back America conference is another platform, another critical piece of infrastructure, helping us amplify our message on our terms. For example, At last year’s Take Back America conference, Greenwald participated in a panel where he explained how he was able to make and distribute “Iraq For Sale,” a documentary on war profiteering, by building an online network of small donors.

And Sen. Obama participated in last year’s Take Back America, helping shape a vision to guide the work of participants, and exhorting the crowd, “The time for our identity crisis as progressives is over. Don’t let anybody tell you that we don’t know what we stand for.”

The Fox/Obama episode, breathtaking in its shamelessness, demonstrates how important it is for progressives to fortify our infrastructure to resist and overwhelm the continuing flood of spurious conservative attacks. Accomplishing that will be a major topic of discussion when Take Back America 2007 convenes this June.

An earlier version of this was posted on TomPaine.com, co-written with Executive Editor Isaiah J. Poole.

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