Wash Post's Milbank Trashes Fox News 'Victory Party,' Ignores MSNBC's DNC Echoes
Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank attacked Fox News in Wednesday's paper for having a Republican "victory party" on air on Election Night. Nowhere in this piece did he acknowledge his routine appearances on MSNBC, and whether it had a partisan sound on Election Night (and every other weeknight). He also avoided the idea that NBC-Universal was helpfully doling out large chunks of air time for Barack Obama this fall to stave off Democrat losses. His column began:
At Rupert Murdoch's cable network, the entity that birthed and nurtured the Tea Party movement, Election Day was the culmination of two years of hard work to bring down Barack Obama - and it was time for an on-air celebration of a job well done....
Milbank wrote an entire book attacking Fox News host Glenn Beck titled "Tears Of a Clown." (It's been out a month, and already its Amazon.com sales ranking is #10,452 on Wednesday afternoon. Milbank plugged the book on MSNBC's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on October 20.) Milbank's spin was exactly the same as the liberal group Media Matters for America, which is pressing advertisers to drop Fox News and ruin them. So it's not surprising that Milbank would quote them directly as his evidence provider:
According to a report by the liberal watchdog Media Matters, no fewer than 30 Fox News personalities have endorsed, done fundraisers, or campaigned for Republican candidates or groups in more than 600 cases across 47 states. Prospective GOP presidential candidates Palin and Mike Huckabee are Fox News contributors - a fusion of journalism and party politics that will become more difficult for the network now that Republicans have gained more power and are preparing for the next presidential campaign. But those are worries for another day; on Election Day, it was time for a victory lap.
Milbank didn't address that "Fox News personalities" are used as analysts, not as reporters, unlike the broadcast networks and their "fusion" of journalism amd party politics, using ex-Clinton staffers as anchor people, or hiring Kennedy family members as reporters. (Or, to cite recent Republican morning show contributors, NBC hiring Jenna Bush and CBS hiring Ayla Brown, the daughter of Sen. Scott Brown). Milbank concluded his Fox-whacking column:
To be fair and balanced, Fox brought in a nominal Democrat, pollster Doug Schoen. "This is a complete repudiation of the Democratic Party," he proclaimed.
But for Fox, which long ago repudiated the Democratic Party, this was not breaking news. Fox's Beck accepted credit for the victory even before most polls opened, when he arrived on the set of Fox & Friends at 7 a.m. wearing a black paramilitary sweater. He called it the "culmination" of what he began two years ago. "I was trying to convince people: You're not alone. You're not alone," he said.
Indeed, they were not. Fox News was with them.
So Milbank thinks it's ridiculous to see the election results (before or after) as a repudiation of the Democratic Party. Who sounds like a thick-headed partisan? Milbank didn't have space for one word on the "fusion of journalism and party politics" that's been unfolding on MSNBC. Consider briefly a snippet of Rachel Maddow's Monday night lecture to voters about the awesomeness of Obama's first two years, which could have been an advertisement purchased by the Democratic National Committee (renting NBC News anchors and reporters):
MADDOW: But one government is not divided, like in this past 21 months, when one party controls the executive branch and the legislative branch. It gives you a rare but clear and unobstructed view of what that party stands for, what that party`s made of, what that party values.
Democrats and liberals especially often criticize their own party for not acting boldly enough when given an electoral mandate.
But in this moment, before it is judged by voters, what did Democrats do? What did Democratic politicians do? What did the Democratic Party do with these last 21 months? What did they stand for? What were they made of? It turns out what they were made of was historic.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: The White House started this day on a much different note, as President Obama signed his first bill into law. The new law makes it easier for workers to sue for pay discrimination.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: With the stroke of a pen, another big break from the Bush era. Democrats in Congress have been trying to get this equal pay law through for nearly two years. Today, it became a reality.
MADDOW: The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act for women - that was President Obama and this Democratic Congress' first legislative achievement together way back in January of 2009, a bill that had languished in Congress for years.The start of much more legislative achievement to come.
NATALIE MORALES: Today, the president signs the bill imposing new rules on credit card companies. The bill was aimed at sparing consumers from sudden interest rate hikes.
ANN CURRY: Today, President Obama signs a bill that gives the Food and Drug Administration unprecedented power to regulate tobacco. The bill will allow the FDA to reduce nicotine in tobacco products, block labels such as low tar and light, and tobacco companies will also have to put large graphic warnings on cartons of cigarettes.
MIKE VIQUEIRA: The president and Democrats can point to one imminent success here in Washington for the marchers. That is the imminent passage of a hate crimes bill that would make it a federal crime to commit an assault based on sexual orientation.
ANN CURRY: The Senate has passed a bill that the president has been pushing that would extend government-sponsored health insurance for about 4 million uninsured children.
MADDOW: Children's health instance, hate crimes legislation, tobacco regulation, credit card reform. Taken individually: all major legislative accomplishments. Taken together: some of the underpinnings of the most legislatively productive 21 months in decades.
Maddow was only beginning to unfurl the superlatives. She hadn't even arrived at the terrific passage of health "reform" and financial "reform." Liberal journalists ought to be more self-aware about the hefty log of partisanship in their own eye before they start condemning the alleged uniquely obsequious partisanship of Fox News.
- Tim Graham is Director of Media Analysis for the Media Research Center