Strong begins by stirring up outrage over Sarah Spitz, a producer for National Public Radio, writing that if she saw Rush Limbaugh having a heart attack, she would “Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out.” I get it. Liberals hate Limbaugh. And, in casual company, people who aren't too prissy and think they are funny don't mind saying they'd like it if people they hate would drop dead. This has nothing to do with Fox, of course.
Next, Strong has some discussion of whether the town hall meetings in the summer of 2009 reminded people of the early stages of the Nazis rise to power. The material here is, to me, pretty tame. It's actually a pretty cliché question to raise, and Strong presents us with no overt attempts to coordinate news stories about the meetings to push this Nazi comparison. It's standard and not shocking to muse over whether things seem fascist. (Ask Jonah Goldberg.)
Finally, we get to material about Fox News.
The very existence of Fox News, meanwhile, sends Journolisters into paroxysms of rage.Okay, you're writing about overreaction, and you use the phrase "paroxysms of rage"?
When Howell Raines charged that the network had a conservative bias, the members of Journolist discussed whether the federal government should shut the channel down.I want to see is the actual proposal to shut down Fox News.
“I am genuinely scared” of Fox, wrote Guardian columnist Daniel Davies, because it “shows you that a genuinely shameless and unethical media organisation *cannot* be controlled by any form of peer pressure or self-regulation, and nor can it be successfully cold-shouldered or ostracised. In order to have even a semblance of control, you need a tough legal framework.” Davies, a Brit, frequently argued the United States needed stricter libel laws.Libel law allows individuals to sue over damage to their reputation. Private lawsuits. That would not be the government taking action against the network, and it's certainly not a proposal to shut down Fox News.
“I agree,” said Michael Scherer of Time Magazine. Roger “Ailes understands that his job is to build a tribal identity, not a news organization. You can’t hurt Fox by saying it gets it wrong, if Ailes just uses the criticism to deepen the tribal identity.”What's the big deal there? Scherer isn't proposing that the government shut down Fox News. He's criticizing Fox News as not following good principles of journalism. It's not even a complaint about the conservative slant.
Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at UCLA, suggested that the federal government simply yank Fox off the air. “Do you really want the political parties/white house picking which media operations are news operations and which are a less respectable hybrid of news and political advocacy?”Is there a quote we are not getting? The material in quotes is not a proposal to "yank Fox of the air." It's a question — a question I read as critical of government action against Fox. Clicking some links, I finally figure out the quoted question is from Scherer, not Zasloff.
But Zasloff stuck to his position.What position?!
“I think that they are doing that anyway; they leak to whom they want to for political purposes,” he wrote. “If this means that some White House reporters don’t get a press pass for the press secretary’s daily briefing and that this means that they actually have to, you know, do some reporting and analysis instead of repeating press releases, then I’ll take that risk.”So that's the worst of it? Zasloff thinks the government could or should limit access. That's not shutting down Fox!
Scherer seemed alarmed. “So we would have press briefings in which only media organizations that are deemed by the briefer to be acceptable are invited to attend?”Zasloff got pushed back.
John Judis, a senior editor at the New Republic, came down on Zasloff’s side, the side of censorship.Censorship? What censorship?
“Pre-Fox,” he wrote, “I’d say Scherer’s questions made sense as a question of principle. Now it is only tactical.”"Scherer's questions"? What questions? I see one question from Scherer in the article. I'm interested in this contrast between principle and tactics, but I can't understand what it refers to!
The Daily Caller needs to do a whole lot better with its own journalism if it wants to hit the big time criticizing journalists. This is weak!
I go back to the text of the article, and I see that it's been rewritten, without a notation that editing has taken place. The Scherer-Zasloff part that puzzled me so much now reads:
Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at UCLA, suggested that the federal government simply yank Fox off the air. “I hate to open this can of worms,” he wrote, “but is there any reason why the FCC couldn’t simply pull their broadcasting permit once it expires?”Zasloff asked a question. He's a law professor. Yes, it's inflammatory, but so what? He's getting a discussion going, and nobody goes for it. Broadcast licenses do require stations to serve the public interest, so there is a real topic to be discussed, and Zasloff isn't some weird crazy to ask. It's within the realm of law. What's notable is that the Journolist members don't support that kind of action against Fox.
And so a debate ensued. Time’s Scherer, who had seemed to express support for increased regulation of Fox, suddenly appeared to have qualms: “Do you really want the political parties/white house picking which media operations are news operations and which are a less respectable hybrid of news and political advocacy?”
My conclusion remains: The Daily Caller's article is weak. And I'm inclined to think the material in the Journolist archive is pretty mild stuff.