Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fox News' beginnings in the Nixon White House

It's almost too easy, but I never could resist: The folks who brought you the Watergate burglary also brought you Fox News., using the Freedom of Information Act, found a memo it dates to 1970 with handwritten notes by Roger Ailes, who later was to found Fox News and still heads it, outlining, as the memo was titled, "A Plan to Put the GOP on TV News."

The plan is every bit as heavy-handed and as partisan as could be expected from the White House in that era (and would have been just as heavy-handed and partisan if the Democrats had thought it of during the Johnson Administration, I suspect). It also is stunningly dismissive of the audience: people watch television for news instead of reading newspapers, books or magazines because "People are lazy. With television you just sit--watch--listen. The thinking is done for you." This is indeed the thinking that led to Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck. At no point is "fair and balanced" part of the equation.

The plan reads like a blueprint for Fox News channel and the corporation's feeding partisan stories to its TV stations around the county. This is a vital part of our media history. I recommend you read the 16-page memo then think about where the media is today -- and how vulnerable it is to political manipulation.

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