Bashing Fox News? Call it free advertising for the network 

Those who call it "fake news" may wish to reconsider giving Fox News Channel free advertising: FNC and Cablevision have announced a new multi-year carriage agreement, continuing Fox's presence in homes throughout New York, New Jersey, and my native Connecticut. This news comes despite constant attacks from the Left, primarily in the form of Media Matters, who consistently claims that Fox News is a kind of partisan propaganda outlet that needs to be exposed. Could it be that Media Matters' and other critics' constant drumtaps against Fox are helping to make it stronger?

In fact, Fox is still going strong. For nine years straight, the network has been on top of the pile. It's raking in more and more cash. During its coverage of the Egyptian uprising, Fox beat out MSNBC and CNN combined, the latter of which having had the historical advantage of being the international network. (Many networks risked a great deal to get in on the story, as CNN's Anderson Cooper, CBS's Lara Logan, and Fox News's Greg Palkot were all attacked during their coverage.)

Meanwhile, Media Matters continues its latest anti-Glenn Beck campaign along with Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ), the latter of which bought an ad criticizing Beck's "offensive and inappropriate Nazi rhetoric," and appropriated other people's statements (without permission) to pretend there's a cohesive movement against the network -- and also that the outrage over Beck was bipartisan, not merely a group of "left-wing rabbis."

This never had a chance of being effective, but certainly provided free advertising for Fox. What made it worse was that three of the Jewish organizations being relied on to show bipartisanship publicly repudiated the effort. In fact, Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman put it in perspective:

"At a time when Holocaust denial is rampant in much of the Arab world, where anti-Semitism remains a serious concern, and where the Iranian leader has openly declared his desire to 'wipe Israel off the map,' surely there are greater enemies and threats to the Jewish people than the pro-Israel stalwarts Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes and Glenn Beck," Foxman's letter concluded.

Jen Rubin at the Post notes that Deborah E. Lipstadt, a noted Holocaust scholar who also got shoehorned into the ad, objected, saying:

One need not minimize the danger of Beck's rhetoric in order to wonder why JFSJ -- which has significant credibility among progressives -- has not mounted an equally passionate critique of misbegotten analogies on the left. Is this about principle, or is it about politics? Is this about anti-Semitism, or about Rupert Murdoch? (Of course, there are also some conservatives who have no trouble spotting anti-Semitic innuendo except when it is appearing on Fox.)

For the Anti-Fox Brigade, this didn't matter. From Media Matters:

Those quotes are all on the record, and none of them are in question. Why would JFSJ need to 'contact' the groups before referencing their quotes? Why would JFsJ need to make sure the groups would be "happy" to be mentioned in the ad? It's absurd. The JFSJ never claimed the groups were sponsors in the ad in any way.

The question wasn't sponsorship but consensus. By drafting groups into an ad about Fox, JFSJ shot itself in the foot by giving the Anti-Defamation League a media opportunity to be relatively salutory when it mentions Murdoch, Ailes, etc., as "pro-Israel stalwarts." The ADL also had the opportunity to slam JFSJ for taking the quote out of context. JFSJ (and its ally Media Matters) just provided Fox with another notch in the belt -- a public nod from a large, respected Jewish organization.

That's not to mention the added bonus of dinging the attackers. You get permission to use quotes in these ads so that the people to whom you've just called attention won't use that attention to slam you publicly. (Has anyone at these groups ever covered an election?)

All that gets back to the original point. After supporting and defending JFSJ for misusing a quote without permission to advance a political agenda, Media Matters claims:

"Fox News has become a misleading, partisan outlet. But here’s what the source stresses: Fox News is designed to mislead its viewers and designed to engage in a purely political enterprise."

It's not just the pot and the kettle. By spinning its wheels this way, Media Matters is just shilling for Fox at this point. Maybe they should take a breather.

About The Author

J.P. Freire

J.P. Freire is the associate editor of commentary. Previously he was the managing editor of the American Spectator. Freire was named journalist of the year for 2009 by the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). You can follow him on Twitter here. Besides the Spectator, Freire's work has appeared in... more
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