Former President Jimmy Carter was on CNN’s Reliable Sources today where he took aim at both Fox News and Glenn Beck for what he described as deliberately distorting the news. Carter said,”The talk shows with Glenn Beck and others on Fox News, I think, have deliberately distorted the news.”
Here is the video courtesy of Media Matters:
When asked by Reliable Sources host Howard Kurtz about his comments in his recent book critical of the 24 hour news networks’ reliance on dramatization and exaggeration, Carter let loose on both Glenn Beck and Fox News, “The talk shows with Glenn Beck and others on Fox News, I think, have deliberately distorted the news. And it’s become highly competitive. And my Republican friends say that MSNBC might be just as biased on the other side in supporting the Democratic Party, the liberal element. But that’s part of give and take. And I think CNN, more than others, has kind of tried to play the middle to their detriment as far as viewership is concerned and profits are concerned. So, I think that describes maybe more than I — more than my credentials warrant about what I think about — quickly the balance.”
It is interesting that Carter would go on to include MSNBC in the discussion. Many on the left including MSNBC hosts like Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann have decried the false equivalency that was first brought up by Jon Stewart at his Rally to Restore Sanity between MSNBC and Fox News, but President Carter didn’t actually say that he believed that MSNBC distorted the news like Fox does, but that Republicans believe that MSNBC does the same thing that FNC does, which is a very accurate statement.
Republicans do love to lump MSNBC and Fox News together, but beyond the basic format of presenting programming from a partisan perspective, the two networks could not be more different. Fox News operates as not just a Republican information source, but the network institutionally engages in fund raising and political activity for the Republican Party. MSNBC may put liberal hosts on the air, but they have never fund raised for candidates, nor has MSNBC promoted something like the Tea Party Express.
President Carter’s bigger point is dead on. As more Americans limit themselves to news sources that reinforce their partisan biases, whether they be on the left or right, facts become distorted and warped as they are presented through the prism of partisan narrative. The news has gone from being about what is happening in the world to information that is used on both sides to attribute credit or blame for what is happening in the world to an ideology.
When people stop agreeing on facts, it tears away at the fabric of our society. If we can’t be united in agreement and acceptance of fact then the fragmentation that not only plagues our politics will spill out into the nation itself. Glenn Beck and Fox News have found that distorting the news is a very profitable enterprise. They don’t care about the toxic waste their enterprise is leaving behind. They are the foremost intellectual polluters of the American mind, and it is encouraging to see Jimmy Carter call them out.