When Bret Baier sat down with Jon Stewart a very polite discussion took place where at one point Stewart tried to explain to Baier that even though he considers himself hard news, he show exists, is surrounded, and permeated by a culture of hard core conservative activism.
Here is the video from The Daily Show:
Stewart said he was expecting Baier to come on his show and say, “Look, Roger Ailes is a passionate relatively ideological conservative who has created an organization that reflects what he thinks is a dearth of that opinion in the larger marketplace, and he considers this a counterweight what he believes is the victimization the conservatives have felt by a liberal media. Now I think that is a very fair representation of what they do. What I didn’t expect was well sure, a couple of guys are a little out there for the most part, like I’m surprised that you’re not able to say and that’s okay. Why can’t you own that?”
Baier was a real trooper who stuck to the talking point that news was separate from opinion and Stewart explained, “No, I’m saying that the culture of Fox is permeated by Mr. Ailes. Baier asked if it was unspoken, and Stewart said that it was spoken, and that Baier is the eye of a hurricane at Fox.
Stewart said that even Baier’s show exists within FNC’s ideological frame, “Also the same you are doing that within the framework of a larger that the way Fox frames even their hard news is framed through a prism of this more conservative ideology. If you watch Fox you would think the greatest threat to the country is ACORN, The Black Panthers, and Fannie Mae. Baier said that Stewart’s characterization wasn’t fair because they didn’t have time.
Jon Stewart talked about the process of pushing conservative ideology 24 hours a day, “Sit with me in a room and go through Fox and Friends into the night and watch it. I’m telling you. I’m surprised that you wouldn’t…but you’re the guy they point to with the integrity, and I’m surprised that you wouldn’t say yeah, this organization was built for that purpose but within it is a really strong tenacious group of news people with a lot of integrity who function independently of it, but are in a lot of respects subsumed by it.”
Baier disagreed with Stewart because he had to keep up of the myth that news is separate from politics at Fox News. Stewart asked Baier why the charade of Fair and Balanced? Baier pointed out that Stewart conceded that there is hard news on Fox. Stewart replied by pointing out how the ideological directive shapes Baier’s show, “But even that you have your All Stars, even within the hard news angle of it, you have the all-stars, and it’s Krauthammer, and its Barnes…” Stewart’s point was that conservative opinion is programmed into FNC’s hard news.
I have a hunch that if Bret Baier was off camera and off the record, he would admit that what Jon Stewart described was largely correct. Media Matters has released leaked emails that proved Fox News slants their news reporting based on directives from the top. This is only a debatable point to the most loyal of Fox viewers, and the people who work at the network.
Jon Stewart has the same problem with Fox News that I have always had. Why does Fox have to through this song and dance to pretend like they are something they are not? I would have a lot more respect for FNC if they stopped trying to fool people, stood up and said look we are the conservative network. Are we biased? You bet, and this is who we are and what we believe in.
Every time a Fox News employee goes on a program and has maintain the myth of the split between news and opinion at FNC, they end up looking dishonest, insane, or mentally challenged to an increasing number of people who are watching at home. People like Jon Stewart are educating a lot of Americans about the tools and deceptions of Fox News. I think the old fair and balanced news vs. opinion shtick doesn’t fly anymore.
Bret Baier is no dummy, but as long as he has a program on Fox News, he will continue to play dumb. It is one of the conditions of continued employment by Fox, but when Baier tried to play the news is and opinion are separate card the audience laughed at him.
The people are learning, and someday Fox News will have to be honest about who and what they truly are.