It’s really not news — it’s pushing a point of view.
When I read that I thought that yet another important political figure had grasped the truth about the BBC. That it was said by Obama’s chief adviser David Axelrod was even better. I know Axelrod is essentially a Daley machine hack from Chicago but he was the mastermind behind Obama’s meteoric rise from obscure non achieving, inexperienced, state senate placeman to Saviour of the World in five years so he must have his finger on the pulse.
But then the penny dropped. He wasn’t talking about the BBC – he was fingering Fox News (or the right wing Fox News as the Guardian likes to call it.)
Apparently the White House feels that Fox, unlike ABC, CBS, NBC and the other cable channels CNN and MSNBC is not being particularly helpful to the President. In fact Axelrod accused Fox of having a “perspective” and I doubt he meant it was leftward.
Now for an administration to come out so openly against a major media outlet is unprecedented – imagine the furore if George W Bush had made a similar remark about MSNBC. Yet the rest of the US media have been strangely muted about the whole affair as has the BBC….I wonder why?
The one honourable exception has been ABC’s Jake Tapper who tackled White House spokesman Robert Gibb. Gibb bumbled away in his usual Oliver Hardy manner – and the rest of the media sat on their hands.
Fact is, of course, that from fairly early in the Democrat primaries the networks and CNN and MSNBC were in the tank for Obama and gave him a very easy ride and continue to do so – for the moment. They invested so much capital in pimping the product that to take him off the shelf so early would destroy the little credibility they might still think they have. Axelrod is irritated by not having a full house hand. Fox is the one channel that has refused to worship at the Obama altar and the administration doesn’t like it.
So – is it just sour grapes? Of course not – Axelrod is an old Chicago hand. You don’t worry about not being liked in the Daley universe – but you do worry about the numbers..and Fox has the numbers, surging far ahead of the other cable channels. Fox has power and therefore needs containment in case the others are tempted to leave the temple and follow a similar path.
Actually there has already been a mild attempt to show a degree of buyer’s remorse on a recent edition of NBC’s Saturday Night Live – yes that SNL where Tina Fey was encouraged to poke fun at Sarah Palin week after week during the 2008 campaign and not only revived her flagging career but won several awards for service to the cause. SNL did a very feeble skit on Obama with a mock report card which appeared to suggest that the man had spoken brilliantly but actually achieved very little.
Axelrod was not best pleased so within hours someone had a quiet word with CNN because they actually presented an item which fact checked the skit and “proved” that SNL were not being fair!
No danger of anything like that over here, thank goodness. As Dan Hannan remarked to Fox’s Glenn Beck (the tearful Glenn Beck as the beautifully balanced Matt Frei calls him) the idea that any right winger would be allowed a permanent slot on the BBC would be laughed out of court…..