BOB WOODWARD, writing yesterday for the Washington Post, revealed a “secret” that everyone except loyal viewers of Fox News already knew. That’s right: The fair-and-balanced folks at Fox were doing everything they possibly could, both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes, to deny President Obama re-election.
At this point you have to be blind, deaf, dumb (and lacking the senses of taste, touch and smell) to miss the palpable bias. But this was more than the typical blather of Fox contributors like Sarah Palin and the incoherent ramblings of birther-freak Donald Trump. According to Woodward (his sources including a digital recording of the critical meeting) Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes dispatched Kathleen T. McFarland, a Fox “national security analyst,” to Afghanistan in early 2011, with a message for General Daniel Petraeus.
First, you’re probably asking yourself, what is the job of a Fox “national security analyst?” That would be, on every possible occasion (even when talking in your sleep) to say what a terrible president Mr. Obama has been.
Second, given recent stories about the General, you’re probably wondering: Did McFarland take off her clothes?
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on whether your interest is tawdry sex or national security, what McFarland was doing had nothing to do with flying bras and panties. This was more discreet. She was to relay the message to the General, that unless he were offered the position of Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, he should resign from the U.S. Army, wait a few months, and then seek the GOP presidential nomination. If offered a chance to head the CIA he should realize that wasn’t good enough and refuse. According to McFarland, who told Petraeus she was there at Ailes’ bidding, her boss would consider resigning his fair-and-balanced post as Chairman to run the General’s fair-and-balanced campaign to defeat the Muslim-terrorist loving-America-hating Barack Obama. McFarland and Petraeus talked next about the possibility Rupert Murdoch would “bankroll” any campaign he might choose to make.
At one point the General and the analyst touched on Ailes’ desire to keep these matters out of the public eye. “His deal with me,” said McFarland, speaking of Ailes, “was that I was only supposed to talk to you. And he is a little paranoid, so believe me, he doesn’t have anybody in that room.”
In other words, Ailes talked only to McFarland. McFarland talked only to Petraeus. And Ailes is paranoid. (We already knew that last one.)
What McFarland wanted to make clear was how deeply interested the fair-and-balanced people at Fox News were in the outcome of the 2012 election. “Okay,” McFarland summed up at one point: “The big boss [Murdoch] is bankrolling it. Roger’s going to run it. And the rest of us [at Fox] are going to be your in-house.”
When all else is said and done, that last line is the one that should jump out: “And the rest of us are going to be your in-house.” It’s an admission that what most sane Americans have suspected all along is correct. That Fox does everything in its power to destroy President Obama. That Fox will say anything, bend any story, and lie when necessary, until all “facts” can be fitted to a predetermined narrative.
Does conservative ideology really color Fox reporting of pure news? Of course it does. McFarland assured the General that everyone at Fox “loves you.” She said Ailes wanted to know if Petraeus would like them to slant coverage some other way, was there anything he might want them to “do differently?” Petraeus said there was. The fair-and-balanced editorial policy of the network had shifted. “It was almost as if, because they’re going after Obama, they had to go after Obama’s war as well.” He told McFarland he had talked to Brett Baier, a Fox anchor, and Fox should quit criticizing the war effort.
THE PROBLEM IS AS OBVIOUS as the “secret” Woodward has revealed at last. Fox is willing to take any story and twist it to serve a conservative agenda. If Rupert Murdoch wants to insure the defeat of Obama, then we need stories touting the brilliance of General David Petraeus, his potential opponent. If President Obama does anything right related to foreign affairs, we have to trot out Kathleen T. McFarland, our “national security analyst,” to explain how Mr. Obama is actually undermining American security. Shortly after returning from Afghanistan that’s exactly what she did. She went on air to offer up this predetermined, fair-and-balanced analysis: “I can’t help thinking that the Obama administration has done something a bit underhanded but politically shrewd,” she told viewers. By tapping Petraeus to head the CIA, the president and his aides had removed a “potential rival” in the 2012 election.
That’s the Fox line, anyway. Obama is “underhanded.” Fox New is the channel for patriots. Roger Ailes is for truth, justice and the American Way. McFarland is a national security analyst trying to make sense of a complicated war. At Fox news we never bend stories to shape our loyal listener’s views. We’re the fair-and-balanced people.
We provide “news you can trust.”
What else would anyone expect from a network built in the image of Roger Ailes? Ailes: the guy who worked for Richard Nixon. Ailes, the man who could swim in the Watergate cesspool and never notice the smell.
Roger Ailes: Still up to his old tricks at age 72.