A message of liberal bias "emanates from the new George Clooney movie, Good Night, and Good Luck," Bozell writes about the film, which fêtes Murrow's journalistic stand against McCarthy's anti-communist witch hunt. "Murrow threw every media dirty trick into [an] attack against the left's hate object, Sen. Joseph McCarthy."
Bozell joins a conservative chorus in defense of the late Senator from Wisconsin — a lineup that includes Allan H. Ryskind, Ann Coulter and Tom Snyder — who have called Murrow’s journalism the worst form of “liberal advocacy” and Clooney's anti-McCarthy film a Hollywood crusade against an upstanding, red-blooded American.
Fox Piles On
But these are mere minnows in the media mainstream. The film is taking heat from a larger outlet of right indignation. Earlier this month, Fox News Channel’s John Gibson teamed up on Big Story with author Reese Schoenfeld to criticize Good Night, and Good Luck, question Murrow’s journalism, and paint Clooney as a hypocrite. Earlier in the week, Brit Hume's Special Report posed the question, "Do Hollywood Liberals Hurt Candidates?" and went on to deride Clooney for being too active in politics.
It doesn’t end there. A source at Fox News headquarters in New York told MediaCitizen that producers for The O’Reilly Factor are digging for dirt to prepare an upcoming segment in which host Bill O’Reilly — a long-time Clooney nemesis — will heap scorn upon actor and film.
O'Reilly has tried to keep his distance thus far, telling reporters in early October that "Clooney's pathetic attempts to bait me into a controversy in order to bring attention to his movie are simply cheap." Those more familiar with O’Reilly’s hush-money hi-jinks might sense the irony in this stake to higher moral ground. Indications from within his own shop are that Bill won't stay silent for much longer.
(O'Reilly's wild accusations and brow beating of guests recall McCarthy's own coercive tactics as head of the Senate investigations subcommittee, which he deployed against those that didn't measure up to his paranoid delusions.)
Clooney told Salon.com last month that politicized television like O'Reilly's Fox News leaves viewers with a skewed perception of the truth. “You know, if you watch Fox News — my aunt and uncle are conservative, and if you had a conversation with them before the war, Saddam Hussein was the reason for 9/11, was attached to al-Qaida, all of those kinds of things,” Clooney said.
While Clooney offers a careful critique of Fox's news slant, his film draws a more damning parallel between the cowed media of the McCarthy era and the Fox style of journalism that’s practiced today – which was recently manifest in mainsteram media's failure to challenge this administration's rationale for the war in Iraq.
Murdoch Invades Your Hometown
Fox's "news entertainers" routinely attempt to frame the national agenda with a relentless drumbeat of right-wing soundbytes. Clooney and his film are just one of many targets in Fox's grand media scheme to smear dissenters and protect the conservative status quo in American politics.
Thus far, their cable news network has served this end well. What’s especially worrisome, however, is Fox News Channel's plans to spread its own brand of "advocacy jourmalism" from cable to broadcast television stations across the country.
As MediaCitizen reported earlier this week, former GOP operative Roger Ailes, the architect behind Fox News Channel's rightward tilt, is now remaking 35 local television stations — reaching into nearly 40 percent of America’s households — in the image of his right-wing cable network. Ailes plans to replace local news on News Corp. stations in dozens of domestic markets with the blinkered infotainment that’s become a hallmark of O’Reilly and his fellow bloviators at Fox News Channel.
Media consolidation made Fox’s takeover of local news possible. News Corp. owns both a Fox and a UPN affiliate in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — the country’s three biggest markets — and other duopolies in six more of the top 20 markets, including Dallas, Minneapolis and Washington.
Returning Control of Your TV Set
The loosening of ownership caps would unleash a new wave of media consolidation. At the local level, we could see a single firm own the majority of media — daily newspaper, TV and radio stations, cable TV systems. Such concentration not only violates the premise of a competitive marketplace, it makes a mockery of the notion of a free press enshrined in the Constitution. The implications are clear: media conglomerates such as News Corp. would have the power to put their footprint on political discourse in a manner never seen before.
To stop the "Fox Effect" from invading more hometown news markets, Free Press has launched a national campaign, asking its more than 220,000 activists and others to tell Congress, News Corp. and local stations: “Don’t Fox with my local news.”
The downside for Clooney’s film would be a media marketplace increasingly dominated by those who would rather shutter criticism of officials and aggressive reporting in favor of the myopic flag waving that’s made Fox News notorious.