The Obama administration has attacked Fox News in order to prevent government corruption stories broken on Fox from bleeding into the other media, which are all-consumed with daily updates on Levi Johnston's Playgirl spread and Carrie Prejean's breast implants.
That's understandable. But I think the administration should have picked someone other than David Axelrod to deliver the claim that Fox News is "not really news," inasmuch as Axelrod was behind the leak of scurrilous allegations in Jack Ryan's sealed divorce papers when he was running for a Senate seat against Obama. Talk about vicious personal gossip.
Now that Fox has been branded an untouchable, the teacher's-pet media are jubilant.
In Newsweek, Jacob Weisberg wrote a column saying liberals should refuse to appear on Fox News, pointedly concluding, "And no, I don't want to come on 'The O'Reilly Factor' to discuss it." Considering that Weisberg is a 107-pound weasel with a speech impediment, this is on the order of Weisberg's announcing that he's not interested in appearing in the next "Ocean's Eleven" movie with George Clooney.
The strangest thing about all the invective against Fox is that it is happening in a world that contains MSNBC. At least Fox News primetime hosts, and many of their guests, know something about politics. MSNBC's primetime lineup presents an array of people who sound like earnest college kids who just walked up to a Common Cause table, and the sum-total of what they know about politics is what they read in the brochures.
In the past week, both Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann have rolled out the Willie Horton ad, claiming that it marked the beginning of vicious personal attacks in politics, as opposed to what it was: The most devastatingly relevant campaign commercial in all of American history.
You can always astonish college kids by telling them the true story of Willie Horton. Among the jaw-dropping facts are:
In the '80s, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that a prison furlough policy had to be extended to convicted murderers, who were ineligible for parole.