Media was happy to be bullied by Bush, but Obama is “controlling”

With hypocrisy that pervasive, who could ever hope to take note of all of it? Still, the complaints from America’s Right — and especially former Bush officials — that the Obama administration is attempting to “control the media,” all because the White House criticizes Fox News, is in a class of hypocrisy all by itself. That those petulant complaints are being amplified by a virtually unanimous press corps — “it’s Nixonian!” is their leading group-think cliché — makes it all the more intolerable.

John Cole itemizes just some of the measures adopted by the Bush White House to manipulate, control, punish and bully the very few media outlets which were ever hostile to it — each of those Bush measures, standing alone, is infinitely more invasive and threatening than the mild and perfectly appropriate criticisms of Fox coming from the Obama White House. Indeed, the Bush White House did exactly the same thing with NBC as the Obama White House is doing with Fox, and virtually all of the media stars who today are so righteously lamenting the “attacks on Fox” said nothing. Worse, the very same Bush official who this week said it was “like what dictators do” for the Obama White House to criticize Fox — Dana Perino — herself stood at the White House podium a mere two years ago and did exactly that to NBC News.

But the Bush administration did far worse to media outlets than merely criticize them. They explicitly threatened to prosecute New York Times journalists — to criminally prosecute them — for reporting on Bush’s illegal spying program aimed at American citizens. They imprisoned numerous foreign journalists covering their various wars. The administration’s obsessive and unprecedented secrecy — Dick Cheney refused to disclose even the most basic information about his whereabouts, his meetings, or even the number of staff members he had — was the ultimate form of media control. And what was the Pentagon’s embedding process other than an attempt to control media coverage and ensure favorable reporting? One will search in vain for much media protests about any of that.

But it was the Bush Pentagon’s “military analyst”/domestic propaganda program that was, far and away, the most egregious case in a long, long time of a White House attempting to control media content and political coverage in the United States. [...]

Whatever else is true, Fox has taken on a political role that is very rare, at least in modern times, for a large American news organization. Its news coverage is not merely biased or opinionated; there’d be nothing unusual about that. Instead, it is a major participant — the leading participant — in organizing, promoting and fueling protests, including street protests, against the government. Fox has undertaken a role typically played by media outlets in, say, Venezuela or various unstable, under-developed countries — sponsoring rather than reporting on protests against the government — and it is difficult to recall any recent example that is similar.

Glenn Greenwald: What “controlling the media” really means

Greenwald has more, plus citations for the claims he makes in the text above.

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