Some right-wing cultists are all a-twitter over an exchange between Dan Rather and Bill Maher on HBO's Real Time on Friday, November 17, 2006:
Host Bill Maher: "I want to bring your attention to something that was on my friend Arianna Huffington's blog today, the Huffington Post, it was an internal memo from Fox News, an organization I guess that would never hire you. And it says, 'Be on the lookout for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents thrilled at the prospect of a Democratic controlled Congress.' That strikes me as the opposite of journalism, as looking for the end of the story before you find what the real truth is."
Dan Rather: "Well, I think it's fair to say, Bill, in fact I know it is, that Fox News operates, at least in a somewhat different way, than every other news organization that I know, that they have their talking points. In other words, somebody in the hierarchy, whether this is Roger Ailes who runs the place or not, we know that they get talking points from the White House, and they can say, 'Well, we don't always take those talking points.'"
Ian at HotAir.com broke with one of the cornerstones of modern "conservativism" and switched the channel from Fox News to HBO and caught some of Real Time. Ian offered the following observation regarding Maher's interview with Rather, "Ha! Dan Rather accusing other news organization of taking talking points from the White House! Just another case of the pot calling the kettle." Ian doesn't tell us what the pot is calling the kettle. Ian might be referring to the flap that erupted around Rather's shaky reporting back in 2004 on Bush's shaky National Guard service, but he doesn't say so.
At NewsBusters, whose mission apparently is "exposing and combating liberal media bias," a public service for those of us who cannot think for ourselves, Noel Sheppard complained that, "Maher invited deposed CBS anchor Dan Rather on to discuss whatever he wanted with total impunity, and what ensued was a full-fledged Fox News hate-fest. However, that wasn't the funniest part, for Rather actually had the gall to insinuate that FNC gets talking points from the White House, and was doing its darnedest to influence the elections that just transpired."
With total impunity? Apparently, Sheppard, like many on the right, is put off that television talk shows might be used as some sort of forum for wanton free speech, or some other such immoral and unpatriotic shenanigans. Perhaps he believes that talk show content should be subject to right-wing government minders to ensure proper patriotic correctness. Does the right-wing media take talking points straight from the Bush White House? To answer that, you might want to ask one of the right-wing media personalities, such as Fox News's Sean Hannity, who attended a forum at the White House that was intended to focus the right-wing message machine in an attempt to influence the '06 elections. Oddly, this meeting was not on Resident Bush's public schedule.
I must give Sheppard credit; unlike Ian at HotAir.com, he actually suggests that the pot calls the kettle black. Don't ask me what it was about this story that made him wipe off of his laptop, though, "Honestly, I've had to use four boxes of Kleenex to dry off my laptop in order to post this article for your reading pleasure." Sheppard goes on to suggest that Rather took talking points from the Clinton White House, but just never admitted it. "After all, any sane person in America knew full well that was the case when Bill Clinton was in office." Interestingly, Sheppard offers absolutely zero proof of this tidbit of truthiness.
Let's talk about the Fox News internal memo that Rather quoted for a minute. It includes these gems, among others: "We'll continue to work the Hamas threat to the U.S. that came hours after the election results," and, "Just because the Dems won, the war on terror isnt' (sic) over." Obviously, Fox News seeks to propagate the idea that the Democratic Party supports anti-American terrorism. Never mind how utterly stupid that concept is since the Democrats are Americans (really!) and any terrorism aimed at America would undoubtedly also be aimed the Democrats themselves since they live here too. The Democratic Party victories in the '06 elections present the prospect of a new direction for American policy in Iraq based on reality, not ideology, and the possibility of troop withdrawals. This is welcome news for anybody who wants to see the end of the American occupation of Iraq. It should surprise nobody that a byproduct of such changes in Iraq would please some factions that both want American troops gone and that currently engage in attacks on American troops and other Iraqi citizens. That those factions might be inadvertently satisfied by a new Iraq policy is radically different than deliberate support of those factions, as the right suggests.
The message that Fox News wants to send is that Iraqi insurgents' assumed delight at the Democratic victory is proof that the Democrats support the insurgency. Allow me to offer an analogy of this line of right-wing idiocy: Let's say that serial killer John Wayne Gacy was a big Chicago Bears fan. Via right-wing logic, the Bears support serial killers because a serial killer enjoyed watching the Bears win a football game.