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Front Page Talking Points

FOR THE WEEK OF NOV. 02, 2009

Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.

White House and Fox News dispute what's fair, what's foul

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1.gifMost mainstream media work to keep opinion and news reports separate. Show or describe how this paper does that.

2.gifLook for news articles or commentaries about what's on TV -- whether they're about Fox or other networks.

3.gifWhere can you find opinions from readers and outside writers not on the paper's staff?

President Obama, who has played basketball since high school, sometimes describes challenges in sports terms -- as do top aides. So when White House press secretary Robert Gibbs explains high-level criticism of the Fox News cable network, he puts it this way: "The best analogy is probably baseball. The only way to get somebody to stop crowding the plate is to throw a fastball at them. They move."

What Obama's team throws at Fox are accusations of deliberate health care reform distortions, encouragement of "tea party" protests and partisan propaganda in news reports. "Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party," top aide Anita Dunn said recently. "They misrepresent our programs and policies. . . . And they were organizing political opposition on their shows. We wanted to set the record straight."
The White House is the target of daily shots by Fox commentators and some anchors -- notably prime-time stars Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Tucker Carlson. Beck claimed Obama has "a deep-seated hatred of white people" and several hosts regularly suggest White House policies reflect socialist or communist approaches at times.

For its part, the top-rated cable network has gained more viewers -- at least temporarily -- and welcomes the role of underdog fighting a "smear" by a powerful adversary. "This is an effort in effect to quarantine Fox News and to discourage other media outlets from picking up on stories that originate here," senior political analyst Brit Hume said on O'Reilly's show. "My guess is it won't work." Hannity labeled his program "Not White House approved," and O'Reilly hammers the White House nightly. "There is something very disturbing about the Obama administration fighting harder against Fox News than against the Taliban," he said in one commentary.
Network owner Rupert Murdoch says the criticism is "not something I'm losing a lot of sleep over." Still, a possible truce or at least "peace talks" may be under way. Press secretary Gibbs met privately at the White House last week with a Fox News senior vice-president. Both kept mum afterward.

Fox says: "We're doing the job we're supposed to be doing, and we do it as well as anyone." -- Michael Clemente, senior vice president for news and editorial programming

White House says: "We simply decided to stop abiding by the fiction, which is aided and abetted by the mainstream press, that Fox is a traditional news organization." -- Dan Pfeiffer, deputy communications director

Columnist says: "Fox hasn't just corrupted its own coverage. Its example has made all of cable news unpleasant and unreliable." -- Jacob Weisberg, author and Newsweek contributor


Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2014
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