THOMAS TASCHINGER: Fox is ‘news media’ too, and that’s not fake

October 22, 2017 GMT

It was the perfect message for viewers of Fox News - who frankly needed to hear it more than some other Americans. And it came from the perfect source - Fox News itself.

Chris Wallace, one of the most respected hard-news figures at Fox, lambasted his colleagues at Fox who echo Donald Trump’s complaints about “the news media.”

“If they want to say they like Trump, or that they’re upset with the Democrats, that’s fine,” Wallace said. “That’s opinion. ... I don’t like them bashing the media, because oftentimes what they’re bashing is stuff that we on the news side are doing. I don’t think they recognize that they have a role at Fox News and we have a role at Fox News. ... I just think it’s bad form.”

Bingo, and bravo.

Wallace perfectly emphasized two key facets of journalism - opinion and news - that are still misunderstood by some.

An opinion writer like Cal Thomas can say Obama was a jerk and Trump is great. As long as Cal’s commentary contains no factual errors, fire away.

But when Sean Hannity bashes “the news media” or repeats Trump’s line that the investigation about Russian interference in the election is “fake news,” he’s doing a disservice to the profession he claims to represent.

There’s clearly something to “the Russia story,” as Trump calls it. It may be a little or a lot, but enough fragments have dribbled out so far to justify it as legitimate news.

Actual “fake news” is like the online post during the campaign quoting Pope Francis in the Denver Gazette as endorsing Trump.

The pope didn’t do that, and there is no publication by that name. That post was made up by someone, possibly a Russian troll.

Trump has distorted that distinction by labeling any report he doesn’t like as “fake news.”

Finally, remember that “the news media” contains everything from the Wall Street Journal to the National Enquirer.

It also includes the No. 1 rated television news network (Fox), the top talk-radio host (Rush Limbaugh) and one of the most popular web sites (The Drudge Report). All are clearly conservative.

Popular outlets like that ensure that Trump’s message will always get out. Anyone who pretends otherwise is trying to fake you out.


Thomas Taschinger, TTaschinger@BeaumontEnterprise.com, is the editorial page editor of The Beaumont Enterprise. Follow him on Twitter at @PoliticalTom