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Fox News Chief: Obama = Osama

Why would any Democratic presidential candidate who is subjected to scurrilous comparisons to Osama bin Laden respect Fox "News"?
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When a certain wingnut blogger went after Mr. Obama's middle name all hell broke loose around here when I pushed back. But this is completely different. It's the head of Fox News insinuating flatly in a joke that Barack Obama = Osama. Roger Ailes is obviously feeling the pressure.

At a dinner of the Radio & TV News Directors Foundation, Ailes received the 2007 First Amendment Leadership Award. That's right, the head of Fox "News" got an award for First Amendment "leadership."

Insert clip of Bill O'Reilly telling his guests to "SHUT UP" here.

Insert another clip of Bill O'Reilly threatening to turn his guest's mike off here.

That's free speech under Roger Ailes. Let's celebrate!

It is true that just in the last two weeks Hillary Clinton has had over 200 phone calls telling her in order to win the presidency she must stay on the road for the next two years. It is not true they were all from Bill.

[Laughter]

Yuk-yuk, but hey, everyone likes a good marital joke on Bill and Hill, right?

However, that's nothing compared to this.

And it is true that Barack Obama is on the move. I don't know if it's true that President Bush called Musharraf and said, 'Why can't we catch this guy?' - Roger Ailes

[Laughter]

Fair and balanced joking? Bush is stupid. He thinks Barack Obama is Osama!

Poking fun at the presidential I.Q. of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is standard fare and has been for years. However, the joke doesn't make him dangerous, a threat to this country, or the mastermind of 9/11. The reality is another story, but that's been covered. But imagine what Sean Hannity would do if we compared Bush to a terrorist. Oh, that's right, he accuses Democrats of that all the time; excepting Alan Colmes, of course.

But joking that Barack Obama is Osama is not funny for many obvious reasons, including what has already been said about Mr. Obama on Fox before. It's been chronicled over and over again. The madrassa slur is only the jumping off point for Fox.

Ailes's speech then got to the heart of what's rubbing the man so wrong right now. It's us.

I feel compelled, however -- on a serious note -- to say a few words. We're headed into covering a tough political season and all of us will be called upon to do our best and be fair. Recently pressure groups are forcing candidates to conclude that the best strategy for journalists is divide and conquer, to only appear on those networks and venues that give them favorable coverage.

There's a long tradition of news organizations, national and local, sometimes together, sponsoring presidential and other candidate debates. The organizations and the panelists have been the objects of a lot of advice and even pressure as to how these debates should be conducted and what questions should be asked. This pressure has been successfully resisted, but it's being tried again this year with the added wrinkle that candidates are being asked to boycott debates because certain groups wants to approve the sponsoring organizations. This pressure must be resisted as it has been in the past. Any candidate for high office of either party who believes he can blacklist any news organization is making a terrible mistake about journalists. And any candidate of either party who cannot answer direct, simple, even tough questions from any journalist runs a real risk of losing the voters.

It's obvious to what Ailes is referring. He's whining about Democrats standing up to Fox "News" sponsoring the Democratic debate in Nevada. But it is patently absurd for Ailes to whine that Fox "News" is being "blacklisted" by "pressure groups." He's ticked that Edwards has refused the debate. We can only wonder the treatment he'll now get on Fox.

If Mr. Ailes wants his network to be treated like real journalists, maybe he should have some real journalists on his network, instead of only having hired guns for the GOP spinning the truth to suit the Republican Party. Why would any Democratic presidential candidate who is subjected to scurrilous comparisons to Osama bin Laden respect Fox "News"? Why should the first viable female candidate for president in U.S. history respect a news organization who pays swiftboaters like Dick Morris to fill hours of coverage on "Hannity & Colmes" with vile comments about her, especially when the head of the network thinks it's funny to dredge up painful parts of a couple's past when one of them was the most successful two-term president since F.D.R.

Turn the other cheek, we are to assume is the Fox motto. For Democrats, that kind of philosophy only gets us slapped again.

When Ailes and Fox "News" start covering Democrats fairly and balanced he can talk about his network being important to the country and the presidential debate. Oh, and just to be clear, it's not simply that Fox is hosting the debate live. It's who will be asking the questions and moderating the debate. Brit Hume? It's that Fox "News" wants to own all the coverage and the clips. The Democrats, minus John Edwards who continues to rise in my eyes, may decide to cave in to reach the Fox viewers, which I predicted they would do all along. But most of those viewers will be Republican voters, except for the ones who tune in to watch the tv train wrecks. But for me, Fox and Brit Hume are non-starters.

So until Mr. Ailes gets a clue, what was it O'Reilly said? Oh, right. Shut up.

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