Accuracy in Media

CNN reported the “back-scratching relationship between President Donald Trump and Fox News is unlike anything in the history of American media.”

Trump, wrote Brian Stelter of CNN in “Trump’s relationship with Fox News is unprecedented. Sunday’s tweets prove it,” used a series of tweets on Sunday to “send a long message to Fox executives …” urging them to “‘keep having my back and I’ll have yours.’”

Stelter wrote that “at times, his social media accounts read like giant advertisements for Fox’s right-wing view of the world.”

But he had nothing to say about the relationship between Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the media or about President Barack Obama’s giant advertisements for the left-wing view of the world espoused by his media allies and his penchant for punishing journalists who did not toe the company line.

As for Clinton, as Glenn Greenwald reported in the Intercept, the Wikileaks email releases demonstrated “a central component of the Clinton campaign strategy is ensuring that journalists they believe are favorable to Clinton are tasked to report the stories the campaign wants circulated. At times, Clinton’s campaign staff not only internally drafted the stories they wanted to be published but even specified what should be quoted ‘on background’ and what should be described as ‘on the record.’”

As for Obama, his press secretary, Jay Carney, was married to an ABC News reporter – as was his deputy press secretary. His national security adviser, Susan Rice, was married to a former ABC News producer.

Obama attended the wedding of Sam Kass, his personal chef and senior adviser on food and nutrition policy, to Alex Wagner, an MSNBC host.

His deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, coordinated Benghazi talking points with his brother, David Rhodes, president of CBS News and the man who eventually fired Sharyl Attkisson for getting too close to the truth on Benghazi.

A Daily Caller story in 2012 quoted an anonymous employee at Media Matters for America, a Center for American Progress-affiliated outfit founded by conservative-turned-liberal-firebrand David Brock, saying “We were pretty much writing their prime time,” referring to MSNBC.

The Daily Caller also reported Media Matters, which held weekly strategy calls with the White House, had a direct line to MSNBC president Phil Griffin and that Greg Sargent of the Washington Post “will write anything you give him. He was the go-to guy to leak stuff.”

Ben Smith at BuzzFeed, Jim Rainey at the Los Angeles Times, Joe Carofoli at the San Francisco Chronicle and Eugene Robinson and E.J. Dionne at the Washington Post, were also eager recipients of Media Matters scoops.  

In addition, Trump may be chummy with some Fox News personalities, but Obama brought many journalist friends into his administration. Carney came from Time magazine, Shailagh Murray from the Washington Post to then-Vice-President Joe Biden’s office; Linda Douglass from ABC News to the White House, Douglas Frantz from the Washington Post to the State Department, Stephen Barr from the Post to the Labor Department, and Jill Zuckman from the Chicago Tribune to the Obama Department of Transportation.

Trump lashes out at unfriendly press – using the term “Fake News” among other sobriquets. But Obama, who campaigned on a promise to protect whistleblowers, ended up making greater use of the Espionage Act to “prosecute leakers and menace journalists than all other presidents combined,” noted Julie Mason in a story last April in,

Obama’s Justice Department “accessed the email of a Fox News reporter and surveilled the reporter’s parents and colleagues,” Variety reported. “They seized the home, work and mobile phone records of journalists at the Associated Press.”

The Obama administration also routinely banned news photographers from official events, went months between press conferences and tried to use social media to circumvent unfriendly reporters. First lady Michelle Obama went on overseas policy trips without any press allowed, and the White House scrubbed public visitor logs so controversial visitors would not turn up in the news, Variety reported.

Its record on responding to Freedom of Information Act requests from reporters is the worst in history.

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