How mainstream media outlets get played by the right
Expanding a bit on something I said in a recent interview
Hello, everyone! Welcome to a special Thursday edition of The Present Age. Today, I wanted to highlight a recent interview I did with the great Aaron Rupar over at his Public Notice Substack. (He was recently a guest on the TPA podcast, so feel free to check that out, as well.)
I wanted to use this opportunity to go into a bit more detail about some of my responses to Aaron’s questions. Consider this post something of a director’s commentary. I’ll quote from his piece and then I’ll add to it:
One thing at Media Matters we'd notice more and more was that whatever wall between news and opinion ever existed, which was always questionable, no longer existed after Shep Smith left. It just merged into one blob where they do that thing where Tucker Carlson says something one night and then the next morning they cover the reaction to what Tucker Carlson said, giving it value as news.
Especially during the Trump era, it was extremely easy to just go, ‘Oh, well, the president tweeted this, so it's news. We have to talk about this.’ And then they would make that their story the whole day. It cut out the middle man. It cut out the, ‘Okay, well, first we have to have an opinion host say something that then we can build on.’ But when you have the President of the United States tweeting out, ‘The election's rigged,’ you're going to have that come up as a news story. I think it benefited Trump in the way that it was framed, not only at Fox but at legitimate mainstream outlets as well. Because they had to treat it as serious because he's the president. That was an under-appreciated aspect of Trump's destructive Twitter presence, in my view.
During the 2008 campaign for president, right-wing media got worked up about then-Sen. Barack Obama’s supposed connections to William Ayers, who in the 1970s was a leader in the extremist Weather Underground group. Ayers went on to become a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Obama and Ayers met at a campaign event held at the professor’s house in 1995 (Obama was running for state Senate), and in 2001, Ayers donated $200 to Obama’s reelection campaign. Additionally, between 1999 and 2001, both Obama and Ayers served on the board of directors of the Woods Fund charitable group.
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