Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I report. You decide.

Islamic expert Juan Cole is steamed about a derogatory article about him in the Wall Street Journal's opinion section (not to be confused with its news sections). Cole, a frequent commentator about Iraq, is steamed that opinion writer John Fund bashed him as a "notorious anti-Israel academic," among other charges.

Cole wrote that Fund's article was full of lies and defamation, citing several examples. But Cole didn't deny he favored censorship of Fox News Channel, a network popular with conservatives. Fund didn't give a reference, but I found the quote in an otherwise flattering profile in the Detroit Metro Times.

I e-mailed Cole Tuesday night and asked if he had been accurately quoted. He sent me a courteous reply this morning affirming the quote represented his view about Fox News's television operations. Here's both e-mails.

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Hello Juan,

You said there were a lot of inaccuracies in John Fund's piece about you. I plan to write about this issue for my blog (http://southwestleftcoast.blogspot.com), and want to get a response for you for my piece.

The item I'm writing is about one of Fund's charges you apparently didn't discuss in your rebuttals. It is that you said you wanted the Fox News Channel subjected to government censorship. Just so you know, I don't think there should be any government censorship, period. It's a First Amendment issue. (Being a reporter for my day job might have something to do with that view).

With that background out of the way, I want to check with you before posting anything, considering Fund's animus against you. Did Fund accurately characterize your statement? If so, do you still stand by it?

Just for ease of response, here is the Fund quote:

"Mr. Cole wants to enforce his own taboos on free expression. In February, he told the Detroit Metro Times that the federal government should close the leading cable news channel. "I think it is outrageous that Fox Cable News is allowed to run that operation the way it runs it," he said in summarizing his view that Fox "is polluting the information environment." He went on to claim that "in the 1960s the FCC would have closed it down. It's an index of how corrupt our governmental institutions have become, that the FCC lets this go on."

While Fund didn't provide a reference, I found the actual news story he was citing here:

http://www.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=8917

"There's a lot of criticism of the media, but the way the media is used is the objectionable thing. I think it is outrageous that Fox Cable News is allowed to run that operation the way it runs it. It is a highly ideological, explicitly ideological operation, and it is polluting the information environment. You have anchors who attack guests for simply stating the facts; you've got anchors who show an attitude to spin stories in a particular way. Frankly, I think in the 1960s the FCC would have closed it down. It's an index of how corrupt our governmental institutions have become, that the FCC lets this go on."


Did that Metro News article accurately characterize your view about what the FCC should do about Fox News Channel? If so, do you still hold that opinion?

Thank you,

Bradley J. Fikes

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Dear Bradley:
My point about Fox News editorial policy is that it skews *everything* in the news and in its interviews toward Republican Party positions. It is a partisan activity. Clips are rebroadcast over the public airways on Fox affiliates. The FCC was set up to ensure that the public airwaves are used for public, not consistently partisan, purposes.
cheers Juan



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