Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Brit Hume: scum-sucking pig

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Glenn Greenwald explains:

One of the great, still-lingering myths is that Brit Hume is a serious journalist and news anchor rather than a Republican Party spokesman. On every issue, what Hume says is indistinguishable from what his colleague, Tony Snow, says — except that, if anything, Snow’s comments are more muted and restrained and less partisan than Hume’s. Any lingering notion that Hume is some sort of news journalist on a news channel — and that pretense is widespread and accepted in most Beltway political and media circles — was obliterated by Hume’s behavior this weekend.

Following in the footsteps of Michelle Malkin — who finally came out with it this weekend and, Jean-Schmidt-like, called Jack Murtha a “coward” — Hume also unleashed a deeply angry and purely personal attack on Murtha, all but calling him senile. But he then went further and attacked the entire Democratic Party this way:

HUME: And think of the Democrats in the middle of this. They know these facts. They can see them. They know that Iran is up to no good. And what are they worried about? Are they worried about Iran? Not so as you’d notice.What they’re worried about is that the president might do something to Iran without clearing it with them. Wonderful. I mean, think — I mean, this is why the Democratic Party has had this reputation, going back decades, of really not being very serious about national defense. It’s because they aren’t.

First, is there any precedent for someone masquerading as a “news anchor” — and who is widely treated as such — making such an explicit personal attack on a leader of one political party and, even worse, making such accusatory statements about one of the two parties?For all the talk about the supposedly “liberal” and “biased” news anchors in the oh-so-left-wing “MSM,” is there a single instance that compares to Hume’s consummately partisan attack? Hume sits on that opinion panel each weekend and spews rhetoric on every issue that makes Bill Kristol look moderate. There is just no question that Hume is a pure partisan advocate, not a journalist. Why is the myth that he is a journalist and that he hosts a news program so widely indulged?

In one sense, his comments are the standard trope that spews forth regularly from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, National Review, and Sean Hannity. But the difference is that they do not pretend to be objective journalists, but instead are widely understood to be purely partisan advocates. Hume is, literally, indistinguishable from them. So on what conceivable basis is Hume entitled to be treated as a journalist rather than an advocate — or his show treated as a real news show rather than a RNC propaganda program — in light of these outbursts?

Second, Hume is not only a partisan advocate, but he is a dishonest one. What Hume said — that the Democratic Party is perceived as “not being very serious about national defense” — is not only nakedly partisan, but also factually false.

Polling Report compiled numerous polls conducted over the last several months on the questions about which Hume opined. A November, 2006 by CNN/Opinion Dynamics asked: “Who do you have more confidence in when it comes to handling foreign affairs — President Bush or the Democrats in Congress?” The response:

Democrats in Congress – 53%
President Bush – 39%

The same poll also asked: “Who do you have more confidence in when it comes to handling the situation in Iraq — President Bush or the Democrats in Congress?” The response was virtually identical:

Democrats in Congress – 53%
President Bush – 38%

A USA Today/Gallup poll from October asked: “Do you think the Republicans in Congress or the Democrats in Congress would do a better job of dealing with . . . . Terrorism? ” The response:

Democrats in Congress – 46%
Republicans in Congress – 41%

An October, 2006 ABC News/Washington Post poll found that Americans trust Democrats more than Republicans to “do a better job handling the situation in Iraq” (51-38) as well as “the U.S. campaign against terrorism” (47-41).And a comprehensive Washington Post poll from August, 2006, revealed that Americans not only trust Democrats over Republicans to do a better job handling the situation in Iraq (43-38), but trust Democrats over Republicans by an even wider margin “to do a better job handling the U.S. campaign against terrorism” (46-38).

It is true that some isolated polls show the parties even or Republicans with a very slight advantage on the issue of terrorism, but most polls, especially recent ones, show that Democrats have an advantage in every area over Republicans, including foreign affairs and terrorism, and the trend over the last two to three years has been unmistakably clear: more and more Americans trust Democrats over Republicans with regard to Iraq, foreign affairs and terrorism.

Those are just facts. What Brit Hume said — in addition to being self-evidently inappropriate for a supposed “journalist” and news anchor — is also completely false. How can someone who just comes right out and says that Democrats are correctly perceived by Americans to be unserious on national security be considered to be a trustworthy or legitimate source for “news,” as opposed to opinion advocacy — especially when such a claim is demonstrably false?

Obviously, it isn’t a revelation that Fox is a right-wing, pro-Bush channel. Nobody disputes that. But that is not the issue here. While some Fox commentators are rightly held out as opinionated partisans — Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer — Brit Hume is held out as a news person, as a journalist — comparable to, say, Brian Williams or Charles Gibson rather than Hannity and Kristol. Here, for instance, is an exchange which ABC News’s Mark Halperin and Hugh Hewitt had about Hume during their infamous though highly revealing interview:

HH: Do you watch Special Report?MH: With Brit Hume?

HH: Yeah.

MH: I do.

HH: Do you admire it?

MH: Do I admire it? I like it. It’s an entertaining program.

HH: Why do you think Brit Hume has the trust of the center-right?

MH: Because the center-right is looking for voices who are experienced journalists, who aren’t liberally biased. And Brit is not liberally biased.

HH: Coming right back. That’s exactly right.

Real journalists are not even permitted to publicly voice their political opinions. As but one example, The New York Times recently chastised its reporter, Michael Gordon, merely for going on the Charlie Rose Show and indicating that he supports the “surge.” Yet every week, Hume transgresses that limit by many magnitudes greater than Gordon did, and yet the media and political figures still treat him like an actual news anchor.Hume is not a real journalist and his Fox News program is not a real news program. As Hume’s behavior this weekend made inescapably clear, he and his show are appendages of the Bush-led Republican Party, and they do not even pretend otherwise anymore. Why do so many other journalists outside of Fox continue with that pretense?

UPDATE: After lauding Newt Gingrich for his relentless attacks on Jack Murtha this weekend (attacks which, among war supporters, are rapidly intensifying in both shrillness and recklessness), The Weekly Standard said: “Brit Hume was even less kind to Murtha than Gingrich.” Just imagine the uproar which would ensue if Democrats unleashed a coordinated attack on a particular Republican leader, and the same weekend, one of the network news anchors or a reporter from CNN not only participated in those attacks, but went even further than the most extremist and aggressive Democrat.

UPDATE II: From The Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz’s largely adoring August, 2006 profile of Brit Hume (h/t JFabermit):

Hume is no partisan brawler in the mold of some of Fox’s high-decibel hosts. By virtue of his investigative background, his understated style and his management role, he represents a hybrid strain: conservatives who believe in news, not bloviation, but news that passes through a different lens, filtered through a different set of assumptions. . . .Hume has come to dominate his time slot, with “Special Report” averaging nearly 1.2 million viewers. One of them is Charlie Gibson.

“He has a wonderful style which makes you want to hear what Brit has to say, in an age when so many people are in your face,” Gibson says.

While everyone acknowledges that Hume routinely defends Republicans, he is still spoken of in journalistic and political circles as though he is a real journalist — as though there is a meaningful difference between him and Fred Barnes or Tony Snow. There simply isn’t.UPDATE III: Perhaps one of the points needs to be made a bit more clearly. When the Democratic presidential candidates held a debate in September, 2003, the moderator was Brit Hume. Would Paul Krugman or Frank Rich or an Air America host ever moderate a Republican primary debate? No, because they are opinion journalists, not objective reporters or news anchors.

This is the point: Hume is continuously treated as though he is a news journalist rather than an opinion journalist, even though he abides by none of the rules of objectivity required of news journalists. Hume, like Fox News itself, is a full-fledged Republican Party advocate, which is fine — except for the fact that Hume is so widely held out and treated as though he is something different (and except for the fact that he spews factually false claims, such as this weekend’s assertion that Democrats are perceived as unserious on national security).

Written by Leisureguy

19 February 2007 at 9:35 am

Posted in GOP, Media

One Response

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  1. Brit Hume, as do all those of his ilk and genre, falls into the “Worst Person” category! If Brit ever tells the whole truth it’s accidental. Character assassination is his forte.


    Robert Miller

    19 June 2008 at 10:49 am

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