It seems that someone has leaked a vast number of “Journolist” emails to The Daily Caller, and that now that the Caller has the emails in hand and its staff can see for itself that there’s no story here they’ve resorted to making things up. Today, for example, the Caller has a piece entitled “Liberal Journalists Suggest Government Shut Down Fox News” that doesn’t cite any examples of a liberal journalist suggesting the government shut down Fox News. In Strong’s writeup, however, it tries to make it seem as if Michael Scherer from Time Magazine favors this measure:
“I am genuinely scared” of Fox, wrote Guardian columnist Daniel Davies, because it “shows you that a genuinely shameless and unethical media organisation *cannot* be controlled by any form of peer pressure or self-regulation, and nor can it be successfully cold-shouldered or ostracised. In order to have even a semblance of control, you need a tough legal framework.” Davies, a Brit, frequently argued the United States needed stricter libel laws.
“I agree,” said Michael Scherer of Time Magazine. Roger “Ailes understands that his job is to build a tribal identity, not a news organization. You can’t hurt Fox by saying it gets it wrong, if Ailes just uses the criticism to deepen the tribal identity.”
Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at UCLA, suggested that the federal government simply yank Fox off the air.
The reality is that Scherer, though agreeing with the point that merely subjecting Fox to fact-based criticism wouldn’t deter it from inaccuracy, sent a message chiding non-journalist Zasloff for suggesting any such thing: “You really want political parties / white houses picking and choosing which news organizations to favor?” The story here, in other words, is the reverse of the one Strong reported. Some liberals were complaining about Fox News on an email list. The idea of FEC action was raised, and no working journalists embraced it because journalists believe in free speech. Another “revelation” from this discussion is that British people tend to think the British approach to libel law is good, whereas Americans tend to prefer the American approach.
Ezra Klein has a similar post on the subject (even though we no longer on a mutual email list will still have similar views!!!!!) which notes that Strong is also deliberately mischaracterizing a John Judis email in this post.