Sunday, October 26, 2008

WFTV Biden interview: Slanted questions and biased followups, and Fox News' slanted coverage of a slanted interview

On Thursday 23 October, VP candidate Joe Biden was interviewed via satellite by Barbara West of WFTV in Orlando, FL. Surprisingly, as much of this election crap as I hear about, this little kerfuffle hasn't come up while I was paying attention until today. Flipping past Fox News for the neocon view of things, I saw a story about this and had to look into it more deeply.

Here's the synopsis... West had prepared a hatchet piece, asking Biden to (among other things) tell her if it's Marxist for Obama to want to make the federal income tax rates more progressive. to "spread the wealth around" (to quote the GOP talking point and 4 unfortunate words lifted from a several-minute conversation Obama had with "plumber" Joe Wurzelbacher in Ohio.) She also harped on Biden's poorly-worded version of the same thing Joe Lieberman has said, that the new president will likely face challenges on the international stage soon after his inauguration. She started her questioning off asking if Biden was "embarrassed" about their association with ACORN, and when he didn't grovel before her question she brought out the GOP talking points about Obama being an "organizer and attorney" for ACORN.

I thought Biden handled the actual responses to her questions pretty well. He gave direct answers to her question, even though some of them were obvious hackery and even though he meandered a bit about the questions themselves. I feel that her tone and her follow-ups looked somewhat biased, but nothing that would make Hannity the Manatee proud, and if I had seen the piece before I saw Fox News blathering about it I wouldn't have thought much of it. Biden asked her if the question was a joke when she essentially asked if Obama is a Marxist, and commented "I don't know who is writing your questions" when she asked, regarding his comments on the test of a new president, if he was "forewarning Americans that nothing will be done, and that America's days as a world power are over." This was her worst, most slanted, question that had no sane basis in reality, and Biden answered it as if it really merited an answer and answered it well. (I personally think it merited a bitch-slap, but we can just add that to the whole host of reasons why I shouldn't run for public office.)

Fox had their knickers in a twist because after this interview, the Obama campaign cancelled a scheduled interview of Jill Biden with the same reporter and suggested that it would not grant further interviews with this station until after the election. I understand perfectly the reason for cancelling Jill Biden's interview, she's not a candidate and there's no reason to subject her to the likely unfair, slanted treatment she'd receive from Barbara West. I'm less sympathetic about cutting the station off altogether, but it's nothing in comparison to the McCain campaign's treatment of members of the press who aren't seen as friendly to the campaign, barring them from the campaign planes and carping incessantly about bias. From their piece on this, and watching the chyron, Fox has manufactured unfounded concerns that an Obama presidency would "regulate the media" and that we should be concerned about an administration that won't answer "tough questions" from the press.

I think that in the direct sense of Fox's statement, we SHOULD be concerned about such an administration. Biden, however, ANSWERED all of her questions, even as he questioned their validity. We should be worried about an administration that has a hidden VP who only appears before friendly crowds and only talks to friendly media. We should worry about an administration that thinks favorable historic facts (military service, POW prison) should be reported, but unfavorable historic facts (poor performance in the academy and the cockpit, cheating on his first wife then dumping her for a tall, blonde beer fortune, supporting Charles Keating, visiting Pinochet with "no preconditions", supporting progressive tax rates as income increases, supporting ACORN) happened a long time ago and should be ignored. We should be concerned about what kind of closed-doors, opaque operation a McCain-Palin administration would run.

UPDATE: For those who just read topics and not comments, my friend Howard pointed me to this blog, where Barbara West is called out as the wife of a GOP political and media consultant. I wonder who might have pointed her to those McCain-Palin talking points?

You can view the video here:


Howard said...

Turns out Barbara West's Husband is a GOP Media Consultant

DKB said...

Ah, might have known. I could tell she had intent, but didn't know her motives would have been that direct and damning. Fox News, of course, couldn't be bothered to ask any questions. If they did that, they might not have time to scoop everyone else on those imaginary black muggers attacking poor innocent white girls for supporting McCain.