Watchdogs to WHCA: Reconsider Fox News' Front-Row Seat

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Jess Levin (202) 772-8162
jlevin@mediamatters.org

Watchdogs to WHCA: Reconsider Fox News' Front-Row Seat

Media Matters, Public Campaign, Center for Media and Democracy issue joint letter to WHCA in light of News Corp.'s RGA donation

WASHINGTON - Today, following reports that News Corp. donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, Media Matters for America joined
Public Campaign and the Center for Media and Democracy in issuing a
letter to the White House Correspondents Association asking them to
reconsider its decision to allow Fox News Channel a front row seat in
the White House briefing room.

The letter reads:

To Board Members of the White House Correspondents Association:

We are writing today to ask that the White House Correspondents
Association reconsider its decision to allow Fox News Channel a
front-row seat in the White House briefing room in light of reports that
Fox News' parent company, News Corp., has donated $1 million to the
Republican Governors Association -- a massive ethical lapse that
demonstrates Fox News' inability to function as an objective media
institution.

Media outlets are supposed to cover elections and issues to inform
voters, not help to elect candidates who espouse certain positions. With
so much News Corp. money invested in the election of Republican
gubernatorial candidates, can Fox News be expected to disinterestedly
cover those races or Republican politics in general?

News Corp.'s generous gift to the RGA, and its subsequent explanation
that "News Corporation believes in the power of free markets, and the
RGA's pro-business agenda supports our priorities at this most critical
time for our economy," should demolish any continued claims from Fox
News and its enablers that the organization operates objectively and in
good faith.

When confronted by Nathan Daschle of the Democratic Governors
Association about the need for disclaimers to Fox News' coverage of
gubernatorial races, the network responded: "Nathan's stunt has run its course. His 15 minutes are up. Time to leave the stage."

This is not how legitimate news organizations respond to ethics
scandals. Stonewalling tactics and snide attacks on critics such as
these are more suited to political campaigns.

What message does it send to reward a "news outlet" that
ideologically and financially supports the Republican Party with a place
of distinction in the White House briefing room? How is the country
better served by continuing to disregard Fox News' unabashed partisan
tilt even as it becomes more and more obvious?

This is an issue that transcends mere ideological squabbling. If
democracy demands a free press, then it also demands that partisan
political outfits not be treated as legitimate news outlets or rewarded
for masquerading as such. It also demands that news outlets maintain
strict financial separation from the political parties and candidates
they're supposed to cover. The White House Correspondents Association
can demonstrate its commitment to preserving the media's role as
independent agents of good governance by rescinding Fox News' front-row
spot in the White House briefing room.

David Donnelly, Public Campaign

Lisa Graves, Center for Media and Democracy (publisher of Sourcewatch.org)

Ari Rabin-Havt, Media Matters for America

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Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

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