Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Clinton surrogate Ed Rendell (hearts) Fox News

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Here's the latest Clintonian trend: suck up to the right-wing media. As if it wasn't enough that Hillary herself cozied up to Dick Scaife (and was cozied back), top Clinton surrogate Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania -- he who thinks whites may not be ready for a black president -- thinks the world of Fox News, claiming it is truly the fairest and most balanced of them all:

I think during this entire primary coverage, starting in Iowa and up to the present -- FOX has done the fairest job, and remained the most objective of all the cable networks. You hate both of our candidates. No, I'm only kidding. But you actually have done a very balanced job of reporting the news, and some of the other stations are just caught up with Senator Obama, who is a great guy, but Senator Obama can do no wrong, and Senator Clinton can do no right.

So he said yesterday on Fox & Friends (via The Politico).

I'll let Steve Benen translate: "Rendell's argument seemed to be that Fox News is more negative towards Obama than the credible cable news networks, which therefore makes Fox News "fair," "objective," and "balanced."

Now, Hillary herself may not believe this -- Steve thinks not, and he's probably right. But the fact is, one of her key surrogates -- an all-important Pennsylvania surrogate with national standing -- said it (and may think it, who knows?). And, of course, what he said was both biased and stupid. Biased because he equates objectivity with attacking Obama and stupid because everyone knows Fox News isn't at all fair or balanced.

Now, in praising Fox News, Rendell makes Hillary look bad and gives the Republicans ammunition and immunity against Obama (as Will Bunch suggests). Of course, the Clinton campaign has given a great deal of anti-Obama ammunition to the Republicans in recent weeks -- notably by questioning Obama's experience and preparedness, but also by hurling the "kitchen sink" at him -- but, in this case, should Hillary be held responsible for the biases and stupidities of her surrogate? Hard to say, but I would say yes, to a point. A campaign is more than the candidate, after all, and these surrogates are sent out to speak out on behalf of the candidate.

Obama took responsibility for Samantha Power, dismissing her shortly after her "monster" remark, whereas Hillary hardly took any responsibility at all, and only belatedly, for Geraldine Ferraro. Ferraro may or may not have been speaking only for herself, but she may very well have been voicing an opinion held by much of the Clinton campaign, namely, that Obama has only been successful because of his race. Similarly, Rendell may very well have been voicing a popular opinion in the Clinton campaign, namely, that the media establishment is propping up Obama and knocking down Hillary.

I suspect that Ferraro was speaking for herself more than Rendell was and that Rendell was voicing an opinion that is not just popular but widely shared in the Clinton campaign. Think back to Hillary's critique of Saturday Night Live. Indeed, the view of the media as supporting Obama over Hillary is a popular one among Hillary supporters -- see Taylor Marsh and TalkLeft's Big Tent Democrat, for example, both of whom, believe it or not, argue that Rendell is right.

Yes, this is what it has come to, the Clinton campaign -- Hillary herself, her surrogates, her supporters -- cozying up to the vast right-wing conspiracy, as Hillary once called it, and praising Fox News.

Think this is an April Fool's joke? Think again.

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