The Fox Hounds the Gray Lady

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

During my weeklong visit to Minneapolis, I wasn’t paying much attention to the brewing war between Fox News and the New York Times until columnist David Carr took the Ailes team to task in today’s paper. Carr castigates the relentless push back from the Fox News PR department for anything that suggests the news channel is losing its status as numero uno cable news network. I myself have been on the receiving end of some of this, when a flack hounded me for not seeing the news value in a piece on Chris Wallace’s anniversary on “Fox News Sunday.”

But what Carr rightly points out as egregious is a segment that aired on “Fox & Friends” a week ago, in which host Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade took aim at NYT’s Jacques Steinberg’s “attack” reporting on the network. They were referring to an article that talked about CNN’s election year gains in the ratings, charged that Steinberg’s editor, Steve Reddicliffe, essentially sent Steinberg out as an “attack dog” to write the story because of his own grudge against News Corp. Reddicliffe is the former editor in chief of TV Guide, and left the company in 2002.

While that charge is as ridiculous as a “terrorist fist jab” — just about every media reporter has covered the election year ratings flux — the ethically challenged part is “Fox & Friends”‘s doctoring of photos of Steinberg and Reddicliffe, uncovered by media watchdog site Media Matters for America, to make them look more sinister.  According to Carr, Fox News has tried to brush off such photo doctoring for humorous effect as commonplace in the cable universe, but it sure didn’t seem that way in the segment, below.

I have my own bias, as I used to work for Reddicliffe, a wildly well-liked and respected editor at TVG whose departure actually signaled years of serious decline of the magazine into irrelevance.

Rove’s Mum: Variety’s William Triplett, meanwhile, reports that Fox News commentator Karl Rove is facing contempt proceedings for violating a congressional subpeona.

Triplett writes, “The ominous statement from Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) is the latest volley in an ongoing skirmish between a House subcommittee and Rove’s attorney over an investigation into alleged politicization of the Justice Dept.

“In a recent CBS “60 Minutes” report, Rove’s name was mentioned in connection with the possibly politically motivated prosecution of a Democratic governor.”

Former FCC chair Reed Hundt wonders why the story didn’t get more attention. He writes on Talking Points Memo,   “Obviously, the media gives a great deal of play to Karl Rove’s comments. Not just Fox, but everyone reports with great attention his words. But meanwhile Mr. Rove refuses to testify to Congress. There’s no law that I’m aware of which supports his position. He seems to be a willful lawbreaker. Does that not deserve mention when he is on TV or in newspapers?”

Soldier Story: Kimberly Peirce, director of “Stop Loss,” will attend a press conference on Thursday in Washington to talk about the Stop Loss Compensation Act, being backed by Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)

And More: U.S. military seeks more influence in Iraq war pics…Mia Farrow disappointed in President Bush’s commitment to go to the Olympics.

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