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Fox News accused of crossing the line in attack on Obama

Published: Thursday, May 31, 2012 10:26 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, May 31, 2012 10:29 a.m. CDT

LOS ANGELES (MCT) — A new Fox News video attacking President Barack Obama and his handling of the economy has created a furor, with even conservatives saying that the slam job gives lie to the cable giant’s “fair-and-balanced” claims.

Although it appeared to be a hit produced by a rival candidate, the video was produced by Fox and aired on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday morning — with sharp critiques of Obama and graphics outlining lagging economic indicators, set to foreboding music.

The 4-minute piece was notable for clearly breaching Fox’s previously stated policy of restricting its advocacy programs — hosted by Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly — to the evenings.

“Clearly this is advocacy,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California and a former Republican political consultant. “What this video does is make it clear that “Fox & Friends’” role on the Fox News channel is now similar to Hannity’s or O’Reilly’s on Fox or, for that matter, (Chris) Matthews’ or (Rachel) Maddow’s on MSNBC.”

At the conservative website Hot Air, Ed Morrissey wrote that there previously had been valid critiques of media outlets that offered “biased perspective and hagiographies of Obama that go well beyond a single video.” He said that it was only valid to criticize a purported news report that clearly tilted politically in the other direction.

“If anyone wanted to look for evidence that the overall Fox News organization intends to campaign against Obama rather than cover the campaign, this video would be difficult to refute as evidence for that claim,” Morrissey wrote.

The video begins with scenes of Obama speaking during the 2008 presidential race about hope and change. Then it contrasts that rhetoric with economic conditions today — showing the nation’s expanded debt, its higher unemployment, higher gas prices and expansion of the federal Food Stamp program.

The harsh assessments of Obama offered in a voice-over (“Instead of concentrating on job creation, President Obama has concentrated on growing government” and “We are becoming a society that makes poverty more comfortable,”) go unchallenged.

A series of sound bytes plucked from newscasts comprise a sort of grand finale for “Four years of Hope and Change:” fears of long gas lines, prices through the roof, national debt growing. Concluding the video with Obama’s optimistic words — “That’s the power of hope. That’s the change we seek” — makes for an ending that virtually gushes irony.

After airing the segment Wednesday, the “Fox & Friends” anchors heartily thanked producer Chris White for the “tremendous amount of research” that went into the video. “Great job,” said Brian Kilmeade.

A spokeswoman for Fox News President Roger Ailes told The New York Times “Roger was not aware of the video.”

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