It’s a little on the old side, but Scott McClellan’s accusation that the White House has been feeding talking points to Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity is interesting, if not surprising:
Rachel Maddow’s take here strikes me as completely backwards. She says she’s not made at Fox News because “they pledge allegiance to nobody other than the bank at which they cash their paychecks every week.” But she says she’s mad at the government because “it’s supposed to be illegal in America to propagandize the American people. It is supposed to be illegal for our government to covertly choose some sort of press organ that is represented to the American people as if it is a press organ and is feeding us stuff that is actually propaganda from our government.”
I have no idea what she’s talking about here. Certainly it would be objectionable if the government secretly owned and operated Fox News, but I don’t see how sending talking points to Sean Hannity or anyone else is illegal or even unethical. The Bush administration wants to get its perspective out there, and it of course does everything it can to feed sympathetic reporters with information that will help them make the White House’s case. Sending Sean Hannity talking points is awfully low on the list of unethical Bush White House activities.
Rather, the blame here lies with the “journalists” who betray the trust their viewers place in them by parroting the government’s talking points without disclosing that that’s where they came from. As far as I know, that’s not illegal, but it certainly ought to be embarrassing, and anyone who actually cares about getting “fair and balanced” news should avoid watching the programs of journalists who behave that way.