Over the past few weeks, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow has had a serious fascination with the grassroots advocacy group Americans For Prosperity (AFP) and how a "news organization" should be defined when it comes to press policy at the Obama White House.
But Maddow, on her Oct. 28 show, was able to merge the two topics in an attack on Fox Business Channel's John Stossel. Stossel recently came from ABC as a host of "20/20" to host a weekly opinion show on the Fox's business channel. But in Maddow's infinite wisdom, Stossel's participation in AFP activities somehow taints him.
"But first, one more thing about health reform and its politics," Maddow said. "Last week, we reported that Fox News contributor and soon-to-be Fox Business Channel [sic] host John Stossel will be headlining protest rallies against health reform staged by Americans for Prosperity, the lobbying group which refuses to disclose donors while rabble-rousing about the dangers of government-forced health care."
Maddow cited an article in the Oct. 28 New York Times by Brian Stelter that suggested Stossel was violating "traditional journalism standards" and noted he was actively campaigning against the Obama administration's brand of health care reform.
"Fox's John Stossel is Americans for Prosperity's featured speaker at three different anti-health reform rallies in Arkansas on Thursday," she said. "Today, Brian Stelter at The New York Times also reports that in between talking about the dangers of government-forced health reform at these forums, Mr. Stossel will also be the featured guest on a conference call for anti-health reform organizers, during which AFP says, he will, quote, ‘tell us more about his new role at Fox News.'"
As Maddow continued on, she suggested Stossel would be reporting on health care reform while at the time actively campaigning against it. But she completely neglected to tell her audience the format of Stossel's show would involve opinion journalism, something he had been doing at ABC for decade prior to coming to Fox Business.
"And after his speeches at the anti-health reform rallies that are being paid for by a donor that Americans for Prosperity will not disclose, and after updating anti-reform activists and all the new goings-on at Fox, Mr. Stossel will then ... help Fox cover the news about health reform? No, of course, not. But he will help them in organizing political events and protests against health reform. It's not illegal. There's nothing wrong with it. It's just not what's called news in this country."
But if Maddow's definition of "what's called news in this country" was applied to MSNBC as well, her show, a dedicated opinion show, and by association MSNBC, wouldn't be "news" Both Maddow and her MSNBC colleague, "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann, have engaged in this type of advocacy.
Earlier this month, they went into their own AstroTurf mode by encouraging free health care clinics to be held in the states of six Democratic senators that are not in lockstep with the left-wing agenda on health care reform as a ploy to turn up the heat on those senators to support a so-called public health care option (emphasis added):
"[Keith Olbermann's] specifically talking about a technique that would increase political pressure on six Senate Democrats who are key to allowing a vote on health reform," Maddow said on her Oct. 7 broadcast. "The proposal, as Keith said, is to hold massive free health clinics weekly in the capital cities of the states represented by these key six Democratic senators. Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.