Obama-Fox press war doesn’t compare with FDR media feud

Jack Shafer of Slate has some interesting commentary on the ongoing flap between President Obama and Fox, providing needed context.

In our “history in a hurry” world, journalism often lacks context, as many of you have observed.

“To get a genuine picture of what a war on the press looks like, you can’t fan the pages of Nexis for grouchy things George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or even Richard Nixon said about reporters, newspapers, and networks. You’ve got to go back to the 1930s, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt raged against the press like noisy clockwork,” Shafer writes.

Roosevelt especially disliked “interpretive reporting,” which Time and Newsweek were popularizing.

It continues: “Roosevelt recoiled when a reporter asked him what interpretive angle the president would take if he were to write a piece about the Democratic Party’s 1934 landslide victory. ‘I think it is a mistake for newspapers to go over into that field in the news stories,’ Roosevelt said. His prescription for what reporters should do for readers: ‘Give them the facts and nothing else.’ (One can almost see Dunn and Axelrod of the Obama administration giving Fox the same advice.)”

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

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