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Fox, Tea Party Blogs, Pick Up on Phony “Good Wife” Slur: Newsbusters Unresponsive After Context Proves their Charge False

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Posted on March 1 2011 10:50 am
David Forsmark is the owner and president of Winning Strategies, a full service political consulting firm in Michigan. David has been a regular columnist for Frontpage Magazine since 2006. For 20 years before that, he wrote book, movie and concert reviews as a stringer for the Flint Journal, a midsize daily newspaper.


When the lamestream media blindly runs phoney talking points by Media Matters, we call them out.  Now, we reluctantly have to do it with Fox News and Newsbusters.

On Friday I challenged Newsbusters for running an out of context clip worthy of Alan Grayson to charge that Prime Time CBS Drama ‘The Good Wife’ Impugns Tea Party as ‘Racist Organization’.  At the time, I was hoping that Bret Baker was operating on incomplete information, and would make things right.

By Friday afternoon, the estimable Megyn Kelly was hosting debates on Fox with two people who had never seen the show (3 including her) based on this false charge.  Ironically, Megyn made the very point left out of the clip when she said all parties, including the Democrats had racists in them!

But despite being shown the whole context of the clip, Baker is unrepentant.  He even ignored comments posted on his blog by one of the co-writers of the episode in question!  Here’s a great quote from writer Robert King (more later in this post):

ROBERT KING, WRITER FOR THE GOOD WIFE: A character in the episode (in fact, an opposition lawyer and a bad guy) impugned the Tea Party, and he did it for a reason (defending a cop-killer) that was clearly unsympathetic.  In fact, the Tea Party was strongly defended by the sympathetic characters on the show.  This was in a section of the episode you didn’t include (except in an edited transcript).

To say “The Good Wife impugns the Tea Party as ‘a Racist Organization’” is logically similar to saying “The Gospels impugn Jesus for being a Deceiver” because those words are actually in the gospels; they just happen to be in the Pharisees’ mouth.

Baker owes an apology, and Fox should run clarifications when he makes it.  But even if they do, it won’t reach the hundreds of blogs who have reprinted this garbage—including the granddaddy of media bias watchdogs—Accuracy in Media.

I have already made my points, so I will mainly let you read King’s defense of his work (which include most of the arguments I made anyway.  Emphasis in bold is mine):

#33 Unfair

Submitted by Robert King on Thu, 02/24/2011 – 2:01pm.

Dear Brent,

As the co-writer of the episode in question and co-creator of the show, I find your article extremely unfair.  The episode didn’t impugn the Tea Party.  A character in the episode (in fact, an opposition lawyer and a bad guy) impugned the Tea Party, and he did it for a reason (defending a cop-killer) that was clearly unsympathetic. In fact, the Tea Party was strongly defended by the sympathetic characters on the show.  This was in a section of the episode you didn’t include (except in an edited transcript).

To say “The Good Wife impugns the Tea Party as ‘a Racist Organization’” is logically similar to saying “The Gospels impugn Jesus for being a Deceiver” because those words are actually in the gospels; they just happen to be in the Pharisees’ mouth.

This seems to be the difference between narrative writing and essay writing.  Narrative writing needs more context because the words expressed are often placed in the mouths of unsympathetic characters– and therefore the meaning of the writing is often the opposite of the actual words.

And I should just add: the point of this episode was not to defend the Tea Party.  The point of the episode was to show how two people who come from the exact opposite end of the political spectrum could look past that and come to respect and love each other.

–Robert King

Dear Cato2000,

Thanks for the friendly question.  Let me quickly offer context to that:

The Kurt McVeigh character (as played by Gary Cole) was introduced mid-season during our first year, and at that time, he was given a name that was intended to play into the anti-conservative prejudices of the more liberal partner, Diane (as played Christine Baranski). We were trying to satirize Diane’s prejudice against his name. Anyone who has seen the show knows that McVeigh is a remarkably positive character, and that Diane’s initial bias against both his politics and his name is quickly demolished in the face of the person himself.

That’s what I find so offensive about Mr. Baker’s articles here.  The McVeigh character and this episode was intended to do the opposite of what he suggests. I know a headline like “The Good Wife Defends the Tea Party against Charges it’s a ‘Racist Organization’” doesn’t have the same capacity to provoke, but it does seem to me more honest, and more reflective of the episode.

Warmest,

Robert King

#42 Warmest, eh?—

Submitted by matthewdean on Thu, 02/24/2011 – 10:49pm.

Fan of William F. Buckley? Given the slant of the majority of the material coming from the entertainment field, it is a bit unusual to see someone defending a slice of it as being a positive reflection on conservatism.

#43 Warming up to MatthewDean

Submitted by Robert King on Fri, 02/25/2011 – 12:01am.

Dear Matthewdean,

I have no affection for conservatism.  I have no affection for liberalism.  I just hate cliches.  I hate watching a TV show and knowing that if a priest is introduced in the first act he will molest a child in the fourth act.  I hate the predictability and the dishonesty.  Conversely, I like being surprised by a show. I like when a show has a 2nd Amendment-protecting, Palin-loving ballistics expert named McVeigh become the hero.  It’s unexpected and therefore fun.

But I don’t like how Mr. Baker has misrepresented the content of our show.  To me, this is dishonest. That’s all.  I’m not sure if that’s unusual, but it is what it is.

With Buckley-like warmth,

Robert King

I have spent a fair amount of time promoting and defending The Good Wife, not because it is a conservative show– but because it is a fair one– not to mention a smart, dramatically interesting and complex and yes, a surprising one.  Also, as someone who actually works in campaigns, I can count on one hand the number of even halfway realistic campaigns I have seen in drama.  This is one of those.

If you do your Google search of the blogs that ran with this story, you will find two things in the comment sections:

  1. People who actually saw the episode dispute the premise.
  2. People who are the most convinced say they never watch network TV because it is all propaganda.

Well this time, they were taken in by propaganda.  And I find it stunning that Bret Baker and Newsbusters are letting this stand.  They would not put up with it from any other news or commentary organization if the roles were reversed.

I am a huge huge fan of the Media Research Center, and if I liked Megyn Kelly any more she would probably be considering a restraining order– but whether this started with sloppiness, the pressure of a 24 hour news cycle, or a deliberate unfair shot, everybody involved with this needs to make some kind of clarification.

Allowing this to stand makes a mockery of legitimate media bias claims.  It also does what it claims the show tries to do– make Tea Party Supporters look like idiots.  If this character isn’t good enough for them, then they cannot be satisfied.

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