Recently, The Daily Caller revealed that liberal academics and journalists on the now-defunct "JournoList" (a supposedly off-the-record listserv where liberal and left-leaning writers would share ideas) suggested using government power to take down Fox News.
That alone would have been newsworthy. But it turns out that one of the journalists disparaging Fox News in e-mails was Michael Scherer of Time magazine. And unlike the other Fox critics on the JournoList, Scherer may actually be in a position to use his authority to hurt Fox News.
In this case, Scherer could potentially help block Fox from inheriting Helen Thomas' prized front-row seat for White House briefings. The reason is that Scherer recently won a seat
on the board of directors
of the White House Correspondents' Association. Ultimately, the White House press secretary decides who sits where in the James Brady Briefing Room, but the president's communications team solicits -- and generally follows -- the advice of the correspondents' association.
A spirited competition is taking place to determine which media outlet will get the Thomas seat for White House briefings.
Many believe that Fox News should get the seat
. Michael Scherer would seem to be openly unsympathetic to Fox's claim.
According to The Daily Caller, Scherer agreed with Guardian columnist Daniel Davies who wrote that "peer pressure" and "self-regulation" weren't enough to control Fox News, and so what was needed was a "tough legal framework."
Scherer then went on to add
that Roger "Ailes understands that his job is to build a tribal identity, not a news organization. You can't hurt Fox by saying it gets it wrong, if Ailes just uses the criticism to deepen the tribal identity."
To be fair, the Daily Caller story goes on to note that Scherer pushed back when another JournoLister suggested the Federal Communications Commission should pull Fox's broadcasting permit. Reached for comment on Wednesday, a spokesman for Time released a statement, saying, "Michael Scherer fully disputes The Daily Caller's account, which selectively quotes his e-mails and takes his comments about the changing news landscape entirely out of context. In his e-mails he vocally opposes any suggestions to restrict Fox News."
Coming on the heels of the Shirley Sherrod story
-- where the comments of a USDA worker were clearly taken out of context to misrepresent her opinions -- this is an allegation that deserves attention. The Daily Caller should release the entire record of Scherer's comments regarding Fox News. Additionally as a member of the listserv, Scherer would also be in a position to produce evidence disputing the Daily Caller's story.
Regardless, the record shows Scherer is clearly not a fan of Fox News -- a point that would be less relevant had Scherer not recently won the magazine seat on White House Correspondents' Association board.
While some may dismiss the jockeying over the Helen Thomas seat as trivial, it is not. Fox News officials believe they have earned the right to have their White House correspondent (currently Major Garrett) to sit in the front row with his contemporaries from other major outlets. The timing of the Daily Caller exposé also makes it compelling. As FishbowlDC recently reported
, the correspondents' "board plans to make final decisions by Aug. 2."
Will Scherer, who did not return repeated e-mails or phone calls seeking comment, recuse himself from the vote? If not, will he explain why he believes that, despite his published comments, he can help decide this matter in, well . . . a fair and balanced way?