Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fox News's faux news.

I agree with every word of Brad Friedman's summation of Fox News:

It must be stated over and over again: the Fox News Channel is not a news channel. It's a Republican party propaganda channel. As such, its first amendment right to say whatever it likes ought to be protected, but not its "right" to call itself "news". That's false advertising, and it ought to be outlawed by whoever regulates such things.

Perhaps if they changed the name to the Republican News Channel (RNC for short), there would be no complaint. Until they do, however, they need to be called out by the rest of us for exactly what they are.

To that end, recent statements by the White House are right on the money: Fox should be treated not like a news organisation but like a television network that exists to promote a specific political agenda.

This public recognition of the perfectly obvious is long overdue from Democrats, many of whom continue, foolishly, to treat Fox as merely a news outlet with a conservative bent. These Democrats fall into the false equivalence brier patch when they say Fox is merely a conservative counterpart to rival network MSNBC. Sure, several of the GE-owned news outlet's primetime shows cover real news from a progressive perspective, but progressivism does not equal liberalism, whatever that is, nor even Democratic-ism.

For the intellectually honest who bother to pay attention to MSNBC's primetime coverage (distinct from its all-rightwing morning coverage hosted for several hours by former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough) the news outlet's progressive viewpoint is obvious. So is their well-documented penchant for reporting on the scoundrels in, and failings of, the Democratic party. Such failings are not hidden from viewers.

By contrast, Fox presents an alternative reality where Republican hypocrisy, scandals and abuses of power are either spun into something they are not or, more frequently, simply not mentioned at all. As such, the depths of the historically unprecedented failure that was George Bush's presidency remain virtually unknown to Fox viewers. In the bargain, as the young Obama administration moves forward, attempting to deal with countless disasters they've inherited, issue after issue now comes as a complete surprise to the majority of Fox's audience.

Sure, MSNBC might have a liberal bent, but there is simply no comparison with the alternative universe which Fox News offers to it's viewers. It's a world where the present economic crisis is the fault of the Obama administration, and where extreme right wing opinions are regularly presented as the mainstream viewpoint and no left wing opinion exists other than, as Bill O'Reilly would put it, "the extreme left".

It is with a sense of both shame and bemusement that we now witness good Americans agitated and drafted into protests over the very policies that the Republican failure has itself created and supported uncritically for years: record government expansion and deficits; massive Big Brother invasion of privacy; bureaucratic intrusion between patients and doctors; corporate bailouts courtesy of taxpayer largesse....

The list goes on and on, but the frothing teabaggers protest as if the last eight years never happened. Rather, these poor saps were presented with a phony version of reality produced with Hollywood-style special effects and distractions (missing blonds, steroids in baseball, terrorists around every corner, non-existent voter fraud). Now these confused souls roam the streets, town halls and email lists as clueless zombies, unaware of who and what they are fighting for (government-supported corporatocracy) or against (their own self-interest).

The hypocrisy of listening to Fox News - the very people who loudly supported tax cuts at a time of war - now berating the Obama regime for the deficit is breathtaking.

And Friedman is right when he states that you can call such a channel many things, but it's simply wrong to call it news.

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