Fox News's Faux News
Topic: Progressive Op-Ed Program
(This article originally appeared at Guardian.co.uk )
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.
The resultant spectacle might be amusing were it not so dangerous to our country's future. It's also rather sad to see so many well-meaning Americans pushed into speeding traffic by cynical rightwing power brokers using and abusing their good nature.
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).
Its a breath of fresh air to see a White House finally willing to offer an official definition of what the Fox News Channel actually is and, in turn, to witness the nattering nabobs of nincompoopery waste their time by spinning viewers with tales of yet another imaginary war – this one where Fox and the first amendment are both imagined to be under attack. At least in trumping up this war, the folks at Fox are only hurting themselves.
And if anybody needed more evidence that the White House is absolutely right about Fox not being a news organisation, on Wednesday night primetime anchor Sean Hannity was forced to admit that he'd falsified footage of a recent Tea Party protest on Capitol Hill. When the attendance wasn't large enough to give the impression of the angry Republican mobs Hannity might have hoped for, he and fellow Republican Michele Bachmann told viewers the crowd was tens of thousands of angry voters larger than it actually was while showing two-month-old footage from a completely different rally to underscore their point.
To make matters even more embarrassing, the video that was deceptively spliced in was from a September rally where a Fox News producer had been caught stage-managing the crowd, urging them to cheer loudly while on camera.
Hannity's admission to an "inadvertent mistake" (how incorrect video inadvertently edits itself into a new report went unexplained) came after the doctored video was discovered by Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, which offers far more accurate, fair and balanced news on a daily basis than Fox could ever dream of.