It's been a real interesting week, watching you guys from across the pond. President Obama points out something that everyone in their right mind already knew, that Fox is a Republican propoganda mill and people would be wise to keep that in mind, and suddenly the freakin' world's coming to an end.
First came the lie that this was in some way a violation of freedom of the press. Satan save me from sanctimonious conservatives moaning about freedom of the press. Have the Obama admin pulled Fox's license like Hugo Chavez (and what a disappointment he's turning out to be)? No. Have they shut down FNC? No. Have they even shut off access and kicked Fox's guy out of the Whitehouse press pool? No, they haven't. The closest they got was trying to refuse to give an interview to Fox. Wow, truly a draconian act. Here's a newsflash for the idiots: Freedom of the press does not equal automatic access. If I start up a podcast, does the president automatically have to come on when I invite him? Of course not. He's the president, he's a busy guy. He has every right to refuse to give interviews to any media outlet he likes (and, incidently, they have every right to report that)
Then there was the lie that this was an "unprecedented" move. Horseshit. DimBulb's admin used to call out NBC and MSNBC all the time, they all but accused the New York Times of treason! Conservatives like to use that to try and claim that MSNBC and Fox are equivelent. Bzzz, sorry, you're still fucking wrong. First off, MSNBC isn't half as liberal as you like to think. Yes, Olbermann and Maddow are liberals and Ed Schultz tends to lean to the left. Chris Matthews doesn't have an intellectual stance consistent enough to be called a leaning but he seems to have a crush on Obama right now so let's throw Tweety in there too. MSNBC also has Joe Scarbrough, a guy who has been seriously mentioned as a Republican candidate for president in 2012 (and the GOP could do a lot worse) every morning for THREE FREAKIN' HOURS! OK, Joe's not a batshit conservative like most of the GOP right now but he's a pretty conservative guy. Does Fox put an avowed, outspoken liberal (say, Mike Malloy) on for three hours every morning? Of course they fucking don't. Watch MSNBC for a day and chances are, you'll see Pat Buchannon at least a couple of times. Now, Pat's a weird guy, he's very right-wing and he also happens to be rampantly racist (contrary to some opinion on the left, the two don't automatically go together). But you see him on MSNBC and he's usually treated respectfully. Hosts might disagree with him (I have yet to understand why Pat and Rachel Maddow are good friends when they agree on precisely nothing) but he's treated in a respectful fashion. Pat's so reactionary, he could be nicknamed Paleolithic but he gets treated nicely by this supposedly liberal network.
Recently, Fox has tried to draw a dividing line between their "opinion" shows and their "news" shows. That's bullshit too, there is no division. Fox's "news" section is just as biased as their prime-time line-up. This has been proven so many times that you have to be either indescribably stupid, insane or stubbornly resistant to reality to ignore it. Every story, on any show is slanted in a conservative direction. Look up the "Moody memo", go and do some fucking research, they admitted this in fucking court! On MSNBC or CNN, their news shows are straight-up news. If they have a slant, it's slightly to the right (most US news has a rightward slant) but they genuinely try to report on things objectively. On Fox, everything is actively slanted to favour the Republicans and attack Obama. And spare me the outrage about Fox breaking the ACORN or Van Jones stories. I don't carry a flag for either of them but both of those were complete non-stories that Fox went hysterical over until the Whitehouse gave in (I wish they'd stop doing that). From Hannity (who makes no pretence at neutrality) to Bill O'Lielly (who's relationship with the truth has only ever been accidental) to Glenn Beck (I want to stop picking on Glenn because he's so obviously ill), these guys are vastly further to the right than Olbermann, Maddow or Schultz are to the left. Hannity is about two steps from being an outright fascist; Beck is so far gone that he appears to be channeling the ghost of Joe McCarthy and trying to cope by mainlining LSD. Olbermann's a liberal, sure, but he's not sobbing on tv and calling people every name he can get away with (barring George Carlin's famous seven words). There is no equivelency between the two prime-time line-ups. MSNBC's is centre-left, FOX's is frothing right-fringe. And their straight news shows are just as bad, they're just slightly more subtle. Media Matters (yes, I know Bill-O says they're an extreme-left outfit but he says that about anyone who disagrees with him) has loads of stuff on this, showing how Republican talking points get endlessly repeated by Fox in both their opinion AND news shows.
Fox's apologists (and Bill-O, who's viciousness hides some deep insecurities) like to point to their ratings as proof of their accuracy. I'm sorry, what? First off, how does the fact that people like your product prove it's accurate? There is no connection between the two. Secondly, yes, Fox has very impressive numbers. So did Jerry Springer. Ratings have nothing to do with quality. Springer did bonanza numbers, Oprah still does. Is anyone really claiming that Ford make better cars than, say, Rolls-Royce? Or that Dell make better computers than Alienware? Of course not. Sales (and ratings are, in the end, sales) have nothing, zip, zero to do with quality. All Fox's numbers prove is that there is a market for news (and sometimes outright lies) with a heavily conservative bias. And Fox isn't just reporting the news with a rightward slant. They're actively making news with a rightward slant. The Teabagging parties were pushed endlessly on Fox, complete with links on their website of where to go. Beck's 9/12 march of the morons was created, promoted and owned by Fox. The Van Jones non-story was "broken", pushed and promoted by Fox, created by Fox. Obama isn't calling out Fox because they "ask the tough questions". He is calling out Fox because they have been attacking him 24/7 over bullshit charges since before he was even in office. Fox have made barely any pretence that their mission is now to destroy Obama by any means necessary. And I do mean "any", the word is an absolute in this instance. Beck is already about one step away from outright treason. He might not have fulfilled all the technical legal requirements to be charged with treason under the letter of the law but under the [i]spirit[/i] of the law, he's guilty as hell. But there I go again, picking on the ill. Incidently, anyone remember Fox's Half-Hour News Hour, their conservative answer to The Daily Show? Does CNN have comedy shows on it? That show was Fox's admission that they have a conservative slant. As comedy shows go, I thought it was hit-and-miss. Had some very funny sketches (Lorenzo Lamas defending the Bush line on 9/11 was a hoot) and an awful lot of dross. Shame they didn't get longer to work out the teething problems. But the important point is that Fox felt an obligation to "balance" the liberal slant of The Daily Show by putting on a conservative comedy show. Fox is a conservative propoganda outlet, case closed.
And that's fine. Advocacy journalism has a long and honourable history. Upton Sinclair's The Jungle led to the creation of the FDA (not his intention but we'll take results here). The British Daily Star was founded as a crusading socialist newspaper, specialising in exposing abuses of power (sadly, it's now fallen to tabloid status). There is nothing wrong with advocacy journalism. But don't lie about it. Be out and proud. Say up front that you are a conservative news outlet and you cater to a conservative audience and we wouldn't have this problem. You say openly that you come at things from a particular direction and there's no problem with that, we take that into consideration when we decide whether to watch your shows. That way, you're the conservative network, MSNBC boots Joe Scarbrough across to you guys and rebrands itself as the liberal network and CNN returns to calling it right down the middle. Everyone's happy.