By Earnest Prankheimer
Fox News really began as the brainchild of Roger Ailes, when he worked in the Nixon White House. He wanted to start a cable news channel called GOP TV. He got his wish in 1996, when Rupert Murdoch’s parent company, News Corp, launched Fox News, headed by none other than Roger Ailes. Murdoch lost around $ 1 million a year for the first five years, even with such a ready target of opportunity as Bill Clinton. But Rupert was committed (or perhaps should have been). Then 9/11 happened, and Fox’s ratings began to climb. Nothing sells like fear and xenophobia.
The timing was perfect. The education industry has been moving away from teaching creative thinking, in favor of the new industry of standardized testing. Fox has a coterie of ideologues to disseminate their fact-free version of reality. There’s Neil Cavuto, (he of the perpetual frown), the ever-snarky Megan Kelly, and barking dog, Sean Hannity. Greta van Susteren is somehow able to speak between clenched teeth. Bill O’Reilly is an arrogant, obnoxious bully, who shouts down anyone with the temerity to disagree with him. Shepard Smith is the exception. I don’t know what he’s doing at Fox; he appears to be a journalist. But Glenn Beck was their biggest get, a wannabe preacher bursting with paranoid conspiracies, and he could cry on cue. I used to measure the intensity of his hysteria by the number of blackboards in the studio. During the Arab Spring in Egypt, he got all the way to eight. Many say it was all an act, and it’s true, Beck is quite the showman. Alas, his madness was too much even for Fox, and they showed him the door. It was a devastating loss for comedians everywhere.
They have regular contributors, too, like female impersonator Ann Coulter, who seems permanently off her meds (“Our blacks are better than their blacks”). There’s Karl Rove, who may have committed treason by being implicated in the outing of an active CIA agent, Valerie Plame. Sarah Palin can always be counted on for some insipid rambling, along with Dick Cheney’s enfant terrible, Liz.
Fox continues to be the unofficial propaganda mouthpiece for the Republican Party. “Fair and Balanced” is their motto, as they keep reminding us ad nauseam, as if trying to convince themselves. Fox is fair and balanced in the same way as a serial killer is civic minded. They have a weekday afternoon show, “The Five.” It’s a panel of four conservatives and one liberal, Bob Bechel. He thinks Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden should be assassinated as traitors, that’s how liberal he is. It doesn’t get more fair and balanced than that.
Here’s a fair and balanced comparison of two political movements, Occupy and the Tea Party (Hey, where’s all the black people?). The Occupy rallies were nothing but filthy, unwashed hippies, openly evacuating their bowels without decorum, and committing wanton violence. The Tea Party, though, were all good (white), hard-working (white), and patriotic (white) Americans. Not only did Fox rhapsodize over these neo-nazi rallies, they promoted upcoming rallies, and even sponsored many of them. Well, the Tea Party was much better organized (by billionaires like the Koch brothers), I’ll give them that, and I suppose all those jumbotrons, stages, and American flag painted buses just appeared out of nowhere.
I think the cushiest job in America must be a fact-checker for Fox. Maybe they keep expenses down by omitting them altogether. During the 2008 Presidential campaign, they did a segment on an upcoming Presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. They were talking about the Lincoln/Douglas debates, and on the big screens behind them were portraits of Abraham Lincoln and black abolitionist Frederick Douglass (it was Stephen Douglas who debated Lincoln). They must be saving more money by doing without proofreaders, as well. You know those news crawlers at the bottom of the screen on the cable channels? I got this one from Fox one day: “Crew retrieves crane after falling into building.” Who fell into the building, the crew or the crane, perhaps both?
I don’t know where they find all those beautiful blond fembots, either. Maybe there’s some kind of Foxford Wives Club that churns out units as needed. They do look astonishingly alike; I have difficulty telling them apart. Oh, and then there’s Fox’s idea of a journalist — Geraldo Rivera. You know, it just could be that Fox is doing a self-parody, and they’re really all diehard liberals, laughing their asses off backstage. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before.
No one does faux outrage better than Fox. If Obama uses the adjective “dark,” they accuse him of playing the race card. Remember the brouhaha over Michelle Obama in that sleeveless dress? They were shocked — shocked, I say. What do I say? I’d buy a ticket to that gun show! She’s in terrific shape. Oh, and then there was the “terrorist fist bump.” Barack and Michelle bumped fists on camera once, a gesture rapidly replacing the high five. One of the Fox fembots (I told you I can’t tell them apart) reported, “Was that a terrorist fist bump?” If only Obama were half as much the socialist, Marxist, commie pinko as Fox tells us, the country would be in pretty good shape right now.
Last year, a study by Fairleigh Dickinson State University found that viewers who regularly watch Fox News are actually less informed than those who watch no news at all. But I wouldn’t let that discourage you. The Always Benghazi George Zimmerman Support Network may be just the thing you need. If you like wars and more wars, Fox is for you. If you hate black people, brown people, yellow people, red people, women, gays, immigrants, and Muslims, you’ll love Fox News. If you can only mentally or verbally process bumber sticker sized sound-bites, Fox News is definitely your channel.
I think the word “news” should take out a restraining order on the word “fox.” The latter could not appear within five paragraphs of the former, unless in reference to the animal. As for Fox News, may their karma run over their dogma.
Ideology is the science of idiots. — John Adams