BOYCOTT

I've given the Obama administration's no-appearing-on-Fox-News policy a lot of thought, which is the amount that I believe it deserves. Rather than go with the knee jerk reaction – "Yeah, fuck 'em!" – I think there are some legitimate questions about any political figure declaring what is and is not news. Fortunately the facts are on the President's side in this case.

WK Wolfrum has a good write up of what is a quintessential Fox story (albeit one from the utterly viewerless Fox Business Network rather than Fox News). The FBN Happy Hour decides to have a chat about the SEC and rather than interviewing someone from, oh, I don't know, the SEC, they interview Overstock.com CEO Pat Byrne. That is enough of a WTF on its own. But the entire segment – Byrne predictably trashing the SEC and throwing around baseless accusations of bribery and hearsay from "a friend" – passes without noting the fact that, you know, Byrne and Overstock.com have just been subpoenaed as part of an SEC investigation into the company's continued "restatement" of its past numbers. Could anything be a better snapshot of the kind of production and journalistic "ethics" behind Murdoch's empire? The most logical person to invite on the air to talk about the SEC is a guy who is on the verge of having the SEC break it off in his ass. And why bother mentioning that Byrne just might not be an objective, disinterested observer?

Never mind the hundreds of examples of complete abandonment of anything resembling standard journalistic practices at Fox over the years. Remember when they underwrote, endorsed, and provided dozens of hours of free advertising to the "movement" they were supposed to be covering?

Yeah, see, here's the thing. Journalists cover protests. They don't hop on the bandwagon and relentlessly promote them as their own network-sponsored events starring your favorite on-air personalities. And how many segments over the years have been word-for-word recitations of lobbyist talking points helpfully provided to the network daily by the RNC and its ideological fellow travelers? Too many to count, although this example of Steve Douchebag Doocy reciting a Heritage Foundation press release literally word-for-word is priceless.

Look, Fox is what it is. It's a business and Rupert Murdoch has a right to try to make a profit. He airs whatever programming he thinks people want to see. On the mainstream Fox network, that means NFL football, raunchy cartoons, idiotic reality shows, and generally the lowest-browed, most juvenile, and crassest programming around. On Fox News and FBN it means far right wing propaganda that tells a substantial portion of America what it wants to hear. It is "news" only for people uninterested in facts and having their preconceived notions about reality challenged. They have largely turned the network over to the talking heads – BillO, Beck, Hannity, etc. – and those individuals explicitly admit that they are not hosting "news" shows. They are paid to provide commentary and they deliver. That armies of mouthbreathers treat Beck as a source of serious news is only partially his fault.

Fox Network, Fox News Channel, and Fox Business Network are identical. They provide a single product: entertainment. If some of that comes in the guise of "news" or "reporting," that doesn't obligate the rest of the world to play along with their farce. The White House should provide Fox News all of the press privileges entitled to an organization of its size and viewership. But why should the President or anyone around him feel obligated to participate directly, above and beyond giving Fox access equivalent to what it gives other networks, in programming that amounts to little more than entertainment. Fox is entitled to air whatever kind of programming they choose, but calling it "news" is not all that is required to make it news.

Every day the President, like all presidents, makes decisions about access that benefit some media outlets and hurt others. He does exclusive interviews with the Washington Post but not the Akron Beacon-Journal. That he chooses not to act out the role of the guy suspended over the dunk tank at the carnival while Fox's entertainers take shot after shot at him to the great delight of a fanatically hostile viewership utterly uninterested in anything he has to say is unsurprising. The President of the United States is under no obligation to be to Fox News what the deadbeat babydaddys are to Maury Povich and Jerry Springer – the reliable ratings booster dragged on stage periodically to be humiliated, booed, and lectured at great length by people of dubious intelligence.

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17 Responses to “BOYCOTT”

  1. Desargues Says:

    But what is your verdict on the strategic wisdom of this move? What exactly is it supposed to achieve, and how? I'm not sure about the reasoning behind this thing. Of course, I say 'fuck those cockwipes and the inbrednecks who watch their shit.' But, my sentiments aside, I'm wondering what the objective is, on the WH's side. To make an example of Faux to other networks who may decide to pull similar shit? Then shaking a stick at that suppository David Gregory may be a good move too. Is it simply to stop wasting the president's time trying to make a case in front of hopelessly hostile audiences? To further FN's insulation into a thick-walled echo chamber for right-wing mouthbreathery?

    I haven't been so puzzled since Starbucks came out with their redneck ghetto product. What's it for?

  2. Daniel Says:

    I honestly don't know if there is a reason to watch a Fox channel besides for Simpsons, football, and baseball. It's by a large margin the worst of the major four networks and it has been that way for twenty plus years. Every "Watch someone get maimed on video" special that is constantly parodied was made "popular" by Murdoch's network. They have sucked every bit of juice out of Cops and will continue to until the End of Days. I don't think I even get Fox Business Channel and I have the basic cable package. If Fox News wants to be taken seriously, get a news studio that doesn't look like a Boise, Idaho local news station from 1988 and hire honest newscasters instead of a bunch of red-necked charlatans who don't know their asses from their faces.

  3. Aslan Maskhadov Says:

    I cast my vote for "fuck those cockwipes".

  4. Ed's Sister Says:

    Sure, Fox News is not news, I agree – but what would you say about Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann? I think they, and their networks, are equally guilty.

  5. Aslan Maskhadov Says:

    To be fair, Maddow and Olbermann are responding to right-wing pundits. But in general, punditry is not news, and it becomes a race to the bottom.

  6. dbsmall Says:

    An interesting, statistically insignificant datum: I used to get outraged at t Fox News (well, and at Fox "normal" TV), and at its widespread approval. I'd make notes, and mention the latest transgressions to friends.
    But I've actually gotten "disgust overload". Honestly, other than the Tea Party infomercials, I can't remember any details about being offended, recently. I read this article, nodding along, saying "oh, wow, that does seem bad."

    Then again, I did just get back from the network operations center for a large telco, who put "overall network load" stats up for key events, like M Jackson's death being announced, Mother's Day, elections, 9/11, etc. And then they put up the stats for American Idol final voting night. It dwarfs the others combined. Seriously.

    So I guess society isn't the wise collective I'd hoped for. And maybe turning up the squelch helps me to get by without going crazy.

  7. dbsmall Says:

    Also, Keith Olberman is unwatchable ever since Ben Affleck nailed him on SNL.
    Also, he was never news, and should not be granted interviews with the White House, even if he pretends to be news at some point in the future.

    (The existence of screeching editorials in a newspaper doesn't prevent that newspaper from being…a NEWSpaper. If the newspaper started putting those editorials on the front page, then it might be Fox…)

  8. Kulkuri Says:

    By boycott do you mean we the people should boycott Fox or that the WH should just ignore them?? I watch Fox for sports (football and NASCAR) and some shows like Bones and House. Never have watched their so-called news channels. Any organization that will argue in court that they don't have to tell the truth on the news like Fox did, isn't something to watch if you want news.

    So, it's not OK for Keith and Rachel to talk to the Pres in the WH, but it was OK for Hannity, Rush and others of their ilk to have private meetings with aWol in the WH?????????????

  9. comrade x Says:

    I never heard MSNBC describe itself as " fair and balanced" or Maddow or Olbermann declare their shows to be news. Cut the equivelancy shit, i.e. FOX is not news so MSNBC must not be news. It is illogical and serves no purpose other than to undermine any opposition to right- wing bullshit.

  10. Ed Says:

    There is little difference between the commentary shows on Fox and those on MSNBC (unless we start splitting hairs about ratings, sanity, and factual accuracy). There is a significant difference in the news reporting.

  11. J. Dryden Says:

    The thing that I've noted about Maddow is that when she has guests with whom she strongly disagrees, she nevertheless treats said guests with respect. She never becomes angry, or dismissive, or mocking–not to the faces of those who are, after all, her 'guests.' Olbermann never has conservatives on his show (one imagines there's been a consensus within the GOP not to appear thereon), but I have to imagine that he, too, would be cordial enough, though maybe a bit more confrontational (a la Jon Stewart, say.) This display of basic professional manners is nowhere in sight over at Fox, where yelling, insults, and cutting off of mics are the norm. Presumably there's a behind-the-scenes assumption that "it's all in good fun," but I still grimace at the notion that this is acceptable discourse.

  12. oldfatherwilliam Says:

    BHO shoulda said "Fox News is an ENTERTAINMENT network. I don't regard the concerns of the Federal executive as entertainment. Period. Next issue.

  13. cat Says:

    Overstock.com's CEO is one of the most vocal opponents of Naked Short selling and has been up the SEC's ass for years about it. Of course a bureaucrat would never ever use their power to retaliate against someone who spends their time calling them out as being stooges of the industry they are supposed to be regulating.

  14. Satchel Says:

    That [Obama] chooses not to act out the role of the guy suspended over the dunk tank at the carnival while Fox’s entertainers take shot after shot at him to the great delight of a fanatically hostile viewership utterly uninterested in anything he has to say is unsurprising. The President of the United States is under no obligation to be to Fox News what the deadbeat babydaddys are to Maury Povich and Jerry Springer – the reliable ratings booster dragged on stage periodically to be humiliated, booed, and lectured at great length by people of dubious intelligence.

    YES. And, as Jesse Taylor pointed out on Pandagon, the White House has been determining who is and is not a legitimate news organization for decades, by virtue of their issuing of press credentials.

  15. Mrs. Chili Says:

    Thank you. Just THANK you. I've had just about all I can stand arguing with people who think that Fox is serving some sort of patriotic duty. It's ENTERTAINMENT (though not, in my opinion, very worthy entertainment) and though I feel better having made that distinction, I'm still horrified by the sheer numbers of people who think that it's actual news.

  16. Dave Says:

    Ugh, Christ, no. How did we get these binaries of news v. entertainment and objective v. biased? Neither of those is operative in Fox's case. Arguably, they're not operative in any case.

    Fox exists to provide a total world of whatever illusion powerful conservatives deem most beneficial to them.

    The only way you can compare Fox to MSNBC or anyone else is in the degree of totalization they want to achieve. And, if you watch any Fox, you know they're in a league of their own.

  17. johnny Says:

    If we step back (journalistically speaking) about 2 decades and compare news then to news now, we'd all probably be in need of new undies. News reporting as a whole has changed drastically in look, feel, content, importance… well, you name it.

    A great example is CNN's Headline News. Not to sound too elderly, but I can remember a time when one could turn on Headline News and actually get… well, news. It's still somewhat true in the middle of the day, (barring any run-away balloons or sweat lodge deaths) but at night, all bets are off. We have Nancy Grace and Joy Behar. And mornings are almost stomach-turning in their cuteness.

    Oh, Bobby Batista, where are you?