I keep hoping that at some point we will finally reach a tipping point beyond which the millions of Americans who believe that Fox News is a legitimate news organization will finally see them as what they are; the political propaganda wing of the Republican party. While I’m not foolish enough to believe that we’ll actually see this happen any time soon, a series of gaffes at Fox News has given me reason to hope. Not so much that Fox News is doing anything worse than what they’ve been doing all along. It’s just that lately they’ve had to issue a series of apologies and retractions because the public has been calling them to the carpet.
First was a gaffe by Fox News pundit Liz Trotta. While being interviewed by FOX News anchor Eric Shawn for a standard talking head segment, Trotta said;
“And now we have what some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama, uh, Obama. Well, both, if we could.”
Needless to say, this didn’t go over very well. Even a joking suggestion that someone assassinate a candidate for the Presidency of the United States is going to land you in hot water. And Trotta found herself back-pedeling. She was forced to issue an on-air apology the next day.
Second was an incident in which E.D. Hill, the anchor of Fox News show America’s Pulse, suggested that Barack Obama and his wife affectionately bumping fists before his victory speech on becoming the Democratic candidate for president could be seen as a “terrorist fist jab”.
“A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab? The gesture everyone seems to interpret differently,” said Hill in her show. “We’ll show you some interesting body communication and find out what it really says.”
Following that, Hill, who has been with Fox News Channel since 1998, lost her show, although she is to stay with the network in an as yet undetermined capacity. She issued a standard half-assed apology following her gaffe, but it wasn’t enough. So off she goes.
Third, Fox News took heat because of an onscreen caption referencing Obama’s vow to protect his wife from critics.
The caption read; “Outraged Liberals: Stop Picking on Obama’s Baby Mama!”
The misogynist and racist implications of the term “baby mama” — frequently used in rap songs and most recently in a film about a white-trash surrogate mother — were apparently offensive enough to female employees inside the company that Fox executives issued a quasi-apology. Fox’s Senior Vice President of Programming Bill Shine said in a statement “A producer on the program exercised poor judgment in using this chyron during the segment.” A Fox staffer said that others internally were bothered by describing the potential first lady, and very accomplished woman who Princeton and Harvard Law educated, as the senator’s “baby mama.”
It’s all just more of the same. Fox News isn’t doing anything differently than what they’ve been doing for years. But now they’re catching some heat from it. Personally, I’m dancing in my chair to see even this little bit of accountability being levelled at Fox News. They’ve been getting a free pass for far too long. They’re reaching a point where they’re offending their own audience. That’s something I never honestly thought could happen. Obviously, they may lighten up, or the legitimate media may stop covering their gaffes. Either way, it’s good to see Fox News on the defensive.
One has to wonder if Barack Obama will personally challenge these deliberate slights from Fox in the same way that his campaign has worked to destroy the more insidious online rumor mill that claim that he’s Muslim, that he won’t say the Pledge of Allegiance and that he’s hiding his birth certificate. He’s placed online a web site titled Fight the Smears that addresses those issues. Will he also put up a Fox News section? How can he not? They’re going to be working over-time trying to find ways to discredit the Senator and smear his family.
For now, at least, it’s enough for me that Fox News is actually having to backpedal a bit. They’ve been so successful in their role as the propaganda wing of the Republican Party that they’ve taken on an air of untouchability; an arrogance that came from believing that they were riding the crest of a wave of Neo-Conservatism that was sweeping the country into a Right-Wing paradise where the Democratic Party would be marginalized, Liberals would become an endangered species, and the United States would exist in a state of perpetual war during which every citizen would wrap themselves in the flag and wouldn’t dare question their appointed Republican leaders.
Now it seems that at least in some ways, that wave is receding. Hopefully the American people will continue to hold Fox News accountable, and proclaim that while it’s apparently acceptible to attack political leaders with misinformation and lies, it’s unacceptable that they use misogyny and racism as a means to that end. That may not be the resounding rejection of Fox News that I could hope for, but it’s a step in the right direction. Personally, I hope their testosterone driven school-boy bully shtick will keep them putting their collective foot in their mouths. Nothing else could reveal Fox News for what they really are better than their own words suggesting that an American Presidential candidate has ties to terrorists, that perhaps he should be assassinated, and that his wife is the kind of trash that rappers talk about in their songs.
In an unrelated incident, but something that I want to mention in staying with the theme of Fox News accountability, I want to mention something concerning Bill Moyers. For those who might not know, Bill Moyers is one of the grand old statesman of professional American journalism. He has led the fight for the restoration of an independent 4th estate, and has therefore been a target of the Bush administration, in concert with Fox News, which has launched unrelenting personal attack on Moyers’ reputation and credibility. As part of that attack, Bill O’Reily recently sent one of his street thugs, Porter Berry, to ambush Moyers at the National Conference for Media Reform, to try to antagonize him (and I imagine get juicy tape that could be heavily edited to make Moyers look like an idiot).
Well, that didn’t work out so well.
Moyers emasculated the young punk, humiliating him in front of about 20 real journalists. He described O’Reilly on tape as not a journalist, as he describes himself, but a pugilist (a professional fighter or boxer). The segment ended with the real journalists who witnessed the ambush chasing poor old Porter out of the building giving him a little of his own O’Reilly medicine. Finally. Fox News is getting some of what’s coming to them.
If you want a good laugh, check out the Moyers video on YouTube.