On Fox & Friends this morning, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. launched into a passionate attack on “Congress” and “the US Senate” for killing health benefits for 9/11 rescue workers. “Last week, Congress told them they could drop dead,” Johnson said, to the mournful chords of September Song. “Shame, embarrassment, outrage, anger—all the proper reactions to the conduct of our senators who…have turned their back on American heroes.” Worse, they’ve been betrayed by the same “politicians who couldn’t take enough pictures with them.” Right on, Peter.
But in his three-and-a-half-minute rant, Johnson didn’t once mention who in Congress could be such heartless hypocrites. The 57-to-42 vote was three short needed to break a filibuster, as every Republican voted against even bringing the bill to a vote, and every Democrat but one voted in favor (Harry Reid had to switch his vote for arcane procedural reasons). “People like me on TV are sometimes practiced at outrage,” Johnson said (in a rare bit that described Fox’s basic technique), “but the injustice of this makes words hard to come by.”
Especially the word “Republican.” For anyone working at the Roger Ailes–led media arm of the GOP and Tea Party, speaking that word in such a negative context would be like shouting “Voldemort” in the halls of the Ministry of Magic. Better to let viewers assume that both parties are equally guilty—or even that Republicans, whom Fox has so thoroughly associated with American heroes, are innocent. And for that, the proper reaction to Fox News’s conduct is shame, embarrassment, outrage, anger.
You can watch the performance here.