And then I had this dream that my whole family were just cartoon characters and our success had led to some crazy propaganda network called Fox News.
When the Democratic presidential candidates, led by John Edwards, pulled out of the March debate that was to be co-sponsored by the Nevada branch of the party and Fox News, the Wall Street Journal editorial page rendered the story thus: “The left blogosphere thinks the most popular cable-news network leans too far right, and so Democrats should not legitimate it by appearing.” That’s true as far as it goes–unusually so, given the source–but it does not go nearly far enough. For one thing, Fox is not a real news network. Just look at its reaction to the Democrats’ refusal to play ball with them. On The Beltway Boys, Morton Kondracke likened Nevada Democrats to Communist propagandists. Bill O’Reilly found similarities between “radical” Nevada voters and Nazis. The channel’s vice president, David Rhodes, accused Nevada Democrats of being “controlled by radical fringe out-of-state interest groups.” As Media Matters’s Eric Boehlert pointed out, “Of course, a real news organization wouldn’t issue a nasty statement like that, nor would it give the statement exclusively to Matt Drudge, which Fox News did.”
As the scrupulously fair-minded reporter Ron Brownstein notes, “Through its language, its news decisions and its hosts–[Fox] generally functions more like a cog in the Republican message machine than as a conventional news organization that attempts to abide, however imperfectly, by the traditional standards of (yes) fairness and balance.”
Fox, like the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the Washington Times, is a conservative counterestablishment institution designed to ape the functions of the real thing, doing double duty by firing up the troops with custom-crafted ideological spin, “analysis” and phony scholarship while confusing the rest of the world with nonsense disguised as news. Fox’s journalistic transgressions are legion and need not detain us long here. A 2004 Center for Media and Public Affairs study found that at the height of the presidential campaign, just 13 percent of Fox News panelists’ comments on Democratic candidate John Kerry were positive, compared with 50 percent for Bush. As Fox London bureau chief Scott Norvell has put it, “Even we at Fox News manage to get some lefties on the air occasionally and often let them finish their sentences before we club them to death and feed the scraps to Karl Rove and Bill O’Reilly.”