Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Clever New Thoughts about FOX News

Speaking of the Fox propaganda division, I happened to catch their strange Sunday show--I believe it's called "Why the President's Right"--this weekend. In some ways, it's the most entertaining of the Sunday shows, which now rehash the manifold ways in which Bush and the GOP have blundered, lied, dropped the ball, appeared vacant, tortured, and so on. But sprightly Fox continues to offer quite innovative spin about why these blunders, lies, gulags and so on are really impressive markers of Bush's success. In one sense, it marks the introduction of a new art form that incorporates current events, rhetoric, and performance. There is something subtly philosophical about it as well.

For the brain trust at FOX, there is no such thing as objectivity. So, when Bill Kristol leans forward, shoulders hunched but eyes peering sideways at Chris Wallace, it's a delight to watch him, say, make the argument that Dana Priest, who revealed the existence of illegal gulags in Europe, is a criminal--as he did Sunday. He combines nimble reasoning, Buckleyesque timing, and wonky gravitas in a peppery stew of entertainment.

For FOX, though, there is a downside. The network, with a mission to promote the President, managed to trick itself into thinking that the alternative it offered was a fresh, conservative viewpoint. Under this logic, they perform the same function as the NYT--just for the other team. But the actual alternative it offered was slavish propaganda in place of objectivity.

The FOXites thus committed a logical falacy. By recognizing (a) that objectivity is unattainable in an absolute sense (see postmodernism, Heisenberg, et. al.) and that (b) the very effort to create "objectivity" necessarily creates its own unobjective filter, they then drew the conclusion that (c) their version of bias was free of agenda. Ah, but here is the mistake: their version of bias is slavish to an agenda, but just one unseen to them.

Which is to say, to cut to the chase, that watching the FOX kabuki now is to be immediately confronted not just with people like Kristol, Hume, and Wallace who are performing their entertaining new art, but that those people don't realize they're performing kabuki. It would be one thing if these propagandists were merely running their (admittedly slick) cynical con to promote a lying, incompetent crook like Bush. This is what I had heretofore imagined. But watching Sunday, amid this new world order in which Bush is now broadly known to be a liar, incompetent and crook (even FOX's own poll puts him at 33%), I was confronted with the obvious truth that the folks at FOX don't realize what they're doing. In their version of offering the alternative NYT narrative, they've signed on to promote Bush no matter what. For them, this represents the lack of agenda, fairness and balance, ipso facto, and a version of truth.

They signed onto this ship, and by god, they're going down with it.

1 comment:

Sandra said...

Great post. Add to it Tony Snow's appointment this morning as Bushie's press boy...