Color me disappointed. Jane Hamsher is a first-rate blogger/analyst and an admirable advocate for progressive causes. Her web site, FireDogLake, is a must read. That is why what took place this morning on Fox News is all the more disturbing.
In a segment titled “First Do No Harm,” Jane engaged in an interview on her opposition to the Senate health care bill. It’s bad enough that Jane would appear on any program on Fox, but her decision to submit herself to Steve Doocy on Fox & Friends is just baffling. Doocy is the poster child for ignorant disinformers of the world. He makes Sean Hannity look like a Rhodes Scholar. For Jane to be subject to an interview by this evolutionary throwback to cave-dwellers is unconscionable.
For the record, I happen to think this bill should pass. Mainly because I am pessimistic that we can get anything better on this go-round. I think there are too many people in Congress who are compromised by their association with Big Pharma and that the process is dreadfully dysfunctional. The best political approach appears to me to be an incremental one. That said, I completely agree with Jane’s criticisms of the bill, and I respect her opinion.
Hamsher: People on the right, people on the left are looking at the Senate and they’re saying, “Nobody’s there representing us.” Nobody’s representing the people. It’s just a matter of who’s in power and who’s taking Pharma’s money.
Exactly. Jane and I have the same goals for health care reform. We just differ on whether to scrap this bill and start over, or pass it and push for more later. But she ought not to have sunk this low. Is she really this desperate for a platform? It doesn’t help her cause in the least to fraternize with the goons at Fox. They have just one agenda: Destroy Democrats and progressive reform. And there was a time when Jane recognized that (h/t pontificator):
Hamsher: Fox is not a news outlet, it’s an openly partisan opinion factory and the Democrats should not be legitimizing them (and allowing them to recruit Democratic viewers to propagandize to) by doing this.
Exactly. What happened Jane? The only purpose served by appearing on Fox is to validate them as a legitimate news enterprise. It permits them to persist in their dishonest claim to being “fair and balanced.” It lends credibility to a network that has not earned any on its own. And there is no benefit to promoting a progressive point of view on Fox, even if well stated, because their audience is not just unreceptive to it, they are overtly hostile.
What’s more, Fox will aggressively exploit your appearance to their advantage. They will either make you look stupid or portray you as supporting their agenda. In this case, Fox is using Jane to bash the health care bill. They are positioning her as another reason to defeat the evil, socialist Democrats in Congress. Fox looks upon this as, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Fox is opposed to the health care bill. Since Jane is also opposed to the bill, in its current form, let’s have her on to beat up the people on her own side. It’s a win/win for Fox. Bash the bill and Democrats in general too. And Fox will replay slanted excerpts of this interview over and over for the rest of the week. Jane ought not to empower that sort of cynical exploitation.
Doocy began the segment by shamelessly exploiting Jane’s past experience as a breast cancer survivor. This is a typical ploy by Fox to tug at heart strings and to imply that this gives her opinion more weight. Jane’s contribution to the debate lies in her analytical ability and insight, not her medical history. But Fox doesn’t care about Jane, her health, or her position of the issues. They only care about disparaging their perceived enemies. At the close of the segment Doocy announced that…
Doocy: If you would like to sign her petition to try to kill the Senate bill, go to our web site at FoxandFriends.com
So Jane didn’t even get the benefit of a plug for her site (although it did appear on screen). Fox used the whole piece to promote themselves and drive traffic to their own site. Any Fox viewer who happens to click through to Jane’s petition will see a list of reasons to oppose the bill with which Fox viewers will fiercely disagree.
Fox conservatives oppose the bill for completely different reasons than Jane and other progressives do. Consequently, they would never sign her petition. Once again, Jane has achieved nothing of benefit by appearing on Fox.
There is some irony in the title of Jane’s segment on Fox: First Do No Harm. She should take that advice and stay the HELL off of Fox News! Such appearances only do harm to Democrats and progressive reform.
For a complete analysis of why it is pointless, and even harmful, to appear on Fox News, see my Starve The Beast series.
Update: Jane responded to criticism of her Fox gig on her own web site addressing the content of her remarks, saying…
“I stand by that message, and I think it’s important for both people on the left and people on the right to hear.”
The thing is, I have no problem with her message. My problem is with the platform she chose to dispense it. I still admire Jane and her commitment to changing this country for the better, but appearing on Fox does not serve that end. And for the record, I have also criticized others who appeared on Fox, including Obama: