The Fox News morning program, Fox & Friends, has a unique quality that differentiates it from the rest of the Fox News schedule. In addition to the lies, propaganda, and GOP PR that fills the network’s fare, Fox & Friends features a trio of hosts who are called anchors only because of how much they weigh down the network’s IQ.
On today’s episode, the three squawking heads entered into a discussion of Mitt Romney and the question of whether he would, or should, release his tax returns as just about every other candidate has done in modern times. [Video below] It went a little something like this:
Brian Kilmeade: One thing about Mitt Romney: He’s rich! And most people know it. And I guess that’s one of the reasons that he does not want to release his tax returns, because there seems to be a war on success in this country.
Gretchen Carlson: And I want to know from the viewers: Do you care about this topic? Tax returns?
Eric Bolling: Who cares if he made a lot of money. Frankly, we should all be thrilled he made a lot of money. He’s a capitalist. Don’t we want that?
Indeed, Mitt Romney is rich and most people know it. But that is not the reason that he doesn’t want to release his tax returns, and it’s not the reason that voters want him to. The practice of releasing tax returns was begun in order to establish whether the candidate is complying with the law and not receiving special treatment due to his connections in business or politics. It is also done to disclose any impropriety or relationship to special interests that might pose a conflict for a public servant.
Fox News is exploiting the controversy surrounding Romney to invent another so-called war on something they consider sacred (i.e. Christmas, junk food, religion, light bulbs, etc.) In this case it’s success. The segment was chock full of the usual complaints about “villainizing the wealthy,” “job creators,” and “class warfare.” But the ultimate goal was to trivialize those who call for accountability on the part of our representatives, and to give people like Romney (or R*Money, as his Highlife Homies call him) cover to suppress any information that they want to hide from voters.
I’ve seen a lot of tactics used by right-wingers to obfuscate and evade true transparency, but this is a new low. People have a right to know whether their leaders are honest and trustworthy. I have to wonder whether Fox’s Tea Party viewers, who purport to be fed up with government deceit, would actually approve of this effort to free candidates from the responsibility of demonstrating their fitness to serve in this simple manner.
Does Romney have something to hide? Is he embarrassed by how little he paid in taxes due to loopholes that the rest of us don’t get? Does he have investments in enterprises that might affect his judgment or independence? These are important questions, but equally important is why is Fox News running interference for Romney and any other politician who might have skeletons he wants to keep in the closet until after the election?