Fox News Pulls The Plug On The President

Today’s town hall meeting in New Hampshire with President Obama was highly promoted by all the major television news organizations, including Fox News. However, when the event took place, Fox News decided to bail out of the live broadcast just as the floor was opened to questions from the audience. Both CNN and MSNBC broadcast the Q&A in its entirety.

Fox News likes to promote itself as “fair and balanced.” Anyone with a functioning cerebrum knows that that isn’t true, but the brazen nature of this programming bias deserves special recognition. Fox has unambiguously proven that they are the network of melodrama. A civil discourse on public matters, no matter how important, will always lose out to a wild police car chase (which was actually on Fox prior to the Obama town hall).

The moment that Fox chose to abandon the event was just after the audience started asking questions. What became immediately obvious was that Fox had no interest in continuing coverage because they concluded that the event was not confrontational enough. The first couple of questions were not the sort that would incite the frothing anger that has become a staple of Fox News’ coverage of the health care debate. Even David Bauder of the Associated Press recognized the barely hidden motivation of Fox:

“Fox News Channel cut away from President Barack Obama’s town hall meeting on health care reform Tuesday as he faced a far more polite crowd than has attended many meetings hosted by members of Congress recently. CNN and MSNBC carried the session in full […] The loud public debates have been a tonic for cable news networks during normally quiet August.”

If the AP gets it, you know it’s reached new levels of clarity. As the town hall progressed, the questions became more probing. They included inquiries into some of the most controversial matters that have characterized this issue: death panels, taxes, rationing, etc. But Fox News’ audience saw none of this despite the notice that anchor Trace Gallagher gave after they broke coverage:

“Any contentious questions, anybody yelling, we will bring it to you here.”

Well, that’s comforting. The striking thing about that statement, other than the fact that he did not adhere to it, is that it is an admission that Fox News is only interested in contentiousness and yelling. It is rather startling that Gallagher would make a promise to his viewers that amounts to a declaration that Fox will only present the President when he can be made to look embattled or unpopular. Fox never did return to the event.

Gallagher did, however, keep his promise to provide contentious programming. Much of the time that the Obama town hall was in progress, Fox News replayed arguments captured at town halls for senators Cardin and McCaskill. These shoutfests were aired with a little box in the corner showing Obama’s event minus the sound. So Fox made a deliberate decision to avoid the President’s newsmaking appearance and replace it with yesterday’s more pugnacious, albeit stale, news. The rest of the time was spent with Fox pundits predictably bashing the President even though they weren’t even listening to what he was saying.

It appears that the only way for Obama to get any airtime on Fox News would be to cater to Fox’s appetite for sensationalism and lead the police on a wild car chase. Or maybe to be caught having dinner with the OctoMom. Or better yet, lead the police on a wild car chase with the OctoMom, Michael Jackson’s doctor, and a piece of the Shroud of Turin.

This is, of course, all Obama’s fault. He should know by now that the one thing you never do if you want to be on Fox News is to be reasonable, intelligent, and honest. He should be ashamed of himself.

Shepard Smith Doesn’t Give A Rat’s Ass

I just can’t let this go by…

Shepard Smith is the Fox anchor most hated by entrenched Fox viewers. This video is a good example of why. Smith takes a principled stand against torture and in favor of living up to our national values when he says:

“We are America. I don’t give a rat’s ass if it helps. We. Are. America. We do not fucking torture. We don’t do it.”

This is video from Fox’s Strategy Room, which is a webcast that takes place when the network goes to commercial. So this was never on the air. I think the most embarrassing part has nothing to do with Shep’s language. It is when Trace Gallagher says that he is not saying that torture is right or wrong. That doesn’t seem like something that a moral person would be ambiguous about.

Shill Baby Shill: Fox News Pumps Up Big Oil

William La Jeunesse is rapidly becoming the most promising contender for the Excrements in Journalism award. Last week he did a report on congressional earmarking in which his primary source was a McCain front group that he identified as nonpartisan. This week his report on offshore oil drilling is just as slanted as he becomes an outright advocate of Big Oil and their agenda.

In this story, La Jeunesse excitedly related news that the Santa Barbara County Supervisors had voted 3 to 2 to allow offshore drilling 100 miles off the coast. He veritably reveled at the notion that this coastal community was considering opening their beaches up to potentially devastating environmental disaster. In an earlier report he implied that the people’s wishes were going to be disregarded because California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were opposed to offshore drilling. How he concludes that the people are more represented by three county supervisors than they are by the majority of their state and congressional representatives and their governor, he never quite explains.

The report itself soft peddles the inherent dangers associated with offshore drilling. La Jeunesse cites a study that claims that one in every 156,000 barrels of oil is ever lost to a spill. He editorializes that that is “literally a drop in the bucket.” What he fails to say is that this number calculates out to over 70 million barrels of spilt oil. That’s a lot of dead of fish and seagulls, and a lot of lost revenue for a state that is highly leveraged in tourism.

If La Jeunesse wasn’t bad enough, Fox anchor Martha McCallum chimes in at the end to congratulate him on his report:

“This is the kind of debate and people say we need to drill off of our shores and I think a lot of people think that is a good idea but then you get into this Congressional debate and things get stymied.”

The problem with her comment, aside from her taking a position on what she thinks people want, is that there was absolutely no debate presented in the report. It was thoroughly one-sided and she even progressed the argument further to blame Congress as obstructionist. But she didn’t end it there. She still felt it necessary to praise Big Oil for their track record on spills:

“There is all of this pressure about the oil companies and oh they make so much money. Oil companies have spent a tremendous amount of money researching and making this process as clean as possible and they have done a pretty good job of it when you look at the numbers of what actually gets spilled out there, it’s extremely minimal. So, something everyone needs to know to get the full picture.”

To which her co-anchor Trace Gallagher responded:

“And that was pretty much the full picture.”

There you have it. Courtesy of Fox News, you now have no need to engage in any further research. The “full picture” has been revealed and it is one of clear waters, blue skies, and endless rainbows. All thanks to America’s oil companies.

Someone might still want to check with these corporations and ask them why gas prices have not dropped commensurate with the 37% drop in the price of crude oil since July. An equivalent decrease in gas prices would have us paying about $2.65 today. Is that what you’re paying?

You may also want to inquire of John McCain why the “Drill Baby Drill” mantra is still being chanted at his rallies. With Crude prices having dropped from nearly $150.00 a barrel to about $92.00, it apparently wasn’t necessary to expand domestic production in order to get the price down. So what Barack Obama and the Democrats have been arguing for weeks was correct. Yet I haven’t seen them get any credit in the press for being right. I haven’t even seen any analysis of what has transpired in the oil markets over the last couple of months.

Unfortunately for consumers, gas prices are still near record levels. Since it is not a problem at the wholesale level, it seems that the friends of McCain and his lobbyists are now indisputably at fault for the gouging we are experiencing at the pump. Unfortunately for voters, Republicans intend to press the case for more drilling regardless of the facts as they exist today. And the Democrats in Congress aren’t much better. They are expected to go along with Republican proposals to permit offshore drilling, albeit in compromised legislation. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) explains:

“The American people are very conscious that we need an alternative energy policy and the they’re not too distant from the memory of the $4 dollar-a-gallon gas. They know we need an investment in alternative energy and we can’t keep doing what we’re doing […] I think there’s still an urgency to get this done and get it done now.”

The argument appears to be that the momentum for a knee-jerk response is too swift to resist. That would make this a good time to contact your representatives and let them know that you’re paying attention; that you know that crude oil prices have fallen 37% but that gas prices have remained inordinately high; that you know that drilling for more domestic oil, particularly offshore, will not resolve our energy problems, in fact, it will exacerbate them and preserve our dependency on fossil fuels. Tell them not to accept the Republican arguments that have been proven false, and not to vote for their agenda that is designed to help their benefactors in the oil industry.

Don’t let the chanting cultists at McCain rallies win this debate when the truth is the opposite of their zombie anthem. And don’t let lying, corrupt Republicans and Fox News dictate our nation’s energy policies.