Remember back in 2009 when Fox News was pulling out all the stops to promote the newborn Tea Party? They broadcast every town howl and invited an endless stream of tri-cornered hat wearing crackpots to rant about tyranny and Kenyan usurpers. Fox even branded the Tea Party movement as its own entity while beseeching viewers to attend rallies.
Well, this year they have not had much success pushing their fringe agenda. They spent months hammering away on Benghazi, Solyndra, Fast and Furious, and a bevy of second-tier scandalettes, but have been met with yawns. After Fox launched a campaign to hype the false allegation that the IRS was targeting Tea Party groups for harassment, the national protest to “Rein In the IRS” drew tens of angry Teabaggers to IRS offices across the country.
The latest effort by Fox to pump up the right-wing wrath was a planned protest by America’s truckers to create the “biggest traffic jam in history” in Washington, D.C. Their promises ranged from thousands of truckers jamming the capital’s highways and arresting members of Congress, to hundreds of millions of citizens nationwide participating in a show of solidarity. This morning the protest began with nothing more than a trickle of trucks that failed to have any noticeable impact on traffic. Even Fox News posted a story reporting that “Dozens, not thousands, show up for DC trucker protest.”
The “Truckers Ride for the Constitution” was supposed to send a message to Washington that they were “sick and tired of the corruption that is destroying America!” Apparently, the hordes of sickly, fatigued protesters never materialized. This will surely cut into their comically delusional list of demands that include that President Obama immediately resign from office.
Next up for the Fox News Protest Committee is an event targeting the closure of American memorials and monuments due to the Tea Party driven government shutdown (or slimdown, as Fox is calling it). On Fox’s community web site, the lie-riddled Fox Nation, they have posted an item that can hardly be characterized as news. It concerns something called the “Million Vet March” that is scheduled for this Sunday. That seems like bad planning on Fox’s part, because if the truckers rally had successfully stopped traffic in D.C., how would the vets get to their event?
The Fox Nationalists promotion of the Million Vet March was not actually a story about the proposed rally. It was a link to the web site of the political action committee that is sponsoring it, the Special Operations Speaks PAC. The PAC’s web site indicates that it was formed to lobby for a Watergate-style congressional committee to investigate Benghazi. Now they are taking a detour to protest the “vicious tyrant” in the White House who “shut down our nation’s war memorials and declared a war on our veterans!”
Never mind that it was the House Republicans who shut down the government and the memorials. The The bigger problem is that Fox is posting links to partisan activist organizations in the guise of reporting the news. If Fox had written a story about this march, or linked to a story written by another news outlet, that would be bad enough and they would still be guilty of proselytizing on behalf of a political cause. But Fox didn’t even bother to put that much distance between themselves and the fringe group organizing the march. They just linked directly to the organizer’s web site where you are greeted with a solicitation to donate.
It is pretty unlikely that anywhere near a million veterans are going to show up in D.C. on Sunday. So this event will be just as big a flop as the trucker rally. But both events demonstrate that Fox is not a news network, and they aren’t even pretending to be one anymore. They are a political advocacy enterprise and, measuring by their recent efforts, they aren’t even any good at that.