Jon Stewart is on fire. About two weeks ago, Stewart put together one of the best presentations illustrating perfectly why Fox News is NOT news. Just last week Stewart gave us an hysterical portrayal of Glenn Beck’s diseased psyche. And last night Stewart proved, once again, that he is a far better journalist than most of those who actually call themselves journalists.
Why does Sean Hannity even still have a job? Anyone else, on any other network, would be fired for this sort of deliberate fabrication. Apparently on Fox it is acceptable to show video footage from a rally two months ago and pretend it is from a rally a few days ago, in order to falsely inflate the size of the attending crowd.
The propagandists at Fox are well aware that the nation overwhelmingly supports heath care reform, so they resort to dishonesty in pursuit of their unpopular agenda. If they can’t get enough Tea Baggers to show up, Fox will just falsify the video record to make whatever point serves their venal interests. It is the same disrespect for the truth that compels Hannity to assert, without any evidence, that 20,000+ people turned out to the protest, although neutral sources say it was no more than 10,000. Hannity’s guest, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), put the crowd estimate as high as 45,000. She also said that the event was the result of spontaneous word of mouth. What she left out was that Fox News promoted the affair repeatedly and anti-health care lobbyists like Americans for Prosperity funded the organizing efforts, including some forty buses to deliver the AstroTurfers to the Capital.
What’s truly depressing about all of this (besides Hannity keeping his job) is that the rest of the media has failed to report any of it. When Dan Rather aired a true story that was marred by a few poorly vetted documents, it became a media frenzy that eventually cost Rather his job. But when Hannity blatantly manufactures a false story, the media shrugs its shoulders and turns away.
This is why Jon Stewart is such a treasure and a model of journalistic integrity, despite his objections to being cast in that role. We definitely need more like him. It would be great if they were just as funny, but I’d settle for just being responsible reporters.
Update: Hannity has responded to Stewart’s exposÃ© in a typically smug manner, saying that he had “screwed up” but that it was “an inadvertent mistake.” Then he thanked Stewart and his writers for watching. That’s a little like a heroin trafficker thanking a DEA agent for listening in on his phone calls.
More to the point, Hannity’s apology doesn’t pass muster. It stretches credulity to assert that he had merely used “some incorrect video” along with some that was correct. The event he was discussing was current news, footage for which would be at hand in the newsroom. In order to buy his excuse you would have to believe that someone accidentally stumbled into the video archives facility, mistakenly retrieved footage from an event that took place two months prior, and unknowingly spliced it onto the correct footage. Then everyone on the staff – editors, directors, producers, and Hannity himself – failed to notice the mishap even after the multiple viewings that these prepackaged segments are subjected to prior to going on the air. Yeah, right.