Anyone with a functioning brain stem is aware of the multitude of problems facing our country and world in these “interesting” times. We are currently struggling to deal with what may be the worst man-made environmental catastrophe ever. We are still in the midst of perilous economic conditions. There are two wars raging and another more amorphous terror threat that has not receded. And in addition to those critical and extraordinary affairs, there are the routine events of life that demand our attention, like jobs, crime, government, even sports and entertainment. In short, there is a flood of information that goes into the news and the editorial decisions shaping it.
However, for Fox News today it was a pretty easy decision. Their prime directive is, as always, is to keep the people as stupid as possible. Therefore, despite all of the crises facing the country, Fox chose to focus on a single issue that has almost no significance to the average American. Fox turned over much their schedule to the trifling and phony pseudo-scandal circulating around a senate race in Pennsylvania.
Joe Sestak had previously asserted that the White House offered him a job if he would decline to challenge Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary for senator in PA. Sestak turned down the offer and eventually defeated Specter. Now Fox News is trying to blow this up into a Watergate-style controversy despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing. Their tactic to escalate this story is to run it incessantly with sly aspersions to criminality that they fail utterly to support.
Perhaps the worst offender is Megyn Kelly. Her two hour program was consumed by over an hour and a half of Sestak. When she did break away from Sestak it was to report on the restoration of a religious monument in Illinois, a scholarship for an illegal immigrant, a comment by Hillary Clinton about whether the rich pay their fair share, and a woman suing an airline for not waking her when the flight landed. She never brought up the gulf oil spill, Afghanistan or the economy once.
That was no accident. That was an exercise of editorial discretion as practiced by Fox News. It wasn’t that there wasn’t any other news occurring, it was that they had already decided to make Sestak the primary story for the day. Never mind that there was very little to report, which resulted in Kelly repeating the same trivialities over and over again as she waited for something of substance to report.
During the course of her Sestak-fest, Kelly interviewed three guests in her pursuit of Fox’s fabled fairness and balance: Dana Perino, George Bush’s press secretary, Michael Mukasey, Bush’s Attorney General, and Republican congressman Darrel Issa, who has been hammering on Sestak and President Obama, and even asserted that an impeachable offense may have been committed.
Despite Kelly’s badgering, Mukasey would not indict Sestak or the White House. He repeatedly said that there doesn’t appear to be any criminal act. He even pointed out that Kelly had misrepresented the law when she supposedly quoted the U.S. code that prohibits promising “any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit…” Mukasey provided the additional context that the code only applies to positions created by Congress, which was not the case in this matter. And even as he said this, Kelly nodded and agreed, which means that she knew of her deceit from the start.
Perhaps the most disturbing segment of her show came when she was discussing the matter with Fox News correspondent Major Garrett. During this conversation Kelly asked Garrett why this is such a big story, with reporters asking about this instead of the Deep Horizon oil spill? Of course the obvious answer is that it is reporters like her who are doing the asking. How absurd is it for her to wonder why so much attention is being given to the story when she has just given 75% of her own program to it? The funny/pathetic part is that when she was wrapping up the segment with Garrett she praised him for being the only reporter who asked a question about this at the President’s press conference. In effect, she admitted that this isn’t a big story that all the reporters are asking about – it’s just Fox!
The whole Sestak affair is a fabrication invented by Fox News. There are no legal authorities or experts who believe that anything untoward occurred – even Bush’s Attorney General. This is just another attempt by the right and the right’s mouthpiece, Fox News, to smear the President and other Democrats. And they will pursue these smears to the detriment of the news product to which they they pretend to be so committed. Even to the detriment of Americans who end up being inadequately informed about the real crises that face them. And there are plenty of those.
It’s too bad that Fox isn’t in the business of reporting. It’s too bad that they would rather engage in defamation than journalism. But ultimately it will really be too bad for the country when they realize that they were deceived and made some seriously faulty decisions based on the omissions and lies they were fed by Fox News.