Petition Calls On Democrats To Stay Off Fox

What took so damn long? has just announced a petition drive to persuade Democrats to Stay Off Fox.

This could be a turning point in the campaign to isolate Fox News and to re-brand them as a partisan purveyor of propaganda. As my regular readers may know, I have been calling for all Democrats and progressives to stay the HELL off of Fox News for more than two years. I launched my Starve the Beast campaign in August of 2007, by saying:

“The problem with Fox News is not that it’s a right-wing platform for war, intolerance, and greed; it isn’t that it’s spreading propaganda in support of an out-of-control White House that is hoarding unprecedented levels of power; it isn’t that they engage in relentless and unfounded attacks on Democrats, progressives, and the rest of the 72% of Americans that Fox portrays as unpatriotic because they disapprove of Mr. Bush and his war; it isn’t even that it sits at the center of a politically charged media empire run by Rupert Murdoch, a monopolistic ideologue with no allegiance to country or the common good.”

The problem with Fox News is that people grant them far more credit and influence than they deserve. They are a niche player in the cable news universe. Their highest rated program (The O’Reilly Factor) has fewer viewers than the lowest rated broadcast news program (CBS/Couric). They reach an audience of about 3 million, which is less than 1% of the population. In Starve the Beast, and its two follow ups, I painstakingly made the case that Democrats can and should avoid Fox News. There is almost nothing to be gained by patronizing them.

Now has come aboard:

President Obama is fighting back against FOX. The White House communications director said FOX is a “wing of the Republican Party…let’s not pretend they’re a news network.”

To draw attention to its biased coverage, President Obama will not appear on FOX for the rest of this year. Can you sign this petition asking Democrats to support President Obama’s stance by staying off FOX as long as he does?

A compiled petition with your individual comment will be presented to Democratic senators and representatives.

MoveOn’s petition drive was inspired by the recent courageous comments by White House communications director, Anita Dunn, who said that Fox is “the communications arm of the Republican Party.” That simple and obvious observation has sparked a dialogue that, in the end, will reinforce the public perception that Fox is merely masquerading as a news enterprise. For her trouble, Dunn has been smeared by Fox presenters, particularly Glenn Beck, who has falsely asserted that she worships Mao Zedong. That is especially ironic considering that Beck himself was caught on video confessing his idolization of Adolf Hitler (Call me, Glenn. Tell that I’m wrong).

My original Starve the Beast column ended with a plea to my political compatriots that still reflects the urgency of embargoing Fox News and treating them as the partisan prevaricators that they are:

“Please stop hurting our cause by appearing on Fox News. Rupert Murdoch and his media megaphone is openly hostile to our agenda and our representatives. They will only use your appearance to distort your message and derail our mission. Studies have proven that their audience is unreceptive, and even antagonistic, to us. Your appearance will be rewarded more with ridicule than respect.”

Many thanks to MoveOn for coming aboard and giving this movement a much needed boost.

Starve The Beast: The Wrath Of The Right

We are now a month into the administration of Barack Obama. It’s a month that seems to have been packed with a year’s worth of activity. From the first day in office when Obama issued executive orders permitting more openness with presidential records and Freedom of Information Act requests, to announcements of major policy agendas for an economy on life support and the still soul-sapping wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House has been busy, to say the least.

At the same time, they have had to deal with the opposition of an increasingly obstructionist Republican minority and a media that is overtly hostile. Last year, prior to the election, Fox News was already fortifying its right flank. New multimillion dollar contracts were handed out to Roger Ailes, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. Hannity’s show shed the dead weight of alleged liberal Alan Colmes. Glenn Beck was brought in to shore up the daytime crowd. Neil Cavuto, a bully who is every bit as obnoxious as O’Reilly poisons the economic news, and he is also managing editor of Murdoch’s Fox Business News. And just this week Bill Sammon, author of a shelf full of bitterly partisan books, was promoted to VP and Washington Editor for the network.

The result is a full court press of some of the dirtiest political assaults ever waged by what is advertised as a “news” network. Fox News is shamelessly pushing a campaign to characterize Obama as a Socialist – a committed opponent of America and its values – from 6:00 am with the crew of Fox & Friends, to after midnight with broadcasts and repeats of their primetime neanderthal shoutcasters. They get their marching orders directly from Rupert Murdoch who last September said that…

“[Obama’s] policy is really very, very naive, old fashioned, 1960’s socialist.”

Even worse, these rightist dissidents come very close to openly advocating acts of violence and armed rebellion. Glenn Beck’s ominously titled “War Room” was an hour long descent into fear mongering that posited nothing short of the decline of western civilization. The upshot of this Terror Hour is that America’s days are numbered, so you had better start stockpiling guns, hoarding food and water, converting your dollars to gold, and barricading your secluded compound in the Wyoming wilderness (move over Ted Kaczynski). And, of course, it’s all Obama’s fault.

Another result of this Apocalyptic programming surge is higher ratings for Fox News. The core primetime schedule on Fox has enjoyed a rare uptick in audience growth. For the past three years, Fox, while number one in total audience, has been the slowest growing network in cable news. CNN and MSNBC produced consistently stronger growth. Particularly MSNBC, which was once a struggling also-ran, but which now challenges Fox’s powerhouses and routinely beats CNN. But the numbers for this February are another story.

Total Day: FNC +29%, MSNBC +17%, CNN +2%.
Primetime: FNC +28%, MSNBC +23%, CNN -30%.

What accounts for the turnaround in Fox’s fortunes? Well, first of all, they are benefiting from their previous slack performance. In other words, they were able to record higher comparative rates of growth because their prior year numbers were held down due to some rather unique circumstances. To understand the current numbers, you need to remember what was going on a year ago.

In February of 2008 the Democratic Party was in the middle of a hotly contested presidential primary. Early in the month it was already apparent that McCain would win his Party’s nomination. Consequently, audiences viewing campaign news were disproportionately composed of Democrats. Amongst the biggest draws were the televised debates. Democratic candidates, you may recall, had forsworn Fox News as a host for their debates. So the two Democratic debates held in February 2008 were carried by CNN and MSNBC, and both drew audiences many times greater than their regularly scheduled programming. Democrats also shunned Fox for other TV appearances and interviews. It had gotten so bad that Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday, made a veiled threat in December of 2007:

“I think the Democrats are damn fools [for] not coming on Fox News.”

We know the problem still existed in March of 2008 because that’s when Wallace debuted his Obama Watch: a clock that would record how long before Obama appeared on Wallace’s show. It was a childish prank on Wallace’s part, but it clearly showed that the Democratic embargo of Fox News was having a real impact. For CNN and MSNBC, who had the guests and the event programming that appealed to the most motivated news consumers, it meant higher ratings. Fox, on the other hand, had depressed numbers because their most loyal audience – Republicans – already had a candidate, so there was no campaign drama to keep them tuned in. Comparing those numbers to February 2009 would, therefore, be favorable to Fox by producing a greater percent difference.

So some of the good news for Fox was really just a matter of perception. But that’s not the whole story. They are actually having a pretty good year, particularly post-inauguration. All the networks have suffered some falloff from January, but Fox has retained more of their recent gains than have their competitors. I can only offer some informed speculation as to why that would be.

First, Fox has more new programming that may be piquing the interests of their viewers. The new programs include a retooled Hannity, minus Colmes, and Glenn Beck’s Acute Paranoia Revue. Beck has found his home at Fox. His ratings have significantly increased over what he had at HLN, and he has also improved the time period he fills on Fox. As for Hannity, dumping Colmes was obviously popular amongst the Foxian pod people. It’s just that much less non-approved, pseudo-liberal noise they have to sit through.

Secondly, by heating up the aggressive tone, Fox has fashioned a hearth around which despondent conservatives can huddle. In 2006 they suffered the loss of both houses of congress. Now they have lost the presidency as well – and to what they view as an unpatriotic, Muslim, elitist, intent on driving the nation to Socialism in a Toyota hybrid. So now they congregate in the warm red glow of the Fox News logo that provides them the comfort that comes from numbing propaganda and the righteous smiting of perceived enemies.

This doubling down on rancor has had mixed results for Fox. While it endeared them to their base, and those they could frighten into submission, it also cost them dearly on a broader financial scale. The stock of Fox News parent, News Corp, is down 70% for the last 52 weeks. To be sure, the economy, particularly for media companies, was difficult, to put it mildly. But News Corp competitors Time Warner, Disney, and even the Washington Post were only down in the 45-55% range. News Corp suffered its worst loss ever of over $6.4 billion. And going forward, they advised Wall Street that income will decline another 30% for fiscal 2009.

In examining the reasons that Fox would perform so much worse than similar enterprises, one would have to consider the possibility that people have become disgusted with the obvious one-sided manipulation and the non-stop, phony news alerts that are Fox’s shock in trade. But I believe that it would also be fair to conclude that the direct actions taken against Fox News by Democrats last year are at least partially responsible for Fox’s inordinately more severe decline. The ratings disparities year over year document the effect that a sustained campaign of snubbery can produce.

Starve The BeastWith the stepped up efforts of Fox to sling ever more buckets of mud, it is more imperative now than ever that Democrats act affirmatively in their best interests. They must resist the siren call of televised glory and begin to discriminate between those who are fair practitioners of journalism and those who seek only to engage in slander and slime. In two previous installments of my Starve The Beast series (part 1 / part 2), I described how complicity with Fox News is not merely a waste of time, but is demonstrably harmful. This is even more true today, as the evidence above illustrates. The message that Democrats and other progressives must take to heart with all deliberateness and determination is: STAY THE HELL OFF OF FOX NEWS! Since it hurts us when we appear and it hurts them when we don’t, the way forward is crystal clear. It makes absolutely no sense to lay down before lions who are determined to devour you.

Now, I don’t want to approach this from a purely negative standpoint. While constructing a united front in opposition to Fox News is an absolute necessity, there are some positive steps that can be taken as well. Other news organizations must be pressured to present a more balanced picture of current events. And, where possible, true liberal voices must gain access to the televised public square. Media Matters long ago documented the imbalance of conservatives and Republicans on the Sunday news programs. That ideological discrepancy has continued apace since Obama’s inauguration. Now it’s time to do something about it. It’s time to make a case for TV to offer a more equitable representation of liberal views – the views of the majority, the winners.

Political activism has always been shaped in part by access to polling. It is an irreplaceable asset for anyone managing a campaign for a candidate or an issue. Similarly, TV survey data is critical in analyzing media performance and prospects. This data is distinct from conventional polling. Remember, networks don’t care about the public. They care about a subset of the public that is attractive to their customers. And their customers are not viewers – they are advertisers. While there are many sources for political data, there are few for media data – and most of those are press releases from vested corporate interests. There is little that we can do with ratings data that has already been massaged to advantage one particular party.

If progressives want to have some influence on programming, they must be able to anchor their arguments with original research and facts. For this reason, it is no longer enough for sites like Media Matters or Talking Points Memo or Daily Kos or News Corpse to merely document right-wing media abuses. If we want to help shape the editorial direction of the Conventional Media, we have to offer authoritative presentations to map a path to bigger audiences and ratings victories. We need to speak to the needs of the news providers and give them a business case for adopting a truly balanced programming model. To do this we need access to the raw data that is at the heart of television marketing.

So who amongst the lefty netroots will step forward and subscribe to Nielsen Media Research broadcast and cable data? I’m going to rule out News Corpse because I can’t afford it. But I do have 14 years of experience in media research and would be willing to help produce analyses and presentations. Just as progressive authors and bloggers offer informed advice to advance political goals, we need to be able to make a persuasive, market-based case for the sort of programming reform that we want to see. We need to be able to show the networks that it is in their interest, financially and ethically, to develop programming that is honest and in keeping with the principles of an engaged and probing press. We need to be able to counter the false impressions relentlessly pushed by faux news enterprises that tout themselves as the popular voice of the nation. It seems that a day does not go by that Bill O’Reilly doesn’t boast about his ratings. The funny thing is that he also condemns the source of those ratings with the delusional paranoia that only he can muster:

“The bottom line on this is there may be some big-time cheating going on in the ratings system, and we hope the feds will investigate. Any fraud in the television rating system affects all Americans.”

So O’Reilly thinks that the system he so proudly cites for affirmation of his massive popularity, is also engaging in big-time cheating for the benefit of his foes. If he’s right, and Nielsen data is not to be trusted when they report that his competition is catching up, than why should we trust it when it reports his success. In truth, the only cheating going on is on the part of the self-promoting networks and the egomaniacal personalities they employ. It is their selective and misleading interpretations that are distorting the reality of viewer behavior.

Suffice it to say that we would be in a much better position to dispute the spin that’s being peddled if we had access to unfiltered Nielsen data. We could mine that data to develop solutions and strategies to present to news programmers. Then we may begin to have some influence over news programming, personalities, and content.

This is as important an endeavor for progressives as the strategies we promote for politicians. I would argue that it’s more important. Especially in a media environment where prominent news enterprises are openly fomenting a near-militaristic antagonism to our representatives and our values.

Starve The Beast: Appetite For Distortion

Media Blindness

Almost exactly one year ago I published a comprehensive examination of the futility of appearances on Fox News by Democrats and progressives: Starve The Beast. The thrust of the article argued that…

“Every time one of our representatives appears on Fox, they are setting back our agenda. They are not just wasting a little time trying to confront the enemy in its lair. They are literally causing harm to the efforts of the rest of us who are fervently struggling to repair and improve our country.”

The case was supported by studies that showed that Fox News audiences supported Republicans by overwhelming margins and that they were significantly more likely to have misperceptions about current news events. I also provided evidence that the centerpiece in Rupert Murdoch’s empire was a far less ominous presence in the mediasphere than they liked to imagine themselves.

It’s all still true. Rasmussen conducted a new study that affirms the previous studies. Their survey shows that Fox News viewers are still a species apart from the rest of the television population.

When nine out of ten Fox viewers say that they will vote for John McCain, you have an audience that may be more accurately described as a cult (as I described it in The Cult Of Foxonality). And while viewers at both CNN and MSNBC express a solid two to one majority for Barack Obama, that is a far cry from the near unanimous, block mentality of Fox viewers. The fact that the CNN and MSNBC audience compositions agree with one another suggests that they may be a better reflection of the population as a whole. They certainly come much closer to public opinion polling on the presidential race. Another indication of the disparity between Fox and its competitors is that 43% of CNN viewers and 38% of MSNBC viewers have a favorable opinion of McCain. However, only 14% of Fox viewers have a favorable opinion of Obama.

This corroborating evidence of how decidedly unfriendly the Fox News audience is to Democrats ought to be enough to persuade them to stay away from the network. Unfortunately, the past few weeks has seen wayward souls like Lanny Davis and Howard Wolfson lured into the Fox lair. To make matters worse, both Hillary Clinton and Obama have recently granted interviews to Fox flacks Bill O’Reilly and Chris Wallace, respectively. Obviously more persuasion is required. So let’s go to the numbers – the Nielsen numbers.

In the first half of 2008, CNN and MSNBC both improved their ratings over the same period the year before by more than 50% in the key 25-54 year old demographic. Fox News squeaked through with a measly 4% gain. In the second quarter Fox actually sunk 2%. And Fox continues to draw the oldest audience in cable news. MSNBC beats Fox with about 35% more viewers in the 18-34 demo. So Fox’s audience is not only growing slower than its competitors, it is failing to attract the next generation of news viewers. The only reason for the size of the audience they presently have is that they have cornered the market for conservative couch jockeys who congregate at their cable water cooler. Hence their dramatic overweighting of McCainiacs. The rest of the news consuming audience is splintered throughout the dial in a manner that disguises the fact that they are in the majority. There are far more non-Fox viewers than Fox viewers, but they are dispersed over a half dozen channels or more. Conservatives are all gathering together, glassy-eyed in the Fox clubhouse.

Democrats and progressives need to be reminded that a network that is overtly hostile to their interests holds no attraction for them. There is no reason to grace their airwaves. There is no benefit to doing so. They will not change the minds of the Foxpods watching programs like Brit Hume’s Special Report or the O’Reilly Factor. Their appearances will only be used to humiliate them and then to lay claim to being “fair and balanced.” It simply makes no sense to ally with a organization that is working openly and vigorously for your defeat. Can it be any clearer that people like Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, Neil Cavuto, and Sean Hannity are the enemy?

Starve The BeastAnd if it isn’t enough that Fox News is avowedly opposed to the goals of Democrats and progressives, then the fact that viewers are turning away from Fox while the market is growing should convince them of what the rest of the country has already decided – that Fox is not a news network, it is a tool for right-wing propaganda and disinformation. That’s why their audience share is shrinking. And that’s why we must not grant them the credibility our association implies. Just stay the HELL off of Fox News!

This beast has a ravenous appetite and we should not be throwing it chum. Leave it to whither and parish and cease to threaten our land and well-being. We are better rid of it. Starve The Beast!

Starve The Beast

See also
Starve The Beast
Part II and
Part III

The problem with Fox News is not that it’s a right-wing platform for war, intolerance, and greed; it isn’t that it’s spreading propaganda in support of an out-of-control White House that is hoarding unprecedented levels of power; it isn’t that they engage in relentless and unfounded attacks on Democrats, progressives, and the rest of the 72% of Americans that Fox portrays as unpatriotic because they disapprove of Mr. Bush and his war; it isn’t even that it sits at the center of a politically charged media empire run by Rupert Murdoch, a monopolistic ideologue with no allegiance to country or the common good.

Certainly any one of those things would reasonably explain a sharp increase in chronic anxiety, and the combination could set off an epidemic of cerebral aneurysms. But these are not the problems with Fox News.

The problem with Fox News is that people care about Fox News. What I hope to prove here is that it isn’t necessary or useful to do so. They are a constituency whose currency has been devalued by a deliberately constricted field of political viewpoints. In economic terms, the Fox dollar has crashed and it’s time to divest.

The partisan perspective at Fox is not so much a slant as it is a vertical incline. They themselves make little attempt to disclaim their bias. The network adopted its slogan, “Fair and Balanced,” not to signal a practice of evenly weighted reporting, but to indicate their intention to counter a news media that they believed was predominantly liberal. Fox News’ president and chief executive officer, Roger Ailes, even admitted that, “Anybody who says bias does not exist is either lying or stupid.” Not wishing to be cast as either, I’ll take Mr. Ailes at his word and concede that Fox News is biased.

Any evaluation of the social or political impact of that bias is, or course, dependent on the composition of the viewing audience. It would be safe to say that if Sean Hannity broadcast his program into a convention of the Feminist Union Members Against Global Warming, his words would have negligible influence. Obviously, that crowd would be less than receptive to Hannity’s factless fatuousnous. However, he would be equally as ineffectual before an audience of the Pro-life Caucus of the National Rifle Association. While he would be well received, it’s impossible to persuade people to adopt a point of view that they already hold. Consequently, his appearance would produce a net gain of nothing. And the same is true for any Democrat who hopes to profit from appearing on Fox News.

Let’s take a look at the make-up of Fox’s audience. One of the more foreboding characteristics of this group is that they appear to be more loyal to Fox than to Republicans or conservatism. This is a malady that I previously described in The Cult Of Foxonality. Here are three surveys that paint a consistent picture of Fox viewers as a devout congregation of true believers, incapable of critical thought.

  • The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press just completed a study that shows that Republicans are more likely to find fault with the media than non-Republicans. But Republicans for whom Fox is their primary source of news, the number is even higher.
  • World Public Opinion conducted a study in 2005 that proved that Fox viewers were significantly more likely to have misperceptions about the war in Iraq. And viewers who paid more attention were even more misinformed.
  • The Mellman Group’s research revealed that Fox viewers supported George Bush over John Kerry by 88% to 7%. Only Republicans were more united in supporting Bush. Conservatives, white evangelical Christians, gun owners, and supporters of the Iraq war all gave Bush fewer votes than did regular Fox News viewers.

What is there in that assembly that holds value for politicians or pundits of the progressive stripe, save for disdain and abuse? The potential for comrades or converts is so small as to be virtually nonexistent. It is long past time for Democrats to recognize this simple fact and resolve to stop allowing themselves to be used for target practice by disingenuous pseudo-journalists whose purpose is to defame and defeat them in politics and public opinion.

The Democrats that recently declined to participate in a Fox-sponsored primary debate proved that there are no discernible repercussions for exhibiting such moral fortitude.

The sole consequence of their defiance was that the agents of Fox set about to disparage them – again. But Fox would have gone on the attack even if they had agreed to participate. Observe the sample of fairness and balance in the video here, and ask yourself whether John Edwards would be justified in shunning Fox News.

So if going on Fox News can’t help Democrats, and staying off can’t hurt them, why is there still a debate about the future course of action? Here’s why…..

Fox News touts itself as the #1 cable news network. On the surface, that’s a plausibly accurate assertion that creates the illusion that an appearance on Fox is potentially advantageous. But, as shown above, it is not.

The other cable news networks, and even the broadcast and newspaper outfits, are intimidated by Fox’s perceived girth. Apparently this turns them into raging imbeciles who conclude that the way to compete with Fox is by emulating them. This behavior is emblematic of an industry that thrives on plagiarism whether it be inspired by a hit movie, a sitcom, or a pop tune. But you cannot beat Fox by copying it. Fans of Fox’s brand of sludge know good slime when they are wallowing in it and they will not settle for cheap imitations.

To make matters worse, competing networks have misunderstood the nature of Fox’s success and are, thus, copying the wrong components. It is not conservatism that draws viewers to Fox – It is conflict. Fox’s strategy was to dress up news as entertainment, employing a formula that includes drama, humor, sentimentality, suspense, sex, and visual and aural cacophony. All the elements of a good, escapist movie-of-the-week. And entertainment has always been a better ratings magnet than news. However…

The ratings story is a fraud. By accepting the premise of an all-powerful Fox Dynasty, everyone from their competitors to their critics to their guests, and even their hosts, are falling prey to a myth. While Fox is indeed the leader in average audience share, when measured by cumulative audience, CNN still beats Fox by delivering more unique viewers (see more here and here). Additionally, the relative performance of cable news is still far below that of its broadcast cousins. Even SpongeBob SquarePants has a bigger audience than Fox’s #1 show, the O’Reilly Factor.

So there goes the only remaining weapon in Fox’s arsenal. It should now be clear that Fox is neither a gateway to valuable audience exposure, nor a hospitable port for wayward Democrats. The way is now clear to steer wide of Fox News altogether. This new course can lead to a number of considerable benefits.

The O’Reilly Interview 101

Ask direct yes or no questions where one answer is clearly reprehensible and the other is totally meaningless, and bully your guest into responding.
“Do you want the U.S. to lose in Iraq? Well, do you?”
Create an association with an unpopular (preferably mischaracterized) opinion with the broadest attribution possible.
“Do you agree with Harry Belafonte, and the rest of the liberal establishment, that Venezuela should take over America?”
Never concede on substance, even if your arguments are demonstrably false.
“Saddam Hussein did too meet with Osama Bin Laden at Michael Moore’s compound in Libya – Twice.”
Employ ad hominims liberally.
“Why should anyone listen to a radical, Kool-Aid drinking, far-left loon like you?”
Shout louder than your guests and interrupt frequently, especially when they are making a good point.
[Inspired by KimChi]

Stop the Masochism
First and foremost, it would put an end to the unnecessary submission to assaults from disreputable smearcasters with demonstrably hostile intentions. Bill O’Reilly is the premium model for such encounters. It is impossible to win a debate with him because he doesn’t care about winning. He is only concerned with generating the sort of heat that fuels his ego and his ratings. He only books three types of guests: Those who agree with him; those he can dominate; and those he can exploit. Don’t be one of them.

The Sinking of Fox
The loss of Democrats as foils would transform the character of Fox’s conflict-driven programming, resulting in less controversy and, hence, lower ratings. Viewers would quickly become bored with repeated appearances by Fred Barnes, Michelle Malkin, Dick Morris, and Geraldo Rivera. Minus the shoutfests, and the potential for on-air meltdowns, there is no reason to watch Fox. Neil Cavuto is already whining about his inability book A-list Democrats, and O’Reilly has made it a staple of his program to lambaste no-shows as cowards. That’s a desperation move on his part because he knows he can’t force guests into his inquisitor’s lair. When the entertainment value of Fox disappears, so will its audience, its ratings, and its cache in the media.

Deprive Fox of Bragging Rights
One of the most galling traits of Fox personalities is the way they use their ratings to validate their disinformation agenda. But even if the ratings story weren’t a myth as described above, they still have a flawed argument. McDonald’s is the #1 restaurant in America. I don’t think that anyone interprets that to mean that they have the best food. What they have is the cheapest crap that is loaded with filler and seasoning to appeal to the largest number of consumers with the least sophisticated taste (Hey, that’s a pretty good description of Fox News). Absent their ratings victories, however, they can’t even make this flawed argument.

Affirm Fox’s Lack of Credibility
The mere act of not showing up sends a message that Fox is not deserving or reputable. By sequestering Fox they will be left to themselves and their minions to dispense their McNews. It will make it that much more obvious to observe how they are attempting to denigrate their ideological opponents and to manipulate popular opinion.

Encourage More Responsible Journalism
By using discretion when formulating a media strategy, Democrats can strike a blow in favor of a more honest and independent press. It does not further the goals of ethical journalism to accommodate deceitful practitioners. Conversely, it does advance such goals to purposefully engage media who adhere to higher standards. What’s bad for Fox is good for journalism.

Rupert Murdoch and his rightist platform for propaganda must not be further appeased. All previous efforts to abate the influence of Fox News have failed because they generally reserved a place for Fox in the effort. This has to stop. It’s time to go cold turkey.

Starve The Beast
The solution is obvious. Democrats and progressives have got to swear off Fox News. They must decline all interviews. They must stay off of that tainted air. They must avoid the Stuttering Jesse’s (Watters, O’Reilly’s producer) that are resorting to ambush interviews. They must continue to refuse to participate in Foxic events like debates or forums. And if they find themselves trapped in an appearance from which they cannot escape, they must be certain to pepper their remarks with the truth about Fox. Let the audience know that this network is degrading public discourse and leading viewers astray. And don’t let the bullies steer the dialog.

Progressive politicians and pundits must be called upon to heed this advice. It is more than just a request. It is an obligation. Every time one of our representatives appears on Fox, they are setting back our agenda. They are not just wasting a little time trying to confront the enemy in its lair. They are literally causing harm to the efforts of the rest of us who are fervently struggling to repair and improve our country. Anyone in our political provinces who betrays our mission by succumbing to the Fox siren should be firmly scolded and educated as to the damage they are inflicting.

I propose that we have a routine response to the weak and the fraternizers. If you should spot one of them across enemy lines, send them a link to this article with this introduction:

Please stop hurting our cause by appearing on Fox News. Rupert Murdoch and his media megaphone is openly hostile to our agenda and our representatives. They will only use your appearance to distort your message and derail our mission. Studies have proven that their audience is unreceptive, and even antagonistic, to us. Your appearance will be rewarded more with ridicule than respect.

I therefore request that you refrain from such appearances in order that you not do further damage to the goals we share by helping to strengthen the foremost advocate of our defeat.

If we can build a united front against the lies and insults that are the daily repast on Fox, we can also start to reform the broader media landscape that is bewitched by Fox’s aura. And it is long past time that we break this sorcerer’s spell.

See also the update: Starve The Beast: Appetite For Distortion