Monday, September 27, 2004

Fox News: Come for the Forecast, Stay for the Fascism
A couple of months back, I stopped paying close attention to the presidential race because A) yuck; and B) I wouldn't vote for George W. Bush if you sprinkled him with chocolate and sautéed him in butter with a pinch of humanity because he is an immoral man who has killed thousands of innocent people, created an incubator for future jihadists, and exploited the people and resources of this nation in order to help the wealthiest one percent. Oh, and his vice president's a dick. So as you can see, I'm not undecided.

In fact, here are five things Kerry and Edwards could do and still get my vote:

1. Sing "Achy Breaky Heart" on American Idol. In the nude.
2. Become Mormons.
3. Have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinski, then lie about it.
4. Promise to make that AOL "You've Got Mail" guy secretary of state.
5. Go on Oprah and burp and fart the national anthem.

Here are five things Bush and Cheney could do and still not get my vote:

1. Promise me one million dollars plus 72 virgins.
2. Threaten to kill a cute puppy if I don't vote for them.
3. Fix my printer. (I would vote for any other human who could accomplish this, by the way.)
4. Silence Nelly.
5. Make Rummy and Ashcroft slow dance to the Lyle Lovett version of "Stand By Your Man."

So it's not really necessary for me to keep a close eye on developments like some undecided voters out there. But something recently caught my eye that got me tuned back in a little bit: the CBS News brouhaha. Not only was it shocking to learn that 60 Minutes is still on television, but it also gave the last remaining American subculture its moment in the national-security sun: font nerds. Not since the Garamondgate conspiracy of the late 80s has a typeface controversy played such an important role in American life.

Personally, I do not care what George W. Bush did in or out of the National Guard. He could have been a serial killer or a Moonie or a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader for all I care because what possible difference could it make when compared to the clusterfuck of the past four years? I do not care about desertion or AWOLs or special treatment back in 1972 when there's Abu Ghraib, Halliburton, the "Clear Skies Initiative," the corporate free-for-all, the "Coalition of the Willing," hanging chads, war for oil, assault weapons on America's streets, Iraq instead of al Qaeda, wanton misunderestimating and nookyular lying right here and now.

And I'll be the first to admit Dan Rather is weirder than Marilyn Manson and the emu combined (his 2000 comment that the vote between Bush and Gore was so close "you couldn't get a cigarette paper between them" still cracks me up), but some of the rightjob nutwings out there are trying to portray CBS News as liberally biased, which is hilarious considering the free pass the networks have all given Bush for the past four years. If you truly believe the national media is biased against Bush, check out Project Censored's Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2003-2004. Also, consider that in the rare instances when the mainstream media mentions Halliburton, they still have to add a parenthetical note to EXPLAIN WHAT IT IS. They never explain what Michael Jackson is, and I've been wondering the answer to that for three decades now. Call me liberally biased, but if Dan Rather still has to explain to his viewers what Halliburton is at this stage of the game, there is no liberal bias.

And then, of course, there's Fox News, which has become sort of a caricature of itself: too Republican to be taken seriously as a news organization, not Republican enough to be a 24-hour commercial for Dumbya. (I would provide examples but really, it's been done to death. Well, OK, here are some examples.) Which is what made me realize what's truly insidious about Fox News. It's not O'Reilly or Hannity or Hume or Wallace or Van Susteren. It's the weather and sports.

Back before the 'net and cable diluted information to the point where ... well, to the point where this blog seems meaningful, people got their editorials from sensible sources: the op-ed pages, magazines, their bookies, their bartenders or their hookers. But wherever people got opinions, it was generally separate from where they got news, if only by a few pages. By masquerading as a cable news network, complete with sports, weather, business and entertainment news, the brilliant (ly evil) people at Fox News have cleverly couched Bushism in a 24-hour cloak of contemporary infotainment.

The problem isn't that they've got goofball conservative creeps hocking neo-fascist loogies around the clock; the problem is that the rest of the programming is quasi-legit. If unsuspecting couch taters stumble across Fox News during a major sporting event, natural calamity, celebrity meltdown or stock market crash, they might think they're viewing CNN or MSNBC. Then, when Fox slinks back to regular programming and the mini-Mussolinis start spewing invective, many viewers just keep on watching.

I know people who know people who know people who actually get all their news from Fox News. To those people, I say: Maybe America isn't fascist, but will you know it when it gets here? Maybe this isn't state-controlled media, but will you recognize it if it becomes that? Maybe our government isn't guilty of outright, widespread human rights abuses and election-rigging and global conquest but if that happened, would you learn about it on Fox News? You might just want to change the channel once in awhile. When you're in a mood to get your war on, think of Fox News as an intriguing movie, like "Birth of a Nation" or one of Leni Riefenstahl's films.

Anyway, I figure it's only a matter of time until the conservative crackpot ethos infiltrates even the weather on Fox News...

"... and now let's see what's going on in the weather. Janice?"

"Well, Ron, a strong ridge of high pressure over the Northeast brought mainly clear skies from Taxachusetts to the God-fearing Gulf Coast, as well as over the Midwest, where honest family values were rewarded with plenty of sunshine. A few places across Pennsylvania and New York (which remains terror-free, thanks to our war in Iraq) had some patchy fog. Some areas in New York saw frost develop as temperatures dropped into the 30s, due to a bookstore signing by Sen. Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, much of the Southeast and Deep South had comfortably cool temperatures, just right for sitting on the front porch and reading the Bible or cleaning the guns. During the day Monday, this ridge of high pressure will provide plenty of sunshine from the Mississippi River eastward, making it ideal for the president as he travels in the battleground states of Michigan and Ohio (where even baby-killing communist voters know a flip-flopping liberal when they see one). A rather large storm system was slowly moving through the pro-life Plains and Rockies, where the vice president will address throngs of jubilant supporters later this afternoon. Showers and thunderstorms were falling across Texas northward through the Dakotas, where men aren't attracted to men and women aren't attracted to women (except for a few limp-wristed liberals, who hide under their futons). Most of the West Coast was dry under mainly clear skies, with a chance of widely scattered Hollywood elite tree-hugging homosexuality. And over in Iraq, skies are clear and the forecast calls for democracy and freedom. Back to you, Ron..."

So, no, there's no liberal bias at CBS News. Did Dan Rather screw up? Yes. Did Bush avoid the Vietnam War? Sure. Is that important now? Not really. Should we obsess as a nation for weeks on end about superscript fonts instead of talking about how this administration is sending our children to war, sending jobs overseas, handing the country over to the corporations, and helping only the richest Americans? No. Is Fox News biased? Yes. Is that a threat to democracy? No, because it's so obvious that it's hysterical. (Watch it sometime. It's a hoot.) Should we vote for John Kerry on Election Day so we can watch the heads of all those commentators on Fox News explode? Yes, we should.

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