Fox Has Jumped the Shark

I once fell asleep early on a Monday night in Philly and missed an important Monday Night Football match-up between the Eagles and the Giants. Next morning when I asked a construction worker on the street who had won, he said, "Whatcha been livin' in a box?!"

Apparently Philly had won, the whole town was buzzing about it and only a person who had been living in a box would have missed it.

Unless you've been living in a box the last ten years, you are perfectly aware that Fox News Channel is a conservative station that relentlessly attacks Democrats and supports Republicans. Even Republicans who think Fox is "fair and balanced" will admit Fox is conservative. They just happen to think that's fair.

It's no accident that Vice President Dick Cheney demands that the television in every hotel room he stays in is pre-set to Fox News Channel. Any chance he does that with a station that isn't clearly on his side? It's not like Dick Cheney loves to bask in dissent.

Fox ripped Bill Clinton apart while he was president and then flipped and said that challenging a president is disrespectful the minute Bush entered office. How can anyone who saw that still say with a straight face that Fox is objective and doesn't have a slant? It would be a comical statement that would disqualify you from serious discussion.

The Democrats have finally caught on to this. They recently cancelled a presidential debate scheduled to be on Fox News Channel. The only people who remain clueless ironically are real news organizations. The press is jeopardizing its own credibility by buying into the fiction that Fox is in the business of journalism.

Let's look at just some of the more egregious examples of Fox's idea of balanced reporting from the past. There are the countless internal memos directing their reporters and anchors on how to spin the news (please read some of these memos here). One of the most famous is one from John Moody where he directed his reporters to find stories on how insurgents are celebrating the Democratic victories in 2006.

Then there are the banners labeling Mark Foley a Democrat. And banners demonizing Democrats in the form of a question - Neil Cavuto's favorite ploy. Here's a classic from Cavuto's show:"Is the Liberal Media Helping To Fuel Terror?" And my personal favorite on Fox: "All-Out Civil War In Iraq: Could It Be a Good Thing?"

Please look at just some of the misleading Fox headlines collected here. It's an amazing list.

But after all this, I believe Fox News Channel has finally jumped the shark. Their hysterical coverage of the Scooter Libby trial has been nothing but completely over the top. I think they've blown their cover. Ironically, they have outed their own secret identity.

First, there was the shocking lack of coverage of the case. Their so-called legal analyst is Greta Van Susteren. Rupert Murdoch has even said she is one of their liberal hosts. So how many times did this liberal legal analyst cover the biggest trial in the country on her hour long program?

From the time the trail began on January 22, 2007 to the time it ended on March 6, 2007, Greta van Susteren uttered the magic words "Libby trial" a grand total of zero times. Zero! Not once.

The Vice President's Chief of Staff is on trial and there are tremendous political and national security interests at stake. And the crack staff on the legal show for Fox couldn't find a way to talk about the story just once? Come on!!!

Then, when it was finally over, Fox was on it - declaring Libby "Not Guilty." Unlike Fox, I will be fair and say they did at other times run banners that said Libby was guilty of the four other charges. But no other network ran headlines declaring Libby not guilty of one of the counts. Why? Because that's not news; that's misleading spin.

A viewer that sees a "Guilty" and a "Not Guilty" headline might be confused or think that the trial was a wash. Or maybe they just watched when the "Not Guilty" banner was displayed and got completely misleading information, instead of the real news. The real news was that the Vice President's Chief of Staff was found guilty of four felony counts!

Then, they sent in their anchors and analysts posing as real news people. Brit Hume started in with outright falsehoods:

"Whether the woman was covert, Valerie Plame was covert within the meaning of the law, remains at this point, still unclear. Unlikely she was."

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald clearly said that Valerie Plame was a covert agent. The CIA said she was a covert agent - that's why they wanted the investigation in the first place. Does the CIA not know what its own agent does? Or are they lying and switching her job description for fun? Hume's statement here is absolutely ludicrous.

"And the leak came not from an administration supporter on Iraq trying to discredit an administration critic but rather from an administration critic within the state department."

Richard Armitage leaked Valerie Plame's name. But so did Scooter Libby and Karl Rove! These things are not mutually exclusive. Now, all three admit leaking the name. And second of all, Armitage is not a Democrat or some administration foe. He worked for the Bush administration and he signed the Project for a New American Century. To say his leak somehow mitigates everyone else's leak and to pretend he was also not working for the administration is misleading at best.

"[The Cheney camp] feel [Libby] has been a victim here of an investigation."

Hume puts Libby in the role of the victim here after defending him throughout his "analysis." He ascribes it to the Cheney camp under the guise of reporting what someone else is saying. That's like saying someone, somewhere is saying OJ is the victim of the Nicole Simpson murder. How does it help to pass on that ridiculous claim?

"It was pretty clear that there was no big White House campaign to discredit Joe Wilson."

What??? Come on, this guy is pretending to be a news anchor and he has the nerve to say this on national television. Did he watch any of the trial? Does he know one thing about this story or does he not care at all about the facts?

The bottom line is that Brit Hume and Neil Cavuto and all of the other so-called anchors and reporters at Fox News Channel aren't journalists at all. They are paid shills for the Republican Party. They don't do news, they do propaganda.

Finally, after the dust settled on the Libby trial, who was out making the case for an immediate presidential pardon? Fred Barnes and Bill Kristol on ... Fox News Channel.

Fox has jumped the shark. Fox News needs to come out, as professional wrestling did, and finally admit they are fake. It's just entertainment, not the real thing. The World Wrestling Federation eventually changed their name to World Wrestling Entertainment.

Fox has it even easier. The name will almost be the same as before. Fake News Channel.