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Fox Chases Tail, Not Truth

Reported by Judy - September 9, 2004 -

Fox and Friends spent most of its program from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. today (Sept. 9) following a police chase in California rather than using the time to dig into the new information coming out regarding Bush's non-service in the Air National Guard.

The three co-hosts, Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, and Kiran Chetry, rehashed the story aired on 60 Minutes II last night about Bush's "service," but did whatever it could to undercut the effect of the charges.

The 60 Minutes segment featured an interview with Ben Barnes, former Texas lieutenant governor, who said he pulled strings to get Bush into the guard at the request of a Bush family friend. He said he now regrets doing so. 60 Minutes also revealed new documents from the files of Bush's commanding officer, Col. Jerry Killian, which say Bush was ordered to show up for a physical and did not, so Killian suspended him, and that Killian's superiors were pressuring him to "sugar coat" Bush's performance review.

Kilmeade followed the White House line and pointed out that Bush's rating as a pilot was excellent and that he didn't take the physical because he would not be flying planes. Chetry chimed in that Bush says his dad never asked for favors for him. And Doocy noted that Ben Barnes is a big supporter of John Kerry.

Not much coverage considering the seriousness of the charges and in comparison to the Fox smear boat coverage.

Fox, however, had an excuse for not devoting more time to the issue of special treatment for Bush and his failure to obey a direct order. There was this really exciting police chase going on in Los Angeles that viewers were dying to know about.

Beginning at 8:12 a.m. EDT, Fox carried live coverage of a pick-up truck driving on LA freeways, accompanied by such scintillating commentary as, "The LA police are chasing what seems to be a pest control truck." And "The big question is, is that an employee of the company or somebody else." The video was incredibly dull. The truck was going the speed limit, staying in the lanes on a freeway that was devoid of other cars. Most of the time, the single police car following it was not visible in the shot. (Others were following at a greater distance.)

Bit by bit, the facts behind this riveting story emerged -- the pest company is a family-owned business, police started the chase because the driver was driving recklessly, his truck gets about 12 miles per gallon, no one is answering the phone at the pest control company, and the truck was not believed to be stolen. Well, I know I'm relieved.

Fox only stayed with the story exclusively until 8:38 a.m. EDT and then went back to the guests who had been waiting in the green room while this nonsense went on. But two minutes later, Fox was back to the police chase with a phone interview and stayed with it until 8:51 a.m. EDT except for a commercial break, then an interview about an HBO movie, and at 8:57 a.m. EDT, back to the chase.

If only Fox had used the time to read aloud the new Bush National Guard records. But, hey, when we're in the middle of a lousy war, the economy is limping along, the deficit is growing out of control, you got to do something to get people's minds off the truth.