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Are There "Plants" in the Dayside Audience?

Reported by Melanie - December 7, 2004

Occasionally I've wondered whether or not Fox News "plants" people in the studio audience at the Dayside w/Linda Vester show. Every once in a while Vester shoves a mic in front of someone who asks a question or makes a statement which is perfectly attuned to Fox's message. Such a thing happened today (December 7, 2004) on Dayside.

Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) was on to talk about his recent, one day visit to Iraq. The essence of what Chafee said was that the situation in Baghdad and Mosul is "a lot worse" than he'd expected. He said he couldn't go into Baghdad neighborhoods as he did during his last visit in October, 2003. He said he'd visited Mosul in 2003 but couldn't go there this time. Chafee said he spoke with "Interim Prime Minister" Allawi who called the situation "bleak." Chafee said the Green Zone is "much more dangerous" than when he was there last time, and that thousands and thousands of US-trained Iraqi policemen are dropping their weapons and fleeing. Chafee also said he shares sentiments with the "CIA cable in the news today." (Here's a BBC report about the cable: CIA Adds to Gloom over Iraq.)

Toward the end of the segment, Vester gave the mic to a middle aged, male audience member who said:

"In the short period that you were in Iraq, how can you possibly ascertain that what you see is reality? [The audience broke into robust applause.] Ah, the other people in your group, do they feel the same way? Maybe if you're there for a year or entrenched there as the media is, maybe you would have a different view."

COMMENT: I was astonished that a random audience member would make a statement which so perfectly cast doubt on what Chafee said. It defended the Fox News/Bush myth about how well things are going in Iraq, and it gave viewers a reason to dismiss Chafee all together. It was exactly in keeping with Fox's modus operandi of discrediting those who speak against, or report information contrary to the administration's (and Fox's) spin. Either the guy was a plant, or he's an example of how effective Fox is at doing what it does.

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