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BELTWAY BOYS: Successful Muddling and more Democrat Bashing

Reported by Marie Therese - January 20, 2005

Fred Barnes and Mort Kondracke raced through their show on January 15, 2005 as usual with partially-constructed sentences flying left and right – hardly their fault considering they must cram as much as they can into what's basically a 20 min segment with commercials. On this weekend edition Barnes and Kondracke also unfortunately (though much to my amusement) were on the reveing end of three technical glitches during their Saturday show, two of which were audio/visual warps that caused their dialogue to be repeated twice and one where Kondracke was cut-off by a commercial break. (Poor guy!)

Anyway – despite my sympathy for their technical difficulties – it was easy o find blatantt bias for the right.

The bias was evident in the very structuring of this edition where Kondrake was designated the ‘reader' of issues to be addressed in Bush's 2nd term and Barnes, more often than not, was the ‘responder' – the one who got his views given airtime. Why? Because Barnes' views are of the Right, which FNC heartily supports.

On the subject of Iraq:

BARNES: "Now, look – in Iraq I think we are successfully muddling through. We're gonna have an election. General Luck is gonna come back with some advice on where to go. I don't think it's the precipitously ‘remove American troops' but it's to begin to integrate them into Iraqi units and not just have American units there."

On the subject of The War on Terror:

BARNES: "Michael Chertoff coming in – I think he's going to be very good – as the new head of the Dept of Homeland Security."

On Social Security Reform:

BARNES: "Bush this time is gonna go for Bush-style bi-partisanship. You know what that is – let's get ALL the republicans and a few democrats – this is how he got his tax-cuts through – and claim it's a bi-partisan bill. But tort reform and Social Security reform are opposed by democrats so he can't deal with the leaders on either."

Here FINALLY Kondracke is given a snippet of time to utter his response – however it's just to agree with Barnes and say that some legal reforms may get the support of Democrats but tort reform when it comes to medical lawsuits will be a lot tougher.

Followed is a clip of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA):

KENNEDY: I categorically reject the deceptive and dangerous claim that the outcome last November was somehow a sweeping or even a modest or even a miniature mandate for reactionary measures like privatizing Social Security, (receives hearty applause at this point) re-distributing the tax burden in the wrong direction or packing the federal courts with reactionary judges."

Both Kondracke and Barnes immediately leapt all over this clip. Kondracke commented that the speech itself was somewhat "reactionary" and at the same time Barnes tried to downplay the loud applause/support Kennedy received for his remarks by saying that "maybe those were other members of the Senate caucus cheering him on."

Fred Barnes went on to say that he didn't think the Democrats had learned their lesson and were still being "bbstructionist" towards Bush's policies. He called it "risky" behavior and pointed out that Tom Daschle is no longer in office because he was an "obstructionist."

COMMENT: It seems clear that the word "Obstructionist" is now the general term for anyone who doesn't kowtow to the President's demands.

However, during the Clinton administration, those staunch Republican members of the Congress or Senate who went against Clinton's legislative agenda were not labeled "obstructionist" by FOX News. They were described as people who held true to their values. The hypocrisy is so rich here.

The basis of Republican attacks on John Kerry was the claim that "no one knows where he stands - he's a flip-flopper." The implication of this stance was that, had Kerry articulated his "left-leaning, liberal" positions and stuck to them, at least he would have been on par with Bush's level of commitment to his values and Kerry might have done better in the election.

However, now that Bush has been re-elected, that doesn't seem to be the Republican thinking any longer. Now, if anyone on the left takes a strong position and sticks to it, they are automatically in the wrong and labeled as "obstructionist."
It's a right-wing game and Democrats can't win for losing!

After Barnes remark criticizing Kennedy for being an "obstructionist," he went on to counter Kennedy's other remark - that Bush did not receive a mandate in the last election - by dredging up one of a plethora of FOX polls, showing that Bush's popularity has risen from 48% to 52% since the election. Of course, Barnes and Kondracke OMIT mentioning the fact that at the bottom of the poll there was listed a "margin of error +- 3%" which, if factored in, would basically negate the statement that Bush's popularity had grown significantly. Sometimes it's what they leave out that's important.

A little time was then allotted to bashing Dan Rather and then the Boys went on to trash Howard Dean.

KONDRACKE: Howard Dean officially enters the contest for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship this week and it looks like it's his race to LOSE."

Both Kondracke and Barnes are in agreement over the fact that they feel Dean is too left-leaning to be DNC Chair. They opined that the new head of the DNC should be more centrist (not so obstructionist) and named a few of their preferred candidates for DNC chair.

At the end of tthe show during their "Beyond the Beltway" segment , they discussed the subject of "Celebrity Journalism." Both felt that the volume of celebrity focus in the media has gotten out of hand. This is a point I would actually agree with, if it weren't being spouted by these hypocrites. The very network they work for, FOX, uses their "FOX NEWS ALERT" for such celebrity stories as "BENLO" -as was pointed out in the movie ‘OutFoxed' - where the importance of the relationship between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez was put on a par with terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

Barnes got to his point however, saying that celebrity hournalism has "encouraged all these Hollywood types – musicians and so on - to think that they have important political messages for Americans – and they don't."

Kondracke didn't contest this point.

COMMENT: Besides the fact that celebrities are citizens too and have as much right to express their viewpoint on political issues as the next American citizen, I can't imagine these two complaining much if the "Hollywood types" were voicing support for Bush and his policies. For that matter, didn't Reagan start out as a "Hollywood type"? An actor, celebrity? And what about "Zee Governator" we have today in California? He is a "Hollywood type" as well! The message is clear. If you're a celebrity with a left viewpoint, SHUT UP about politics! If you're a celebrity with a RIGHT WING viewpoint – you're welcome to be Governor and one day President of the United States!

Too bad the Beltway Boys can't be more honest about this. I say to FOX – stop trying to be so PC with your "fair and balanced" BS and just say what you stand for as a network – unfair and unbalanced reporting! I doubt they'd lose any viewers and they might gain a little respect from the rest of us for at least being truthful about their bias.

Reported by Laura, edited by Marie Therese.

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