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No News Good News for FOX?

Reported by Marie Therese - June 23, 2005

Today's headlines: Teddy Kennedy asked Donald Rumsfeld why he didn't just resign. Condi Rice convinced NATO to censure Syria. The Democrats demanded an apology from Karl Rove. The House of Representatives reinstated the funding for PBS. North Carolina Judge Rachel Lea Hunter announced she's leaving the Republican Party. Chinese company CNOOC made a hostile bid for Unocal. Oil prices briefly topped $60 a barrel. The stock market lost 166 points. Republicans submitted a new Social Security plan. UN officials ask to visit Guantanamo. The SCOTUS expanded the definition of eminent domain. And there were the usual horrific insurgent attacks in Iraq.

But not on today's Big Story with John Gibson.

With the exception of one very brief segment on the drop in the stock market, Gibson treated his viewers to a non-stop rehash of - fanfare, please - reports from Aruba, reports about Aruba, interviews with people who knew people who were in Aruba, legal opinions about Aruban jurisprudence and cross-promotion for Greta van Susteren's trip to Aruba.

It led me to ask myself: When did they change the name to the FOX Mystery Channel?

I fear that - faced with sagging Presidential poll numbers, defections in the ranks, a total mess in Iraq, runaway oil prices, a shaky real estate market, etc. - FOX News has devolved into a tabloid crime channel.

Rather than report on the news, they've taken their viewers on the equivalent of an Agatha Christie murder mystery cruise, complete with tough attorney heroine, bumbling indiginous cops, exotic settings, righteous godly parents, innocent and beautiful abductee, scattered clues, curious plot twists, spoiled rich kids, indulgent slightly odd parents-of-the-suspect and, ultimately, hopefully, the grand finale as Greta van Susteren in her best Sherlock Holmes imitation dashes forward and exposes the real killer(s).

Perhaps they're on to something here. Certainly their ratings have shown an improvement since the Holloway disappearance.

Could it be that FOX's largely white, conservative audience is feeling fragile and insecure right now and with unerring instinct Roger Ailes is giving "the folks" exactly what they want - a way to escape an avalanche of bad headlines?

After all, to some people no news is better. Period.

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