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Fox News: Capitol Alert Shows Government Works!

Reported by Judy - May 27, 2006

Now that authorities have determined the "incident" at the Rayburn Office Building on Friday (May 26, 2006) was due to a Republican lawmaker over-reacting to the sounds of construction, the political agenda of Fox News' coverage of the non-event is more obvious. One item on the Fox News' "to-do" list: Make the Republican-run government look good.

"Dayside" programming was pre-empted during the event, even though the event had gone on for more than two and a half hours and it was becoming increasingly obvious that there was no shooting incident. Fox News stuck with its blanket coverage, even though as Fred Barnes, of the Weekly Standard and a Fox News regular, told viewers, "I'm hearing that nothing happened."

As Brad Blakeman, of the Fox News D.C. Bureau, told anchor Bill Hemmer at one point: "What you’re seeing here is something we all can be proud of, whether this is an actual incident or not. We’re seeing our government work and work the way it is supposed to do. It’s efficient, it’s sure, and it gives peace of mind to every citizen of the United States that we have these type of precautions.”

In other words, government is not screwing up as it did after Katrina. See, Republicans really can keep us safe.

Given that there was no incident at all, there was no natural disaster to deal with, no disruption in power or communications, why shouldn't things have gone smoothly? No one was shooting at them. Nobody was hiding from them. It basically was a drill. It's like a football team scrimmaging with only the offense. Shouldn't they score on every series?

Even after it was obvious nothing was going on, Catherine Herridge kept playing the terrorism card. "It's a learning opportunity for a terrorist organization," she said, claiming terrorists watch such incidents to learn how police react, what equipment they bring in, and so on. The message: Continue to be afraid, even though there is nothing to be afraid of in this particular incident.

By the next day, the public knew that the entire incident was prompted by a skittish Republican congressman. As Rep. H. James Saxton admited to Fox News, "I was on the elevator going down to my car, I heard what I thought to be between 6 and 10 shots."

As The New York Times reported in a story in Saturday's editions: "'The cause of the loud sound appears to have come from construction workers in the area during the course of their routine work,' said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the Capitol Police."

Why did Fox News stick with blanket coverage so long, preempting its regular coverage? Fox News loves pictures of people in uniforms with guns. Such images reinforce the perception that Americans live in constant danger and must keep the growing police state atmosphere in place regardless of the cost in terms of civil liberties. In other words, "See what could happen, America? This is why the government needs to spy on you, track your phone calls, and who knows what else. We're here to protect you."

Yeah, right.

Almost seamlessly, Fox News integrated the concept of jailing reporters who published leaked classified information into its coverage of the non-event on the Capitol by interviewing right-wing lawyer John Eastman of Chapman Law School in Orange, California. Eastman, a former clerk for Clarence Thomas, testified at a House hearing on the issue while the lockdown was going on.

"Things that are published on the front pages of The New York Times or aired on one of the networks are immediately available to our enemies, and we’ve got to be very careful about giving tactical information in an on-going war operation to our enemies. It would severely undermine our efforts," he said. "It's important that we start enforcing laws on classified information that we have.

"The notion that individual citizens or members or the media get to just ignore the law when in their judgment something was improperly classified or we ought to have more of a public debate about it, is really to undermine the very notion of a rule of law in this country."

Which I'm sure means he supports the investigation into who in the White House leaked the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame to the news media.

Yeah, right

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