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Fox News Thanks America – And Themselves

Reported by Chrish - October 15, 2006 -


Once again, Heartland was pre-empted for a Shep Smith “special” on North Korea yesterday October 15, 2006 . As the UN has voted for sanctions and North Korea is moving off the front burner, I decided to cover Fox’s 10 year Happy Anniversary to Us special.

Billed as a “Thank You America” show, it was really an exercise in self-congratulation. Hosted by Chris Wallace and Martha MacCallum, it was a showcase for Fox to constantly brag about their being “fair and balanced without spin.” In case you missed their saying “fair and balanced,” it was used constantly throughout the show.

To reinforce”fair and balanced,” Roger Ailes was featured, making the point that 10 years ago, there was a need for“alternative views” and that Fox was created in order to “put context” into news. He noted that “stories are complicated and need a couple of views.” (Comment: does he mean the Republican right wing view?) Of course, he noted that Fox is more “fair and balanced” than the other networks. He talked about how other networks smirked when, against all odds, Fox “launched” itself 10 years ago. (Comment: beyond smirks, there are now howls of derisive laughter)

Fox’s coverage of 9-11 was laudatory and included a tape of the prescient Eric Shawn reminiscing about how when he saw the first plane take a right turn, he knew it was going to hit the Trade Tower. John Scott was shown saying, “this has to be deliberate.” After a segment showing the Fox reporters “on the scene,” the scene (shown with the graphic “War on Terror”) shifted to Afghanistan where the brave Geraldo was shown hunkering in a Foxhole. (Comment: no comment about how Geraldo revealed troop positions).

The perfunctory shot of the staged toppling of Saddam’s statue was shown, along with a “moving” Oliver North interview of an Iraqi soldier who was lining up to vote while saying “it was a great day for Iraq.” (Comment: if you’d been asleep for the last four years, you would have thought that the Iraq war ended happily every after.) Brit Hume was then shown, next to shots of tanks and night-time bombings, saying, “it is now fair to say that full out war has broken out in the Middle East.” (Comment: what war and when?)

Katrina coverage was relegated to Shep Smith talking about NOLA refugees being turned back at the Gretna bridge and Geraldo holding a black child. (Comment: the Gretna thing was an outrage that was not sufficiently followed up by “fair and balanced” Fox)

A large part of the mutual back slapping consisted of interviews with Cavuto, O’Reilly, Hume, Van Susteren, Smith, Hannity and Colmes. Cavuto talked about how when business news is “dry and dull, people won’t make the connection.” He was then shown yelling at Arianna Huffington about her Hollywood hypocrisy in telling Americans what they should be driving – with no shot of her response. After saying that he had studied for the priesthood, “family values” Neil showed Victoria’s Secret models in the context that Victoria’s Secret is an important company and that Mrs. Cavuto “was OK” with these segments. (Comment: this was a little weird)

During Hume’s segment, he mentioned that the Fox coverage of the Swift Boat controversy was “eloquently fair and balanced” and “worthy of our inquiry” and noted “the rest of the media dismissed it; but we were different.” (Comment: doing your GOP master’s bidding!)

O’Reilly was shown yelling at Phil Donahue, Michael Kinsely, Michael Moore, and others after which he congratulated himself for exposing problems in the United Way’s response to 9-11. (Comment: how about criticizing the problems with the Bush administration’s response to Katrina). O’Reilly must have been reading my mind because he did say “we criticize Bush all the time.” Bill then showed soldiers in Iraq “thanking him for all he’s done.” (Comment: unlike his nemesis, Al Franken, Bill has never been to Iraq).

The Hannity and Colmes segment was all sweetness and light in that they talked about how they have their political differences but the differences are showcased in a context of “civility.” Coulter was shown giggling at Colmes and Hannity worked in some commentary about how he felt that as Clinton lied, he should have resigned.

The last segment was a panel discussion of the glories of Fox with the “heavies” (Ailes, Hume, O’Reilly, Hannity & Colmes, Van Susteren, Cavuto, and Smith on stage with the audience consisting of other Fox employees. Wallace lobbed them “softball” leading questions - eliciting answers which provided praise for the wonder and glory of Fox News. While they were effusing about being “fair and balanced,” one noticed that the group on stage was white and, with the exception of Greta, all male. Wallace ended the show by saying, to whoever was still awake, “thank you.”

Comment: What a grueling two hours of constant adulation – not even any self-analysis or criticism and certainly no comment about the criticism from the press and media sites that lambaste them on a daily basis. The show was obviously done a while ago; as the Fox & Friends segments had E.D. Hill as the spokesperson and Hume mentioning his wife as a Bureau Chief (she is no longer at Fox). Gibson was only shown commenting about other commentators and Kasich was not mentioned at all. At the end of the evening, all that could be said about this vanity piece is that Fox is its own best friend – happy, happy, joy, joy!!!!!