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Some Stories – Not Very Big

Reported by Chrish - October 7, 2007 -

Note: Guest blogged by Priscilla

Last week had some very big stories. In the non -Fox community, Bush's veto of the SChip bill was of major importance. Not surprisingly, it was not covered on the Big Story Weekend 10/06/07. Hillary Clinton has raised a lot of campaign cash and is widening her lead over the candidates. Not surprisingly, it was not covered on the Big Story. The House passed legislation requiring more oversight of government contractors. Julie Banderas mentioned only that security convoys in Iraq would now be equipped with cameras and accompanied by diplomatic security agents after, according to her, “guards were accused of opening fire on Iraq civilians.” (Comment: No mention of multiple investigations, the response of the Iraqi government, and the fact that the “opening fire” involved the deaths of innocent civilians. But Fox does love to keep it simple.) In the Fox community, the response to Rush Limbaugh’s statement was of major importance and surprisingly it was not mentioned on the Big Story.

The first part of the show was all about the “fear factor” which is very important in the Fox community. Banderas opened the show with “wait until you hear what he’s saying now” about the current biggest bogeyman, Iranian President Ahmadinejad. Turns out that he wants Israelis to set up their own country in Canada or Alaska. Her commentary was accompanied by shots of demonstrations in Iran. (Comment: In watching Fox, one is left with the impression that all the Iranians do is demonstrate. It’s a wonder that they able to get anything else done!)

This was followed by a report about how a young man who was visiting his brother, one of two Egyptian students who were arrested and who are now being held in a Florida jail for transporting explosives across state lines, was making faces and using sign language in front of the prison’s security camera The young man states that he was just fooling around; but the former CIA agent, whom Julie interviewed, feels that this could mean that the visitor was communicating secret information and could be part of a conspiracy. (Comment: the local Fox anchor, who did the background to the story, said that the men were “speeding” towards a Navy base with “pipe bombs” in their trunk; but the AP reports that they were apprehended as a result of a traffic stop in the vicinity of the Naval base while carrying material considered to be explosive. But at Fox, who cares about facts!)

After this piece, Banderas reported that the CIA is warning European capitols that there could be an upcoming terror attack. Fox Correspondent Caroline Shively added that the information was vague, unsubstantiated, and not high quality.

The other segment worth noting was promoted by Banderas as “should your kids get paid to go to school” with the chyron “pay to learn.” She said that parents tell their children that it’s “their job” to attend school; but now there is proposal to pay students. Her two guests, Fulton County Georgia County Commissioner Rob Pitts and psychologist Terry Lyles discussed a pilot program, in Georgia, aimed towards motivating low income children and expanding their knowledge base.

Pitts began the discussion by explaining how this was the brainchild of Newt Gingrich, with whom he has worked on a number of educational issues. He described the program which pays low income students $7/hour for 4 to 6 hours of after school study of math and science that, he said, are areas in which American students are lagging behind. Lyles was concerned less about the grades (Comment: isn’t that what the educational system is based on?) and more about students retaining the information.

Not surprisingly, the e-mail read by Julie was very negative which I found interesting as the e-mails were read immediately after Mr. Pitts explained the program. I wondered if the mailers responded to the “promo” (either that or they were typing as he spoke) because if they had listened to the explanation, they didn’t seem to understand the underlying basis for the program. (Comment: Are facts really that important to the Fox audience?)

Comment: Fox communicates certain themes which the Big Story certainly underscores – fear of terrorism being one of the “big” ones. Their “promos” are worded to get the viewer’s attention and in the above case, seemed to put the viewers in an antagonistic frame of mind before the issue is discussed. At any rate, the Big Story was, once again, not so big!