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Bill Hemmer’s Fair & Balanced Texas Textbook Report?

Reported by Priscilla - March 11, 2010 -

Like his former sidekick, Megyn Kelly, Bill Hemmer’s morning show is part of the so called “news” block on Fox “News.” So, one would expect that his coverage would be “fair and balanced.” Not surprisingly, he provided some coverage of an issue that is hot, hot, hot on Fox News – the proposed changes being made to Texas curriculum AKA the “Texas Textbook Wars.” After the straight up propaganda being shown on Fox & Friends (and for which they were criticized by the Texas Education Agency), I wondered what Hemmer’s coverage would be like. And while it wasn’t anything near what the morning pals have been doing, it still wasn’t “fair and balanced.” Unlike Fox & Friends, the propaganda was more subtle.

Hemmer started (March 8th) with the classic “some say” in his introduction which began with the propaganda point: “Some say that it is an attempt to rewrite history.” His voice was softer when he added “and others say it’s the only way to teach the children facts.” While the chyron reinforced the “war” meme that Fox & Friends is promoting, “Battle Brews In TX Over What Your Kids Learn In The Classroom,” Hemmer reinforced the chyron: “Waging a textbook war in Texas could impact your children learn wherever they live.” He tossed to Shannon Bream who had her own video report. She talked about “clear dividing lines in the battle over what goes into public school curriculum…” She continued the war metaphor with “many see what happening in Texas as the newest front in the “culture war.” So who did she select for her first comment about this war? Why Jay Sekulow, the Chief Counsel For the American Center For Law and Justice,” a conservative religious organization founded by televangelist Pat Robertson. And while his comment seemed innocuous about how the curriculum will affect a generation of students, he is hardly non partisan with regard to this issue. In the expanded version of Bream’s report, shown on the evening news, Sekulow talked about groups who are trying to “expunge reference to America’s religious heritage.” (The chyron, at one point, identified him as Vivan Scretchen) Bream then showed her discussion with a panel of parents about “who decides what their children learn.” She noted that some of them showed concern that “textbooks were being completely white washed.” One parent, Vivian Scretchen, said that her son was instructed to make “holiday cards” (the old “war on Christmas meme) while not using the term Christmas. Bream then said that there had been a proposal to drop Christmas from the Texas texts; but folks “fought back” and Christmas “survived the cut.” Bill worked in the propaganda about how the evil libruls wanted to take out Independence Day, Neil Armsntrong, Christopher Columbus, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison. Bream added Paul Revere. Hemmer said the “list goes on and on”

Comment: Once again, the Fox pundits said nothing about what the Texas conservative creationists want to omit and include. Once again, they didn’t make it clear that the aforementioned historical figures are part of the proposed curriculum. But what was really interesting is that Bream’s report was done in its entirety during the Jim Angle Fox evening news hour. It was fair and balanced in that it included commentary from Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and a comment from a parent about how religion has no place in the curriculum. Why wasn’t that run, in its entirety, on Hemmer’s show? But what was really interesting is that in neither video, was the location of the parent’s group noted. I assumed that because the topic was Texas textbooks, the parents were Texans. Turns out that according to Ms. Bream, in her article/video about parents discussing textbook concerns, she states that the group (the same people in her “news” video) are from Maryland and Virginia. While Angle’s piece, with the entire Bream report, met the standards of “fair and balanced,” Hemmer’s – not so much!

The full report

Correction: Hemmer's show is in the morning. Kelly's show is in the afternoon. Both are part of the so called "news" block on Fox. Also, the criticism was from the Texas Education Agency, not the Texas Board of Education.