One recent case study: Reporter Carl Cameron covers the Bush campaign for Fox News. His wife works for the Bush campaign. Conflict of interest? Not at Fox, conservative comedy central.
The day after Thursday’s Bush-Kerry debate, Cameron wrote a droll fable about Kerry playing up his debate performance: “ ‘Didn’t my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!’ Kerry said.”
The faux story wasn’t supposed to make it online. But really. Why the heck not? If you’re going to take a position and fawn all over one candidate while demonizing another, let people know. Use Photoshop and insert horns. It’s the pretense of balance that’s the pisser.
Cameron apologized for his jocularity. “It was a poor attempt at humor,” said a Fox spokesman.
In old-school journalistic circles—where the unfashionable word “ethics” pops up now and then—Cameron would be history. This summer, the San Francisco Chronicle put “on leave” an editor who donated $400 to the Kerry campaign.
Eh. What do you expect from the conservative media?
With more than 62 million viewers—nearly half a Superbowl audience!—tuning in for the debate season opener Thursday, it looks like networks might have a new reality TV hit. Better than the debate itself was the follow-up yammering.
On Fox, Peggy Noonan (former Reagan speechwriter) applauded Kerry for his focus. It was a nice contrast, she said, from his usual demeanor—which she characterized as “distracted by a kind of a depression.”
The folks at Air America Radio (online at AirAmericaRadio.com) mocked Noonan Friday. They did a parody of the Bush twins visiting Kerry’s post-debate party, complaining that their dad’s party was lame—“Everyone’s just staring at Karl Rove.” In a game called, “Lies, Waffles or Truth?” Al Franken played Bush bits from the debate and callers won prizes for correctly identifying the president’s rhetorical strategies.
Ah, finally the liberal media—what little of it there is—begins to see the light. Info-scorn—that’s what we want. No boring issues. Just Evil Neocons yanked over glowing embers. Seared flesh. Shrieks of fear. Rats gnawing on armpits. Meal worms writhing into facial crevices.
Of course, tragedy also sells in reality media. If you can work up some good salty eye emissions, you’re in.
Additionally, bouncing chest flab sells. While both Bush and Kerry may lack this, the right has plenty of boob jobs in its court.
The left has Franken and Michael Moore, hotties both.
Speaking of the Moore, you gotta smile at Republicans who tried cash and threats—“No more donations for you!”—to scare UNR student leaders who’d booked Moore’s appearance on campus Oct. 13. There’s been support for booking a conservative speaker as well—though not for a debate with Moore, as the details for that appearance are set.
Kudos to donors who tried teaching political novices that those with money expect to rotate the globe as they see fit. Hooray for student leaders who said, “Nope, not this time.”
What’s the big fear? That Moore will sway students to vote for Kerry? Critics are forgetting that students have Minds of Their Own—complete with the ability to critically appraise a variety of messages. One college student recently told me Moore’s movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, made her want to vote for Bush.
Never shake in your boots over free speech, people. Trust the comedic marketplace of ideas. It’s all we have, really.