Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Fox Gets It

Fox News Network gets it - there is no denying that. Invite everybody on variety of programming, former President Bill Clinton, former VP Al Gore, former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich (who is a regular and regularly hangs himself) and give them their own rope to either hang themselves with, or lasso others in to their viewpoint.

As the year winds down, think on the influence all news has on the listener or viewer or reader. Take special care to think beyond the norm, and applaud, rather than attack, any and all who regularly provide equal opportunity to present both political sides (Hannity and Colmes) (Fox 'n Friends) (Tucker Carlson) of an issue.

Fox news at 10: Love it, hate it, but can't ignore it
By Joanna Weiss, Globe Staff | October 1, 2006

Few moments in Fox News Channel history seem to sum up the network's dilemma -- or its singular claim to entertainment value -- more than last weekend's Bill Clinton episode.

The site was `` Fox News Sunday, " the public-affairs show hosted by Chris Wallace, the ABC News veteran who decamped for Fox in 2003. The guest was Clinton, who had agreed to his first-ever Fox interview, provided half of the time would be spent discussing his charity work.

But a few minutes in, when Wallace asked the former president why he ``didn't do more to put bin Laden and Al Qaeda out of business," Clinton leaned out of his upholstered chair and launched into a tirade, partly about his record in office, partly about the messenger.

``You did Fox's bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me," he growled, demanding to know whether Wallace had asked the same question of Bush officials.

``Do you ever watch `Fox News Sunday, ' sir?" Wallace asked, when he could get a word in.

Clinton didn't say, but it didn't seem to matter. He answered his own question: ``I don't believe you asked them that."

With Fox, for many viewers, what you believe is what you get. And many people, it's clear, believe in Fox completely. The network, which celebrates its 10th anniversary Saturday , has risen past the skeptics to dominate cable news ratings. Though its prime-time ratings have slipped of late, Fox still routinely trounces CNN. ``Fox & Friends," the morning show, has ratings so strong that it has set a new goal: to beat the ``Early Show" on CBS.

But as notable as the numbers -- and sometimes out of proportion to them -- has been Fox's effect on the TV landscape, not just the viewers it has drawn, but the devotion and antipathy. Only a network with clout would draw so many complaints and not-so-loving parodies. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has made a staple out of criticizing ``The O'Reilly Factor," and Al Franken originally called his liberal ``Air America" radio show ``The O'Franken Factor." On Comedy Central, ``The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" routinely pokes fun at Fox's swirling graphics, and ``The Colbert Report" stars an O'Reillyesque host, jingoistic and prone to self-aggrandizement.

Left-wing groups, meanwhile, keep feverish running tabs on the network's conservative guests and angles. ``It's a right-wing, conservative, and, particularly, Bush White House propaganda mill," says Steve Rendall, a senior analyst at FAIR, a progressive media watchdog group.


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