Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The Worst F&F Ever.
FOOL ME TWICE.... This is doubly embarrassing. Embarrassing personally because I have to admit I am still watching this perpetual train wreck of a morning show. Also embarrassing in the much broader sense that the Fox News Channel, supposedly the sole island of sanity in the Obama worship that has made all mass media nauseating for the past year or so, is not just amateurishly silly at times, but glaringly, ludicrously, horrifyingly incompetent.
But I cannot keep silent. I get up early. Usually before 6 am. I watch F&F because if the Phillies are losing or not playing, THERE'S NOTHING ELSE ON THAT ISN'T AN OBAMA COMMERCIAL. Today was no exception. But when I settled down with my first cup of microwaved coffee from yesterday's pot (boiled pencils, anyone?) to begin the morning with the usual rerun of Bill O'Reilly's self-aggrandizing crop of Factor emails, the Fox & Friends were already on the air. Gretchen Carlson was yammering about a plane crash in Iran for which all the known facts were neatly captured (for once) in the headline and caption of the 20 seconds of footage available of a hole in the ground near Tehran. All right. Too bad. For everyone who really cares about the death of 168 strangers from a country that hates our guts regardless of which side they're on in the current political fracas.
Not trying to sound callous here. Don't know those folks or anyone who does. And there was no information about the event itself or its cause or specific circumstances, and the ad-libbing Carlson and Doocy were attempting was singularly off-putting. Doocy kept repeating that this would be blamed on us because of the sanctions and their denial of "spare parts" to Iran. Come again? One of the few facts they did have was that it was a Russian airliner, and the Russians have never observed the sanctions of the U.S. or the U.N. If the Russians can't get spare parts for their incredibly disaster-prone airliners to the Iranians (even if that would have helped), it's hardly our concern, and any Iranian government attempt to blame us is just the punchline for jokes it's too early to devise the setups for at 5:55 am.
Blessedly, Gretchen seemed about to move on when a graphic popped on screen about the DeSoto hearings, but she speedily backtracked to the plane crash story -- apparently, the producers wanted her to repeat all her misinformation and airhead speculations one or two (or three) more times before letting her, and us, off the hook. So she blundered on while the technicians continued to rerun their same twenty seconds of video over and over and over again. And one more time, just to be sure.
Which was all only a warmup for the absolutely unbelievable outrage of the morning -- the false report that the House of Representatives had passed a healthcare bill. I knew this was not true. I had read the night before that the bill had been introduced and that Nancy Pelosi had bravely, rashly declared that it would be passed before the August recess. But it was early, and I was still numb with sleep, and I watched incredulously as Doocy, Carlson, and "The Judge" (substituting for the Kilmead clown I cannot, alas, blame any of this on) railed against congress for passing yet another 1,000 page bill no one had read. Mind you, they had no vote count, no footage of Dem leaders crowing about their accomplishment, nothing whatever to verify the completely false item of information it didn't occur to any of them to question. In fact, the footage they were running of the stacks of pages the bill comprised was from the senate, not the house, and most likely of the stimulus bill, not the healthcare abomination the senate is conspicuously not bringing to the floor...
I expected, confidently, that they would come back from commercial to concede their mistake. No. They didn't. In fact, they repeated it almost an hour later, shortly before I switched off the set to go to work.
It's barely worth mentioning the additional flourishes on their worst day ever that transpired subsequently. But I will. Because they're so typical, in one case, and so elementally Fox News, in another.
There was, in the first instance, the Gretchen Carlson interview with two sluggish academics from the University of North Southwest Alabama who had conducted some preliminary study about the most important political controversy in the known universe, the disposition of American auto dealers, of which Gretchen's family is -- as she repeatedly reminds us -- a disgracefully dispossessed victim. F&F loves to schedule short interviews with articulate experts who barely get to utter a topic sentence before being dispatched in the name of time constraints and looooong interviews with ordinary folks who saved a puppy or sued a school district and have absolutely no memory of the event once the cameras are turned on. This interview turned out to be a combination of both -- loooong interview, theoretically competent interview subjects, and no ability whatsoever to get to the point. Gretchen tried with all her might to get them to say what she wanted them to say, that the decision about which dealers would be deep-sixed was a political calculation based on the geography of Obama support, but her pitiful guests weren't even able to describe the study, let alone characterize any results. Not just classic F&F, but archetypal F&F.
We moved from there into the street, where a pseudo-diner franchise had miraculously built a whole diner counter in honor of their 45th (45th?! The Cubic Zirconium Jamboree?) anniversary. Of course it featured the barstools traditional diners always have, and Doocy speedily camped his bony ass on one of them while Gretchen began to take on the deer-in-the-headlights look of her previous guests. She's dumb about some things -- well, a lot of things -- but not about camera angles as they relate to a woman in a skirt trying to sit modestly opposite lenses aimed directly at crotch-level. She edged herself onto one of the stools and immediately swung to her left, hoping to avoid the (at least implied) beaver shot, but that's exactly where the secretly stern Mr. Doocy intervened. He was talking and Gretchen's wiggling was a distraction, so he clamped a hand on her seatback and swung her directly into optimum beaver shot range. And, no, there was nothing truly scandalous to be seen, because Carlson's thighs were clamped so tightly together that it was clear to one and all the triangle of shadow at the juncture of her hem and thighs was only shadow, but her suit was blue and her face was green and the triangle of shadow was inescapable. As I said, elemental Fox: if it spreads, it leads.
It was shortly after this that we returned to the studio and Doocy repeated the fiction that the house of representatives had passed a trillion-dollar healthcare bill. Click.
MEMO TO ROGER AILES: We all deserve better. Isn't it bad enough that the goofy dimwit interns you trust to type captions and other chyron input can't spell worth a damn, so that every day we see major stories rendered ridiculous by Howdy Doody alphabetics like "clandestun" and "budgetery"? Isn't it enough that you force us to sit still for a grinning chimp of a host who cannot read any name -- be it of person or place -- without mangling it repeatedly and evincing evident self-satisfaction about his dyslexic illiteracy? Isn't it enough that all the real news on your first broadcast of the day is swiped from wire services and rarely even mentioned in what is passed off as news during the show itself? Isn't it enough that your two principal female hosts remain perpetually convinced that the program is actually about them and their ability to make every story a mere teleprompter lead-in to their personal anecdotes about breastfeeding, beauty pageants, food obsessions, and their tedious family lives? Or are we now really ALSO expected to put up with the fact that they are more unprepared and unprofessional than they are opinionated and self-absorbed?
We need a news outlet that is what Fox News claims to be: "fair and balanced," fine. But also f___ing "news."
Should I put that in all-caps?
No. But I will repeat it.
P.S. On top of all that, a big THANK YOU to Fox Sports for covering up the Pres's miserable first pitch, which was a twofer: 1) a sissy airball that 2) dropped like a Texas League blooper onto the dirt a foot in front of home plate. If Albert Pujols weren't one of the greatest players of his generation, no way he could have scooped it up the way he did. But you didn't seen this if you were watching the All-Star game on the media conglomerate Obama hates more than any other. Fox Sports chose a camera angle so artful we didn't get to see where his NBA-caliber pitch actually went. Fiddle Faddle. Here was a presidential pitch.