I recently spent four nights in the VA Hospital in Palo Alto following back surgery. It gave me the unique opportunity to compare and contrast Fox News and MSNBC. I saw them as the Republican Channel and the Democrat Channel, respectively. Depending on your persuasion, each channel offers snippets of bold faced fact covered with gobs of opinionated and unblushing politisauce.
President Obama addressed the nation and declared the end of War in Iraq. The Republican Channel all but ignored it in favor of a missing baby story and an exotic animal destruction tale. The Democrat Channel featured the president story and a different exotic animal destruction tale, that being the death of Libya’s Qadhafi. Fox reeled for a while until the Republican presidential candidates could compose perfunctory “failure of the administration” sound-bites. MSNBC could barely contain its self-congratulatory “victory for the administration” spin.
Both channels are full of fresh faced copy readers. Maybe it was the narcotics talking, but I kept thinking, “Why should I listen to you?” But it turned out that I was experiencing hair and teeth envy.
Some smarty-pants girl gushed, “Troubling new numbers for Obama,” and I accidentally pushed the remote control button to administer my IV of painkiller. I knew I was watching Fox. I switched through the VA network until I came to MSNBC. Some insolent guy named Ed bulldozed through the predictable Republican responses to the dictator’s last gasp. I pushed the medication button again and wondered, “Who did his hair?”
There was a time, not all that long ago, when four networks dominated over the air television. It used to irk me that one of them told a truth, “More Americans get their news from ABC than from any other source.” Today on the Intercable [my word], where graphics abound and the ever present crawl tells all; such a boast cannot be made by any outlet. Some call it journalism. Some are wrong.
“Fair and balanced” is Fox’s claim. It is, so long as you are a Republican. “Lean Forward” is MSNBC’s counter claim, although it is ubiquitous as slogans go. “Skinny Left” would be more accurate. Accuracy is unembellished fact that should be difficult to tilt. As to my recent experience, if one has the time, it takes a dose of each channel to uncover facts, which are causalities when it comes to commercial ratings. It helps to have a medication button at your side.