How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Laugh at FOX News

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There’s a little game I play with myself when I go to my mother-in-law’s house.  She always has FOX News on the big screen TV, and not wanting to be polite in asking her to change the channel, I’ve developed a mind trick.  Whenever the pundit shows are on, whenever Sean Hannity starts his shtick on how liberals are maniacal and subversive, when Bill O’Reilly gives his version of no-spin which is to criticize Democrats and leave Republicans off the hook, when Glenn Beck pulls out his chalkboard and start his smarminess that would get the average 12-year-old slapped, I imagine the whole production set to a laughtrack, and the pundits are actually comedians.  It turns the whole network into a long episode of The Colbert Report, and just as I’m laughing heartily at Stephen Colbert, I can also laugh at the Right-Wing Noise Machine. 

I have to be able to laugh at them, because if I didn’t, they would drive me crazy, just as they’ve driven me crazy in the past, just as they continue to drive people crazy today.  The complete crap that comes out of their mouths is often mean, false, and downright ludicrous.  The lengths they go to in their pursuit of demonizing Democrats and leftists boggle the mind.  That’s their whole raison-d’etre, to be the pitbull for the American right, running interference for Republicans, saying the vicious and preposterous things GOP Senators and Congressmen are thinking so they don’t have to actually say it themselves.  Half of what comes out of their mouths is spoken just to piss off liberals, you have to know this to be true by now.  

You have to laugh at them.  Don’t give yourself over to hyperbole, this is not world-class propaganda, and Roger Ales is not a nouveau Joseph Goebbels.  This is shtick.  FOX News is a one-trick-pony, they are naked about it, they don’t even try to hide it.

But you have to put this in the proper context.  FOX News is just one network.  They are not noted for journalistic integrity.  Their show hosts are hired on two qualities:  attractiveness and willingness to say whatever the producers put on the prompter.  While there is a string of right-wing blogs out there with modest popularity, like The Free Republic and The Drudge Report, most Americans don’t consider them newsworthy enough to take them serious.  Everyone knows their business by now. 

Liberals and other sane citizens need to learn how to turn THIS...

Every so often, though, because too many liberals consider them dangerous in their ability to get into American living rooms, they are taken seriously, probably more so than FOX takes itself.  A prime example was last year, during the Shirley Sherrod fiasco, where the FOX intelligentsia took a small snippet from a speech she made and tried to make it seem she and the NAACP were racist; it was so successful that the NAACP berated her and she was fired from her federal job; it took CNN, a network still clinging to journalistic integrity, to set the record straight, to show the entirety of the speech in question, to interview Sherrod and others mentioned in the speech, and instead of this being an issue of racism, it became an inspiration on how one can transcend racist thought.  At the end of the day, FOX was ROTFLOL, saying transparently, if liberals contend this network is just lies and propaganda, why did they jump so high to initially condemn Sherrod when we aired our story?  Instead of apologizing for their actions, FOX simply spun the story to make it seem like there was something, nothing they could put their finger on, but something still amiss in the whole affair, something still smells fishy about Sherrod, and the story went away. 

...into THIS.

And apparently, so did liberal memory of the event. 

This is not an attempt to bash FOX.  They are a known quantity.  We know them for what they are.  They are the untrained dog that poops on the floor and tears up the couch when you’re gone for the day, and then looks at you like it was your fault for bringing it home in the first place, you knew I was going to do this, why are you blaming me? 

This is, however, a criticism of American liberals who still, after all these years, get so bent out of shape whenever FOX says something ridiculous. 

This week, while the world is praising the United States for finding and killing Osama bin Laden, and while much of the world is patting Barack Obama on the back for showing leadership and determination in collecting intelligence and ordering Navy Seals to pull this off, FOX is trying to gain political points for former president George W. Bush.  I’m reading liberal comments on the Internet, primarily on Facebook, agog with FOX’s attempts to spin all this into a GOP win.  My response to those comments is, are you really that surprised?  You know they’ll never give Obama respect, you know their entire reason for being is to spin anything and everything to favor Republicans and demonize Democrats.  Why, then, are you dismayed when they act as they’ve acted for the last twelve years? 

Here’s the answer.  Because liberals think FOX’s lies and dirty tricks are effective, and any American who watches one of their pundit shows for five minutes will be whirled away into their web of deceit.  Yes, there’s a sucker born every minute, and no doubt there are viewers that take their broadcasts for gospel.  They have yet, however, to truly damage American politics, with Democrats competing just as well with Republicans on a national level, thank you very much.  FOX does not accurately depict conservative values; they only accurately reflect the viciousness of Washingtondiscord.  What is going on in this country, from a tanked economy to tanked foreign policy to never-ending wars for vague reasons, these are all problems started long before FOX put together their news network, and now they’ve all come to their natural conclusions.  FOX did not put Tea Party candidates in Congress, that was a reaction to the status quo, and voters primarily vote by their pocketbooks.  They did not get George W. Bush in the White House, the Supreme Court trumped the Constitution to do that.  Everything you see today is the push-pull of politics, and after enjoying most of the 20th century with sane, equitable liberal politics, the last thirty years have seen the conservatives push back, until they’re on the brink of undoing the New Deal and destroying people’s rights to collective bargaining. 

All of this, however, took decades to come to fruition.  FOX did not cause these problems, they’re only taking these problems and spinning them to make Democrats look bad.  Had FOX had real influence, the Democratic Party would have died years ago, with Republicans enjoying one-party rule, and theUSwould have become Ayn Rand’s wet dream, a conservative paradise. 

This is only my opinion, but FOX only has power if we give it to them.  We get irritated by them because we allow them to irritate us.  At this point, I’ve come to believe that FOX, like Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh, thrives on having two audiences, a small but loyal audience that gets real entertainment from the show, and a larger one that hangs on their every word to find the lies, to debunk the propaganda, to discover new reasons to get pissed off.  Liberals form the latter, and at some point, we have to recognize this and pull the plug. 

Thus, I have to tell you, if you watch Glenn Beck with the premise in mind that he’s a comedian spoofing conservative zealotry, you will be able to laugh at it.  You won’t need Jon Stewart to do it for you, as he often devotes much of The Daily Show doing.  You’ll be able to do it yourself.  Thus, when you’re flipping stations on the TV, and you inevitably linger on FOX for a few seconds to see what crap is flying from their cakeholes today, you’ll be able to move on with a chuckle, because you’ll see it as comedy, not propaganda.  Life’s too short to worry about this, and you have to remember, we’re liberals, we champion the First Amendment, we support diversity of thought, even if we don’t agree with it.  Knowing half of what comes out of Sean Hannity’s mouth is said just to piss you off, you can’t give him power over you, you have to laugh it off, you have to see him as a comedian instead of a liar. 

Or just change the station and move on. 

Either way, keep FOX in the proper context, and don’t make them into more than they are by giving them power over you.  Kill them with laughter.

LIBS! CONS! For Once, Don’t Screw Up the Celebration!

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Happy Americans--not happy liberals or happy conservatives

CONSERVATIVE SYCHOPHANT:  You liberals have no business giving Obama credit for killing Osama bin Ladin.  If you had your way, we would have quit the War on Terror years ago.

LIBERAL APOLOGIST:  Obama finished what Bush and the conservatives couldn’t.  You all had your chance to get him, and you blew it.  Get on your knees and kiss Obama’s butt, once and for all. 

CON:  We all know liberals hate America and were rooting for bin Laden all along.  You bitched and whined for eight years, and now you’re suddenly on the bandwagon.  Who do you think you are? 

LIB:  And we all know you’re going to say Obama didn’t really get bin Laden, that this is all a lie, a hoax, a counterfeit.  Are you going to demand to see bin Laden’s birth certificate as well? 

CON:  Osama, Obama, you know they’re the same kind of cat.  You know Barack Hussein Obama is hiding something, admit it. 

LIB:  The only thing we’ll admit to is that we live in a country where too many people who just happen to be right-wingers will stretch themselves into any shape necessary to undermine a president who was voted in with a majority. 

President Obama hadn’t even stepped into the East Room at the White House to deliver his statement that American forces successfully killed Osama bin Laden.  The political partisans were already on Facebook, delivering their shots at one another, trying to score points over one another.  Rigor mortis hasn’t even set in on the body of the leader of Al-Qaeda, and already the hacks are trying to make this event just another round in the never-ending nitpicking duel that defines American politics. 

Watching CNN tonight (as I often due when there’s news to be had), I witnessed the crowd gathering at the White House fence, slowly growing in size, becoming more and more exuberant, singing The Star Spangled Banner, chanting USA! USA! USA! and waving placards and flags for all to see.  No one was wearing shirts that said BUSH IS A MORON or GO BACK TO KENYA, OBAMA.  There were no fights to be broken up, no zealots saying the most caustic things, no adolescent bickering, just an impromptu party to celebrate a long-awaited event, an event a lot of us thought wouldn’t come.  After years of hunting for bin Laden, even the most patriotic and stubborn among us had to wonder if he’d ever be caught, if he’d be able to grow old and die of natural causes.  This is an event all Americans can and should rejoice, and as I watch that crowd gather, I’m not thinking they’re all conservatives who feel exonerated for supporting the War on Terror, or they’re all liberals who believe this will be a major step toward Obama’s re-election next year; they’re all Americans, with a capital A. 

It’s come to cliché status, how major events are supposed to inspire us to drop our political differences and embrace one another as brothers and fellow citizens, Americans across the board, we are all in this together.  Perhaps it was that way in the days following 9/11, when we were all shocked to the bone to turn on CNN and watch the World Trade Center burning, both towers no less.  We all wanted to get the bastards who did this, and we all were rooting for our government, the Bush administration, Republicans and Democrats alike, to pursue the villains to their deaths, hopefully sooner than later, but nonetheless, with dogged relentlessness and unbridled passion.  Truly, that was probably the last time this country has felt such togetherness, the last time partisans might have dropped their ideologies for just a day or two and reflected that what we have inAmericais special and rare, and it deserves protection.  What have we seen in the nearly ten years since?  We watched conservatives turn cold and bitter toward liberals, and we’ve seen liberals nitpick every single freaking thing the Bush administration did.  We watched other major crises hit our country—blackouts, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, economic catastrophes—and in each case, instead of camaraderie and unity, we’ve been at each other’s throats.  Partisans defend their president and ridicule critics, and hacks see the president as an enemy of the state. 

This event, however, must be different.  FOX News must stop the perpetual assault on Obama and give him a modicum of credit.  He was the one who called on his national security team to gather information on bin Laden, and for the six weeks leading up to today, there were no leaks to the press, there was no political posturing, just the gathering of information and the forming of a solid plan that was practiced in the hope of eliminating the terrorist without collateral damage.  As such, no Americans were killed in the firefight, and our soldiers were able to take bin Laden’s body into custody and confirm his identity.  For those who questioned Obama’s leadership, he stepped up to the plate when the opportunity arose, and without blinking or tipping his hand, his team came through. 

CON:  No way.  All the credit should go to our men and women in uniform.  The soldiers that risked their lives deserve all the gratitude, not the guy sitting comfortably and thousands of miles away from the fight. 

LIB:  That’s what we said for eight years, when Bush was sending soldiers to fight and die in two quagmire wars.  If you’re going to give Bush credit for anything, you’d better give Obama credit for this, or you’re all just a bunch of hypocrites. 

Truly, there will always be a set of Americans who will take to their graves the belief that Obama is not an American citizen, that he was born in Kenya, that he is a communist / terrorist sympathizer who hates the United States, and no matter what birth certificates are presented, no matter what bold achievements are gained, this will stick in their craw forever.  No, liberals, this is not racism, this is just old-fashioned pigheadedness and cognitive dissonance.  It’s not something to get irritated over, but truly, it’s something to admire and chuckle over, how rational people, even with facts pushed to their noses, will negate them for political convenience.  It is simply easier for some people to cling to their pernicious beliefs, no matter how obsolete they’ve become, than admit that, in the face of undeniable evidence, they were wrong. 

Likewise, there will always be a set of American who will believe with their dying breath that George W. Bush was the worst president in American history, that he was the poster boy for nepotism, the ugly frat boy who drunkenly stumbled forward, the legacy that got military preference and into the Ivy League because his father was a Congressman and Senator.  Bush was neither a pawn of corporate interests, nor was he the sinister ringleader of the NeoCons.  Whatever he faced, it came from the previous three administrations and snowballed into something large and fast and aiming right for him.  If there’s anything you can blame him for, it’s for allowing political discord to become so caustic, so fanatical and frenetic, that there’s no longer reason in the conversation; yes, this is something he could have addressed, just as previous presidents had when they sensed the mood of the republic was waning and needing of a word from the top. 

That’s the mood of the republic tonight, so used to infighting and smarmy one-liners that, when a moment like the death of Osama bin Laden arises, people are unable to drop their ideologies for a nanosecond and embrace one another in joy.  It’s borderline instinct at this point, our second nature to take a moment of pride and jubilance and turn it into just another political football to kick around, thus dummying it down to the level of gays in the military, global warming, animal cruelty, or any other of a couple dozen issues partisans use as wedges to drive sides apart.  This is an event that should transcend party politics.  

LIB:  That’s right.  FOX News needs to lay off of Obama for once and let him enjoy this moment in the sun. 

CON:   Obama doesn’t deserve a second of a break.  Bush had to deal with liberal whining for eight years.  You say he wasn’t legitimately elected, so we’ll say Obama isn’t a legitimate citizen.  What’s the difference? 

I’ve almost given up on national politics because of this back-and-forth, this childish bickering.  Truly, listening to conservatives and liberals argue is like listening to two bad kids who are trying to make the other look even worse and thus, in some form of pretzel logic, would make him the GOOD kid.  It’s inane and tired and so 2004.  While many would say American politics has always been raucous, coarse, and downright dirty at times, I would say it’s never been so adolescent, so persistently catty. 

This should be the one time that happens every decade or so, when the petty and the catty among us simply shut the fuck up and enjoy the moment. 

CON:  Who are you calling petty, liberal?  You and your political correctness have been nothing but petty for decades, sanitizing culture so that no one can so much as think without getting your permission. 

LIB:  Hey, don’t lump us in with those right-wing nutjobs.  We’re not perfect, but we didn’t completely sell ourselves out to corporate tyranny like THEY did. 

CON:  And you should thank God for corporations.  There is no aspect of your life that isn’t touched by a corporation.  You get cheap food, reasonable gas prices, goods from around the world, all accessible and all affordable, thanks to corporations. 

LIB:  And the price we pay for all that convenience is watered-down jobs, outsourcing, closing of plants, the rape of the environment, and CEO’s making millions while workers live on subsistence. 

CON:  Typical Marxist, turning everything into class warfare.  Didn’t the collapse of theSoviet Unionteach you socialism was an utter failure? 

LIB:   Giving a damn about working people—which is most ofAmerica—isn’t class warfare.  Stop crying about having to pay taxes and start pitching in to rebuild America. 

There’s always something to fight about when it comes to American politics.  Can we just leave this one event alone?  Just this once?