Remember kids, Fox News is all "fair and balanced." Or something.
I'd like to begin by saying I haven't had cable television for a number of years. As a result, I've failed to be a good liberal and receive my daily talking points from MSNBC, the Pravada-esque mouthpiece for our current leftist government. (For those who have trouble spotting satire online, that preceding sentence was entirely written with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek.) And while I do have access to network channels--as long as I manage to hold my rabbit ear antenna just so and that absolutely no one in the room moves at all--I'm not really all that interested in watching a regurgitation of right-wing talking points on the Sunday morning discussion shows broadcast by the so-called "liberal media." I mean, watching such supposed stalwarts of liberalism as Harold Ford Jr. and Ed Rendell discuss the previous week's events with David Gregory hardly fills me with glee. Indeed, it provides yet another excuse to sleep one more hour.
What might surprise those on the right who criticize the "repetitive" lefty bloggers of BlueOregon--I'm looking at you, Victoria
Daft Taft (well, that was an embarrassing mistake!)--is that when I did have cable television, the one news channel I watched the most was Fox News. Simply for sheer entertainment value. I mean, the facts-based reality-oriented news provided on the other channels was all so... boring. I mean, Fox New's horrorshow of delusional, alternative-reality claptrap masquerading as "news" was far more interesting. And besides, the steady stream of nonsense--coupled with the unending invective posted on such websites as Fox Nation, FreeRepublic, etc.--provides an insightful (if uncomfortable) view into the mindset of those aligned on the opposite ends of the political spectrum. Those who wouldn't think twice for calling MSNBC a "Pravda-esque mouthpiece for our current leftist government" simply because they accept that statement as unquestioned truth, and don't understand why I laugh in their face as a response.
Admittedly, it is difficult to be a critic of cable news programs while only getting exposure to them via watching a later reposting online, or through the filter of social media programs like Twitter or other websites. (Indeed, one of my Sunday morning traditions is to post "How goes the liberal media this morning?" while making breakfast, and hold tight for the deluge of sarcastic and cynical Tweets I receive in response...) It was through one of these website filters that I came across this piece by Media Matters about Oregon's esteemed Congressman, the Honorable Greg P. Walden--current Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee--visited the set of Fox & Friends Saturday this past weekend, to be "interviewed" by host Tucker Carlson about a list of outrageous "sequester priorities" for the Obama administration. I use quotes around the word "interviewed" merely because the list of claims that Carlson "wanted to go through" with NRCC Chairman had previously been identified earlier that week in a release that had been distributed by... none other than the NRCC itself.
As Media Matters explains:
Throughout this segment and a second segment Fox aired on-screen graphics that mimicked images included in the NRCC release in order to criticized what they termed Obama's "sequestration priorities"...
Fox News has repeatedly cut and pasted or otherwise parroted GOP materials without disclosing the partisan source of the research. In graphics used for one 2009 segment, Fox News even replicated a typo that had been included in the Republican research document that the network was reproducing without disclosure. After anchor Jon Scott subsequently apologized for the typo. CNN host Howard Kurtz castigated Scott at the time, saying that the Fox anchor should apologize for repeating "partisan propaganda from the GOP" unsourced.
Media Matters also provides visual examples of the on-screen graphics used to illustrate the outrageous "sequestration priorities" of the Obama administration, and how these graphics mimic those included in the NRCC release. As you can see, both Rep. Walden and Fox News are outraged that the $85 billion in mandatory discretionary spending cuts don't include attempts by Obama to cut funding for robotic squirrels (with a price tag of $325,000); a meal to be consumed by astronauts on Mars ($947,000); or taxpayer-subsidized liquor ($99,000). Also, the "cutting Medicare" card is dropped once again by both Rep. Walden and Fox News, because that worked so well this past November.
Regardless of my personal beliefs on whether these programs should receive government spending, let's just take a moment and point out that the three examples I provide roughly total about $1.37 million. While I would like to figure out just how much of a miniscule fraction of $85 billion this amount is, I don't believe that the 20-year old pocket calendar I swiped from my eighth grade pre-algebra class has enough necessary space for all the zeros that would be required after the decimal point. I'm just going to out on a limb and say that the amount of spending identified by Rep. Walden & Fox News Is "infinitesimally small" and I'll leave it to Chuck Sheketoff and the geniuses at the Oregon Center for Public Policy to figure out just how many zeroes after the decimal point we're talking here. Indeed, if I could use just one word to describe the amount of funding--or, non-funding--that is the source of so much outrage here, it would be: chickenfeed. A small tax increase of the 1/1000th decimal point on the top .0001 percent could address the $1.37 million funding that had Walden & Carlson so spitting mad this past Saturday morning.
What I find outrageous about this Media Matters news item is that it so expertly details just how much Fox News is willing to be the propaganda arm of the Republican Party. Clearly, this isn't going to knock over any regular readers of BlueOregon. But, by all indications the interaction that led to the meeting of the minds between Carlson and Walden this past Saturday went a little bit like this: Rep. Walden calls up Roger Ailes or whoever at Fox News on behalf of the NRCC on Feb. 28 and says, "We're releasing this list of outrageous priorities that the Obama administration is protecting from the sequester cuts. Can you have me on this weekend, and 'run this list' by me? Oh, and be sure to not mention that this list originated from us, mmmkay?" To fully express my thoughts on this cozy relationship would require the use of language that borders on Wonkette-Gawker territory, and every time such borderline language is used on BlueOregon (which I guess is a family-friendly political discussion blog or something) that becomes the focus instead of the story. So in an attempt to avoid using harsher language, I am merely going to say that this relationship between Fox News and the NRCC is complete and utter garbage.
Now, I'm only posting this on BlueOregon simply for the sake that it is Congressman Greg Walden who is peddling this trite poppycock on Fox & Friends Saturday. Rep. Walden is simply performing the expected duties of his role as NRCC Chairman. If it was Reps. Steve King or Dave Reichert or Joe Wilson or any other interchangeable lesser Republican in this NRCC leadership position, they would've been sitting in the Fox News studio on Saturday peddling the same garbage as Rep. Walden. A key qualification to fulfill this position for the NRCC is to deliver disingenuous talking points with a straight face, and Rep. Walden is spectacularly qualified to fulfill these duties. The last time I saw a Walden campaign ad was in 2010, the year of the Tea Party sweep. Rep. Walden would unpleasantly show up during my Jeopardy! commercial breaks, speaking in a condescending manner to the camera of the "outrageous government spending" undertaken by Congress. "Well, yes," I would say in response. "But you've been a member of Congress since 1999. By all any indications, you're part of the problem--yet you are arguing that you should be re-elected? Oh, right. All that spending by Congress has only just occurred once Nancy Pelosi became Speaker in 2007. I totally forgot."
As I said, Rep. Walden is spectacularly qualified to peddle trite garbage. Sigh. Eastern Oregon, you can do much better.
Let's take a moment and consider what Rep. Walden and Tucker Carlson didn't talk about this past Saturday. They didn't mention that the sequestration was completely avoidable, and only came out as a result of the Republicans being unwilling to raise the country's debt ceiling for previously approved spending--in effect, refusing to pay off the nation's credit card bills, which I guess passes for "fiscal conservatism" these day. They didn't mention that House Democrats have introduced a one-sentence bill to get rid of the sequestration entirely, a bill that--due to the current incredibly incompetent House leadership--went nowhere. They didn't mention that although Speaker Boehner keeps accusing Obama of not providing a plan to avoid for the Senate Democrats to pass, Obama does have a plan which was introduced by the Senate Democrats--only to be filibustered by the Senate minority. No, instead they talked about robot squirrels and dinners on Mars.
Because, remember kids, Fox News is all "fair and balanced." Or something.