Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Faux News – The McLobster of Journalism!

In Maine and parts of Canada, McDonald’s seasonally offers a sandwich called the “McLobster.” I kid you not. While these days they apparently advertise it sometimes as a “lobster roll” and “100% real lobster” (I would be shocked if that claim was not misleading in some fashion), back when I first saw it advertised in 1988, McDonald’s proudly claimed – again, I kid you not - that the McLobster was “made with flecks of real lobster!” Yes, that’s right, “flecks.” The only person I know who actually admitted to trying it was, shall we say, underwhelmed.

There’s a lot of buzz currently about Chris Wallace’s interview with Bill Clinton, where Wallace sandbagged the former President – namely, Clinton was told he was going to be asked about his Global Policy Initiative, and Wallace pulled a bait-and-switch by asking Clinton about his record on catching or killing bin Laden. Is Clinton’s terrorism record a fair subject? Of course. But it’s completely dishonest to misrepresent an interview to one’s subject beforehand. It’s also standard practice for Fox News.

The Washington Post has a brief write-up here (and Howard Kurtz is sure to cover it tomorrow). Questiongirl has the video posted here. ThinkProgress has a full transcript here.

While the Post article notes that Wallace is “not usually accused of being part of the network’s conservative commentariat” at Fox News, and he in fact spoke out against the distortions of ABC’s propaganda piece The Path to 9/11, there’s little question of what this segment was about. Besides being a typical Fox News sandbag job, its other goal is of course trying to rewrite history and paint the Democrats as weak and Bush as responsible on national security before the election.

Of course Fox has a commercial agenda as well a rightwing one — they’ve been selling this interview as “Clinton Gets Crazed!” — not far off from “Presidents Gone Wild!”

But just imagine if Clinton hadn’t responded so forcefully? Conservatives will doubtlessly sell this as “Clinton gets defensive about his lousy record on terrorism.” But I think Chris Wallace has gotten so used to Faux Dems (“I’m not a liberal, but I play one on Fox News!”) he forgot what it was like to try to sandbag someone who would fight back. (Imagine if Kerry has responded to the Swifites with this sort of fire!)

Hmm... I just caught the tail end of Wallace on Fox with Brit Hume and the gang. Wallace lifts two quotations from Clarke's book - the second one could be used to criticize Clinton's critics, but is used to criticize only Clinton. (I’ll try to get some more links up later.)

Almost all of them talk about how "touchy" Clinton was, and speculate it's because he's "sensitive" about his legacy. No one points out that Clinton was sandbagged, with Wallace misrepresenting the interview before hand! NPR’s Juan Williams and Mara Liasson make a few points, but they know what Fox is paying them for - and again, why the hell do you have non-partisan, neutral reporters representing the left on a talk show? Hume trots out some standard GOP talking points about Clinton after cutting him a little slack - basically, he and the other GOP folk acknowledge Clinton was dealt a tough hand, but also imply had he been a real man he'd still have done precisely what they were arguing against him to do at the time!

This is Fox News’ typical seasonal offering for imminent elections; same BS as usual, but piled higher and deeper. Fox News is the McLobster of journalism — if you dig through it you can find “flecks” of real news in there, but overall, it’s an over-processed, artificial sham that’ll have you rushing for the toilet.

(crossposted at The Blue Herald)

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