Friday, September 11, 2009

Hoist with his own cooling tower

It's always campaign season at Fox, so the past few days' stories about wasteful spending are conveniently filed under "elections." But they start life on the front page, where it's easier to scare the chickens and stir up the intended reaction. Here's yesterday's example, under the hed "Tracking Your Taxes: Tax Dollars Being Washed Out to Sea":

Talk about money running through your fingers.

It's no surprise that many Americans -- who see tax dollars spent for waste and ineffective programs -- feel as though their dollars are literally being tossed out to sea.

But FOX News found one program that does just that.

Sand replenishment projects are allotted millions of tax dollars annually to "rejuvenate" beaches, often just steps from multimillion-dollar beach homes and luxury hotels.

Needless to say, the comments tend to run toward: "They throw that kind of money away on sand, but hey they can run a health care system for millions better then anyone else can and at lower cost." ("They" being "Congress," of course.)

So in today's installment of "Tracking Your Taxes," the same reporter goes fishing for outrage again:

If you want money from Congress, consider these two magic words: terrorism and disaster.

That's actually been a point of concern for some time now,* even if Fox seems to find all the porkrolling on one side of the aisle and all the righteous indignation on the other.** But let's turn for a moment to the example that the frontpage hed is drawn from:

Another town in line for $750,000 worth of funding is Point Gibson, Miss., which is less than two miles square, has fewer than 2,000 residents and just seven police officers. According to the latest FBI numbers, Port Gibson had no murders, no rapes, no robberies and just five assaults in all of 2007. Meanwhile Las Vegas, presumed to be high on any terrorist hit list, gets $600,000.

Go back and read the hed in your best Fox daytime anchor voice, bearing in mind this tag at the end of the story:

Offer your examples of pork in the comments section below.

So let's see what the readers have to say today:

Uh, to the brilliant reporter that put this story together: you need to do your homework a little better. Port Gibson happens to the home of the Grand Gulf Nuclear Power plant. I'm not a terrorism expert (although I watch 24, so there!), but I think nuclear power plants might rank pretty high on potential terrorist targets, don't you?

There is a NUCLEAR POWER PLANT in Port Gibson!

Port Gibson would very well be at risk for attack if they decided to go for the power plants.

Port Gibson has a nuclear facility and is located right on the Missisippi River. I would think $750,000 is a small price to pay should a disaster shutdown the goods and services that flow up and down the Mississippi River? What do you lose if Las Vegas encounters an attack, a few casinos? An industry built on taking money OUT of peoples pockets? We would be so lucky if Harry Reid just happened to be visiting his home state!

Lesson for Fox: be careful what you wish for. Lesson for journalists: maybe that segment of the audience isn't entirely lost after all.

* I forget who, but someone at the ISA conference last February put it thus: Qaida didn't just hijack airplanes, it hijacked a whole deliberative process.
** Wanna guess which?

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