Saturday, December 05, 2009

Another day on Planet Fox

Behold, the purest illustration of the Fair 'n' Balanced agenda to hit the files this year. Everything at the top of the page -- centerpiece, top stories and sidebars -- is Fox-generated; no AP filler in the lot. And what a feast it is for those who like to watch how events (and non-events) become news. Climategate, Crashergate, the War on Christmas and the second coming of Dick Cheney -- I mean, how can you go wrong?

"Obama Ignores Climate-Gate" takes you to a bigger story inside, hedded "Obama ignores Climate-gate in revising Copenhagen plans." Here's the lede:

The controversy swirling around the leaked e-mails of climate scientists apparently trying to downplay data and exclude dissenting opinions has led to calls for President Obama to skip this month's climate summit in Denmark until the e-mails can be investigated.

Technically true -- at least, so we're told, though the only "call" described in the text is from Sarah Palin's Facebook account. The bulk of it is a rehash of complaints from congressional flat-earthers (James Inhofe and Darrell Issa), routine denials from the White House and harrumphing from the Heritage Foundation. Note in particular the value Fox adds to this ongoing story from the sidebars, which as far as I can tell are all exclusive: Media critics say the lamestream media have failed! Free hookers in Copenhagen! Calls grow for Gore to return his Oscar! (And I'd be remiss not to mention my favorite miscoordinated WTF sentence, "The scandal being referred to as "Climate-gate" has rallied global warming skeptics, who say the threat is exaggerated -- let alone caused by humans.")

What's the latest on Crashergate? Mostly a chance for Fox readers to sound off on their favorite topics (check the comments section): White House incompetence and arrogance, violated campaign promises (transparency), the corruption of the Chicago gang, and a little old-fashioned D.W.Griffith-style racism ("Is that an apron she's wearing over her dress?").

War on Christmas tales have been few on the ground so far, so "Happy Winter" is more or less filling in for the previous day's outrage tale: the veteran who was told he couldn't fly Old Glory from a flagpole in his yard. Expect these to pick up as the season goes along, but since the post-hajj Eid has rotated out of the main winter holiday* season, the outrage won't be quite as high as the last few years.

And Cheney? (Be sure you check it out, if only for the illustration.) Well, "scattered conservatives" seem to be starting a draft-Dickie movement, though to the outsider it has sort of a veni-Emanuel tone to it.

Now, this lineup might look a little different from the four stories you'd pick for the top of today's lineup. That's fine -- come to that, it's encouraged. (Imagine a news agenda in which Crashergate and Tiger Woods never rose from the far inside of the paper; Fox isn't the only outlet to drool a little too hard over those.) But something else is driving these stories. They're "about" a different set of facts and assumptions, they answer different questions, they outline a generally different world. The basic definition of news isn't whether anything interesting has happened since the last time you looked; it's whether the many-tentacled conspiracy has crept any closer.

* You Arthur Ransome fans will recall that there's next to no mention at all of Christmas in the whole of "Winter Holiday." Somehow they're still not speaking Russian in the Lake District.



Anonymous Picky said...

Yeah, even that cake was non-Christmassy. Just a few eskimos on top. But then Ransome was some sort of Trotskyist, wasn't he?

12:14 PM, December 07, 2009  
Blogger fev said...

I dunno if he was a Trotskyist per se, tho he does seem to have been pretty clearly on the left. (I haven't seen the latest book on his clandestine activities, and it isn't in our library system yet.) His second wife was Trotsky's personal secretary.

There's a mention somewhere (in "We Didn't Mean...", I think) about a Walker family rule against cutting strings, even on Christmas presents. But that's about as close as the holiday comes.

1:16 PM, December 07, 2009  
Anonymous Picky said...

Sorry, I was being deliberately crude about his (Left but otherwise highly debatable) politics. Of course the two seasons of the books are basically boarding-school-term and non-boarding-school-term, and that's it. I don't think there's a single mention of a church or priest or minister, either, is there?

3:46 PM, December 07, 2009  
Blogger fev said...

No, I can't think of any -- interesting, given how many other classes are mentioned throughout, that there's no clergy at all. (OK, maybe a second-hand mention of the voodoo woman, but that's the closest I can get.)

Now will someone please tell me how I can work this into a take-home final on media performance in conflicts and crises?

4:15 PM, December 07, 2009  
Anonymous margaret said...

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6:09 AM, December 08, 2009  

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