Saturday, August 28, 2021

Roaring and bubbling

Good thing there's no international mayhem or weather turmoil to cover at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network! Here's the No. 5 story on the foxnews.com homepage from Wednesday evening:

Former President Bill Clinton and his wife former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were spotted strolling the beach in the Hamptons, east of New York City, as the Monica Lewinsky scandal roars back into public consciousness via an upcoming television special.

The sullen pair, accompanied by Secret Service, walked along a beach in the affluent Amagansett, New York, before Hillary took a brief break on a boardwalk while Bill briefly walked off before rejoining her and continuing on the walk.

As the inside hed notes, the spotting took place "weeks before miniseries" (by which it appears to mean Sept. 7, allegedly the release of a 10-part FX series called "Impeachment: American Crime Story"). But why waste time on details when there's more BREAKING NEWS? For example, the No. 5 story on the Saturday homepage:

Chelsea Clinton was spotted out for a jog in the Hamptons Thursday, weeks before her family’s personal life will be brought back into the national spotlight in the form of a documentary on her father’s impeachment.

Clinton, 41, was seen in several pictures, obtained by Page Six, out on a solo run wearing bike shorts, running shoes, and a shirt from a popular Manhattan restaurant after keeping a low-profile during most of the pandemic.

Funny, each story concludes with the same three paragraphs:

The show, a 10-part miniseries, stars Clive Owen as Bill Clinton, Edie Falco as Hillary Clinton, Sarah Paulson as Linda Tripp, and Beanie Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky.

The show's executive producer, Brad Simpson, recently said he doesn't think anyone in the Clinton camp has seen the series and doesn't suspect that they will watch it.

"No one, as far as we know, from the Clinton camp has seen this series," Simpson said. "Of course, I’m curious what they would think. I don’t imagine she will watch, no matter how emphatic we are to her."

One has to wonder what they'll come up with next. Actually, one doesn't.

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Monday, August 23, 2021

And sit up straight when I'm talking to you

If you wandered into the Fair 'n' Balanced homepage Monday afternoon from somewhere in the adult world, the presuppositions in the No. 4 story might have seemed a little unusual:

Former "View" co-host Meghan McCain scolded Vice President Kamala Harris Monday for laughing when asked about the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, comparing the "craven" veep to Joaquin Phoenix’s mentally troubled character in the 2019 film "Joker."

Harris initially laughed when asked about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the controversial evacuation process as Americans try to exit the country due to the Taliban’s swift takeover. Harris has a long history of laughing when confronted with tough questions and famously giggled on multiple occasions when she was asked about visiting the southern border

Long history, famously giggled -- but wait! There's more:

... Phoenix’s "Joker" also suffered from uncontrollable laughter, sometimes at inappropriate times. He was eventually driven insane and became a psychopathic murderer. McCain made the comparison after Harris burst into laughter when a reporter shouted a question seeking her response to reports of Americans being trapped in Afghanistan.

"Hold on, slow down everybody," Harris said while laughing. She eventually answered the question but critics slammed her for appearing to find humor in the questions.

If you're new here, let's flash back to March and the best-known case of Fox policing Harris's inability to sit up straight and act like a young lady. Here's the No. 2 story from March 22:

Vice President Kamala Harris laughed while responding to a question from a reporter who asked Monday if she would be visiting the border amid the growing migrant crisis.

While taking questions from reporters outside of Air Force One, Harris was asked if she had "plans to visit" the southern border as the immigration crisis continues to develop.

The vice president responded to the query with a "not today" before laughing. She continued on to say that she had visited "before" and that she probably would go back.

The White House did not immediately respond to Fox News’ question as to whether they thought Harris’ response was appropriate, given the situation at the border that the Biden administration refuses to call a "crisis."

Things got worse the next day, because backlash:

Vice President Kamala Harris is facing a backlash after laughing when a reporter asked if she planned to visit the southern border amid the migrant crisis.

"Kamala Harris laughs at a reporter who asked her if she has plans to visit the border. Don’t believe this administration when they say they are serious about solving this crisis," Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

And by the time we got to reporting on the afternoon talk shows March 30, Fox was in full behavior-cop mode:

The Biden administration's border policies are creating a catastrophe for everyone, Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich said Tuesday on "Outnumbered," in reaction to migrants receiving in-person schooling in San Diego while American students are continuing to learn from home. Pavlich blasted Vice President Kamala Harris for laughing off a question about the subject.

KATIE PAVLICH: "I don’t understand what she thinks is funny. American parents are getting screwed. Their kids are falling behind and the very people Democrats claim to be standing up for, minority students, aren’t getting an education and aren’t going to be able to compete with their peers in the United States. Not to mention across the world. And just on a basic staffer level, has nobody sat down with the vice president and said, you have to stop laughing when you’re asked serious questions. It makes you look out of touch, it makes you look incompetent. That’s a basic thing that they should’ve fixed by now.

Questions don't become "tough" or "serious" by themselves, of course. They become "tough" through being asked by Fox reporters. Here's a Peter Doocy example:

Doocy also asked about news that copies of Harris’ children’s book "Superheroes Are Everywhere," published in 2019, were given to migrant children arriving in the U.S.

Even Fox eventually had to admit that the "Superheroes" story was bogus:

At least one copy of Harris’ children’s book, "Superheroes Are Everywhere," was made available for migrant children arriving at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, a recently converted influx facility, along with basic hygiene supplies and clothing. The book was part of a citywide book and toy drive to support the migrant children staying there.  

... EDITOR'S NOTE: In a previous version of this story, it was implied there were multiple copies of Harris' book available for children in welcome packs. 

By July 3 (yeah, slow holiday weekend), her uppity impudent cackle had become the lead story:*


Jesse Watters said Friday on ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ that Vice President Kamala Harris' signature 'cackle' is a "defense mechanism" when she is faced with a question she can't answer or doesn't want to respond to, adding that it often is employed to lighten the interview – which he said notably failed during a recent back-and-forth with NBC News anchor Lester Holt.

JESSE WATTERS: as someone who made his career doing man-on-the-street interviews, I feel like I am uniquely qualified to recognize when someone is uncomfortable in public -- and yes, this is a sign of discomfort when she's presented with the topic or question, when she's unsure or uncomfortable, she results to cackling.

In our industry, we refer to this as a defense mechanism. In layman's terms, it perhaps would be a glitch in the system, a tick, or a 'tell' in poker and she does it for several reasons: One, to soothe her anxiety. Two, to buy her time if she's unsure, she can use that time to formulate a response. Three, to kind of guide the vibe of the interview from a serious to a less serious one, and then finally, it is kind of a lame attempt to form a bond with the person asking her a tough question. 

Going back to last fall, one could point out that the laugh is often a response to a "stupid" question

Sen. Kamala Harris D-Calif., laughed when asked during an interview Sunday if she would advocate for a “socialist or progressive perspective” if elected.

CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell asked Harris the question during a "60 Minutes" interview with her and the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

... and even then can quickly spin off a second story:

Podcast host and author Ben Shapiro on Monday ripped Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., for laughing at an interviewer who asked if she had socialist views.

“Kamala Harris -- I would love to play poker with Kamala Harris because she has the most obvious tell in the history of politics which is if she is asked a question that she does not want to answer, she breaks into that insane Joker laugh and it is pretty wild,” the host of "The Ben Shapiro Show" told “Fox & Friends.”

Shapiro said that “there is nothing funny about that question” and the follow-up question about her being a “liberal senator.”

It's almost as if ... I don't know, there were some immutable demographic characteristics that make Kamala Harris's response to stupid questions especially terrifying at Fox News. What could those characteristics be?

* It's a bit odd to have the "Fox News Staff" byline, rather than a named staffer, atop the lead story, but Fox talk shows have a habit of producing MAJOR BREAKING NEWS like this.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Today in Washington coverage

You guys! Did you know that the Fair 'n' Balanced Network has an actual Peter Doocy beat? Here's the lead story (above) from Thursday evening:

President Biden grew heated Thursday while defending his administration's flip-flop on whether vaccinated Americans need to wear masks.

Fox News' Peter Doocy pressed Biden about his administration's reversal, pointing to the president's statement in May that, "If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask."

Now, sure, this could be just another Shouty Biden story, or it could be just another anecdote illustrating why Fox News shouldn't have been drawing Messerschmitts in its textbook in fifth grade science class. But there's a more persistent pattern here:

July 27, 2nd paragraph:
Press secretary Jen Psaki responded to a question from Fox News' Peter Doocy by saying that masks are an "extra step" that provides further protection against COVID-19, while maintaining that vaccines against COVID-19 "work." 

July 26, 2nd paragraph:
During her daily press briefing, Psaki was asked by Fox News’ Peter Doocy whether Biden’s "comprehensive strategy" to combat gun crime, first announced June 23, was effective in cities like Chicago, where 73 people were shot over the weekend, 11 of them fatally.

July 22, 6th paragraph:
During her daily press briefing Thursday, Psaki was pressed by Fox News' Peter Doocy on whether the administration planned to "follow up with school districts to make sure that the Abolitionist Teaching Network material is not in lesson plans."

July 20, 2nd paragraph:
Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy on Tuesday asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki if the event was considered a "super-spreader," saying that "more than 10%" of the traveling Texas Democrats have tested positive.

July 19, 2nd paragraph:
Fox News’ Peter Doocy questioned Psaki during the administration’s daily press briefing, asking about "vaccine hesitancy" and if President Biden would reach out to Trump to "cut a PSA" telling people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

July 16, 8th paragraph:
While questioning Psaki on Friday, Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy noted the checkered history of Big Tech deciding what was and wasn't misinformation, such as Facebook infamously flagging posts that hypothesized the coronavirus leaked from a Wuhan lab.

July 4, 3rd paragraph:
Jacobs’ tweet was a reaction to a White House exchange between Psaki and Fox News’ Peter Doocy, in which Doocy questioned Psaki on whether the White House was concerned about recent reports of an "abusive environment" inside the office of Vice President Kamala Harris.

July 2, lede:
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pushed back on Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy's question about a pun-filled tweet from 1600 Pennsylvania Av celebrating a reported 16-cent drop in the cost of an Independence Day barbecue.

July 1, 2nd paragraph:
"Well, the president did mention that the American Rescue Plan, the state and local funding, something that was supported by the president, a lot of Democrats who supported and voted for the bill, could help ensure local cops were kept on the beat in communities across the country. As you know, [it] didn't receive a single Republican vote. That funding has been used to keep cops on the beat," Psaki said in response to a question from Fox News' Peter Doocy on Tuesday.

June 28, paragraph 3:
"Something one of the advisers said this weekend, Cedric Richmond, he said Republicans defunded the police by not supporting the American Rescue Plan," Fox News' Peter Doocy asked Psaki on Monday. "But how is it that that is an argument to be made when the president never mentioned needing money for police to stop a crime wave when he was selling the American Rescue Plan?"

Bonus June 28, also paragraph 3:
"This weekend, Gwen Barry, who hopes to represent the United States as an Olympian on the hammer throwing events, won a bronze medal at the trials, and then she turned her back on the flag while the anthem played," Fox News' Peter Doocy said to Psaki during the daily White House briefing. "Does President Biden think that is appropriate behavior for someone who hopes to represent Team USA?"

June 22, paragraph 4:
Asked by Fox News’ Peter Doocy if Biden still thinks now is the right time to end the cash bail system, Psaki said: "I don’t think I have any new position on that for you but I’m happy to check."

One could go on -- back to the glorious days of March 26, for example:
Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy confronted press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday about why he was snubbed during President Biden’s first press conference, noting Fox has "never been" on the list of Biden's pre-approved reporters.

But you can actually play this game yourself at home! Meanwhile, enjoy the Chicago Tribune's coverage of that glorious day in December 1942 when FDR brought an Iron Cross to a press conference as a present for John O'Donnell of the isolationist (ahem, "prewar anti-interventionist") New York Daily News. The record's not entirely clear on why. Most accounts from the time point to an allegedly satirical column O'Donnell had written, though in 1947, O'Donnell suggested that FDR had made the play to influence the jury pool in O'Donnell's upcoming libel suit against the Philadelphia Record, which had called him a Naziphile,* out of revenge for O'Donnell's April 1941 story contending that Roosevelt was violating the Neutrality Act.

I haven't seen any suggestions besides the Trib's that other correspondents were "incensed," though it's entirely possible. But if you're wondering whether elbows have been thrown harder in the briefing room before, the answer is yes.

* That's Daily News style; in the World's Greatest Newspaper, it's "naziphile"

Monday, July 26, 2021

Read story before writing hed. Wait, don't.


 Sometimes you wonder why the Fair 'n' Balanced Network even bothers to write the stories, given that all the information you need is in the homepage display type. Note, above, what Floridians are mad about and what they're trying to do in Monday afternoon's lead story. Then compare it with the text at FoxBusiness:

Out-of-work Americans in Florida filed a lawsuit against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday seeking to reinstate a pandemic relief program that paid out an extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits.

In a complaint filed late Sunday on behalf of 10 unemployed Floridians, three attorneys ... argued that DeSantis, as well as the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and its director Dane Eagle, violated their "clear legal and statutory duty to secure such benefits for employees" by prematurely ending the benefits.

The attorneys are requesting an emergency injunction to force Florida to reinstate the $300 a week benefit until the case is decided, as well as provide four weeks of retroactive benefits.

"The unemployed of Florida need these benefits to pay basic living expenses such as rent, utilities, food and medicine," the suit said.

Suppose there's a spot on the cattle train to Siberia for the poor wretch who thought they were assigned to write a story about a lawsuit?


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Friday, July 02, 2021

Four wings good! Two wings bad!


As you can tell from Friday evening's lead story, the Fair 'n' Balanced Network is very, very upset that some administrations have so little regard for America that they tweet about the price of a holiday cookout:

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pushed back on Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy's question about a pun-filled tweet from 1600 Pennsylvania Av celebrating a reported 16-cent drop in the cost of an Independence Day barbecue.

"Planning a cookout this year? Ketchup on the news," the White House tweeted Thursday. "According to the Farm Bureau, the cost of a 4th of July BBQ is down from last year. It’s a fact you must-hear(d) – Hot dog, the Biden economic plan is working. And that’s something we can all relish."

"Sixteen cents?" Doocy asked after noting the tweet.

(Yes, Fox needs someone else to write about Doocy's performance at the briefings.)

Psaki replied that there has "been a reduction in some of the costs of key components" of barbecuing. Doocy followed-up by asking whether such a discount is truly impactful given the more-than-$1-per-gallon rise in gas prices since Biden took office – as the administration has taken several steps to curtail America's energy production. 

How do you suppose it looked in ... oh, let's say, 2014?

Before you polish up the tongs for the grilling season, brace yourself.  Rising prices or shortages of many summer barbecue stables may put a damper on that Memorial Day party.

(Let's go ahead and stipulate here that "barbecue stables" is at least as bad as "must-hear(d)," which is from the nether pits of hell itself.)

From booze to burgers, a spike in demand for some classic food and drink items, coupled with harsh weather conditions, has made it more expensive than ever to get your grill fired up. 

Read on to see how your favorite summer foods could go up in smoke -- and plan accordingly.

Does that sound a bit like what you read in May 2008?

Hamburgers and hot dogs? Check. Lighter fluid? Check. Beer? Check. More money?

Americans are about to fire up their barbecues for the start of the summer cookout season, and one thing has become painfully apparent: It's going to cost a lot more than it did last year to roast a burger, or just about any other barbecue favorite, on the grill.

Food inflation is the highest in almost two decades, driven by record prices for oil, gas and mounting global demand for staples such as wheat and corn, and for proteins such as chicken. And that's reaching into Americans' backyards.

How about in 2013?

Talk about a grill buster.  Just in time for summer barbecue season, the price of beef is skyrocketing, which is putting out the flames of meat lovers everywhere.

A ground beef burger costs $3.26 a pound, up from $2.99 a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Steak averages $4.81 a pound at the store and ground beef $3.51 — historically high numbers, according to economists.

The spike is caused in part by high feed costs because of several droughts that have led to the smallest number of cattle in the U.S. herd since 1952. Last year’s drought — the worst in U.S. history — dried up grazing grasses and sent the costs of corn and soybeans, both used in cattle feed, soaring. The current drought in the Southwest continues to wipe out the feed and make it very expensive to raise cattle.

Good thing our commenters in 2014 knew who to blame, huh?

The cost of living will necessarily rise under my administration, in order to justify my flaky social engineering scheme. Coincidentally, I'll also offer to buy your votes with promises of free stuff.

Hey, mon, obum says we are doing fine in fact better than ever.  Guess, that boy, as never been to the grocery store.

All food prices are rising at an alarming rate.This is a sure fire way  to assure a higher percentage of people will become dependant on government assistance

Obama goes to Martha's Vineyard, takes two whole 747's and a separate $$$$ plane for his dog just like last time, heee really cares that you have a more expensive BBQ rib,,,,,can't you see him cry?

EVERY single stable facet of the American  economy is being attacked in one way or another by the obama group. WATCH OUT AMERICA ! ! !     From the Coal mines to the back yard vegetable garden, we are being monitored and CONTROLLED ! ! !  

No, I'm not suggesting that we should be kinder to inept PR efforts. But given Fox's concern with beer prices, I do think we can conclude by paraphrasing a wise photographer I once worked with: Why drink with Fox when you can drink alone?

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Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Some days you're the windshield ...

 ... and some days you're the bug.* So you can see how the Fair 'n' Balanced Network might have gotten a little confused while mixing its metaphors Tuesday night. At 8 p.m., Biden's the bulldozer:

By 10 p.m., when the story has been promoted to the lead position, he's the roadblock:

One of the few useful admonitions in Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" is the one about the high likelihood of bullshit that obtains when two critics say opposite things about the same work: its aliveness vs. its deadness, for example. You can be forgiven for wondering if the hed writers at Fox have to be told what to think before they know what to say.

* Thank you, Mary Chapin Carpenter

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The makings of a Trend

Even on Planet Fox, this is an achievement: The top two stories are not just about the same event, they're in effect the same story. At top is a rewrite of an Albany Times-Union story about Gov. Cuomo's (allegedly nepotistic) vaccine priorities. In the No. 2 position is ... a rewrite of the same Albany Times-Union story about Gov Cuomo's (allegedly nepotistic) vaccine priorities!

This is a notch more dramatic than a previous case this month, in which one appearance by a newly hired "Fox News analyst" on a Fox talk show also held down the top two positions:

The visual framing is a bit more distinct here (March 4, if you're scoring along at home). The top story gets to remind the audience of the Main Enemy; the second story singles out a new one. Through March 5, as it turns out, Jen Psaki had been mentioned in as many Top Five homepage headlines as Mitch McConnell (21 each: two behind AOC but four ahead of Harris*).

So overall, what do you hear about when you visit the Fox homepage for your news? The most frequent headline words in this data set* are Trump (281), Biden (242), Cuomo (130) and COVID (100). Some frequent phrases? Glad you asked! Here's an edited selection:

  • Nursing home                 34
  • Impeachment trial         19
  • Super Bowl                      18
  • Anti-Trump                     16
  • Left wing                          16
  • Cancel culture                 13

Context, as usual, is everything. "Super Bowl" can be the game itself, but also the reaction of various Twitter randos to the halftime show, anything involving Tom Brady's postgame experiences or the uppityness of assorted players and relatives. "Anti-Trump" is often the Lincoln Project but also CNN and other miscreants. There's just no end of potential fun here.

* For the record, "Seuss" comes up 16 times and "Limbaugh" 15.

** Data cleanup still pending