Thursday, January 07, 2021

How Fox tells the story

You could spend a week with the Boy Scout Handbook trying to unravel the knots that the Fair 'n' Balanced Network has tied itself in just over the past 32 hours, so let's content ourselves with looking at a couple of handy Fox storytelling techniques in this presentation from around 6:15 p.m. Thursday. 

 In the lead story, we have an illustration of the first-day-of-editing-class rule that the best place to look for a headline is the first independent clause of the lede. The Mouth of Sauron gave a briefing to condemn the "appalling, reprehensible" violence, and there we are. Contrast that with the story in the No. 2 position. The hed's entirely true: Biden does indicate that BLM protesters would have been treated differently, but that shows up in the ninth graf, more than halfway into a 710-word story.

If you're a Fox reader, of course, "What about unity?" makes perfect sense, because a different theme -- Democrat hypocrisy -- is why the story is on the front page. Unity, or the more general idea of a campaign pledge to be a unifier, doesn't appear anywhere in the story, which spends a lot of time on the 25th Amendment, but unity doesn't have to be mentioned. You don't need to say "Goldstein" to run the Two Minute Hate. And for you doubters, of course it's objective; aren't the first two words "President-elect"? (If you're interested in how news organizations invest a zero-sum resource like time, this story has four contributors: one named in the byline and three in the shirttail.)

The overall "well, he started it" theme continues with the No. 4 story, because it's never too early to point out that the liberal media hate you and everything you stand for. This one's by a Fox "senior editor," not one of the regular media critics, but it has the formula down. Cite the offending statement:

"Look at them, they’re high-fiving each other for this deplorable display of completely unpatriotic, completely against law and order, completely unconstitutional behavior, it’s stunning," he said. "And they’re going to go back, you know, to the Olive Garden and to the Holiday Inn they’re staying at, and the Garden Marriott, and they’re going to have some drinks and they're going to talk about the great day they had in Washington ... They stood up for nothing other than mayhem."

... quote a few offended randos on Twitter, and always conclude with a no-comment:

A spokesperson for Olive Garden did not respond to requests for comment.

But the No. 5 story is the real classic. The top story was a straight-ahead who-what-where off a news conference, but this one lets Fox show some initiative on behalf of the Dear Leader (six Fox staffers contribute, with an added credit for The AP, to the 465-word text):

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen vowed that pro-Trump rioters who entered the U.S. Capitol would "face the full consequences of their actions under the law," and those consequences could include being charged under President Trump's executive order authorizing up to 10 years in prison for "injury of federal property."

"Our criminal prosecutors have been working throughout the night with special agents and investigators from the U.S. Capitol Police, FBI, ATF, Metropolitan Police Department and the public to gather the evidence, identify perpetrators and charge federal crimes where warranted," Rosen said in a statement on Thursday.

Isn't that exactly what Dear Leader told his cult it would do the day before? 

They’ll knock out Lincoln too, by the way. They’ve been taking his statue down, but then we signed a little law. You hurt our monuments, you hurt our heroes, you go to jail for 10 years and everything stopped. Did you notice that? It stopped. It all stopped.

There is a slight problem if you hang on for the sixth graf:

... Rosen did not reference the executive order, which Trump signed in June after protesters targeted historic monuments and statues in the wake of George Floyd's death.

 Oh.

Now, the lede doesn't technically credit Rosen with the line about the executive order; that's in a separate independent clause. But news writing has a bad habit of dropping a comma in where it wants to mark another complementized clause (blame the craftwide belief that "that" is invariably a Needless Word), so it's genuinely hard to pin down on the first go. 

One could go on, but Fox is busy doing more stuff.

 


 

 

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2:21 PM, January 16, 2021  

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