Monday, January 25, 2021

I'm not asking you who's on second

You might be wondering -- since Fox apparently made up its mind fairly early in November that Chavez and Soros and HILLARY!!111!1!1!!1!!1!!! didn't actually conspire to rig the election -- what things look like over on the Fair 'n' Balanced website these days. The short answer is more or less the way they always did. Enjoy, for example, the lead story from last Friday:

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., believes President Biden killing the Keystone XL pipeline shows he’s putting "Saudi Arabia first," not American workers.

"It looks like he cares more about workers in Saudi Arabia than the workers in America," Daines said on "America's Newsroom." 

Classic Fox, in that it's a single-source story of the tedious sort: not an assertion of fact built off one background comment and waiting for confirmation, but one person offering an opinion about policy effects. Even though it took two staffers to assemble, there's none of the comment-policy-countercomment-background from which news is usually built from talk-show appearances. (Though to Fox's credit, it's at least cribbing from its own work here, rather than that of the professional networks.)

 Note also that it's a bit behind the times (that pesky news value of "timeliness") -- the event happened Wednesday, but it's not a lead story until someone puts it into the "foreigners first" perspective for you. Compare that with the Monday lead story:

Americans still waiting on coronavirus relief, including stimulus checks, from the federal government may be surprised to learn that President Biden is reportedly offering $4 billion to Central American countries for development.

Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Saturday that Biden told him the U.S. would send $4 billion to help development in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala — nations whose hardships have spawned tides of migration through Mexico toward the United States.

Fox needed four staffers and a boost from the AP to put together this eight-paragraph story (including the obligatory "Fox News' inquiry to the White House was not immediately returned"), and given the number of plates that need to be kept spinning, you can see why:

Biden wants a massive plan that includes $20 billion to accelerate vaccine distribution, a $15-an-hour minimum wage increase, an extension of supplemental unemployment benefits through the end of September, a one-time $1,400 stimulus check, a temporary expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit and $350 billion in new funding for state and local governments.

Biden promised that border wall building won't continue under his administration, and critics say his immigration stance encourages Central American migrants to cross the border illegally. Earlier in January, a caravan of thousands of migrants clashed with Guatemalan authorities while continuing to trek toward the U.S. border, according to reports.

Former President Donald Trump threatened to cut aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador for "doing nothing" about migrant caravans in 2019 after pledging to give them billions in 2018. Months later, Trump announced the aid the was restored after the countries reached immigration agreements with the U.S.

So if you can't tell who's on second, billionswise, it's because who is on first.

Fox, to at least its partial credit, didn't go for what seems to have become known as the Big Lie. Given the state of the numbers, that wasn't a really difficult call -- partly because Fox's stock in trade was always the myriad Little Lies it could spread in favor of its friends and against its enemies. Given the state of demand in the marketplace of ideas, it's hard to see how or why that would change.

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