Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fox News: They Distort, We Deride

And to think, we thought routine misleading stories and repeatedly identifying Republican pedophile Congressman Mark Foley as a Democrat was bad. Now we get the elusive documentary evidence that GOP propaganda machine Fox News truly does decide what news they want to produce before events even occur.

The Huffington Post has somehow managed to get hold of an internal Fox News memo, written by the guy in charge of their news operation and detailing his instructions to be on the lookout for any shred of information that could be used to tie Democrats to those attacking our troops in Iraq.

"The elections and Rumsfeld's resignation were a [sic] major event but not the end of the world," read the instructional memo from Fox's Vice President for News, John Moody, the day Democrats won the House and the Senate.

Now, the first thing you would naturally ask yourself is why in the world would an executive at a "fair and balanced" news organization, have to assure news staff that one party triumphing on election day is "not the end of the world."

But it gets better.

"The war on terror goes on without interruption," writes Moody, to his Republican operatives, dressing up as journalists. "And let's be on the lookout for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents, who must be thrilled at the prospect of a Dem-controlled Congress."

I'm sure around the water cooler later that day he also promised a bonus to the first staffer who could seamlessly Photoshop a picture of insurgents dancing in the streets, while waving giant posters of Claire McCaskill, Jim Webb and Sherrod Brown.

But, as our friends at Newshounds report, it didn’t take the "reporters" at FOX News long to start acting on Moody's directive.

On that very day, "Live Desk" anchor Martha MacCallum went with the theme. While doing an interview with guest Erick Stakelbeck, lead terror analyst for the Christian Broadcasting Network -- because, of course, where else would you go for a political analyst than the Christian Broadcasting Network? -- she asked "what does the Democratic leadership mean for the war on terror?"

MacCallum followed that with an observation directly in line with Moody's script.

"Some reports of cheering in the streets on the behalf of the supporters of the insurgency in Iraq, that they’re very pleased with the way things are going here and also with the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld," she said, referring to the sweeping Democratic victory and the Defense Secretary's resignation.

Naturally, MacCallum provided no evidence or sourcing behind the contention that bad guys were dancing in the streets of Baghdad because Democrats won.

Which kind of made me think back to that University of Maryland poll done a few years ago that basically gauged how dumbed-down some Americans were based on what they used as their primary news source.

You won’t find any surprises in the October, 2003 poll conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland, that detailed which news networks had the least-informed viewers on the war in Iraq.

They asked poll respondents about weapons of mass destruction being found in Iraq and about alleged links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. And here's the least shocking thing you'll hear today: The most ignorant people surveyed said they use Fox News as their primary news source.

I think that the average Fox News viewer also believed in 2004 that John Kerry had weekly strategy meetings with Osama bin Laden and that the International Astronomical Union's recent downgrading of Pluto, represented a liberal attack on the loveable cartoon dog.

And our most recent evidence would suggest that Fox News has gotten even worse in the three years since this poll was done.

And we're not manufacturing news -- Fox gives us evidence to back up that assertion each and every day.