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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Would You Like Falafel With That?

Much joy in the blog world today over O'Reilly's numbers going down the shitter. But as tempting as it is to chalk the whole thing up to Andrea Makris' revenge, the truth may be even sweeter -- it looks like demand for fabricated right-wing propaganda packaged and sold as news may be on the decline, especially if that news brand is Fox.

For the past six consecutive months, Fox News Channel's ratings in the all-important 25-54 age group (the ones most likely to buy whatever Fox advertisers are selling) have declined versus the previous month. Fox defenders were quick to leap to O'Reilly's defense today, saying everyone's ratings peaked around election time and then went down again. But in April 2005, FNC's weekday primetime demo average decreased 25% compared to the same time period a year ago. CNN's, on the other hand, increased 27%. Only on a network well-versed in promulgating the war in Iraq as an unqualified success could these numbers be smeared with lipstick and sold as a "triumph."

But that is exactly what Fox spin-meisters are doing, and despite the fact that industry analysts are atwitter about FNC's "downward spiral," there are no shortage of buyers for the bill of goods being sold by Roger Ailes and Company. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sees no need to jump on the facts in its recent article on Fox News, where they credulously declare FNC "the big dog in cable news -- and growing."

The "winning" Fox formula, as described by FNC Vice President Bill Shine:
See how the other networks cover a story. Ask whether there is another side to present or another way to report it. Then practice solid journalism.
If "solid journalism" means getting Rove on the horn to find out what your opinion is, dumbing it down to the LCD, wrapping it in a flag, applying the ever-popular all-bigot spin and then delivering it to some thick-witted perv to scream at top volume, then I suppose so.
Shepard Smith, host of the nightly news at 7, conveys a looseness that places him closer in manner to faux newscaster Jon Stewart on the Comedy Central than the broadcast network cast.
Only if John Stewart was big closet queen with a bad case of forehead shine who resolved never to be funny again.
On CBS, whose disputed report on President Bush's National Guard service led to an independent probe and staff shakeup, Ailes said: "I don't have a former attorney general investigating us. I haven't fired my anchors, I haven't fired my producers."
Because we'd be utterly lost without the quality work of Carl Cameron.