As is the case with many people who are not Right Wingers, I only tend to see Fox News in clips shown on The Daily Show. From time to time, I do try to sit through The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity, in order to know what the other side is saying. In previous attempts, this has led to some Twitter rants and high blood pressure on my part and I have never actually made it all the way through the shows. On this occasion, I am going to watch the Fox News mainstays and provide a play-by-play and my reactions – watching on delay in order to fast-forward through the commercial breaks.
The O’Reilly Factor
I am warned I am entering the No Spin Zone, we will see. He has two guests: Nile Gardiner, representing the Right; Tamara Draut for the left. First up is the violence in Oakland – O’Reilly does acknowledge that the Occupiers started out with a valid point, but they have been hijacked by extremists intent on violence. They are very quick to label the protestors as Marxists or Communists – it has been a while since I studied The Communist Manifesto, but I do not remember part of Engels’ and Marx’s theory including a plan to raise the marginal tax rate on the highest earners by 3%. The discussion moves on to Europe and the state of the Greek economy. O’Reilly is baffled why the Occupiers don’t trust the free market when the Greek economy is state-run (his words) and that has so clearly failed. The answer should be: Do you remember 2008? Do the phrases “toxic assets”, “mortgage-back securities”, or “$800bn bailout of the banks who were too greedy to control themselves” ring any bells with you, Bill? Draut’s answer is: Germany’s state-run economy works because it does not have a problem taxing millionaires – which just leads to a debate about what that particular tax rate is, neither O’Reilly nor his guests know (it is 45% on everything over 250,000 Euros – current unemployment rate 5.9%). Bill puts Draut’s point, that an efficient government like Germany shows that you can have a country with entitlements and a strong economy, to Gardinr, who dismisses it as impossible – as if Germany is a fictional land, like Narnia. The host closes out the segment by telling Draut that everyone knows that Portugal, Spain, Italy and the UK have failing economies because they have spent too much on “social justice” (said with much derision). She fights back by pointing out that it was actually the de-regulation of the financial markets that have ruined economies across the globe. O’Reilly – 1, Truth- 0.
The focus shifts to Herman Cain and the revelations that there were sexual harassment claims made against him during his time as head of the National Restaurant Association. O’Reilly has Laura Ingram on to discuss this, but the piece is all about who dug up these allegations – Perry or Romney – and how the infighting in the Republican party will help non-conservatives “Obama” (that’s President Obama to you, and the rest of us, Ms. Ingram) and Mitt Romney – which, to be fair, is a subtle, but funny, diss. There is an aside for Bill and Laura to belittle the President, by saying nobody listens to him in Europe, nor gives him any credibility on the economy on either side of the Atlantic – just to remind you this is a segment about sexual harassment cases that were settled by the front-runner for the Republican Presidential Nominee. The conversation goes to the next Republican debate and Ingram implores Perry and Cain to attack Romney, and sees Gingrich as a possible candidate to be the “last-conservative man standing against Romney”. They talk about Cain’s campaign and how seriously it can be taken, especially after this ad – Laura Ingram uses this as an opportunity to say that the Obama administration flew in fake doctors in white coats for the “Obamacare” passage press conference…okay …that was a non-sequitor if I ever heard one.
This much-hyped segment is all about the Department of Justice spending $16 on a muffin – which I believe was news about three months ago. It is a fluff piece, complete with cutaways from movies of people talking about muffins, orange juice, and coffee. I have nothing more to say about this – this is the most a TV show has focused on breakfast outside of Walt Jr., in Breaking Bad, appearing solely for the most important meal of the day.
Bill has Gretchen Carlson (who I know from many a Daily Show segment where she contradicts herself inside an hour on Fox & Friends) and Margaret Hoover on to talk about a bill introduced by Richard Blumenthal (D, CT) to help provide diapers to parents who cannot afford them. Gretchen points out that this money has already been given to the states, but this allows them to spend it on diapers. O’Reilly thinks it is ridiculous, and Gretchen says diapers are bad for the environment and she was concerned about that. This seemed to be a non-issue and yet they spent several minutes on it – apparently this segment is called the “Culture Warriors” and they spend a lot of time congratulating each other and high-fiving.
Next, we have The Kelly File – with Megyn Kelly. Firstly, there is the case of a teacher who sued after not being allowed to go on a religious retreat to Mecca – the case was settled, Bill was against this, Megyn defends the woman’s right to do the Hajj. O’Reilly makes fun of the calling Muslims feel to carry out this retreat, thinking the woman just wanted to get some time off work for a holiday. They discuss the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction at the Superbowl from many years ago – a judgement was issued today that CBS was not responsible for the…exposure. The segment ends with Kelly chastising O’Reilly for his lack of religious tolerance, as well as he view on parental leave. Go Megyn (even if you’re spelling your name wrong)!
News quiz time – and it is about the Wild West. The questions are about The Sundance Kid, Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, Gunsmoke and the first black sheriff – not exactly putting the “new” in “news”.
Pinheads and Patriots time – where O’Reilly passes judgement on the world. Solyndra’s former CEO is a pinhead as he got a payout when he left – oh and that is it. The word of the day is pedantic, apparently.
I have survived the first hour of Fox News programming, mostly because the last 30 minutes was filler and quizzes, and Megyn Kelly taking Bill O’Reilly to task for his intolerance. On to Hannity – it is at this point I wish I had stocked up the fridge with some beers, to help gloss through this next hour.
Hannity starts off with a diatribe about Herman Cain, who he says is the victim of a smear campaign led by the “Obama-main-stream-media”. Firstly, it is not a smear campaign if the events actually happened and are a matter of historical record, as the settlement for sexual harassment cases against Cain are. Secondly, why on earth would the Obama Administration want to do anything to harm their chances of facing Herman Cain in the 2012 election – this man is on a glorified book-tour and clearly did not expect to be a real candidate (hence the non-existant research on either domestic or foreign policy and inability to communicate his views on abortion). He has no chance of winning the Presidency, he does not even know what his own 9-9-9 plan is about (something to do with apples and oranges, judging from the last debate). Anyway, Hannity is defending Cain and had him on his radio show earlier today, a clip of which he plays and promises to play more of it throughout the hour. So far, Herman has said it was a severance agreement, not a legal settlement, and that this kind of dirty political game is what stops business men like him running for office. Hannity has two “experts” on to discuss, the first points out that these kind of accusations are often made against those running for public office – I guess he assumes the woman had the foresight to realise, 12 years ago, that the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza would one day be a candidate for the Republican Presidential Nomination. The second guest is Lanny Davis, who Hannity clearly does not like, he talks about the Presumption of Guilt that has been surrounding Cain. Another clip from the radio interview: Hannity: was there anything that could have been misconstrued? Cain: No, definitely not. He is very clear on this point, though he was equally adamant there had not been a settlement until it was proven that there was. For the record, I am much more concerned that Cain said he was worried about China trying to get nuclear capabilities, when they have had such weapons since the 1960s. Hannity claims that President Obama was only asked about Bill Ayres once; whereas Cain is being bombarded with questions and that this constitutes a double standard. HA!
This part is called “Can You Afford Four More?” – Hannity says the Cain issue is distracting from the main point of next year’s election, getting people back to work – the obvious implication is to do that, the country needs to get rid of President Obama. He shows a clip of the President lambasting the House of Representatives for entering legislation that reaffirms “In God We Trust” as a US motto, but not passing his jobs bill. Hannity has Rep. Paul Ryan on to discuss this, they talk about the 15 bills the GOP have introduced, all of which include more tax cuts for the rich and corporations (of course, they do not mention that last part). They state that the President is inciting class warfare by pitting Americans against Americans – and Representative Ryan claims that division is all Obama has left, whereas the Republicans still believe in upward mobility. They go on about the divisive rhetoric and how no Americans should be vilified. I wonder if this show was more watchable when it was “Hannity and Colmes” …
Next is the violence in Oakland – Hannity wants to know who is to blame for this escalation of violence in the Occupy movement, he points out that the demonstrators have been backed by the President and Nancy Pelosi. His guest wonders why President Obama is supporting rioting (when, in fact, he was talking about the peaceful Occupy Wall Street protest when he said he understood where they were coming from). The host is worried that all people who are successful might be at risk from violence – and he thinks it is the heart of modern-day liberalism. The favourite soundbite of the Right comes next – that half of the population do not pay Federal Income Tax (because they do not earn enough) and just want a free ride from the top 1%. There is a quick switch back to Herman Cain, Hannity is really pushing him forward, then one of the guests says Romney walks-the-walk of a presidential candidate- so the host asks if Newt Gingrich has a chance. Everyone hates Mitt Romney. ‘Nuff said.
I’ve started watching the commercials, to delay the amount of time in between segments and allow my blood pressure to return to normal. The summary: use US Bank; get UnitedHealthcare insurance; get a mattress from Sleep Number; rent a car from National; trade with Scottrade; buy a car through Auto Trader.
Back to Hannity – Media Mash, a piece about the Liberal Media bias. He plays another clip from Cain, who says (thanks to a prompt from Hannity) the negative media focus on him is a double standard, as they gave a pass to President Obama about Bill Ayres. Sean Hannity’s guest, Brent Bozell, compares the case to Bill Clinton – he erroneously claims there are far more news stories covering Cain – failing to mention that there were fewer cable networks back then, or that President Clinton was impeached over the Monica Lewinsky affair. They talk about shoddy journalism from various news organisations and show some clips to prove the point – I agree that in this 24 hour news cycle, there is a lot of hype with no real content, I just think Fox News is the worst offender by far.
Jack Bauer thinks you should use Bank of America; buy a Ford; watch Atlas Shrugged; get Eukanbu for your pets; eat Velveeta Cheesy Skillets; go to Finally Fast dot Com if your computer occasionally freezes; use 5 hour energy if you ever get tired; go to Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
Now, “The Great American Panel”, all of whom are conservatives – what a surprise. First topic…come on you know by now – Herman Cain. They spend a long time talking about anonymous sources and the danger of this dragging on – this is really missing the problem with Herman Cain – he has terrible policies and does not know anything about global politics.
I can see the finish line, so back to skipping the commercials – but rest assured it was “consume and use a bank”. They make fun of the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, for misquoting the bible. Then the Solyndra scandal is brought up, which Hannity claims cost billions of dollars, then corrects himself to millions, before my DVR mercifully cuts him off…
I made it through to the end, though it was probably quite a tame night as they spent most of their focus on defending Herman Cain – who will not end up being the Republican Nominee anyway. What else did I learn? They do not like the President, liberals, or those anti-American types who believe in increasing taxation on the highest earners, and hate it when the left vilify true Americans like the rich. There’s an anomaly somewhere in there, but my eyes are bleeding and it is time for some medicine in the form of The Daily Show.