With the willful partisan distortions of FOX Fraudcasting, the network has consistently endured progressive and nonpartisan criticism for the way it approaches the "news." FOX and its personalities have taken those kinds of derisions and mocked them in turn as the slanted work of the "lamestream media." Further emboldened by the successful viewer draw it has amassed, FOX has continued to allow unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and blatant falsehoods to run on the air, sentiments that have grown so outrageous that even stalwart Republicans have grown wary of the caricatures.
Part of the growing conservative concerns about FOX's rhetoric became apparent when David Frum spoke about the network recently. Unsurprisingly, Frum soon afterward found himself fired from the American Heritage Institute for faulting the GOP on healthcare reform and placing at least part of the blame on FOX. Nonetheless, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), a major opponent of healthcare reform, made news for correcting a constituent at a town-hall meeting about the prospect of the government jailing her as part of the passed reform. "The intention is not to put anyone in jail," said Coburn. "That makes for good TV on FOX, but that isn't the intention."
Sen. Coburn would go further, defending Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a "nice lady" and that constituents should not "catch yourself being biased by FOX News that somebody is no good." As someone who boasts a sterling record as a conservative, Coburn certainly had no intention of supporting progressive issues in criticizing FOX. Rather, he recognized how the baseless accusations perpetuated on the network manipulated the political climate into incredibly difficult working conditions.
FOX took expected umbrage with Sen. Coburn's criticism and brought him on to face Bill O'Reilly, the network's largest ratings draw. O'Reilly demanded that Coburn specifically identify an instance when someone on the network had given its viewers the impression that those who did not buy into healthcare reform would face jail time. Coburn, unfortunately, could not come up with a specific instance at that time. O'Reilly thus claimed that since his own research turned up no such event and Coburn could not cite one, no such thing had ever occurred. Too bad for O'Reilly that the people he had doing research failed to even catch Glenn Beck perpetuating that myth on O'Reilly's own show. He earned a BuzzFlash Media Putz Award for that slip.
O'Reilly did concede that people on FOX should work harder not to demonize individuals on the left by making unsubstantiated personal attacks on people like Speaker Pelosi that could have terrible consequences in the real world. Viewers could appreciate that concession from O'Reilly if not for his own previous description of a fantasy sequence where he kidnaps and waterboards Speaker Pelosi. For the moment, O'Reilly may appear concerned, but what he and his colleagues suggest in the future may suggest something else entirely.
Whatever his policy positions, Sen. Coburn at least proved admirable in standing his ground against FOX and its vitriol. However, the climate of the network has grown so ingrained that its owner can hardly comprehend its many ethical quandaries. After all, it boasts personalities such as Glenn Beck, who failed to make himself valuable enough for CNN to keep on after asking newly elected Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected into Congress, to "prove to me that you are not working with our enemies." FOX also boasts of its association with half-term Governor Sarah Palin who portrays herself as an every woman while she demands first-class or private jet travel around the country and tries to branch out to other networks only to be laughed at by their advertisers.
FOX places a lot of pride in its far-right personalities and has created an echo chamber for its vitriol. It was inevitable that even Republicans hoping to accomplish the nation's work would eventually find themselves disgusted with the network. Despite all of FOX's efforts to impede bipartisan work in Washington through misinformation and demonization of the left on topics like healthcare reform, or maybe because of it, FOX has forced a new bipartisan effort -- a demand for reform of FOX. Viewers should demand that FOX listen to the growing bipartisan calls for tamping down their rhetoric for the sake of the nation -- and in the meantime, choose to Turn Off FOX.
Originally posted at Turn Off FOX.