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Ten Reasons Fox News Doesn't Really Care About The Egypt Story

By       Message Eric Boehlert     Permalink
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Oh sure, staffers and hosts working for Rupert Murdoch are doing their best to convey a sense of grave importance when discussing the historic turmoil playing out in Cairo and throughout Egypt. But you only have to watch Fox News for five or ten minutes to see their hearts just aren't in the story. The usual Fox News juice is completely missing. There's no swagger on-screen these days.

Instead, it's like watching students hand in homework, or little kids eating their vegetables.

It's true. Egypt is killing Fox News' mojo.

Why? The short answer is Fox isn't actually a news-gathering organization in the traditional sense in that it reacts and responds to breaking news around the world. Nor is it one strives to inform its viewers. It's just not. Instead, Fox News is a political organization. Under Obama, Fox News exists in order to attack Democrats and to try to destroy the Obama presidency, while at the same time boosting Republicans. Period.

Specifically though, here are ten reasons why I think Fox News is just going through the motions when covering Egypt.

1. It's a foreign affairs story, not a domestic politics one.

Admit it, you can count on one hand the number of countries the Fox newsroom cares about and is willing to cover in any detail. And Egypt is not among them. (I'd suggest America, Israel, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Great Britain make the cut.) The channel devotes a comically small portion of its time and resources to covering the world, which means it's instantly at a disadvantage when news breaks six time zones away. Add in the fact that Fox News usually doesn't care when news breaks six time zones away and you have a recipe for today's somnambulant coverage from Egypt. After all, it took them at least a week to get a correspondent over there to cover the situation on the ground.

2. Obama can't be blamed. Well, not in any kind of coherent way.

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Sure, Megyn Kelly wrung her hands about how Obama could "go down in history as the president who lost Egypt." But wait, lost? As in Obama was president when potentially historic, pro-democratic reforms were finally implemented in Egypt? You mean that kind of "lost"? Doesn't hold up very well, does it? Fact is, whenever a big news story is missing a get-Obama angle, Fox News appears adrift and unsure. That's been especially true with its Egypt coverage.

3. It's not a hate-based story that divides Americans.

So far, the uplifting tale about how the Egyptian people are altering the course of their history doesn't really have a villain who Fox News can demonize state-side. Sure, President Hosni Mubarak is starring as the out-of-touch autocratic leader who is being forced from office. But Fox News really prefers stories that pit entire segments of the U.S. population against each other and where paranoia, as well as resentment, are allowed to fester and then be amplified. (Think: Terri Schiavo.)

4. It took Fox News a long time to find a boogeyman.

The Muslim Brotherhood now fits the bill, and the Fox team relentlessly fear mongers about the group and warns how Egypt will turn into a cauldron of Islamic extremism if the group rises to power. But that fear angle has only really emerged to the forefront in the last couple days. For more than a week Fox News had to cover the story without its prescribed level of mistrust and alarm.

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5. There are no bombs going off in the street of Cairo.

When Fox News does cover that part of the world it's usually because there are dead bodies and because Arabs or Muslims are responsible for the dead bodies. And if Fox News is going to cover a news story that far away, it damn sure wants to be able to portray the locals as active, they're-setting-off-bombs-in-the-streets type of terrorists. But Egypt today? Not so much.

6. Egypt today can't be explained by retired generals or terrorism experts.

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Eric Boehlert is the author of Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush (Free Press, 2006). He worked for five years as a senior writer for Salon.com, where he wrote extensively about media and politics. Prior to that, he worked as a (more...)
 

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