Is Fox News Fooling Anyone?

After years of rumors, high-profile CNN anchor, Anderson Cooper, acknowledged his sexual orientation last month in an editorial at The Daily Beast. A most eloquent analysis was offered by Huffington Post contributor, Chuck Gomez.

Today’s point of view has nothing to do with Mr. Cooper or sexual orientation. But it has a lot to do with network news and—like the Anderson Cooper revelation—it deals with the inflection point between an unacknowledged fact and one that is acknowledged by the subject, or at least, universally recognized.

Today, the inflection point involves Fox News. Once and for all, this Blog uncovers what so many readers already know. Let’s please not make this political! This posting has no conservative or liberal agenda. It doesn’t question the quality or value of Fox News (Well, at least not as a biased, editorial Blog with celebrity entertainers). It’s not meant to be inflammatory. It just shines a bright light onto an unspoken truth. A truth that many Fox insiders, friends, foes and viewers already know.

Bloviation? The Spin stops here? Do you take us for idiots, O’Reilly?!

Does Fox News strive to be neutral, balanced, fair and unbiased? (O.K. These are synonyms. But it is the key question). Is Fox News a mouthpiece of the Republican Party? Does Bill O’Reilly really believe that his popular editorial show is a “no spin zone”?

To better understand how a special interest operates, it helps to understand a little bit about media, entertainment, News, and the Fairness Doctrine. AWildDuck is not an expert on all of these things, but we allude to each and you can take it from there…

Consider the World Wrestling Federation. They refer to their stage craft as “professional wrestling”. Yet, in a dispute with the World Wildlife Foundation, they changed their name and website to ‘World Wrestling Entertainment’ (WWE). This pleases linguists and anyone who cares about truth-in-advertising. After all, they are hardly professional and the entertainment nomenclature fits…

To be fair, the definition of a ‘profession’ is that participants get paid. For this reason, most Olympic athletes – no matter how good – are not ‘professionals’. That term applies only to the ones that compete for money apart from the Oympics. But by any common definition, there is nothing ‘professional’ about television wrestling (aka: WWE or “rubber wrestling”), because it is not a sport. It provides choreographed media entertainment with slapstick antics. Wrestlers bounce off ropes, flip opponents into the air, whip them into body slams and then jump on faces. Performers are rarely hurt, but actors with names like Hulk Hogan and Mad Dog yell into the camera about crushing skulls and rupturing internal organs.

At first, organizers denied that these fights were choreographed for entertainment value. It took Geraldo Rivera to push the group into more truthful packaging. Of course it is rehearsed and structured. It’s all play acting in the guise of a professional sport. But hey! Entertainment can have just as much value as a professional sporting event. Fox News is no different…

Fox may have evolved from a pure journalistic credo in its early days. But anyone who watches Bill O’Reilly’s “No Spin Zone” understands that it’s all about spin…and a pervasive religious undertone. Even journalists and editors within Fox news have gradually begun to acknowledge that the broadcaster has taken on a role of unofficial spin doctor for conservatives.

Off camera, they no longer deny the far right perspective of their ‘news’. They represent family values (at least for white, Christian families), a Republican/Tea Party perspective, and an agenda that is slightly pro-military, anti-pluralism, and somewhat redneck.

When they were disguising the agenda in a cloak of balanced journalism and the Fairness Doctrine, they thought it might win the hearts and minds of viewers—or at least undecided voters. Now that the horse is out of the barn (and the Fairness Doctrine is no longer the Law of the Land), they still serve a useful purpose. Their talking heads help to explain and interpret the Republican platform and contrast candidates from one corner of the ring. But they certainly aren’t a balanced news organization. They are a reasonably good editorial platform and a spokes piece.

For the past 6 or 7 years, the winks and nods were all too evident. They are one sided and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you don’t agree with them or simply want to learn another perspective, tune into Bill Maher or read The Huffington Post. We live in a world of balance through choice. Fox news is an extreme proponent of the far right. My only beef with the organization is that they masquerade as a legitimate news organization.

I was once a Republican. I respect Fox News. But Republican or Democrat, Black or White, Jew or Gentile, Resident or Immigrant, let’s just call a spade a spade. Anderson Cooper finally came out of the closet because rumors were beginning to interfere with his job. It’s time for Fox News to come clean, so that legions of viewers can move them back from the Entertainment column to the News & Commentary column. Face it, Bill: Fox News is biased as all get out! No disrespect intended. We’re just nudging the organization toward truth in packaging.

» Ellery Davies is a frequent contributor to Yahoo, CNet, ABCNews
» and The Wall Street Journal. He is also editor of AWildDuck.com.

Green Lantern comes out of the closet

I am in favor of gay rights. Yet, today’s news is, well, a bit goofy. Is it possible that Ellery is not the progressive, tolerant Dude that I have cultivated? First some background…

20 years ago, my business partner, Gerry, and I walked across Central Park. We were wearing blue jeans—and for some reason that I don’t recall, we were horsing around and slapping each other on the back. Suddenly, a news photographer popped in front of us and took our photo. He wasn’t carrying a snapshot camera, but a big, professional photo-journalist camera. He may have asked permission to publish the photo—I don’t recall. We certainly would have given consent. Our company was undergoing venture financing. I figured the investors would get a lift by seeing their new partners in a story about the first day of summer, park beautification, or whatever.

In brightest day, in darkest night—No evil shall escape my sight

But later, as we strolled toward a crowd on the far side of the park, we learned that this was Gay Pride Day. Overhead banners urged supporters to show their pride by wearing jeans (Don’t we all wear jeans?!). TV & news photographers zoomed in on men holding hands, butts or cuddling amongst the crowd. The next morning, Gerry and I were splashed across the front page of our nation’s newspapers. We were mortified! The caption didn’t identify us, but to our friends, colleagues and communities, we were presented as gay lovers. Outed…And we weren’t even members of the club!

I’m not gay and I doubt that Gerry is, either. At the time, I was beginning to turn away from five years of intolerance at college. As I matured, I not only mellowed, I came to abhor anti-gay activism. I became an advocate for ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, especially when it rears its head in law and public policy. Homophobia is not only callous and unfair, it arises from religious doctrine, a narrow minded perspective—or it indicates repressed homosexuality; that’s my favorite explanation.

Today, I am tolerant and progressive. I favor ratification of gay marriage (not just a “civil union”. That’s a whitewash). The time has come to recognize that this issue is more about personal freedom, expression and privacy—than about any legitimate right for a government to discriminate.

Is this necessary? Is Ellery a hypocrite?

But now, DC comics has revealed that Green Lantern likes to French kiss his mate and cuddle with him as they walk down a street in Hong Kong(?!) Is it necessary for the stewards of our super heroes to turn the comics into a political statement? I realize that Superman has Lois Lane and Batman flirts with Bat Girl (N.B. Even she has been recast as a lesbian!). I am 100% comfortable about gays in every walk of life. Not just tolerating their presence, mind you. I honestly think that they add a rich cultural dimension to the fabric of society. But I am just a bit troubled that DC is using the issue to push back into everyone’s face and begin the desensitizing process within the pages of a super hero comic.

Look at the collage of cartoon frames released today by DC Comics (from the upcoming June 2012 issue, Green Lantern, Earth 2).  Is this a distraction—or legitimate and non-political character development? Is it a reasonable part of the story line? To me, it seems like a subplot with an agenda. Even though the agenda is not offensive, I can’t quite justify it in this venue. I would be much more comfortable encountering it on the editorial pages, among my friends, and in books & films. Just, not within a DC comic. Does that make me a hypocrite? Honestly, I’m not sure. Tell me what you think?

Editors Note:
The title suggests that Green Lantern has “come out of the closet”. Actually, the new issue shows him to have been openly gay all along. Additionally, the character is not Hal Jordan from 60s and 70s, a member of the Justice League. He is Alan Scott, a retro character from the early comics of the 1940s.

Michele Bachmann: Trouble responding to 8yr old boy

Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin are like the Bobbsey Twins. Two peas in a pod. You already know my feelings about Palin. But lately, Wild Ducks have asked me to comment on Bachmann.

Today’s post is not an opinion, but this short video is priceless. Pure fluff, but priceless!

An 8 year old boy accompanies his mom to a Michele Bachmann book signing. The child approaches Bachmann to ask a question, but is too shy and too soft to be heard. Bachmann is interested in hearing what the youngster has to say. She pulls the boy close so that he can whisper into her ear. Click below to see the video  [continued]…

Implored by a child…How can a family-values zealot respond?

The camera and microphone are close and they pick up everything! He whispers “My mommy is gay, but she doesn’t need any fixing.”

It’s not difficult to predict the outcome. How can she possibly respond? Certainly not coherently! Bachmann backs away, flushes and stumbles on the words “Bye-bye”, as handlers escort boy and Mom away from the unblinking eye of the camera…Priceless!

For those who don’t follow the GOP parade, Bachmann hubby Marcus runs a clinic that offers to “cure” gays. Of course, we mustn’t claim looniness by association. But wait! Michele appeared to advocate this approach prior to her candidacy.

Was the child set up by his mother to make a blatant pro-diversity stand? Of course! But still – this brief clip will go down as a priceless moment in campaigning history!