TENDING BAR

Tending Bar

It’s difficult to admit that Fox News has done something wonderful. But we need to praise what’s positive and stop crying over what’s not.

First of all, Fox is not a place for any sensible human being to receive reliable news. It IS a place for people of one persuasion to be reinforced in their visions. If you’re angry at something that has happened in today’s world, Fox News is where you’ll find out why.

Better, Fox won’t aggravate you by explaining things. Fox’s judgment, or lack thereof, is delivered by some of the most delicious women on television. The men are at least presentable. That neither sex employed by FOX has a brain is beside the point: they’re good to look at and they won’t upset your stomach. And chances are they know only as much in outline as you do. Not everyone went to Princeton. Which is why they use simple words and phrases, images, and speech.

Generally, as on most cable news shows – this one included — the “readers” are in fact “reading” from teleprompters, where the facts – such as they are, collected, written and organized by others — scroll from top to bottom and all a reader has to do is read those words out loud in something resembling an appropriate tone of voice.

Occasionally a Fox News person develops a personality, like Sean Hannity. This doesn’t, alas, make him any smarter. It merely whitens his teeth. For real sentiment, you turn to Bill O’Reilly who is as real as Fox gets.

But wait, we’re in the business today of praising the Fox operation.

And this is why.

Fox has shown us, the nation, and the rest of the world, just how low the bar is set when American voters consider their elected leaders.

The emergence of Donald Trump is not a Fox creation. Trump is what he is and has been for years. What he says may now be due to that network, however, as he presents his sentiments seemingly at random and off-handedly but more certainly with careful forethought. Surely what Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz say is honed in advance to bring them both public notice and ideally raise their standings in the poll-taking contest Fox has arranged.

By talking the Republican National Committee into debates during which only the ten most popular candidates for the Republican nomination, as measured in national polls, will take part, Fox has encouraged the wild, often offensive, more often just off the wall statements of nearly every candidate. Even Jeb Bush is guilty of seizing the moment to pander now, whereas before this circus began, he was held in high repute as the “adult” in the room. No more.

In fact, it’s tough finding qualified, experienced adults in these initial races. Happily, Fox doesn’t seem to care, and neither, if truth be told, does at least a quarter of the voting public.

After all, the only talents a man or woman has to have to run in the Fox marathon are signatures and money. Any of us, had we organized ourselves earlier, could be a candidate. The signatures make us legal. The money buys us recognition.

Picture a classroom of eight year olds all jumping up and down to answer a teacher’s question. Hands are waved in the air, voices raised, spitballs launched. That’s what Fox is fostering. Its roster now includes half a dozen former governors, which is comforting…at least they know what governing SHOULD be.

It includes a couple of too-new-to-have-done-anything Senators, and a couple of Senators who are old enough to have histories and records. We have a surgeon – for tax cutting. We have a business woman with a checkered career.

And all of them are dancing to the tunes of Fox News. Not only trying desperately to focus attention on themselves in the public mind, but appearing as often as three or four times a day on Fox’s various “news” shows for the same purpose. The news value of these photo ops is negligible but each appearance or even mention, keeps candidates balls in the air.

We can’t know what our friends and allies abroad must think of this entertainment.

One thing: it’s certainly clear to the world that the United States believes in free speech. Free, rough, vulgar, untruthful in many cases. As the press likes to report, a lot of these outbursts are “walked back.” But their echoes remain in our minds.

And we have Fox News to thank for the disrobing of some ordinarily thoughtful men and women who are unable to resist a child’s daydream.

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