If There Is Any Further Question About Whether Fox Is a "News" Operation

I will recommend to historians and semioticians very close study of the footage being produced right at this moment, on the Fox "News" Channel, as it covers the vote in the House on the health care reform bill. 

The background footage virtually the entire time is of "Kill the bill!" crowds chanting at the Capitol. "Anchor" woman Megyn Kelly is at this moment breaking the news that Obama's popularity ratings are the lowest of his administration and interviewing an expert on whether this reveals America's recoil at the fundamental "statism" of his world view. Then an on-the-scene interview to confirm that the people who yesterday yelled "nigger" at Rep. John Lewis and "faggot" at Rep. Barney Frank were "an unrepresentative minority" of the protest crowds, and that in fact the typical crowd members would have been "the first to condemn" such harsh terms. Just now going to break, with pan of a huge shouting "kill the bill!" crowd at the Capitol. Seriously, you would think martial law was about to be imposed in DC.

You can agree or disagree about this legislation. But really, you cannot look at this "news" coverage and consider it other than outright political activism. There is nothing wrong with outright political activism. Megyn Kelly is arguably no more partisan on her show than Rachel Maddow is on hers. But not a single person on Earth thinks that Rachel Maddow is a "news" anchor. For the sake of sanity, precision in language, self-respect, and any other desirable quality we can think of, let's drop the pretense about what's coming across on Fox. This surprises even me. Back to C-SPAN. Or, maybe out into the nice sunshine.

(Update: On the other hand, Kelly has Rep. Anthony Weiner on now to challenge part of what she's saying. But her stance - which he nicely skewers -- is as his opponent in debate, rather than as a "news" person. Weiner's performance, from approximately 2:25-2:30pm EDT, is a clinic in how to handle the Fox approach.)

Update #2: At 5:00pm, Fox's Greta van Susteren tells us that the vote is still "too close to call." I'm expecting next to hear from Baghdad Bob

Thumbnail image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Presented by

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.


Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.


How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Politics

From This Author

Just In