Welcome To Republika
This is the first political convention, or indeed national election, that I've had the opportunity to observe on cable. I have been without cable by choice most of my adult life--my work ethic is hard enough to maintain without a continuous faucet of entertainment to distract me. The problem is that I find myself hypnotized by the choice, surfing from channel to channel in the belief that there must be something interesting on. Additionally, one is paying for it and there is the impulse to get one's money's worth. Whereas with broadcast TV the urge to turn it off comes a lot more easily, as all I want to see on that is ABC News, and reruns of shows like The West Wing or Seinfeld.
But I happened into a household that already had it, so there we go. But this gives me the opportunity to compare the way the various news outlets, both cable and broadcast, cover the convention and race. I have to say I'm hard-pressed to find the major difference, apart from personnel, between CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and Fox, and found myself either watching the uninterrupted coverage via C-Span or else turning to ABC or PBS.
There were comparatively few moments where pundits didn't interrupt speeches, a notable example being Chris Matthews' cutting Al Sharpton's surprisingly eloquent and hard-hitting speech(one of the few directly critical of Bush, and the party had it early on that night to keep it out of prime-time, as they did with most of the more left-wing of the speakers, like Kucinich or Dean).
Fox in particular used their news crawl to undercut speaker after speaker (John Edwards for one) with coarse and misleading summaries of their comments or information thrown in at the proper moment to diminish them. Meanwhile "YELLOW ALERT" zips by about four times a minute in the sub-crawl at the bottom of the screen. Fox, which is an agency of the executive branch, apparently being the only people left in the country who even pay attention; incidentally, "yellow" means low threat level, but most don't know what the colors mean, so to some out there, the very suggestion of the presence of an alert of any sort while Edward is speaking will make some jump to exactly the sort of conclusions Fox would like them to.
To be honest, the only distinction between Fox's competitors and Fox itself, as far as I could discern, is that Fox is unrelentingly bent on spreading propaganda memes and Karl Rove talking points, and attacking the Kerry campaign, whereas its competitors occasionally report on something else. But both night and day, Fox hammered away, mostly on the tack that this convention was boring and safe, and no threat to Bush. This was because the Democrats gave them little or nothing to work with.
Mostly when watching Fox I am wondering what America they're talking about; it seems to be news from some parallel world where liberals rule all media and politics and Fox stands as a shining beacon of dissent in the wilderness. One gets the feeling, as with Ann Coulter, that liberals are poised to destroy them at all costs and have any ability to do so. Or perhaps the sort of news program you'd get if you cleaned up a bunch of mental patients, and put them in suits before a teleprompter. I have no idea what country Fox is describing. A friend, the actor Brian Sichelle, told me the name of their country. "Welcome to Republika," he said. This would explain why for the past four years I haven't felt much at home here.
Hopefully we will not be living in Republika much longer.
Stuff About My Work