Be aware America, the Remote Control Wars have begun. It’s no secret that CNN, Headline News, the Comedy Central pseudo-news clowns and, especially, MSNBC are not cheerleaders for Rupert Murdoch’s “Evil Empire.” But, lately, their subtle jabs have transformed into segment-long assaults on the Fox Network. I’m no opponent of competitive fire, but the recent rhetoric is inching closer to slander every day. Never before have I witnessed news networks so openly criticizing others, by name, for taking different stances on issues. It’s no longer civil disagreement, but rather a war of words.
Fox hosts, like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly will take their one-line shots at MSNBC, but Keith Olbermann routinely devotes entire segments of his “Countdown” to taking on Fox hosts for their stance on issues. Almost nightly, he talks for five minutes about Bill O’Reilly being the “Worst Person in the World,” an award Olbermann feels compelled to distribute each night. (Not bin Laden, not Ahmadinejad, but Bill O’Reilly. Yep, Olbermann is a true patriot, alright.) The segment is actually a big hit with his 7-11 year old audience. It is kind of flattering, though, don’t you think? Not only does O’Reilly get an hour of air time for his own show, he also gets five minutes of Olbermann’s show. Sean Hannity occasionally gets 5-10 minutes of his air time, too. (I had heard he was a big philanthropist.) MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow also loves to pick fights with Fox, but just ends up playing more clips of the Fox Network than Fox does. Thanks for the exposure. I think Rupert Murdoch has added the MSNBC team to his Christmas list.
Maybe MSNBC simply decided that if they play more clips of Fox and talk more about Fox, their ratings might look more like those of Fox, too. That is the most laughable part about the whole saga. Competing networks so desperately try to portray Fox as a network of lunatics that no one understands or pays attention too. Yet, Fox has more viewers each night than CNN, Headline News, and MSNBC combined. The O’Reilly Factor is the highest rated cable news show, and has more than three times the viewers of Countdown with Keith Olbermann. In fact, the Fox representative in every time slot more than doubles its second place competitor in nightly ratings. Poor Rachel Maddow has a 9pm time slot and struggles to get a million viewers, while Hannity gets more than 2,500,000. Maybe Olbermann should direct some of his viewer philanthropy toward his colleague, Rachel. Even Glenn Beck, the newest target of liberal commentary, doubles the ratings of Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room and quadruples those of Hardball with Chris Matthews in the same time slot. (Side note: Glenn Beck has only been on Fox since January of this year.)
Competing, and otherwise trailing, networks love to paint Fox as the conservative mouthpiece. They complain about the frequent conservative guests and the lack of invitations to San Francisco liberals. They condemn their promotion of the Tea Parties and cry when they don’t follow Obama like sheep, and then call it a credibility gap. They harpoon Fox for having blatant bias and spin. To quote a wise second grader I once knew, “DUH!” If anyone truly believes that a news network can exist without expressing the opinions of those in charge, they don’t understand media. Owners and producers have the ability to choose what is being covered, who is covering it, and how long they cover it for. They can omit some information at will and continuously recite other information. They choose what they feel is important and what they want the public to know. All aspects of the process are subject to personal bias.
Every network claims to be fair and balanced. In fact, that is Fox’s slogan. But, they all know full well that they are not fair or balanced. They present the facts as they see them, an inherently biased endeavor. MSNBC and its “mouthpieces,” like Maddow and Olbermann are either stupid or just bold-faced liars when they claim Fox is the most biased outlet of all. Their own Big 3 are the most liberal hosts on television. Chris Matthews said to America that Obama’s speech sent a “thrill up my leg.” Olbermann famously told President Bush, on air, to “Shut the h*** up!” And Rachel Maddow was plucked straight out of a Berkeley tree protest and given a prime-time show.
But it’s curious to me, since Fox is only “conservative” network, that these other networks are so concerned with it. It’s not like putting Fox out of business would help them gain viewers, since it’s only watched by Right-Wing Radicals. Right? What are they so worried about? Maybe they truly believe that Fox is fundamentally wrong on every subject and they feel it a moral responsibility to speak the truth. Or maybe Olbermann is still angry at Fox for firing him years ago. Or maybe Headline News is upset that Fox lured their only source of ratings, Glenn Beck, away from them. Or maybe Fox’s sky high ratings are simply making Ted Turner a little nauseous. In actuality, I believe that CNN and MSNBC are terrified that their false grip on public opinion is loosening. They can ridicule and downplay the conservative base all they want, but the numbers speak for themselves. I hope Keith Olbermann has his resume all polished up and ready to go. (P.S. I think Rupert Murdoch has a No Rehire policy.)