Former Fox News contributor Tobin Smith explains how he was the "designated hit man" whose job it was to destroy Democrats and liberals during Fox News debates. And Fox News rigged the debates to make sure that happened.
Smith, formerly a regular on Bulls & Bears, was fired in 2013 after getting caught promoting dubious and worthless stocks for pay. So perhaps we should take anything he says about Fox with some grains of salt. But his account rings true.
For example, he describes debates as the same kind of kabuki theater I have long called out. But if Smith is to be believed, the theatrics were even more scripted than I had thought. He claims he got the liberal talking points 24-48 hours before the show so that he could prepare his lines:
The Fox News opinion panel scam works like this. More often than not, in my panel segments I was the protagonist or “designated hit man” aka the one called on by the host (as instructed by the producers in my ear or the ear of the host) to “kill ‘em.” You’d know I was the designated hit man when the panel show hosts tossed the final death blow 15–20 seconds to me when they say “Toby you have the final word.” But before I delivered the final rhetorical death blow …the producer of the segment had given me my script 24 hours BEFORE the show started . I knew 24–48 hours in ADVANCE of how the designated liberal was going to argue his/her point…and more important how I was going to win.
Bill O’Reilly was, reportedly, even more disingenuous because he told Smith what to say:
Bill O’Reilly was the only on-air talent that, when you were a guest expert on this show and on the Fox payroll, told you what he wanted you to say.
He would literally come into your earpiece before your “hit” aka appearance on a Factor segment and say “Smith…here’s how it goes down. You said last time oil prices were going higher…I said lower…well they are lower and I’m going to blame the oil companies. You bit is to support them, capiche?”
Well…he was dead wrong and I told him that and his answer was “Is this the Tobin Smith show? If it is, say what you want. But if this is the O’Reilly show you give what I want.”
Smith wrote that he was never asked back to The O’Reilly Factor afterward, despite more than 40 previous appearances.
Smith also related some interesting accounts of discussions with Roger Ailes, then the head of Fox News. According to Smith, Ailes told him viewers “want to see YOU tear those smug condescending know-it-all East Coast liberals to pieces . . limb by limb . . . until they jump up out of their LaZ boy and scream ‘Way to go Toby…you KILLED that libtard!’”
Do some of those details seem a bit far fetched? Smith reports, you decide.
Regardless, the whole piece is worth reading even if the gist confirms what we pretty much knew or could have guessed.
But here’s what should be the real eye-opener for discussion: Why do Democrats, even the unpaid guests, go along with the charade? They can’t be unaware of what is happening under their noses. Are they so eager for Fox News money that they are willing to turn a blind eye to it? Are they so arrogant that they believe that they will somehow win a rigged debate? Both?
I remain a strong believer that Democrats should (indeed, must) appear on Fox and face the political enemy. But if they do not deal with what the foe is up to and play its game instead, they are nothing more than patsies.
Crossposted at News Hounds.
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