January 23, 2010

Bill O'Reilly is a gloating kinda guy, and he couldn't help but crow over the corpse of Air America on The O'Reilly Factor last night, lumped in with Fox's recent ratings victories. As usual, though, he didn't just gloat -- he used his "victory" to jump to the conclusion that this all just showed that the nation was "moving to the right."

Eh? Lessee, the long-awaited demise of a business run poorly from the get-go means the country is becoming more conservative?

Then what about the right-wing Washington Times? Doesn't its imminent demise thus prove the nation is turning left?

O'Reilly, in fact, has never even mentioned the demise of the Moonie Times. Funny thing, that.

In any event, the entire "Talking Points Memo" last night was comedy gold, especially the parts where O'Reilly talks about how reliable and accurate a source of news Fox is. Riiiiiiight. That's a knee-slapper.

It is true, in fact, that you have to marvel at Fox's ratings success. It's obvious they have happened upon a singular fact: News is much more entertaining when it's propaganda.

Of course, building your business model on that fact also means the complete abandonment of Fox's civic responsibilities as an ostensible journalistic enterprise. It's more than happy to use the extraordinary power of electronic media as a propaganda arm of the conservative movement, especially because it can really rake in the bucks that way.

But no one should be fooled into thinking that the "news" it purveys is in any way accurate or reliable. And eventually, consumers will discover that Fox peddles falsehoods on a 24/7 basis, and that as an information source it's fundamentally worthless.

As Rupert Murdoch's son-in-law put it:

“I am by no means alone within the family or the company in being ashamed and sickened by Roger Ailes’s horrendous and sustained disregard of the journalistic standards that News Corporation, its founder and every other global media business aspires to,” said Matthew Freud, who is married to Ms. Murdoch and whom PR Week magazine says is the most influential public relations executive in London.

O'Reilly should go ahead and gloat while he can. Someday there will be a reckoning.

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