and Balanced? What a Laugh!
By Gerald Plessner
Two of the fundamentals of political propaganda are the
big lie and repetition. If the source is credible to the listener
and the lie is repeated often enough, many listeners will
absorb that lie as truth. If it touches a personal nerve or
reinforces a prejudice, all the better. Add a little smirk
to the lie - not obvious at first but an inside joke that
the listener can catch on to and consider himself on the inside
- and you have the perfect propaganda tool.
Such is the case with the Fox News slogan "fair and
balanced." A very sophisticated propaganda tool, the
slogan is both an inside joke and a colossal lie. Chosen with
a certain cynicism, "fair and balanced" has enabled
Fox News to say just about anything its owner or its chief
executive want as long as the network poses itself as the
anti-liberal font of truth. Its creators know that their slogan
keeps their audience hooked and as a bonus, it drives their
What the listeners don't know - or worse, do know but are
unwilling to admit - is that Fox News is anything but fair
and balanced. On the contrary, it is the master of spin, nothing
less than RNC (Republican National Committee) radio and television.
The greater question is, "Will their fans ever listen
to the truth, and will the truth set them free?"
That truth now comes from a former Fox News professional,
Charlie Reina, who was the producer of one of their most important
shows, "News Watch." He worked for Fox for six years,
leaving in a salary dispute and not as the disgruntled former
employee Fox spokesmen have branded him.
Reina recently posted a letter on the respected Poynter.org
journalism news website. His letter, which can be read at
details how Fox News content and attitude are dictated from
the corporate office. The Fox media conglomerate is controlled
by Rupert Murdoch, an arch-conservative former Australian
and naturalized American citizen who has created an American
television channel that is a copy of British trash journalism.
Murdoch chose as the head of Fox News, Roger Ailes, a Republican
operative with a reputation for take-no-prisoners politics.
He worked on the campaigns of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan,
and the first president Bush, for whom he helped create the
infamous Willie Horton ads.
Ailes hates the establishment press because it has dismissed
him as a biased political hack, not at all fair and balanced.
Fox employees refer to the network as "Rogerís Revenge."
Unlike respectable media which creates a wall between the
journalism side and the corporate and advertising sides, Fox
News top executives issue a daily electronic bulletin to all
news staff, telling them what stories to cover and often telling
them what to say about them. In Charlie Reina's letter, he
tells how the Fox daily memo works: "If Fox anchors seem
to be trying to drive a particular point home, you can bet
The Memo is behind it."
Fox employees, most young and all non-union, live in dread
of violating management's directions and desires. "The
newsroom is under constant control and vigilance of management."
When producing a special about former president Reagan, Reina
was warned by his boss to "be careful how I handled the
writing about Reagan. You know how Roger (Ailes) feels about
him." In another case, Reina was told, "How the
environmental special I was to produce should lean. 'You can
give both sides, but make sure the pro-environmentalists don't
get the last word.'"
Although Reina does not say that The Memo is distributed
to Fox's on-air personalities such as Bill O'Reilly, Sean
Hannity or Neil Cavuto, it is easy to see how they fit into
the plan. They do seem to get the message.
O'Reilly always gets the last word, cutting off people who
disagree with him and putting his spin on the guest's observations
in his laughable "No Spin Zone." Hannity has his
audience figured out pretty well. It is fascinating to watch
and listen when he and the others attack the Democratic presidential
leader of the week. He makes no secret of his Republican party
affiliation and support.
And if you doubt how much Fox is worried by a potential
Hillary Clinton candidacy, just count how many times a week
Hannity attacks the Senator from New York. Neil Cavuto's smart-ass
attacks on the people he dislikes (or perhaps it told to dislike)
ranks at the top of conservative talk show cheap shots. His
cowardice and crassness are pathetic.
With Fox News now shown up for what it is, Bill O'Reilly
ravaged live on C-SPAN by Al Franken, Rush Limbaugh in drug
rehab, William Bennett an unrepentant addicted gambler, and
Laura Schlessinger's personal life a charade, one wonders
when their fans will catch on to the big lie of RNC Radio
About the author: Gerald Plessner is a Southern California
businessman who write regularly about issues of politics and
culture. He would be pleased to hear from you and can be contacted