Why Propaganda Is Good For You

I missed it last week, but Wonkette quotes a Fox News internal memo:

The President and the PM of Canada meet today and will make remarks at midday. Take the remarks, even if Jacko is singing on top of a truck with no pants on at the time.

Funny, eh? This is what I like about Fox.

It’s become fashionable among people who aren’t conservative hacks to say that the real reason Fox is good is that it’s snappy, fun, and other good things that CNN isn’t. Perhaps that’s true. What I like about Fox is that for all its problems — see other liberal blogs for more on the problems — it’s actually way more substantive than its competitors. Over the course of a 24 hour cycle you will see a lot more discussion of politics and world affairs on Fox than you’ll get on CNN or MSNBC, and Special Report With Brit Hume packs a lot more actual news coverage into its first half hour than do the CBS/NBC/ABC broadcasts. Back in my former place I had DirectTV so I got CNNfn which, during the weekends, broadcasts CNN International (the channel you may have seen in hotel rooms while traveling) content, which is also very substantive compared to CNN/MSNBC/CBS/NBC/ABC for reasons that are slightly obscure to me.

But among US outlets, Fox really and truly does devote the most airtime to covering serious things (and for those of you worried that blogs “don’t add reporting” to our views, I can report that Sidney Blumenthal said the same thing on Friday when I saw him in the office). This not despite the fact that it’s done by a bunch of ax-grinders, but because it is. After all, Rupert Murdoch doesn’t really have an ax to grind about pantless Jacko singing on a truck. If you want to influence the way people think about politics, you need to do a lot of political coverage. If you’re CNN, you wind up doing a lot of People In The News and other such crap.

None of which is to say that I’m glued to Fox News most of the time. It’s pretty repugnant stuff, in my opinion. But part of what’s so bad about it is the pretense of fairness and balance. Forthrightly conservative media like The National Review and The Weekly Standard is much better than Fox-style pseudojournalism. But there’s something to be said for Fox’s brand of pseudojournalism as opposed to CNN’s. At least with Fox you’re getting more coverage of something. So rather than seeing Fox become more actually fair and balanced, I’d like to see them drop the bullshit and just be what they are — a television network with a point of view. And I’d like to see that point of view balanced by other networks with other, better points of view. People who want to change the world are at least people who are going to talk about the world, and not fill the air with silly horserace coverage and sillier celebrity coverage. We need more people like that (and, of course, better ones) bringing us the news, not fewer.