Saturday, November 08, 2008

Watching Them Squirm: Is Fox News Abandoning the Mob It Created?

By Mark Ames, AlterNet
Posted on November 7, 2008, Printed on November 8, 2008

The first polls had just closed when the Republican Right's "Agony of Defeat" moment arrived. It was just after 8 p.m. -- right as Fox's "America's Election HQ" show returned from a commercial break, and Brit Hume welcomed viewers back to his "Fair and Balanced" network.

But something wasn't right: There was a strange lack of background banter, none of the golf-buddy joshing that comes with overconfidence. There was just Bergman-esque silence between every one of Brit Hume's dramatic pauses. The Fox cameras wandered over an incredible scene: the cream of right-wing/neocon punditry -- William Kristol, Fred Barnes and Mort Kondracke -- were caught slumped in their chairs during the commercial break, deep in a state of hopelessness and depression. They didn't see the camera train on them, or maybe they were incapable of faking it, as if they'd been on a three-day Ecstasy roll at Burning Man, and now they were paying the horrible serotonin-deprived price. Kristol looked like he was suffering the worst: He was slouched over the table, his grotesque Stewie-shaped head sulking down to his navel, his glazed eyes staring down at the floor. He strained to lift his head when Hume called on him to comment -- and when Kristol spoke, it was in a raspy, slow voice, not his usual smirking, energetic arrogance. To quote a sympathetic right-wing blogger, "Will Collier e-mails to tell me that he hasn't seen Bill Kristol look this bad since his man McCain get stomped in S.C. by Bush in 2000."

I started my Fox News Election Day Agony Watch at 6:30 a.m. I was expecting a lot of last-minute shrieking about voter fraud, ACORN and Barack Hussein Osama terrorist-mongering, the climax to a vicious campaign that Fox had been promoting over the previous month or two, but what was so strange that day was the relatively subdued, quasi-civil tone that Fox was taking. They pushed those buttons on Election Day, but only halfheartedly. You'd have to have watched a lot of Fox News -- which I have, out of morbid curiosity -- to detect the tonal shift on Nov. 4. It was as if they had decided to pull their punches. Before the polls opened, Ann Coulter appeared for a few minutes to riff against the liberals, but the 47-year-old MILF-wannabe looked oddly desperate in her mini-miniskirt and knee-high boots, as if she stole her imaginary teenage daughter's clubbing outfit and wanted to show it off. The effect was wrong, a desperate eccentricity, like a neocon Michael Jackson.

What was going on? It was as if the Fox News execs were nervous, so they came up with a Plan B approach. Gone was the usual mob-incitement chest-beating that has made Fox News such a hit in Middle America. It seems that the craftier vanguard of the Republican right-wing mob got together and decided that this was the craftiest position to adopt. Just before the elections, Kristol published a New York Times column that threw his entire 20-year divide-and-quagmire playbook out the window in favor of a new pseudo-gracious "hey, we're all friends, liberals and conservatives, and isn't it a wonderful country we live in?" mantra... /

Read the rest. It's great. It talks about the nest ninnies at Free Republic. Pure stupidity combined with insanity. Tasty.


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