Thursday, August 27, 2009

There's a Fox in the newsroom

Fox News must officially drop the word "news" from its title. Here's a quick definition of "news:" the presentation of a report on recent or new events in a newspaper or other periodical or on radio or television. A "recent event" implies something that is factual, and "report" implies relaying of information, not creating it.

This last year has been unbearable, and I'm speaking from the standpoint of a sane person, not someone on either the left or the right. Fox is not in the business of news, but rather the business of profit. Journalistic integrity is an afterthought.

First, the TEA parties. We got it: you've been Taxed Enough Already. Not to mention your pissed about all the wasteful spending the government does. What better way to display fiscal conservativism than do buy and subsequently waste a shit-ton of tea. In any event, these tea parties were not spontaneous, but rather largely created and propagated by Fox. That is not news.

Second, the healthcare debate. News is about information, not misinformation. If you want to have an honest discussion about the merits of a public option or end of life care from a conservative standpoint, by all means do so. But to advance the notion that healthcare reform is socialist -- which it may be -- and therefore inherently bad -- which is a nonsequitur conclusion by the way -- or that the government wishes to involuntarily euthanize the elderly is unconscionable. This is not news. Christ, Jon Stewart had a more frank healthcare discussion in his interview with Betsy McCaughey than Fox has ever considered.

Third, the birthers. Holy shit. For starters, the natural born citizen clause in the Constitution is outdated and no longer useful, at least in my opinion. Either way, IT DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER BECAUSE OBAMA IS A NATURAL BORN CITIZEN! It's nowhere near true. This is not news. But I get it, you don't like him. Fine. Deal with it. I had 8 years of Bush and better reasons to question his legitimacy (Supreme Court, I'm looking at you) but we let that one go.

Finally, Glenn Beck. I don't even have a punchline for this guy. I can't tell if he is just nuts or just that good a snake oil salesman. Either way, he's in good company with Hannity, O'Reilly, and Murdoch, all of whom are irresponsible in abandoning anything resembling journalism; what's worse is it's working.

Monday, August 3, 2009

In defense of Palin

Photo by Bruce Tuten
I think people have been too rough on Sarah Palin lately, particularly involving her quitting the governorship of Alaska. As much as it pains me to do it, I feel a few words need be said in her defense.

First, to be clear, it is a stupid argument on the sides of both liberals and conservatives to squabble over whether or not she "quit." Here's the dictionary definition of the word, for all curious parties:

quit –verb (used with object)
1. to stop, cease, or discontinue: She quit what she was doing to help me paint the house.
2. to depart from; leave (a place or person): They quit the city for the seashore every summer.
3. to give up or resign; let go; relinquish: He quit his claim to the throne. She quit her job.
4. to release one's hold of (something grasped).
5. to acquit or conduct (oneself).
6. to free or rid (oneself): to quit oneself of doubts.
7. to clear (a debt); repay.

Palin fits 4 out of 7. She quit her job; deal with it.

The real question is why, and most of the reasons offered are pretty good ones.

The most plausible is that she has political ambitions at the national level. In order to involve herself in the politics of the country at large, she needs to leave Alaska, but remaining governor while doing so would leave Alaska, well, ungoverned. While it is a common practice to hold one's position while campaigning (Bush, Kerry, McCain, Obama, Palin, Biden, etc.), it is an irresponsible one because it involves neglecting one's constituents. In this situation, quitting is a good call.

Also, if she felt the stress on her family was too much, quitting is perfectly reasonable, although continuing to be a media whore makes little sense after the fact.

Finally, if for whatever reason she felt she was incapable of fulfilling her duties as governor, quitting was the right thing to do. I think Palin is an endearing figure for many people. She is good at several political tricks -- pandering, question dodging, and righteous self-indignation to name a few. Still, she is a goddamn moron. Nothing she has ever said or done could possibly make anyone conclude anything different; she can barely speak in complete sentences.

Still, unless she is leaving office to avoid scandal, I don't think it is a bad decision. Oddly enough, her favorability among Republicans has dropped since her resignation, which could hurt any aspirations at national office she might hold. This disappoints me: I was looking forward to the Republicans running an ignorant religious nutjob as opposed to just manipulating one for his or her vote.