I don't know who pays to get public places to play Fox News instead of CNN, but it is everywhere you turn, a car-chase-punctuated, bimbo-model-hair-pulling, right-wing infomercial from Hell.
I was getting my car fixed. The auto outpatient center was crowded. They had Fox News on the 35" flat screen in the waiting room. As much as my hand moved reflexively towards the controls on the bottom of the panel, I could not just go over and use the down arrow button to terminate that nimrod Bill Hemmer with extreme prejudice. Other people were watching.
So I sat like Alex in Clockwork Orange, strapped in, toothpicks holding open the old eyelids, for two hours of Neo-Con propaganda.
The spin of the morning was intense focus on the supposed Democrat "disaster" of Roland Burris and The Capitol Steps doing their rendition of Eddie Money's "Let Me In."
Their morning of bucolic happy-chat was punctuated by frequent checks on the Capitol Steps for the arrival of Burris, who was going to make a completely futile attempt at being admitted to the Senate even though he lacked paperwork with a signature from Illinois secretary of state Jesse White needed for his admission. It was shameless showboating of the lowest order of Democratic politics, and Fox was there for the kill.
Rather than spend the morning taking the Secretary of State to the Illinois high court to compel him to execute the document, then showing up at the United States Senate on Wednesday with some decorum, Burris continued to perform his role as graft-alleged Governor Rod Blagojevich's middle-finger salute to the Illinois legislature and President-Elect Barack Obama.
Something to disrupt the opening of the Democrat-controlled 111th Congress is a bigger jolly for Fox News president Roger Ailes than a Sarah Palin feature in Playboy and a double-wide handicap-capable stall in the Fox News executive washroom. The full-court press was on.
Both Hemmer and Megyn Kelly, Barbie to his empty-headed Ken on Fox's America's Newsroom rolled out prime FoxThink on Burris by dropping lots of inneundo, and suppositions on top of this alleged news event.
The buzzword "chaos" was dropped frequently into the description of the opening day of the Senate. The Fox gang was working particularly hard to slam Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, essentially blaming him for failing to admit Burris, and even suggesting that there was a tinge of racism in failing to bring Burris, who would be the lone African-American in the Senate, in for the swearing in.
Of course, had Reid admitted Burris, the spin would have been that he caved to let in the lone black guy in the Senate and back-stopped the allegedly-corrupt governor Blagojevich's play. That's kind of the beauty of Fox, where the facts are like Silly Putty: Make an imprint then mold them to your liking.
Fox cameras faithfully captured what they kept calling a scrum of reporters, sending nearly no one in the waiting room to their pocket dictionaries. In a hopeful sign that someone might be paying attention, one older gentleman blinked, though.
Interspersed with the video were frequent misstatements of the event, trying to weave in the racism angle, or trying to paint Reid as the bad guy in one of a dozen ways.
At least some of their telephone "guests" from real news sources like the Chicago Tribune who were asked about issues like Reid and racism, corrected their hosts. That is, until Ms. Kelly got bored with the reality lesson, ignored the comment and moved on to another way to twist the story hard to the Right.
Not to be left out of the "embarrassment" of the Senate's first day was a note of Al Franken's absence at the swearing in as well. Sticking to Fix News dogma, everyone went out of their way to point out that the Minnesota race was still "yet to be decided," save Kelly's one slip of the tongue when she almost used the "W" word (WON) to describe Franken's 225 vote lead that sealed the recount in his favor while doing a segment on the Minnesota race.
After nearly an hour of video footage of the Washington press piranhas stumbling over each other, and five talking heads sputtering Neo-Con slams of all things Dem, Burris emerged from the Senate building.
The melee of journalists swarmed the alleged Junior Senator of Illinois like shipwrecked Shriners discovering a floating crate of Pamela Anderson inflatables.
Burris, the Senate version of legendary groundhog Punksatawney Phil, came out in the rain, and saw his shadow, which, if it were up to Fox, would mean four more years of political winter for the Dems.
"My name is Roland Burris, the junior Senator from the State of Illinois," he said leaning into the microphone. "I was advised that my credentials were not in order."
The newsflash was hardly newsworthy. Everyone including Burris knew that his paperwork was not in order. The anti-climatic end to Fox's histrionics of a morning laced with innuendo, speculation and mis-statements was nearly an hour and a half to explain a two minute story at best. Here is my abridged version:
Roland Burris went to the senate today and was greeted by senate sergeant-at-arms Terrance Gainer who escorted him to the secretary's office where he went through the motions of enrolling with incomplete paperwork. Burris was told he could not be admitted, and left the building.
The purpose of this gross exercise in distortion from Fox News was to show that the Dems are still the same screwed up mess that they always have been over the last thirty years, and that, in spite of Mr. Obama and his promises, the six left feet of the Democratic Party will continue to trip over themselves.
I took away a slightly different spin. The system worked.
Mr. Obama and Mr. Reid expressed their disapproval of the Blagojevich appointee last week, but that had nothing to do with it. Burris' troubles were internal to the State of Illinois.
Should the Senate accord him special privilege to enter without the proper paperwork simply to pander to the media spectacle?
Of course, it being Fox News, 99% of those watching just nodded along mindlessly anyway. Most of the people in the waiting room were near comatose as I was writhing in my chair, my brain boiling in ways that it had not since those early days of Republican publishing when I found out the ugly truth that Ann Coulter, the hot chick on the cover of the book in the political section of my Barnes & Noble, was a raging facist.
I had to go outside for a sanity break. Thankfully my car was done. On the ride home, I detoxed on some NPR, leveled out on twenty minutes of XM's POTUS channel, then gradually eased into CNN's Keeping-Up-With-The-Joneses coverage of the Blago & Burris Circus.
Fox News ate my brain. (I swear!)