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Derrick K. Baker Headshot

Fox News: Unfair & Unbalanced

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The only time I'm forced to suffer the myopic, unceremonious on-air "talent" at Fox News is every other week when I visit my plain-spoken barber, Larry, who has cut my ever-graying hair and shared his unvarnished and liberal-to-centrist opinions for nearly 35 years.

Although Larry doesn't tune into Fox News as much as he used to on occasion he still dials in to the blowhard Bill O'Reilly, and probably also listens to the blow-harder Sean Hannity and the blow-hardest Glenn Beck on the days I'm not there.

Although no fan of those three media and cultural lightning rods, Larry watches their histrionic performances to stay clued in to what the enemy, as he calls them, is talking about and focusing on. That's the best way to know what you're up against, he contends, and to plan counter attacks, when and if necessary.

Now, on the heels of the ostensibly just-ended drama between Fox News and the Obama White House, now is an ideal time for people across the ideological aisle and old school, traditional journalists alike to wonder aloud about the legitimacy of Fox News' claim that the operation is fair and balanced and a genuine news source that ranks at or near the top of cable TV ratings not because of its sensationalist slants and its "talents'" bombastic outbursts, but because of the integrity and veracity of its news operation.

However, truth be told, Fox News is as fair and balanced as water is dry.

Put another way, that operation with both sycophants and critics alike following it these days for its ability to stay in the news as much as the station reports the news is as fair and balanced as Detroit is prosperous.

Because I voted for Barack Obama, and because I was figuratively raised on the Associated Press Stylebook and because I received a quality news/editorial journalism education, among other personal and professional reasons, I am not wired or predisposed to believe that a cable TV personality's appearance should almost always include a blistering or skeptical partisan attack on just about any person, place or thing that doesn't mirror the anchor's (or station's) political notions about what should be done, by whom and when.

Said differently, it's readily apparent that Fox News despises the president of the United States. The station's on-air "talent," management and guests almost universally appear to hate the man, detest the fact that he won the election, loathe his policies, dislike his appointments, abhor his decision to take his wife out on a so-called date night, and likely, are disgusted by the contour of his bottom lip and the length of his fingernails.

When one of their most renown "talents" in Glenn Beck opined that he believes the deep-seated hatred for white people," it was clear that if the president's communications team nevertheless unconditionally engaged Fox News going forward, their actions would epitomize magnanimity to the highest degree.

That didn't happen. When el presidente recently appeared on all of the other network talk shows to tout his still-divisive healthcare plan, the fine folks at Fox News weren't on his list of things to do and places to visit. In response to questions of why Fox News was marginalized, the White House called them "an ideological outlet" and not a legit news gathering and reporting entity.

Really. You think?

As reported in a Chicago Tribune editorial, "White House communications director Anita Dunn called Fox 'the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party.' Her deputy, Dan Pfeiffer, said the administration 'decided to stop abiding by the fiction, which is aided and abetted by the mainstream press, that Fox is a traditional news organization.'"

David Axelrod, the president's senior adviser, even chimed in that Fox is "not a news organization." He added that bona fide journalists -- who still believe that the word objectivity has some level of import in their profession -- "ought not to treat them that way. We're not going to treat them that way."

The Tribune editorial agreed with Fox News' Chris Wallace that the president's handlers were "the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington" in light of the White House's attempt to bypass Fox News and prevent one of the station's reporters from participating in interviews with Kenneth Feinberg, who is leading the charge to determine the level of compensation for executives at companies bailed out by the Obama administration. The White House relented on that decision.

Fox News is great entertainment. When Hannity protested Obama's speech to schoolchildren, which turned out to be much ado about nothing," why get angry? I believe in the First Amendment, journalism school and the Fourth Estate. I also believe that when clowns do funny things, you should laugh.

If I want real, objective reporting, rather than trying to stomach Fox News, I'd rather buy the National Enquirer.

Same difference.