FOX News Continues to Air Offensive Cartoons!
Why Do They Continue Ignore The Dire Consequences?
car·toon (kar-tön): a humorous or satirical representation of; caricature; a ridiculously oversimplified or stereotypical representation of a boorishly dopey fiction that one cannot believe came out of the mouth of a real person; a joke.
February 21, 2006 /Hollywood (apj.us)/ You would think after what we've learned from the repugnant Denmark-Mohamed-derogatory illustrations that have led to death and destruction, we would be more careful in broadcasting cartoons that insult the intelligence of anyone with half a brain.
Yet despite the undebatable likelihood of dire consequences, this past week FOX News and talk radio decided to convert their hosts and reporters from questionable flesh and blood into full-fledged cartoons.
The transmutation of FOX News into FOX Kids didn't take all that much effort.
After all, a joke is a joke. These guys just made it a bit more kid-friendly. Blur the lines of credibility and add a little more color, and voilà... Disney!
The change was subtle at first.
The week before the full transition into a Tim Burton/Gahan Wilson nightmare, Bill O'Reilly, in near-human form, spent much of his time ripping into CNN reporter Christine Amanpour for what he called her "opinion" on Larry King. If he confined his condemnation to the fact that a credible reporter would appear on Larry King he would have garnered a solid check in the sagacity box. But what got Bill's goat was that someone who purported to be a reporter was offering her opinion; something Bill thought was a violation of the reporter code of ethics.
Let's, for the moment, forget that Bill has any number of times called himself a "reporter" before "opining," or that perhaps he missed seeing a Sunday Morning talk show or his own network for the last twenty years. Or maybe it was just that Bill was stuck for a cantankerous "Memo" for the folks. Bill was animated. Robert Crumb animated. Not from enthusiasm, but from what could only be described as a cornucopia of comic-strip color seeping into his skin. The transformation had begun.
But this week he ratcheted the cartoon warning level up to Hanna Barbara.
Bill brought on FOX's crack White House reporter, Carl Cameron, whose wife worked for the Bush campaign, to ask him about how terribly the "hate-Bush" White House press corps had treated presidential press secretary, Al Capp-drawn Scott McClellan, over the Dick-Cheney-shot-a-78-year-old-lawyer-in-the-face incident.
Bill and his Scooby-Doo buddies on the right felt that a sitting vice president shooting a guy in the face was, at best, "a page six story."
That Cameron was a reporter giving his opinion - that the White House press corps is so filled with hate for Bush that they won't let this story die - must have escaped Bill's sharp-reporter's eye.
Usually Bill waits a full day before saying or doing something utterly converse to something he stridently declared previously. But funny is funny. Already my kids had surrounded the TV hoping that Sponge Bob might show up in this episode of the Factor For Kids.
But like any good cartoon, conflict led to hilarity. Bill brought on former network newscaster Marvin Kalb, and prefaced his questioning on the "It's a page six story at best" (running jokes and call backs are the legal foundation of any good toon. Re: Duck vs Fudd). Bill used the "the Vice President shooting someone doesn't affect me or America" premise, which was coincidentally what Bart Simpson wrote on the blackboard prior to Simpsons episode #128... "First, We Kill All The Lawyers."
Kalb reminded Bill that the shooter was a heartbeat away from becoming the president.
Bill responded, "But how does that affect me?"
Ignoring a character's wholly rational answer to a preposterous question has long been the backbone of cartoon mayhem (re: Itchy & Scratchy episode, "Itchy Shot The Sheriff, But He Did Not Shoot David Gregory"). But O'Reilly's Beavis didn't diminish the pure comic genius of his Buttheadwellian conviction that former Vice President Al Gore's speech in Saudi Arabia was due front page coverage over a sitting Vice President waiting nearly twenty-four hours before revealing, through a non-governmental ranch owner, that:
-- he had shot a guy in the face
-- an "eyewitness" - who did not eyewitness the shooting - would reveal the details of the shooting to a local Texas paper, and her integrity would only be questioned by those who hate the President and the shooter;
-- the eyewitness's witnessing of no one drinking did not jive with the Vice President's witnessing of his own drinking (on top of heart please-don't-attack-me drugs)
...does not demand anything more than page six positioning, where I assume Bill believes the comics belong.
Bringing Cheney's Mickey Mouse mea culpa to FOX News and ever-objective Brit "The Tick" Hume, hoping that the story does a Casper the Friendly Ghost and disappears, didn't even pass the Republican smell test from hate-Bush-mongers Peggy Noonan, Marvin Fitzwater and Ari Fleisher, all of whom thought the whole episode was more Tom and Jerry than Dick and Brit.
You have just got to think that Billy and his Roger "Rabbit" Ailes cartoon buddies can't actually believe that a reasonable person would look at their wacky antics and think it anything but computer-generated Pixar fun. Then again, who said Fox News viewers need to be reasonable.
For good measure, in his Beauty and the Beast, pot-calling-the-kettle-black segment, Bill once again admonished those who aired newly-released Abu Ghraib torture images, with his ever-ready "it's not the crime, it's the showing pictures of the crime that are criminal" charges. One would hope that Fox News takes Bill's advice to heart and leave the hilarious non sequiturs to Gary Larson.
The other laughable FOX News Cartoon Channel characters like Hannity and Gibson (Dumbo and Dumbo'r), as well talk radio's Yosemite Sham, Rush Limbaugh, spent the week creating cartoon calamity, placing Cheney's smoking rifle in the hands of David Gregory and a bomb under Helen Thomas's turban. It was so fun.
Still, offensive cartoons, no matter how seemingly real, have been proven dangerous. If Fox News doesn't soon learn from the Danes' folly, more rioting may be just around the corner.
For Mohammed's sake, let's hope Pakistan doesn't get FOX .
WHAT TOOK SO LONG NOTE: For years, Carolyn Kay, the grande dame of MakeThemAccountable.com has asked the same question at the end of each of her columns: If Bush commits a crime and no one hears about it, has a crime really been committed?
Seems that this past week Cheney tried his best to answer Kay's question.
Steve Young is a Senior Fellow at the Extreme Far Centrist Foundation' Political Husbandry Conservation Centre and Stereo Repair. In his spare time, he is also an author, comedy writer, columnist, LA talk show host and author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful."(What? You STILL haven't bought it? Then visit http://www.greatfailure.com/). You can also check out the satirical side of Steve every Sunday in the LA Daily News.