Precinct 333

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Rant Against Fox News Commentators

Sylvester Brown, a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, doesn’t much like Fox news. That’s why he wastes an entire column ranting against several Fox commentators who have shows carried on one of the local stations.

"A PBS Mind in a Fox News World."

I saw that slogan on a bumper sticker, and it resonated with me. I consider many news programs on the Fox network unabashedly partisan and ultraconservative. The idea that millions rely on it for news and information makes me wince.

Although I agree with the sentiment, I'd never paste the sticker on my bumper. It assumes that all Fox News viewers are morons. Too rude for me.

While scanning the FM dial a couple of months ago, however, I heard a promotion for a local radio station:

"St. Louis 97.1 FM - Younger. Smarter. Better."

Well, talk about rude.

Oh, dear. The station promo is RUDE. Heaven forbid!

"Younger, smarter and better" than . . . who? Elderly people? Other radio stations? Liberals? Who?

To better understand, I've been listening. I'm still baffled.

I've only heard brief segments of the eight hours each day on the Emmis-owned station filled by conservative media darlings Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. But what I've heard doesn't strike me as being "smarter" or "better" than anything else available.

If by "younger" they mean "bratty," "whiny" and "attention-craving," however, then they have that mastered.

Seems like Sylvester has it down, too. That is what the rest of his column is, anyway – a series of anecdotes from the shows all intended to paint the respective hosts as petty blowhards who don’t merit their exposure.

What I sense behind the posturing of these hosts is a yearning to be recognized by the very celebrities they heckle.

And I could argue that I sense the same yearning to be recognized in Sylvester’s column. After all, he is a columnist in one Midwestern newspaper – a Blue State bloviator in the middle of a sea of Red State values. And yet these – gasp! – conservatives have national syndication deals that pay them handsomely and bring them opportunities that Sylvester will never have. I can imagine him sitting in front of his keyboard, carefully calculating how insulting he would need to be in order to get a bit of that national exposure via a mention on one of those shows, or maybe even by the liberal deities of Air America.

Fox's conservative blowhards obviously make millions and attract much-wanted attention. But if the juvenile antics of their hosts reflect a better and smarter world, perhaps I'll reconsider applying that bumper sticker.

Not, of course, that you are a liberal elitist, Sylvester. More likely because you don’t understand the medium of talk radio, and prefer that the government subsidize your preferred entertainment rather than having it compete in the marketplace – or the marketplace of ideas.


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