For all the protestations from Fox News management that there's a clear delineation between their "news" and "opinion" programming, it's frequent that you'll encounter a Fox News "journalist" mouthing the same conservative, pro-Republican talking points as their "commentator" colleagues. That's exactly what happened just now on America Live, as host Megyn Kelly offered a nonsensical defense of the tea party movement's false and inflammatory rhetoric to Alan Colmes. You have to watch it to get the full flavor.
Let's break this down piece by piece:
COLMES: When you have people like John Boehner saying this is Armageddon, when you have people like Michele Bachmann saying he's a post-American president or he's anti-American, you're inflaming these people to be more angry and hopefully not violent but certainly tending towards--
KELLY: Are you inflaming them or are you validating feelings that are already there, Alan?
Not quite sure I get the distinction here. To "inflame" someone you sort of have to offer some validation of the feeling you're hoping to inflame. And it's remarkable to me that she's suggesting that it's perfectly fine for a member of Congress to "validate" the notion that President Obama is "anti-American."
COLMES: When you mischaracterize what Obama is doing as "socialism," when there's no government takeover--
KELLY: Why is that a mischaracterization as opposed to their opinion?
This one is really bothersome. Opinion and mischaracterization are not mutually exclusive. Just because someone believes something to be true doesn't mean that their belief is somehow inoculated from the truth.
But it gets better, as Colmes explains why "socialism" is a mischaracterization of Obama's policies:
COLMES: It's not socialism. Socialism is a takeover of production -- of the means of production by the state. That's not going on--
KELLY: Alan, you know that is a short-form way of saying government is butting its way into many aspects of our lives.
So we've progressed from "it's not mischaracterization, it's opinion," to "it's not mischaracterization, it's short form."
By this point Kelly had exhausted all the new and inventive ways to justify the tea partiers' absurd attacks on the president, so she retreated to campaign '08 GOP talking points:
COLMES: When you use words like socialism, or you put up a sign that compares Obama to Hitler or to Lenin or to Stalin, that is inaccurate. That's not an opinion, that is political inaccuracy.
KELLY: It started with President Obama saying he believes we should spread the wealth around to Joe the Plumber, and then he began to govern in a way that did exactly that. That is why people accuse him of socialism.
And then, perhaps sensing that she'd gone a bit too far, Kelly tried to take back up the "I'm just a journalist asking questions" mantle:
KELLY: I'm not saying it's right or wrong, what I'm saying is that's the basis for their opinion. Why can't they have their opinion and you have yours?
And that, ladies and gents, is Fox News "journalism" -- abandoning all sense and factual grounding to defend the tea party rhetoric that President Obama is an anti-American socialist. And this is different from their opinion programming... how?