Sep 072008
Authors: J. David McSwane

I have this silly little habit of watching the Fox News Channel when I’m bored or in some weird self-loathing state of mind. So for the Republican National Convention, I thought it appropriate to bathe in their conservative credibility instead of the CNN/Barack Obama PDA I witnessed the week before.

I’m not alone because this dense hemorrhoid on the backside of contemporary media beat outnumbered every other network in the RNC ratings race — no surprise there. In a world with so many disjointed options with respect to the dissemination of news (and propaganda), people will seek the views that complement their own.

Usually, I find myself lost in Sean Hannity’s soulless eyes as he farts out lies and pretends to ask real questions to Republican pundits or unfairly framed ones to the occasional dimwitted Democrat; It’s always good fun.

But during the RNC I wondered if Fox was, for probably the first time in their history, vindicated in their slanted coverage and Karl Rove tug jobs.

Months before, when our editor asked me to join in the filthy self-aggrandizing media orgy that would soon become the Democrats’ greatest advertisement — the Democratic National Convention — I took a shower, lit myself on fire and apologized to any deity I could fathom.

It was mostly the journalistic whore fest that deterred me from spending the first week of classes in Denver, but a tiny piece of me knew the relative insignificance of covering an event that would be dominated and shaped by CNN, which it ultimately was.

Honestly, I get most of my news from print media, but to follow a major election, the print guy must deign to the makeup-wearing ninnies of the major TV news networks.

And as I sat in my living room watching CNN’s coverage of the DNC, it became apparent — not only to me — that if it tickled his fancy, Sen. Barack Obama could go out on stage and drop a presidential dooker to the applause of mainstream media. I call it “The Audacity of Poop” phenomenon.

Typically, I decry any claims of a liberal bias in media, but with respect to Obama, the favoritism is undeniable. Maybe the failures of the Bush administration and the media’s ineptitudes in holding it accountable warrant a little subjective coverage, but I longed for a more holistic and balanced perspective. So, I toggled between CNN and Fox news to end up somewhere in the middle of the 24-hour news continuum.

What I got was a hodgepodge of sickening disappointments in the media industry . until I turned to Comedy Central’s hit, “The Daily Show.” Somehow, the fake news show and the “Best Damn News Team” seem to be the only true example of fair and balanced coverage of the two conventions. They ask tougher questions, the important questions, and they call the bull. “The Colbert Report” does an excellent job, too.

Both the Democrats and the Republicans are targets on these shows, and no political crime goes unpunished — something the real journalists haven’t been very effective at in recent years. Now more than ever, Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s immaturity and hardcore inquisitions seem to fill the gaps left by a scrambling, converging media. Journalists simply don’t have the balls or the audience to do what they do, which is proven by the shows’ multiple Peabody awards.

On these shows, the Republicans get the axe more often, I’m sure, but that’s more likely a response to their disastrous presidential incumbency and general lack of a sense of humor.

As college students, we’re in a unique position to question the status quo, what we’re told to think and what we might believe. And believe me, the media, at times, has more influence to shape our perceptions than it should.

Seek a variety of sources for information. Comedy shows are more insightful than the real thing at times. And yes, Fox News is, at the very least, an entertaining avenue.

As this presidential election is sure to fire up, I’ll be watching the explicitly fake news shows to counterbalance the implicitly fake news shows . or the real ones with too much time to fill.

J. David McSwane is a senior technical journalism major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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