Fox News Cable: the domestic Voice of America

America: cradle of advertising, public relations, slogans and circumspect exaggeration.

From birth, much like the Borg of Star Trek fame, we, Americans, are being plugged to a collective consciousness, a central brain. As our eyes are able to distinguish images, and sounds become associatively clear, we are fed the marketplace solids and the advertising liquids that will build us into robust, robotic consumers. That is the reality of growing up in America , living plugged to a central brain that promotes over-consumption, while not recognizing those who have nothing to consume.

Soldiers of consumption we are, ready to acquire whatever is offered to us. Goods or ideas, it matters not. All we ask is for the packaging to be colorful, first class; unconcerned if you sell us ten ounces in a one-pound can. Even wars might seem palatable if they are waged to protect that central brain, particularly if given catchy, Madison Avenue names.

As if the propaganda siege didn’t suffice, who joins the fray but the cable media! “Most trusted name in news”… “News that’s fair and balanced.” News you can trust? News that is fair and balanced? Comedy Central material one might say, except that it resembles more a Greek tragedy, where the audiences are but actors, part of the play.

But if CNN can be taken to task for undeserved self-anointing, the top prize in wanton cynicism must go to Fox Cable News for giving us a slogan which represents precisely what they are not: fair and balanced. Not in their news. Not in their commentaries. Yet when challenged, the only answers you get are those coming from individuals who appear to be chronic sufferers from the perfect programmer syndrome.

Americans might consider themselves lucky that Bush has not upgraded the position of press secretary to a cabinet post of Secretary of Information. But, he didn’t have to. It would have been a major task to sell the public on another Ashcroft to follow in the Goebbels tradition. Instead, the president found a perfect surrogate ready to do his bidding… and pro-bono to boot: Fox Cable News. Students of language communications must find it a true bonanza to be able to analyze the output coming from this network, and reach conclusions as to the magnitude of the barefaced lie implicit in the slogan “fair and balanced news.”

If Fox must have a slogan, why not choose one that sounds good and patriotic, yet tells it without deceit; say, “The domestic Voice of America.” The Bush administration would not likely object to the use of such slogan. After all, we are midway through the second decade without the important, earmarked audiences the VOA once had. Senator Chuck Hegel just pointed out to the VOA a few days ago, when referring to VOA targeted nations, that democracy needs to come from within, and multilateral institutions are important in encouraging that development (… incredible rationality for a Republican in 2003!)

Let the propaganda machine concentrate on the home front… via a “new and improved” Fox News Cable, “the domestic Voice of America.” No operational changes necessary, just the slogan. No need for those sound bites of “We report (how) you (should) decide.”

Unfortunately, thinking Americans continue confronting a major problem if they wish to listen to unfiltered, uncensored news. Freedom of the press has little meaning when most of those who are dispensing the news feel a patriotic duty to self-censure; or, as in the case of Fox, go to extremes to color the news with a tint of jingoism (at best) or blot them with blatant neo-fascism (at worst).

Even the correct and proper PBS-NPR partnership exercises unduly timidity, perhaps symbolic of these times. Fortunately, we can still resort to the mother country to be a fair and balanced provider of international news. Thank you , Great Britain … although you could have skipped giving us “articulate Tony,” we are nonetheless grateful that you are letting us share that bulwark of world news media that is the BBC.