02 May 2016
All the fits that's news, we print
It was in Mad magazine, I think, where I saw a parody of the New York Times with the motto above in mockery of the Times' own slogan, "All the News That's Fit to Print." I was reminded of that while I was watching some of The O'Reilly Factor tonight. I surf the cable-news channels when I get home from work, and while I rarely linger on Fox News, I noticed that the O'Reilly show was picking up on our theme from earlier today: Sen. Cruz's complaint that the media was biased in favor of Donald Trump against the other candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. Bill O'Reilly was defending Fox and his own coverage of the long buildup to the primaries against criticism from an editor of the Washington Times, the capital's conservative newspaper. The editor thought it unfair that Trump received far more coverage during 2015 than any other GOP candidate. O'Reilly's defense was twofold. First, he dismissed the other candidates for making the same prepared speeches with all the same talking points everywhere they went, while Trump was more likely to make news anytime he spoke. The Times editor clearly was unhappy with this explanation, probably thinking that all Republican aspirants, or at least all conservative Republican aspirants, were entitled to equal time from Fox News. O'Reilly's second line of defense was to dismiss implicitly the equivalence of Trump's performances and his rival's speeches. When Trump insults people, O'Reilly argued -- his example was the candidate's expression of contempt for Sen. McCain's war heroism -- "That's NEWS!" You can see what he means, but what a lesson for our future would-be leaders to learn! If you want the news media's attention, don't propose radical reforms or innovative policies. Instead, call your opponents or unpopular minorities names and make an ass of yourself. Actually, they may as well. The sooner we do, the sooner Trump's sort of idiocy won't be news anymore -- depending on what you think Trump's particular idiocy is. O'Reilly was breathtakingly cynical tonight about Trump's appeal to his sort of news media, and Cruz's fans would love to blame their man's misfortune on that sort of media cynicism. Whether they're justified in doing so -- whether Trump owes his popularity wholly to telegenic insult comedy -- is another matter entirely.