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Why the BP Disaster Threatens to Expose Fox News' Insanity to Its Right-Wing Audience

"I'm wondering if Fox News isn't pressing up very closely to its tipping point; to the moment where Fox News reveals how certifiably insane it is by rushing to BP's defense."
 
 
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Eight-two percent.

That's the number you need to keep in mind as you listen to the right-wing caterwauling about how poor, helpless BP has been tormented and demonized by the bullying, Constitution-hatingObama White House.

Eight-two percent.

According to the latest CNN poll, a huge, huge, hugemajority of Americans supports the $20 billion escrow fund that BP agreed to create in order to help pay for the Gulf of Mexico cleanup.

And get this: According to the same CNN poll, a microscopic 5 percent of Americans think Obama has been "too tough" on BP. Just 5 percent.

But apparently those 5-percenters all host radio and TV shows, or blog online, because that radical claim that Obama's to blame for creating the hated escrow fund (not to mention for causing the oil spill in the first place), has been exploding within the GOP Noise Machine as pundits, bloggers, and talk show hosts rush to defend BP and denounce one of the most popular things Obama has ever done.

And, of course, helping lead the charge to guard BP from Obama's wicked ways has been Fox News.

Fox News is programmed for Obama dead-enders, that much is clear. They're the radical minority of political hyper-partisans who hold as a matter of faith that Obama is a Manchurian candidate. It's not just that Obama was born in Kenya and isn't truly of this country, or culture, and that his policies are misguided and wrong for America. It runs much deeper. It's that Obama ran for the Oval Office with the explicit plan to ruin America from within once he was elected. He ran for president in order to destroy this country by stripping it of its freedoms and liberties and transforming the United States into some sort of socialist or communist outpost.

That's how far out on the ledge Fox News now operates. And FYI, if you view the world from that demented perspective, it probably doeslook like BP got jobbed. (Just like of course the Clinton White House sold nuclear secrets to China during the `90s; Democratic presidents are a treasonous bunch.)

As I said, the dead-enders represent a radical minority. And yet they have an entire right-wing media complex set up explicitly to whet their Obama-hating appetite. There is no thought put into the rhetoric anymore, or their partisan jousting. Instead, the content revolves around a very simple premise: If Obama did it, it's wrong. Not just wrong. More like, if Obama did it, it's evil and dangerous and ghastly and un-American.

So the stimulus bill was evil and un-American. Bailing out GM and Chrysler was evil and un-American. Passing health care reform, of course, was evil and un-America.

But securing $20 billion from BP to pay for the cleanup and to compensate working Americans for the damage done to their livelihoods. Thatwas evil and un-American?

According to Fox News it was.

And with that audacious claim, I'm wondering if Fox News isn't pressing up very closely to its tipping point; to the moment where Fox News reveals how certifiably insane it is by rushing to BP's defense, and just how distant its programming is from the American mainstream.

I don't mean it's the tipping point in terms of there being some sort of collective realization within Fox News that its signature form of partisan Obama hatred has jumped about 19 different sets of tracks and its incessant campaign of smears and lies makes a mockery out of the news business, as well as does real damage to democracy. (I'm pretty sure everyone at Fox News already knows that.)

I'm referring instead to a collective realization among people outsideFox News and the GOP Noise Machine that there's something fundamentally wrong with a so-called news organization siding with BP after what the oil giant has done to the Gulf of Mexico and the reckless, cavalier way it has ruined the livelihoods of countless of residents.

That there's something just plain wrong and illogical in being so robotically ant-Obama that the Fox News team would consciously side with today's version of Public Enemy No. 1 and insist, with complete conviction, that it's the president of the United States who's to blame for the big oil disaster, and it's the president of the United States who should be attacked, smeared, and ridiculed for getting BP to set aside $20 billion in damages.

The tipping point could come when everyday Americans, as well as mainstream reporters, observe the right-wing media's radical embrace of BP (fueled by all-consuming Obama Derangement Syndrome), look at each other and utter various equivalents of, "WTF?"

Because not only is Fox News in effect defending BP, but it's using the occasion of the $20 billion agreement to depict Obama as some sort of monster bent on destroying America. How? By holding BP financially responsible.

Again, you can almost hear the "WTF's" as the realization of the Fox News attack campaign sinks in. Rupert Murdoch's channel is siding with BP over the United States???

You better believe it. From Fox News' Andrew Napolitano:

I think you could argue that the government is, in large measure, responsible for this mess.

The reason I'm (perhaps naively) suggesting there may soon be a collective A-ha moment about Fox News with regard to its defense of BP, whereas the channel's outrageous programming in the past has not triggered that kind of response, is that this is different because it's not about politics. That Fox News will relentlessly attack Obama and Democrats about every conceivable issue is, at this point, a given -- Fox News functions as the Opposition Party.

But the BP disaster, and the callous disregard for how it was handled by the oil company, is different. The environmental fiasco very much resembles an attack on the United States by a foreign entity. (An act of eco-terrorism, if you will.) And common sense tells us that thatshould never be a partisan issue. And common sense dictates that no sane person would side with BP, let alone condemn the government for securing $20 billion in private funds to pay for the disaster.

Or would they?


It's difficult to put into words just how isolated and extreme the right-wing media's embrace of BP has been over the last week. It's mind-bending that a major political movement in this country, driven by its media "news" outlets, would rush out onto the battlefield of public debate in order to plant its flag alongside BP, even as the incompetent petroleum giant remains unable to turn off the underwater gusher that is destroying the Gulf of Mexico.

And yet turn on Fox News or tune into Rush Limbaugh or Mark Levin, or a whole host of other BP apologists, and get a daily earful about how BP is being unfairly maligned and that Obama should be condemnedfor securing $20 billion in cleanup funds. (Keep in mind that no one associated with BP has ever suggested the White House bullied the company, or that BP was the victim of a "shakedown." No one.)

And yes, I realize some conservative loud mouths claim that just because they're attacking the White House over the $20 billion "shakedown," that doesn't mean they're defending BP, or that they agree with Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) and think the oil giant deserves an apology. But gimme a break. That's a distinction without a difference because even before the "shakedown" meme was launched late last week, the same right-wing outlets, including Fox News, were weeping hysterically at how the White House was trying to "demonize" little ol' BP, and how its poor executives were going to be paraded before Congress for a nasty "show trial." Meaning, the right wing's desire to throw its body in front of BP and protect it from alleged government abuse has been a constant for weeks now, and extends far beyond the "shakedown" defense.

The fact is, forced to pick a villain in the BP disaster, Fox News chose America and set its sights on the White House, not the foreign oil giant; a giant that even industry players have tagged as being reckless and guilty of "gross negligence."

Has Fox News finally reached the point of no return?

A senior fellow at Media Matters for America, and a former senior writer for Salon, Boehlert's first book, "Lapdogs: How The Press Rolled Over for Bush," was published in May. He can be reached at eboehlert@aol.com. Please note that these Media Matters columns appear here with permission but are not posted by Eric Boehlert.
 
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