Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Fox News marks 10th anniversary with (slightly) more self-congratulation

The Fox News Channel ought to celebrate its 10th anniversary by hiring Nancy Grace, thereby completing its circle of reckless media doom, but instead it has taped a celebratory program, Fox News At 10: Thank You America, which will air Sunday night. Jon Friedman of Marketwatch, AKA the Pollyanna of media critics, attended and brought back this booster-ish report:

I was the only non-Fox journalist (as long as you don't count the crew from "Entertainment Tonight") invited [read: I'm a tool] to watch a taping of a primetime program that will air on Sunday night called "Fox News at 10: Thank You America." I watched as Fox anchors Chris Wallace and Martha MacCallum fired questions at what the network lovingly calls its Big 7–Bill O'Reilly, Neil Cavuto, Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, Brit Hume, Greta Van Susteren and Shepard Smith. They swapped war stories and discussed Fox's ascent.

There was a jovial feeling inside the studio. Someone quipped, "Wallace, you right-wing hit-man," repeating what Bill Clinton accused Chris Wallace of being after their recent interview. MacCallum held up an "Applause" sign. Someone joked that O'Reilly was going to buy everyone in the audience a car, as Oprah Winfrey did not long ago on her show.

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The program accompanies Fox's Thank You America tour and an anniversary web page that showcases some of the channel's most memorable moments–including an exchange between Bill O'Reilly and James Carville that starts off good-natured and reasonable and builds to an immense tangle of blowhard puffery. Which is kind of a metaphor for O'Reilly's career as a host, and the path of television news since Fox joined the pack. Naturally, the channel's claim to "fair and balanced" news is a central point in the celebration; let's assume they'll leave out the reverent "pledge of allegiance" spot that played during commercial breaks on the channel on the day the Supreme Court declined to take on an atheist's court challenge to the pledge in 2004. Unfortunately, no one YouTubed that spot. But someone did YouTube this Factor clip, which provides an excellent example of something you could call "parallel graceless aging":

The most hypnotic clip on the anniversary page (it's posted near the bottom) is a roundup of the channel's dizzying graphics. But nothing outweighs Shepard Smith's infamous "blowjob" slip, followed by discomfort and then a creepily enthusiastic rebound: "The most-watched prime-time in all of cable neeeeews!"

Also celebrating its 10th anniversary this year is the online magazine Slate. which is marking the milestone with a couple of book releases and re-posts of some of its classic stories, including an essay by founding editor Michael Kinsley that demolishes O'Reilly's blue-collar-hero conceit:

Oh, the shame of it! O'Reilly has been downward social climbing. He is actually–and I wish I could say this in Thai, to avoid humiliating him with the children–m-i-d-d-l-e c-l-a-s-s. He apparently regards that status with just as much horror as do the toffs of his fevered imagination.

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