‘Fair and Balanced’ Stretched to Its Limit

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Updated, 6:10 PM

If you’ve spent any amount of time watching Fox News, and did not arrive at the network already wedded to its view of the world, you know that “Fair and Balanced” is not actually an aspiration or ethos, but rather an inside joke meant to melt the faces of incredulous liberals. Yes, there is a divide between Fox’s opinion arm and its news-gathering operation, which employs many straight-shooting reporters. But it’s difficult to put much faith in this supposedly impermeable wall when the network itself is cutting four-minute attack ads against Barack Obama on its own news shows. Behold the following, aired in its entirety on Fox & Friends, the network’s morning show:

The pulse-quickening video traces the nation’s steep decline under our socialist president. Set to a thumping score, it splices Obama’s promises with the grim reality of the recession: rising unemployment, higher debt, spiking gas prices. All the scariest nouns in the conservative dictionary make an appearance: food stamps, hybrid vehicles, crowded cities, Nancy Pelosi. If that’s not enough of an inducement, there’s some baffling imagery–a piggy bank tumbling down a staircase, animals spinning on an umbrella-topped lazy susan–that may just stick with you.

It is entirely reasonable for Fox to present analysis and opinion critical of Obama. But it’s a different thing altogether for a news program to produce its own campaign videos. It’s hard for the network to defend itself against claims that it is a propaganda organ for the Republican Party while it airs attack ads as starkly negative as anything Mitt Romney’s super PAC could dream up.

Update, 6:10 p.m.: Fox News sends along this statement from Bill Shine, its executive vice president of programming: “The package that aired on FOX & Friends was created by an associate producer and was not authorized at the senior executive level of the network. This has been addressed with the show’s producers.”

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