Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Study In Faux News

Stephen Colbert continually conducts interviews with Members of Congress on his show, The Colbert Report. He brings both Democrats and Republicans on the show, and while his show as a whole is slanted to the liberal, he's tough on anyone he interviews for the sake of the comedy. Take the interivew of Democrat Barney Frank, and Colbert's questions to him about whether it was hard to be "openly left-handed" in America.

As so it went with Robert Wexler, who happens to be one of my favorite House members. Wexler was going along with the joke, but the news media has since attempted to take it out of context and treat what happened on this COMEDY show as a significant news event.

Most disturbing, perhaps, is the Faux News treatment of the interview - take a look at this analysis of the interview, and the subtle ways in which Faux News doctored it:

Now, when Lynn Westmoreland (R - 8th District of Georgia), appeared on the show, he clearly did NOT get the joke, and was nailed for his hypocrisy.

But Wexler knew exactly what was going on, and for Faux News to play it off as anything else simply shows the network for the slimy organization that they are.

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Posted by FleshPresser at 12:53 PM /


  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 2:01 AM  
    To be fair here, I should state that two people posted comments here, and I rejected them.

    Perhaps hastily. I got pissed at what they said, but in hindsight, I pride myself on allowing people to make their comments without censor, unless it's just spam or just plain vicious.

    The two commenters, however, know each other, and it just felt suspiciously like a gang attack to me.

    Neither one, however, violated those perameters, and their comments may just have come together as a coincidence.

    Here then, is what Prof, had to say:

    Funny. I watched the two clips (the one you provided here, and the one of the bloke from Georgia) and to be honest, my only real conclusion is that while the Dem is funnier, both realized it was a "Gag" and politicians need to stay out of Comedy. The Georgia boy obviously knew it was supposed to be comedy--he had a hard time keeping a straight face from the git-go. He even tried to have a funny-bit, with that "no, there are two do-nothingers here. The other's a democrat." He tried. He just isn't funny.

    Also, that little clip from Fox showing Wexler came at the end of the show--a time they usually show a comedian, or some other funny gag. If you know their show, you know that is the last 30-60 seconds when they try to end not on biting commentary, but with humor. I didn't view it as them trying to paint it as something sinister, but share the gag.

    What I thought was quite funny was the liberal-guy who made the you-tube clip. He critiques Fox for having edited out a lot of hemming and hawing... but failed to note the editing that was done by Colbert. Come on, that's how that whole camera angle thing is done.

    Perhaps the "hypersensitivity drive" is set on high?

    This was followed by Cb, who said:

    FP, you make me laugh! FoxNews' Brit Hume Special Report gets it but you and the YouTube guy apparently don't get them. What you don't realize is that the last few minutes of the Special Report is always given over to some spoof or comedy piece. THEY know it is a spoof and play it as such.

    Cb later followed up with this comment:

    You see, Colbert understood that Fox got it as humor and the others did not. That is why he took after the Today Show and Good Morning America, not the Special Report (the "t" is pronounced).

    Vid clip here. -

    And before anyone accuses me, I know you wouldn't FP, I am not an apologeticist for the Special Report or Fox News. That just happens to be one segment where they DO have a sense of humor and it is two minutes of their station worth watching.

    Here are my replies:

    Prof - all I can say is that comedy is best served when the comedian knows his/her audience.

    Colbert knew his audience when he portrayed Wexler fairly.

    Fox knew exactly what they were doing in editing out the portions they did in playing to their audeince, as well.

    And as someone who has done TV production, I know about the nuances of single-camera editing. Of course they do cut-aways to catch the interviewee and then the interviewer. Colbert, however, included everything that Wexler said on the segment.

    Fox, on the other hand, knew exactly what they were editing out, and it wasn't hemming and hawing. If you're so interested in comedy, you should be aware that the "coaching" was part of the joke.

    I'm not saying that they didn't do it because they thought it would be funny - a light little after-dinner mint for their audience. But they knew EXACTLY what they were doing.

    As for Westmoreland - he was friggin' clueless. Absolute. 110% clueless. Caught red-handed.

    Cb - Colbert didn't use the Special Report footage as it airs after their taping - they're able to use the morning shows, because they have time to put the package together.

    I also have a hard time, Cb, believing that you tune in to Fox only to catch the final two minutes of Special Report, and then quickly flip back over to The History Channel or HGTV.

    To all those reading PTF - I find little use for those blogs who block comments that oppose the viewpoint of others, and exist to simply slap each other on the back and tell each other how right they are.

    These rejected comments were momentary lapse in judgement on my part, and I hope I've corrected it.

    Come one, come all! And disagree with me as much as you can, because I'll always have an answer for you!

  • Blogger Cb posted at 11:29 AM  
    FP - Actually, I used to tune into the Special Report for the last 20 minutes, the "Fox All Stars" debate about current events that includes a panel from the right to the left. I find it to be one of the best discussion panels. I listen to this on XM on my way home from work. I then turn to Chris Matthews. So, that is my "viewing" habit. FWIW, it is indeed the only bit of Fox coverage that I watch, with the sole exception of recording Fox News Watch, that is until my DVR died. That too is a very balanced and well-put-together program.

    As for the Prof and I ganging up (we are brothers, folks will see that if they click through our blogs) oddly enough we had NOT talked in a couple of days so we did not collude. We both just happen to find your blog worth reading and occasionally responding to.

  • Blogger Cb posted at 12:32 PM  
    Oh and one more thing. As I recall (although I could be mistaken, it was a while ago) Special Report also aired the Westmoreland clip. The certainly regularly show SNL, Leno, Letterman, etc. So they seem to be pretty "fair and balanced" when it comes to that segment. :-)

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 5:20 PM  
    Well, I suppose there's a first time for everything... even Fox.

  • Blogger The Professor posted at 9:27 PM  
    Hmm This Wexler guy... He is running unopposed. For re-election.

    That makes him a bad guy, right? I mean, you pointed out that people stay in Congress for far too long ( While he conveniently hides how long he has actually been in Congress (it's not in his Bio) we can infer since he was in Congress in 2000, that he has been there at least 6 years. That's at least 1 election more than a two term term-limit would allow.

    So I assume you agree--"Wexler Must Go!"

  • Blogger The Professor posted at 9:36 PM  
    Oh, my bad... his time in office is in his "Kids Only Bio" -- he was elected in 1996. So he really should be kicked out now following your reasoning! Someone really should work on his website, btw. That particular bio says he was elected in 1996, and has served for terms. That would be... 96. 98. 00. 02. 04. Wait--that's 5 terms, and 10 years. But if you click on the "for Kids" link on the top banner, it says he has been in Congress 6 years (or three terms.)

    Say what you will about a man who can't recite all 10 commandments. I have to wonder about a man who can't figure out how many years he has been in Congress.

    (And yes, I realize that as a Congressman he has more important things to do that actually maintain his own website, but you would think that he wouldn't want to confuse KIDS of all people about it...)

    Oh, and (at least in Firefox) his main page repeats the same thing 4 times "Welcome to 19th Congressional District of Florida's website. I am excited to provide a place where the people of the 19th District can contact me directly."


  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 5:39 PM  
    Boy, Prof... you're really anxious to get back into classes, or to find SOMETHING to occupy yourself if you're still on this one. I replied here earlier, and it seems to have disappeared.

    So, let me see if I can encapsulate my response again.


    Yup... that about covers it.

    Yes, he should have a staff member update his website... I can tell you from personal experience that in larger organizations particularly, sometimes a project gets started, and then someone drops the ball on it... sounds like the case with the Kid's page and the discrepencies.

    By all means, please call Rep. Wexler's office and ask them to update the site - I doubt Wexler has ever even seen his site... which I'll take ANY day over a Senator who has a say in technological issues regarding the Internet who calls it "just a series of tubes" -

    You didn't get my writing straight with regards to my term limit recommendation, either... since you provided the page already, I'll simply highlight the appropriate portion that you misread:

    SECOND - term limits should be instituted. I've never been a big supporter of term limits, but the time has come. I used to believe that we HAD term limits, and those came in the form of elections. Clearly, however, voters are not taking those responsibilities seriously - one has only to look at voter turnout results to see the proof af that. I would recommend that those elected to the House of Representatives be limited to SIX consecutive terms, and those elected to the Senate limited to TWO consecutive terms - in either case, if an elected official can't accomplish what they set out to in twelve years, it's time for some new blood.

    regardless of five or six, were these recommendations somehow mystically approved by Congress, there would be MUCH bigger offenders, on both sides of the aisle, that I would start with - Wexler is a newbie, comparatively speaking.

    Get outside and get some sunshine and some fresh air, my friend. Clearly you've been in front of your computer for too long.

  • Blogger The Professor posted at 6:25 PM  
    First, why the resorting to Ad Hominems? Have you had a bad week or two? I tackle the issues, and you seem to feel it is necessary to critique my being in, or out of the classroom, and whether I have been outside lately? Honestly, the biting edge to your comments has had me wondering if perhaps you are the one that needs to come up for air.

    I thought this was a blog for the debating of ideas, not the slurring of your opponents. Perhaps I was wrong...

    Moving on (to ideas)

    Just so I have this right:

    When a large organization makes a mistake, or lets something fall through the cracks, it's okay--so long as it's a Democratic congressman? But not when it is the State Department?

    Oh that's right--you were okay with the promissory notes being handed out to be signed. You were just upset that Bush didn't admit it was a mistake.

    Let's just say, you and I both have our preconceptions and biases. We like to see our guys win, and the other guys lose. We also believe we are on the side of "right" and the other is on the side of "wrong."

    The only real difference is, we each know for a fact that we ARE right, and the other guy IS wrong.


    Oh, and PS... while I understand everyone is making fun of Ted Stevens for referring to the Internet as a series of tubes, I still chuckle when I hear those same techie people, often in the same broad (orod) -cast then talk about pipes and bit "Streams" travelling through those pipes.

    So he called em tubes not pipes. He had the same analogy, just a different name for it.

    Sheesh. And people say *I* need to lighten up.

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 8:03 PM  
    I'm sorry... I didn't realize that nitpicking Rep. Wexler's web page and then quoting me incorrectly on a previous post constituted "the facts."

    As such, you're right - I got a little snarky. My apologies if I ruffled your feathers. After comments from you like:

    "Perhaps the 'hypersensitivity drive' is set on high?"

    "I would hate to be at an intersection where you get angry at a pedestrian."


    "Come on... you haven't had THAT much koolaid, have you?"

    I naturally assumed that you would take my comments in the same light-hearted manner with which I'm sure you intended yours to be received.

    So, if you really want to have a "fact-based discussion" on the equal weight we should give mistakes on a Congressman's website, and the haphazard enforcement of ridiculous laws and bureaucracy involved in hampering an evacuation of Americans from a war zone... well, we can... umm.. have that deabte... err... if you want.

    But just speaking objectively on this one - I think I got the win.

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