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“You Can Always Count On Fox”: Fox Captures The Culprit For The Paris Attacks; Bill de Blasio, With An Assist From Obama

My first thought on hearing about the killing of at least a dozen Parisians at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo—including editors, cartoonists, and one cop shot on the sidewalk, execution-style, in front of cell-phone cameras—was that Bill Maher will feel even more justified in denouncing Islam as a “violent religion,” all the eloquent arguments by Reza Aslan and others notwithstanding. The murders were an attack not just on journalism, but on comedy itself, not unlike the hacking of Sony over the cartoony Seth Rogen movie The Interview.

My second thought was, “Will journos and comedians now need bodyguards?” Unfortunately, they already do—one of the cops killed Wednesday had been assigned to protect editor Stéphane Charbonnier because of Charlie‘s previous cartoons lampooning the prophet Muhammed and jihadist terror groups. The offices were firebombed in 2011 because of Charbonnier’s fearlessness.

Third thought: “How will Fox cover this?” Will they be torn between hating the terrorists and defending the “surrender monkey” French? Will they somehow connect this to the two cops killed in New York and blame Mayor de Blasio and protesters around the country marching against police violence? Nah, they can’t manage that, can they?

But you can always count on Fox. Within hours of the breaking news this morning, host Martha MacCallum and New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin were throwing the Paris attack and the NYC story into the same blender. After the Ferguson and New York protests, Goodwin said, “Police started to second guess themselves” for fear of being unjustly blamed or worse, killed, for acting too aggressively. The cops, he said, were like journalists who “censor themselves” for fear of being attacked.

Martha nodded. Whether it’s journalists holding their tongues for the sake of political correctness or cops holding back on choke-holds and shooting unarmed black men, “that makes things a lot softer,” she said.

Fox’s Eric Bolling raised the stakes on Outnumbered, saying, “This should be a test case for New York City and cities everywhere. Here’s the point: there’s a very serious push from the left that the police should not be militarized. We should over-militarize.”

An hour earlier, Fox & Friends had been jumping back and forth between the Paris attack and Obama’s threat to veto the first two bills coming out of the new Republican Congress, with Elisabeth Hasselbeck teasing before two commercial breaks: “Coming up: Hypocrisy brewing over president’s veto threats?” The idea is to link two unrelated things—terrorism and Obama’s promised veto of the Keystone pipeline—by weaving them into the same time and space. Weave and repeat: It’s simple and effective propagandistic association.

Ultimately, Fox connects everything under a still-larger narrative: YOU are under attack. Different Fox hosts Wednesday morning went on to tie the Paris attack to the release of Guantanamo prisoners, the Benghazi terrorists who haven’t been apprehended, and the likelihood that enhanced interrogation techniques—i.e., torture—won’t be used on any perpetrators because Obama is just too soft on Islamic terrorists.

On cable news this morning, you did hear the caveat to not blame all Muslims—Bobby Ghozi warned against that impulse on CNN; on MSNBC, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Islam was “a “peaceful religion.” And even on Fox, a counterterrorism expert said, “Islam is not the definition of terrorism. Far from it.” But he added that unless we start calling it “what it is—radical Islamic terrorism,” we can’t beat them.

In other words, while much of the liberal media are still trying to sort out just what happened and who did it, Fox is already out of the gate incorporating the attack into its ongoing agenda. And no matter whether or not this terrorist assault helps the authoritarian right over here like 9/11 did, in France it will almost certainly boost the Islamophobic Marine le Pen and the right in France 2017 elections.

As political commentator and Huff Post French editor Philippe Moreau Chevrolet said on Al Jazeera, “The far right doesn’t need to campaign anymore. [The attack] is doing the campaigning for them.”

 

By: Leslie Savan, The Nation, January 7, 2015

January 8, 2015 Posted by | Fox News, Paris Shootings, Terrorism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Will We Walk The Satirical Walk?”: Now Is The Time To Stop And Think About What Satire Really Means

“Satire is what closes on Saturday,” satirist George S. Kaufman wrote, satirically. It is worth unpacking what this quote really means. Ostensibly, it means that when you choose the rapier of satire rather than the comforting swaddle of mass entertainment, you are limiting your audience in a self-sabotaging matter: While you’re busy finding yourself clever, the crowd has moved on to giggle along with cute kittens singing catchy songs. Satire is satisfying, but generally speaking, the only people listening are the person doing the satirizing and those who already care enough to agree with him. Most people ignore him, or, if they do anything at all, call him a jerk.

In the wake of today’s tragic terrorist attack in Paris, which killed 12 people including top cartoonists at satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, the word “satire” has taken on its own power, its very existence a rejoinder to hatred, a founding pillar of Our Way Of Life. It is being cast as noble. But this is not how we usually see satire. Satire is usually a pain in the ass. Satire exists to discomfit the comfortable, to slaughter sacred cows, to puncture the illusion that we all live in a “polite” society. Satire is crude, and rowdy, and often self-aggrandizing: Satire is meant to call attention to itself in any way possible. Charlie Hebdo was particularly skilled at this: One cover, actually supporting the French law banning Muslim women from wearing burqas, featured a woman wearing a burqa … somewhere other than her head. Good satire is a little gross and cares not of taste. You want people to think … and you’re not against using a good dick joke to do it. Satire attempts, by its very nature, to shake people to alert.

But, mostly, people don’t like to be shaken to alert. They just want to go along with their day. They care a lot less about freedom of expression than they do freedom to go about their lives in peace. You’ve seen a lot of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo today, a strong defense of satire as a way of life. But it is worth noting that most publications aren’t showing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. And it is also worth noting that Americans—the people supposedly so proud of their freedom of expression—haven’t always been on the side of the angels here. South Park’s attempts to show a cartoon of Muhammad were famously censored by Comedy Central—in an episode that explicitly stated that the lesson everybody learned was “the best way to get what you want is to threaten other people with violence”—and the Metropolitan Museum of Art quietly removed all images of Muhammad from its halls five years ago. Even when Charlie Hebdo was firebombed four years ago, Time Paris bureau chief Bruce Crumley wrote that it was “hard to have much sympathy” for the magazine and that “insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile.”

Charlie Hebdo would respond, “of course it is.” If you’re not being obnoxious or offensive, what are you even doing? One image shared in the wake of the attack today was an old cartoon from The Onion that showed, ahem, “an image of the Hebrew prophet Moses high-fiving Jesus Christ as both are having their erect penises vigorously masturbated by Ganesha, all while the Hindu deity anally penetrates Buddha with his fist.” (It’s quite the image!) The joke here, of course, is that those religions don’t attack those who show their gods in cartoon form … but that is also what makes the joke, and the image, ultimately sort of toothless. (While certainly inventive.) After all: You didn’t, actually, see Muhammad in that Onion picture. Obviously not. Who wants that heat?

But: If no one is offended, then what is the point? It’s all self-congratulatory faux enlightenment with no conviction behind it. It’s a back pat for “getting it,” without actually risking anything. The offense is the point. The offense is the defense of the way of life. Charlie Hebdo fought for—and its cartoonists and writers and editors and police protectors ultimately died for—the right to piss people off without regard of taste or civilized society or what you or anyone else thought of them. We all stand with them today. But will we stand with them tomorrow? Did Sony Pictures and those theater chains stand with them two weeks ago? Does Comedy Central, and the Met, stand with them now? We live in an open society—free, among other things, to be timid. It is encouraging to see the world embracing Charlie Hebdo’s principles of satire and aggressive engagement with extremists today. But I can’t help but fear this show’s gonna close by Saturday.

 

By: Will Leitch, Bloomberg Politics, January 7, 2014

January 8, 2015 Posted by | Free Speech, Freedom of Expression | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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