When the White House first announced that it would be treating Fox News as an opinion outlet rather than as an objective news organization, it raised a lot of thorny questions. How, exactly, do you define objectivity? High school journalism textbooks are full of charts and bulleted lists, non of which mix serif and sans serif fonts, but any regular reader of the New York Times knows there’s objective and there’s objective, and never the twain shall meet. The problem is that bias is usually a sin of omission; what slants a story is not what you say, but what you don’t. When your annual Christmas card reports that I threw up at your wedding, that’s bias, because it neglects to mention that I also made a very nice toast. It’s exceedingly difficult for me to prove that your Christmas cards display a consistent anti-Brooks bias, though, because one can’t really prove a negative. Sure, you didn’t mention my toast, but you didn’t mention what color jacket your uncle was wearing, either, or what the temperature was, or which year the Inca empire experienced its first flu epidemic. Bias is usually absence, and the scope of absence is, by definition, infinite. Every once in a while, though, somebody straight-up lies. Fox News did it last week, and the public outcry has been far less that it should be. Video after the jump.
Now that Sarah Palin has been eaten by a grue, the mantle of Person In the Republican Party Who Might Actually Believe That Stuff has been taken up by Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann. You may remember Bachmann from her bizarre assertions about the US Census and its possible role in a massive government conspiracy—something she stopped talking about after a census worker was killed in Kentucky. Like Palin, Bachmann believes in an American People whose will is diametrically opposed to that of the federal government—particularly the Congress part of the government, which she, bafflingly, is a part of. Also like Palin, her signature issue has become health care reform. Despite polls showing that most Americans favor a public option, Bachmann knows that “real, freedom-loving Americans” oppose the government “taking away [their] health care.” To make their voices heard, she’s taken it upon herself to organize a protest on the steps of Capitol Hill at noon today, at which she encourages protestors to enter their congresspeople’s offices and demand that they vote against health care reform. “This is the Super Bowl of freedom, this week,” she says. How can Michele Bachmann find the resources and communication apparatus to organize such a Super Bowl, in which an abstract concept competes with another, unnamed abstract concept on a week’s notice? Well, fortunately there’s Fox News: