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For those of you who were lucky enough to miss it, the Fox News Channel recently aired a new show called “The Half Hour News Hour,” which attempts to do for conservatives what Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” and “Colbert Report” apparently do for liberals.
“The Half Hour News Hour” is a self-professed conservative answer to those Comedy Central programs. It features Hillary jokes, fake ACLU ads, and comedy sketches where Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter ingeniously run the White House.
I don’t find it strange that conservatives would want a conservative answer to “The Daily Show.” But I do find it strange that a news channel would feel the need to do the answering.
There’s never been any truth to Fox’s claim of “fair and balanced” reporting. If Fox is fair and balanced, then affirmative action is colorblind. But the problem with Fox isn’t the fact that they’re conservative. Nor is it the fact that they halfheartedly try to hide it. The problem with Fox is that they never needed a “Half Hour News Hour” to compete with Comedy Central. The whole network already serves as a 24/7 conservative satire of journalism.
Up until now, I thought that was the point.
Fox takes everything ludicrous about the news and explodes it to hilarious new proportions. Just consider some of the things Fox is known for. Wall-to-wall coverage of barely legal missing white girls. Every-five-minute news alerts. Even Greta Van Susteren’s genetically modified face.
It’s impossible for a serious person to take Fox News seriously. But up until now, you never actually had to. We always knew Fox was comedy masquerading as reporting, but that was the whole idea behind it. Like Ali G, Fox was self-serious. This was the one thing that made it mildly interesting.
“The Half Hour News Hour” blows the whole joke out of the water. After all, this show is a “comedy” program. By running a “comedy,” Fox is basically saying the rest of its shows constitute real reporting. Fox isn’t a parody of the liberal media; it’s just the conservative version of it. Instead of self-serious, Fox takes itself seriously—which is especially disconcerting when you realize this channel gave Geraldo’s mustache a news show.
Fox is by far the most popular cable news network. It’s even more popular than the original Cable News Network itself. It was easy to accept Fox’s popularity before they debuted “The Half Hour News Hour,” in the same way that it was easy to accept millions of Americans getting most of their news from SNL’s Weekend Update and Comedy Central’s “Daily Show.” But now you start to realize that when people turn to Fox, they’re looking for real news. Which is remarkable, since they’re looking for it on a serious news channel that seriously feels the need to compete with stand-up comedians.
I don’t suppose Fox is any worse than CNN, whose sheer boring nature is a national disaster. But clearly the joke is on us, America. And each of us has been had.