When it comes to relatively futile gestures, complaining about the daily cavalcade-of-stupid coming out of the Fox News Channel is a tough act to top. The network’s skill at the semi-dark art of Vaudevillian buffoonery is topped only by its ability to arrogantly shrug off the criticism of any and all detractors. Basically, the publicity machine that speaks on behalf of clowns like O’Reilly, Hannity, Gibson and the network’s Hutt-like chairman Roger Ailes operates the way any schoolyard bully would: Complain and it not only mocks you but insinuates that you’re a weakling for doing so; bitch and moan that you’re being treated unfairly and it laughs at you then ups the antagonism, just because it can.
It’s this unfortunate reality that makes Nas’s appearance yesterday in front of the Fox News studios on 6th Avenue of little value to his overall cause and makes the network’s reaction the to hip-hop star’s outrage thoroughly predictable.
Nas joined internet activist group and Fox News BFF Moveon.org, as well as members of ColorofChange.org, yesterday afternoon to protest what he says is FNC’s blatant and racist bias against Barack Obama. He tried to turn over a petition with more than 600,000 signatures on it to the network, which it of course refused to take.
To his credit, Nas — or anyone who appreciates fair and accurate journalism, for that matter — has a hell of a lot to be angry about when it comes to Fox’s record on covering the Obama campaign (to say nothing of Black America in general). The network has called Michelle Obama her husband’s “Baby Mama” and notoriously questioned whether the “pound” the Obamas share is a “terrorist fist jab” — a notion that was so ridiculous that, as a punchline, it sort of made its own gravy.
But as usual, the indignation of critics is bouncing off FNC’s adamantium hull like Nerf rounds. The network’s media relations department has issued a statement that not only condescends to Nas and anyone who bothered to stand outside Fox’s HQ yesterday and make his or her voice heard — it questions the rapper’s motives for taking part in the rally in the first place. The statement reads: “Fox News believes in all protesters exercising their right to free speech including Nas who has an album to promote.” It’s almost admirable the way these guys don’t take any crap. Almost.
If this special brand of official brush-off sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the standard backhanded double-entendre of faux-graciousness that Fox has practically perfected. Almost since its inception — and certainly since its rise to the top of the cable news heap — Fox has adeptly used affected gentility to bitch-slap those who dare to take sides against it. Everyone from CNN President Jon Klein, to Jack Cafferty, to Keith Olbermann, to turncoat FNC producer Charlie Reina has been the subject of a media statement which closes with the same patronizing precative: “We wish him well.”
The fact that Nas — a guy who’s scrapped with Fox’s most histrionic loudmouth, Bill O’Reilly, on more than one occasion — is getting the canned dismissal should surprise no one. The fact that the network would take aim at him, as opposed to actually confronting and addressing the issues that he and other protesters are raising is equally unsurprising.
The network doesn’t care one bit what they think. In fact, inside the Fox studios, while that big rally was going on, I guarantee the powers that be were laughing at it.
Because that’s what a schoolyard bully does: He laughs, then goes right back to tormenting you.