Why Fox News primetime is the escapist entertainment liberals need
If you’re one of the haters and losers, keeping up with Trump presidency can be an exhausting rollercoaster of anxiety. There’s just so much there: his questionable mental state; his tweets; the assortment of “Captain Planet” villains with which he has filled his administration; his inability to shake world leaders’ hands like a normal person; the racism; I’m gonna go with his tweets again; and the latest Russia connection revelation that will surely bring it all crashing down even though the last 50 of them did not.
Sometimes you just need to take a break, you know? Step away from all the news stories about how terrible everything is and feel like everything is going to be okay, even if it’s just for a few hours.
The escapist entertainment you need is anti-anxiety medication. Barring that, it’s the Fox News primetime block.
What? Yes! Between 8 and 11 every weeknight, you can enter an alternate universe where the president has your best interests at heart, uses his Twitter account to deliver much-needed truth directly to the American people, and who will indeed Make America Great Again. Where the enemy is not the president, but the mainstream media that never imagined he’d win (note: Fox News does not count as mainstream media despite being the most-watched cable news channel and one of the most-watched basic cable channels in general for most of its existence) and is in meltdown mode because of it. The feckless Democrats are only worth mentioning when accusing them of “colluding” with the media to undermine Trump.
But even here, there’s nothing to really worry about. Fox News’ primetime players will tell you multiple times all night long that no one trusts the media anymore blah blah fake news whatever, so none of the anti-Trump stories that the real reporters break are worth anyone’s attention, except when Fox News discusses them all the time. You see, for all of their complaining about how the other news outlets don’t cover anything but Trump, they don’t talk much about anything else.
So, if you’ve never watched Fox News primetime before (or at least haven’t in the post-Bill “Sexual Harassment” O’Reilly era), allow me to give you a primer on what to expect so you are not overwhelmed by a completely different presentation of the same basic facts.
The night begins with “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” The one-time “Dancing With the Stars” loser spends his show alternating between righteous anger, bewildered concern, and forced, almost mirthless, laughter. The latter is usually deployed against liberals he deems to have said or written something silly, and so are invited on the show to “discuss” it. They then try to defend their positions in between Carlson’s sarcastic asides and derisive laughter. Few of them succeed, even when they think they’re prepared for all possible outcomes by bringing props.
Why do these people agree to go on his show? Do they think they will become breakout stars? Sorry, but we already have National Treasure Lauren Duca and there’s no room for anyone else. Do not bite the poison apple of a Tucker appearance, Newsweek Guy Who Should Know Better By Now But Thinks He Is Clever! Stay away, Alternet Intern! Resist, Antifa Organizer! No matter how hard you try, Carlson will embarrass you. He has no problem punching down, which is why he picked you to appear on his show in the first place. He is much, much better at this than you are.
If you don’t think about it too deeply or for very long, Carlson’s smugness and the sputtering liberals he leaves in his wake might just be enough to make you think that he’s absolutely right about everything, and America is going to be so awesome as soon as the social justice warriors and politicians get out of the way. He’s so in touch with the working class Americans, except for the part where he never was one of them and has in fact always been wealthier and more elite than the media figures he loves to criticize.
Next up, we have the revamped version of “The Five,” which was an afternoon staple until O’Reilly got kicked off the air and Fox News suddenly needed a show to fill the gaping hole he left behind.
The Five are:
1. Jesse Watters
The smirking, charisma-free personification of a can of Natty Light, continues to fail upwards despite having nothing insightful or all that interesting to say, and the delivery to match. His hideous blazers are the only thing keeping him from fading into the wall. He is an O’Reilly orphan who I guess Fox News thought was just too good not to have somewhere in primetime, so he got Eric Bolling’s seat. Bolling has to host something called “The Fox News Specialists” (lol), while his replacement had to take a “vacation” like a week after getting his job because he made an Ivanka Trump BJ joke.
2. Greg Gutfeld
The comic relief who refuses to wear a tie and slumps in his seat like a petulant teen rebel (Gutfeld is 52 years old). He is capable of moments of genuine funniness when he isn’t bending over backwards to defend every single thing Trump says and does.
3. Kimberly Guilfoyle
Guilfoyle seems to exist on the show solely to agree with and/or parrot everything Gutfeld says, but with a permanent sneer on her face. This woman is an accomplished attorney and last week she ended a show by stuffing her face with French fries.
4. Dana Perino
Perino is capable of criticizing the Trump administration, thus providing some (relative) balance.
5. Juan Williams
“The Five” like to discuss the issues of the day, usually dominated by something Trump did that the media is blowing way out of proportion and which can be justified and explained away by three and a half out of the five anyway. You’ll be so busy guffawing over Gutfeld’s jokes that you’ll forget all about how you will lose your health insurance next year. And even if you don’t, they say laughter is the best medicine so you don’t even need insurance when Gutfeld’s around anyway, do you?
Finally, your night concludes with the dulcet tones of Fox News barnacle Sean Hannity. The last time I watched his show, he had a studio audience that he either applauded or yelled at depending on its members’ political leanings. He also threw footballs at people. There is no studio audience now, and he only throws one football at the very end of the show.
Instead, when he’s not “investigating” the murder of Seth Rich despite Rich’s own family begging him to stop and advertisers threatening to O’Reilly him off the air, he’s talking to a parade of white senior citizen guests who agree with everything he says. On rare occasions, we get softball questions thrown at the president’s semi-repentant son.
While you’d think the show would get boring with Hannity and his guests repeating the same talking points every day until you literally won’t be able to tell one monologue from the next (making it even more difficult: he does two monologues per show, and they are basically the same also), it does not!
Hannity keeps things fresh by declaring Fox News Alerts throughout the show, heralded by a graphic and an Ominous Bell sound effect. Sometimes he will declare a new Fox News Alert when we’re still in the old one.
It’s not unusual to be three Fox News Alerts deep when the show ends.
Lately, the news alerts have been that the “Destroy Trump Media” (he’s really trying to make this unwieldy title stick) is working with the Deep State and/or the Democrats to take Trump down. Meanwhile, Hannity whines, no one is saying or doing anything about all the bad things Hillary Clinton did. For instance, he’s currently fixated on a Politico story from January that he thinks “proves” that the Clinton campaign colluded with Ukraine much worse than the president’s son is accused of doing with Russia.
Hannity can’t stop talking about this story, accusing the Destroy Trump Media of covering it up even though it was broken by a mainstream media outlet. It was not broken by Hannity or, indeed, anyone at Fox News. And one of the reporters who wrote that story now works for The New York Times.
(Speaking of stories broken by Fox News, when is the last time that happened? I guess it’s easy for its personalities to level criticism at everyone else’s reporting when it doesn’t have a glass house to throw those stones in.)
You may also find “Hannity” to be the most comforting show of all, simply because of how much time he spends on Clinton. It’s almost as if she won the election instead of Trump, and therefore merits such continued scrutiny. You have to wonder if Hannity fully expected her to win and had a whole year of anti-Clinton rhetoric planned, then decided to just go for it anyway when she lost.
And there you have it: Three hours of nonstop winning, courtesy of Fox News. Don’t think you need a vacation from being terrified at what the country you love may well become? You might want to check out Fox News anyway, because millions of other people do, and they’re all being told — repeatedly and throughout the primetime lineup, if not other timeslots as well (I’m not going to watch “Fox & Friends” to find out) — not to trust the mainstream media. It might be worth stepping into that bubble just to see how the other half is told to think, and usually often does.
At least for now, anyway. Fox News does not appear to have considered that telling its viewers that other news sources can’t be trusted may well backfire when even more right-wing and truly fake “news” outlets tell their audiences that Fox News can’t be trusted, either, nor is it needed when Trump uses social media so well to directly tell his fans what they want to hear. It’d be a real shame if all those Fox News pundits talked themselves right out of their jobs.
[screen shots: Fox News]