That sure feels like the title of an academic paper. Not unexpected from an academic, but also nothing close to the truth. More the ramblings of a non-expert who does this as a hobby, and has some thoughts to get off my chest. Normal stuff. But here’s what triggered me: A discussion of the news that Pfizer’s COVID vaccine exceeded expectations in the early analyses of efficacy and how it was handled in the bit I heard at FoxNews (and “heard” is accurate, because I was in my car, listening to FoxNews on the radio). It got me thinking about how often the criticisms of other media outlets by folks at FoxNews really feel more appropriately directed at themselves.
Here’s my summary of the story (and I haven’t dug up video of this, I don’t know the names of the people talking, and I’m writing this from memory…which isn’t all that trustworthy). The crux was that President Trump deserves all the credit for the development of the vaccine. Operation Warp Speed made it happen and Trump was responsible for it all. As a bit of a digression, I think it’s important to point out that of all the ways that the administration has dropped the ball with respect to COVID, in my opinion, encouraging and helping the development of vaccines is not one of them. This is one area where I’m mostly, not entirely, but mostly happy with the administration’s response. I didn’t like news that the administration seemed to be putting political pressure on the FDA to cut corners, and I really didn’t like the apparent politicization of the FDA, but that’s not all that unusual, and I think there’s lots of reasons to not worry all that much about it. But some aspects of Operation Warp Speed are really great. Being willing to invest in the manufacturing of vaccines before approval is risky and potentially wasteful, but certainly worthwhile spending (in my opinion) to help get the vaccine to the public much faster than it would be available normally. In the case of Pfizer, the role of the government was pledging to purchase the vaccine if found safe and effective. That’s good…but really the least that we can expect from a government. It sure helps Pfizer decide to put resources into it by guaranteeing a sale, but did they really think that they wouldn’t have a market for a safe and effective COVID vaccine? I sincerely doubt there’s any question about that. So, although I do think the government did the right thing here, I’m not sure how big of an impact it had on Pfizer. But that wasn’t the spin of the FoxNews story. It was all about how it never would have happened without President Trump. Which isn’t all that unexpected, and not what triggered me. It was the outgoing comment from the woman co-host of the show…”Thank God for the free market.” What????
Thank God for the free market…after a lengthy discussion of how President Trump and his administration made it happen. That their capital investment was critical. And then they thank God for a free market. The lack of self-awareness and total mixed messages made me literally laugh out loud, all by myself, driving in my car. A full-throated belly laugh. The government did it, but thank God for a free market, that wouldn’t have accomplished this without the help of the government…a real facepalm moment.
But this isn’t all that crazy for FoxNews. They repeatedly slam the mainstream media, while congratulating themselves for having the most watched shows. It doesn’t get more mainstream than being at the top of the charts, right? It’s like Taylor Swift bashing pop music in a song at the top of the Billboard charts.
I’ve often wondered about some of the hosts of the shows on FoxNews. I’ve wondered if they are simply projecting all their sins onto CNN and MSNBC, or if they are just playing a role (or both). Do the hosts really believe what they say and what they allow to be said, unchallenged, on their shows? I’ve often suspected that, at least some of them, simply play the role of fictional characters, unaffected by the outside world. Glimpses into behind the scenes sometimes confirm my suspicion. Like the clip in this tweet, showing an off-air response to some pro-Trump nonsense that viewers heard.
This is another example of the lack of journalistic integrity at FoxNews. I’m not saying that they are alone in this. I’m sure there are many off-air responses that are different from the on-air show they put on, on FoxNews and elsewhere, but this is a really striking example.
In the end, I’m not all that upset at FoxNews for these shenanigans. Whatever they’re doing is working pretty well for them. They have more viewers, at least in some time slots, than any other news organization and people rely on them as a valid source of information. They are doing what they do.
Their viewers/listeners…well that’s another story.