|Then again, if your
source was MSNBC or the blogosphere, I’m afraid
you must have taken me to be a right-wing loon who seriously believes the road
to the presidency has something to do with hair follicles.
In media these days, the filter through which we evaluate news and information – especially
on cable-TV and the Internet – is so clouded by bias that the content is
becoming dangerously devalued.
The Journal column was a political parody, nothing more. The “trend,” I
opined, began when John Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon by a hair; Nixon with
a receding hairline and JFK with fabulous locks. Over the years, there was Jimmy
Carter’s dynamic ’do followed by Ronald Reagan’s Hollywood-perfect
haircut and today, yada yada, we’ve got a pair of Republicans, Perry and
Romney, with some of the hottest hair ever.
Fox News, which like the Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.,
asked if I’d talk about the column on the morning program “Fox & Friends.” I’ve
been on that show before when I had something to plug, and it was harmless enough.
In fact, while I personally disagree with the political views of Fox News
and most of its hosts, they seem perfectly capable of doing satire. All the morning
shows – from “Fox & Friends” to “Today” – are
eclectic mixes of hard news and fluff.
As I was introduced, host Juliet Huddy told viewers, “I swear to you,
this is a scientific study.” I immediately said, “Juliet, this couldn’t
be any less scientific.”
For the next three minutes I rattled off quips about “health care versus
hair care,” and how Republicans might have done better in ’08 with
Romney’s full head of hair rather than John McCain’s graying wisps.
A few hours later, the blog Media-ite blared, “Fox & Friends: Candidates
With The Best Hair Always Win Presidential Elections.” In a particularly
strange summary, the reporter said I was being “lighthearted” but
also “seemed to be (speaking) seriously.”
This hot news was picked up by MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, who alerted viewers
to the fact that, “This morning ‘Fox & Friends’ actually
spent three minutes on a segment that suggested the candidate with the best hair
always wins the White House.”
Meanwhile, The Atlantic magazine’s website selected the Journal column
as one of the day’s five best. Go figure.
Why have Fox News and MSNBC – owned by two of the world’s largest
news organizations – allowed themselves to become so obsessed with what
the other is saying, particularly whenever it seems to confirm political prejudices?
How can viewers of either outlet take seriously the ranting about the other?
And which is a greater waste of time: a three-minute satire about hair? Or
criticism about doing such a satire?
The behavior of much modern media is a sad reflection of the new politics
that is wrecking our country. Everything is either black or white, left or right,
and absolute. There’s no room for compromise, and no tolerance for anything
beyond the borders of rigid ideology.
I have no idea if the candidate with the best haircut will win. I do know
that if media lose perspective – along with a sense of humor – we’ll
all get clipped.
(c) Peter Funt. This column was originally distributed by the Cagle Syndicate.