Gather ’round, children, as the first chill of autumn presents itself. The Farmer’s Almanac forecasts a harsh winter. The Almanac of American Politics calls that an understatement.
Rarely has a wind this ill so beset the nation’s capital.
Speaking of magazines: On the cover of the Oct. 14 Time, “Majority Rule” is smudged out in red against dark clouds, the Capitol shrouded in black and gray.
The shutdown leaves most Americans dismayed beyond words, especially 800,000 federal workers. But you wouldn’t know it if you happened upon Fox News. You would see this termed a “slimdown” (snicker, snicker) with one talking head after another giving his or her rendition of, “Hey, no biggie.”
Gloom in Washington? On Fox News you would hear Rep. Michele Bachmann describe Republicans as being at their “happiest” at this opportunity to have a nation twisting in mid-air from a gleaming ideological meat hook.
On the Fair and Balanced news source, you’d have heard “Fox and Friends” report that President Obama had offered to pay to keep a “national Muslim museum open” with his own dollars, though other museums were shuttered. "Fox and Friends" didn't realize the story was from a parody website whose other posts have included, “IRS plans to target leprechauns next.” Ah, well. No biggie.
As I said, it’s gotten chilly out there. So, gather at my knee for a nursery rhyme that puts matters in terms that even a child can understand, sort of like Green Eggs and Ham. Let us read:
"The House that Fox Built"
This is the House that Fox News built.
This is the calculated bias that underpins every story, every graphic, every crawl, particularly about the House that Fox News built.
This is Roger Ailes, the Nixon operative, hired as CEO in 1996 to deliver the calculated bias that today underpins the reporting of the disruptive actions by the House that Fox News built.
These are the talking heads of Fox — O’Reilly, Hannity, Huckabee, Rove, Palin, Gingrich, Oliver North — each hired to convey the calculated bias that today underpins the reporting of the disruptive actions by the House that Fox News built.
This is the tea party. In 2009 Fox News hyped this creature — a Fox creation? — nonstop in advance of “Fox News Tax Day Tea Party” rallies across the country. Fox News talking heads were dispatched as on-stage celebrities — more calculated bias, more hard-right froth, building off-year hopes for a House that Fox News built.
This is the 2010 congressional elections. Low turnout, high conservative anger, high ratings for Fox News. Enough tea party candidates won for the GOP to gain a majority in the House that Fox News built.
This is gerrymandering. With a new decade comes new red-state opportunities to construct invulnerable Republican congressional districts, emboldening the hard-right tea party types who populate the House that Fox News built.
This is the Affordable Care Act, health coverage for millions of Americans, duly passed by Congress, duly upheld by the courts. In its “news” coverage, no force is more vital than Ailes’ Army in portraying it as a totalitarian ploy. “Obamacare” is a great spiel and battle cry in the House that Fox News built.
This is the shutdown. It is based on one thing alone: the refusal of tea partisans to acknowledge that a law is a law. Why should they? They are invulnerable. Additionally, they have an echo chamber on cable that will justify for their custom-designed constituencies whatever happens in the House that Fox News built.
This is our government. Well, it used to be. An invincible cadre, a minority of a minority, has decided that if it can’t repeal a duly legislated law, it can disable the mechanism — democracy — that produced the law. It’s a scandal, a slap in your face and mine. And for this we owe the House that Fox News built.
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.