Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fox Austin Pillories Perry Over "Mansion" After Poll Shows White Getting Shellacked

To those who complain about Fox News having a rightward tilt haven't watched the Fox Austin affiliate recently. Its approach to generating 'people's opinion oriented' news tilts in only one direction -- against Republicans and conservative positions.

I wrote last year on Travis Monitor about Fox News Austin's horrid fear mongering about the spike in gun sales that was occurring. They never mentioned that it was a result of people's reaction to the Obama government's runaway, rights-stealing, anti-Constitutional effort to wrest power from the people at every turn. The Austin Fox News story was a vapid treatment laced with predictable leftist views. It was Exhibit A for why I don't regularly tune into the program.

Last night though I happened to leave Austin Fox News on after Jack Bauer's rampage on 24 and I was treated to yet more vapidity. I need to do better job of managing my remote control.

Immediately after a short segment showing Perry to be kicking Bill White's butt in early polls, Fox did a hit piece on Perry's shacking up in a tent while trying ineffectively to do the work of the people while waiting for the Texas Governor's mansion to be repaired. Ummm... not.

What they did instead -- I guess in the name of balance -- was reference an Associated Press story about the costs associated with the Governor's taking up residence in a gated house with a pool while the Governor's mansion is being rebuilt after a fire. "It costs more than $10,000 a month in rent, utilities and upkeep to house Perry in a five bedroom, seven bath mansion," according to the report. Hey, it costs me about $3,000 in mortgage payments, utilities and upkeep for my modest 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath house. $500 of my expense is county taxes. I wonder what the monthly taxes are for the "Mansion." $1,500?

Fox reporter James Irby relays the costs for various items like they're a scandal. $8,000 for pool maintenance for instance. Well, there are a lot of people who would love to have only $8,000 in annual pool expenses. Heck, just last year a government-mandated requirement for pool equipment cost my community association $5,000, in addition to the upkeep and chemical expenses of about $5,000, but no breaking story on that.

The drabble goes on.

Irby and Co. did their best to find expert commentators like afternoon bike rider Jason Kahle, identified by Fox as "Taxpayer," who's wearing a very proletariat oriented "Austin Gliding Tours" t-shirt,  to say "I don't think it's really necessary to be paying that much money, $10,000 a month, for our governor to be living in the lap of luxury." Sounds likes Kahle's got it tough. Here's a follow-up story idea that Irby should investigate: Kahle's living in the lap of luxury. After all, he's biking around in the afternoon, and is tied somehow to Austin Gliding Tours, which doesn't sound to me like the local brick layers or roofing or meat packing union. Maybe he got it at Goodwill, though. Please find out, Mr. Irby.

Then, we're treated to the expert commentary of Chris Surgeon, another person identified as "Taxpayer," but whom I doubt it is a brain surgeon when he's not commentating for Fox, who says "He's living like a rich person while we're all suffering. I mean there's homeless people all over the place, and you wonder, you know. It makes you wonder, doesn't it." It's my guess Chris Surgeon does a lot of wondering about a lot of things. You know. Like what life might be like if marijuana were legal. Or maybe he already knows, you know.

Then, as if Surgeon and Kahle didn't raise enough hackles about the inequities of Perry's "Mansion," Irby and Co trot out the expert opinion of  Lisa Trevino, "Taxpayer," who does her best to coherently express her theory on the role of government and better uses for the money. "Ten thousand dollars seems like it could be used um elsewhere like in you know job seeking services, other government funded sources, something that will benefit more of the public." Um, what?

Finally, we're treated to the expert opinion of Fred Lewis, who earlier in the program is mentioned as
a "campaign finance watchdog." Lewis is referred to by Irby as a campaign finance expert who says he can't tell if the listings for how his campaign pays for Mansions are violations.

Hold on. I thought Irby was talking about taxpayer funding? What's the link here with Perry's campaign? Is Irby and Lewis claiming something's going on with the government funding Perry's campaign through the payments for the mansion? If that's what they're saying, they never said it outright in the segment. The hapless viewer is suddenly moved from taxpayer funding to a campaign finance watchdog without much segue or introduction.

In fact, what the reader should know is that Lewis is a very partisan liberal that has a history of calling Republicans into the court of public opinion over alleged campaign abuses and otherwise advocating for liberal causes. Here's Lewis in Texas Weekly going after former Republican Speaker Tom Craddick. Here's Lewis, dutifully covered by Gardner Selby, in the Statesman advocating for Perry's extending voter registration in Harris County after Hurricane Ike hit Houston, with the liberal Equality Texas Foundation and People for the American Way Foundation. In 2005, the Statesman reported that Lewis was successful in getting 25 Republicans to sign on as supporters of a bill limiting corporate and labor money in the final weeks of an election. Of course, we know now that the U.S. Supreme Court deems such restrictions as unconstitutional despite the protestations of President Barack Obama.

Whatever you may think of Fred Lewis's expert opinion, it is indeed partisan opinion. It's too bad for them and the viewing public that the Fox folks don't label his comments as such, to truly claim the mantle of non-partisan, objective reporting. Instead, Lewis is  just a "campaign finance watchdog" ostensibly doing the work of the people, like Kahle, Surgeon and Trevino. But to me, he's a political hack and Fox News Austin reporters are, by virtue of their half-true representation of Lewis' bona fides, partisan propagandists as well.

My point here is simply that Fox News Austin is, once again, incoherent and biased in its treatment of serious subjects. How about delivering some real journalism at some point?

Here's a simple one: How about asking whether the "Mansion" that the Perrys live in now compares at all to the Governor's Mansion that was burned down in terms of room, maintenance costs and 'burden' to the taxpayer? After all, the Governor and his family need to live somewhere, right? Hasn't the Governor's Mansion been provided to Governors of all political stripe in the past? How is taxpayer funding of a house -- somewhere -- different than they're funding it near the state house?

And here's a tip for earning credibility with more viewers: How about identifying Fred Lewis as a partisan who is always associated with liberal causes?

Fox News Austin delivers simple, mindless propaganda that's geared toward dishing innuendo and scandalous non-correlations to feed its Republican-hating, class-envy trained viewers. It's a disgrace to the practice of journalism and ultimately an insult to the citizens of Austin who misplace their trust in this station's news organization.

1 comment:

hyip said...

Lewis is referred to by Irby as a campaign finance expert who says he can't tell if the listings for how his campaign pays for Mansions are violations.