Hemmed In

The Washington Post today offers yet another reason why media writer Howard Kurtz is, for the most part, useless.

Kurtz today spotlights comedian Bill Hemmer, who plays an “anchor” for Fox “News” and previously worked for the Cable “News” Network.

Kurtz attempts to provide insight into Hemmer’s role at Fox “News.” But Kurtz’ column simply lets Hemmer spout the Fox “News” party line bullshit and pretty much lets him get away with it. It ledes:

Bill Hemmer, a middle-of-the-road guy from the middle of the country, sees himself as the straightest of straight arrows when it comes to news.

“The opinion-makers on our channel have enormous talent,” he says in his Fox News office in midtown. “I deal in facts. I deal in evidence. And opinion, frankly, is not my comfort zone. Opinion news is something I’m not good at. It is in the DNA of certain individuals. I’m not one of them.”

Kurtz gives Hemmer a pass despite his and his network’s insistence on relying almost entirely on “conservative” (damn I have to use a lot of scare quotes when I write about these assholes) guests. He quothes:

“If the booking leans one way, it’s the responsibility and duty of me as the host, the presenter, the interviewer, to make sure the topic is evenly treated,” Hemmer says.


Later in the column, Kurtz writes, UNATTRIBUTED:

Despite the guest lineup, Hemmer, 45, takes a generally balanced approach, a style he honed in his native Cincinnati and during 10 years at CNN. After joining Fox as a daytime anchor in 2005, he was paired in the morning with rising star Megyn Kelly; when Kelly got her own 1 p.m. show in February, Martha MacCallum became Hemmer’s co-host.

Later, Kurtz gets down on his damned knees. Note again the lack of attribution:

With his infectious grin and golly-gee demeanor, Hemmer exudes boyish enthusiasm both on and off the air. He is quick to sing the praises of his network, his colleagues, Chairman Roger Ailes (a fellow Ohioan), even the Sixth Avenue lobby for its mix of visitors. Has he ever said anything on the air that he regrets? “Knock wood, I think I’ve been lucky to, as my mother would say, be careful before you speak,” says Hemmer, his eyes occasionally wandering to his four television monitors in what he admits is a Pavlovian response.

Yep. Bill Hemmer reports right down the middle, all right:

A turning point, in Hemmer’s view, came during the health care debate in the summer of 2009: “We covered those town-hall meetings with greater vigor than our competition, and we were rewarded with viewers. It was better television.”

Another view is that Fox seized upon the footage of angry constituents shouting at Democratic members of Congress because it undermined the president’s health-care push. Hemmer begs to differ. “I don’t think it was anger toward the Obama administration,” he says. “It was an honest insecurity on the part of average Americans.”

Hemmer also feels strongly about federal spending, a constant topic on the show. “The deficit is staggering,” he says. His lead-off commentator is often Fox business anchor Stuart Varney, who rarely misses an opportunity to criticize the administration’s fiscal policies…

Yep, he’s one fair and balanced dude all right.

A few days ago, I made light of the fact that Glenn Beck, who is one of that network’s most popular opinion leaders, is not aware somehow that C-SPAN is basically a child of the ’80s (a quick Internet search reveals that the first C-SPAN transmission was a floor speech by Congressman Al Gore on March 19, 1979). But I think Beck’s tremendous error belies a grander problem with Beck, his network, and by association, Hemmer. This is a network that is culturally ignorant of even the most basic knowledge regarding current events, civics, and history. A guy who is unaware that in 1964 TV cameras in the legislature were more than a decade away should not be a major opinion leader in America, and the network that doesn’t pull his broadcast off the air immediately should not have “news” anywhere in its moniker.

But this is what happens when you decide that media is just another fucking commodity to be bought sold and traded.

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