Step Up and Know Your Role

Posted: October 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

As someone who gets to do a lot of work at home and keeps cable news on in the background, I’ve grown a strong affinity for CNN. When I get bored with their programming (most often during Larry King) I’ll occasionally turn to FOX News… never long enough to get a true sense of their programming because I usually end up yelling at the TV. It probably doesn’t help that Hannity runs opposite King. I’m obviously not the first one to criticize FOX—and especially Hannity—for being extremely biased, but here it goes.

Pat Caddell is a massive tool. He is Hannity’s supposed realization of FOX’s  “fair and balanced” slogan. As he was introduced on the show that I happened to catch (October 6) I was happy to see them live up to the slogan; it was noted that he was a former aid in Jimmy Carter’s White House and had numerous other Democratic credentials. As Hannity introduced him, he joked that he could forgive him for all that. And it’s easy to see why; the minute Caddell opened his mouth he started agreeing with Hannity and the two the Republican contributors brought in. Aside from the fact that it’s a 3 on 1 argument—hardly balanced—Caddell didn’t even put up a fight on any of the issues.

The one that sticks out in my mind was a discussion of the food stamps program and proposal by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Patterson asking the USDA to remove sugary drinks from the list of items that can be purchased with the stamps. Hannity and the other contributors railed against the proposal, saying that it was socialist and took away the American freedom to decide what you eat and drink. To my surprise, Caddell, when handed the opportunity to rebut this obviously hyperbolic claim, just agreed with them! The thing is, this isn’t even a difficult argument: the government already restricts what you can and can’t buy with food stamps! Removing soda and other sugary drinks from the list doesn’t change this fact, it just takes an unhealthy option off the list. Keep in mind that you can’t buy alcohol or tobacco with food stamps because these items are abused and can cause serious harm. Essentially Bloomberg and Patterson are saying the same thing: these are products that, when abused (what that means in terms of these items is debatable) can contribute to obesity (this fact is not debatable). There is no logical reason the government should subsidize obesity. If people want to buy these, the government isn’t making any law against that; all they’re saying is “do it on your own dime.” That’s perfectly reasonable, and as I said earlier, an easy catch. If Caddell had thought for 2 seconds about the issue, he could have easily seen that, but instead it seems like he just blindly went along with the Republican crowd on the show.

To give him the benefit of the doubt, I’m going to say that he considered the above argument and decided on his own that he disagreed with it. Fine. Contributors can have their opinions and disagree with their parties from time to time. But as a political contributor paid to be the balance on a show, you have to recognize that function, if not for the bosses at FOX then for the public’s sake. That’s your job—to be the balance! If you don’t present the other side, Hannity surely isn’t going to. You can agree with him if you must, but at least say something like: “I completely agree with you, but here’s why Patterson and Bloomberg are saying what they did… and it’s completely reasonable, but I think they’re wrong, and here’s why.” Don’t just roll over and agree blindly. If it were once, I could maybe learn to live with it, but the truth is Caddell has a history of this. In fact, I didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes to see it happen again. Hannity and his other contributors railed against San Francisco government officials, who have proposed a ban on toys in Happy Meals which don’t meet city-defined nutritional standards. Again, Hannity calls it an attempt at socialism. And again Caddell rolls over and takes it. He doesn’t point out that the toys are nothing more than a marketing tool (thus advertising) and that we already have well established and supported laws preventing tobacco ads directed towards children! Is it a stretch to say that unhealthy food is just as bad as tobacco and should be treated similarly in its marketing to children? Maybe, but the adverse health effects and addictiveness of fast food are so well documented, and child obesity rates are so high that we might not be too far off if we treat them similarly in this regard. Again, it’s an easy catch and Caddell doesn’t dare touch it.

The fact is, this one 7 minute or so segment of Hannity is a microcosm of Caddell’s recent history. I’m not the first to criticize him. Look at this website which details a number of the times he’s appeared as the Democratic voice and ended up slamming them. One more time for good measure: I’m not saying he’s not entitled to his opinion, but you have to recognize your role. Either stop acting like you’re going to be a Democratic voice, or step up and actually be one.


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