"Now some of you say you will never, ever watch me again for the way I treated a congresswoman who I otherwise very much respect. Well, then I respectfully bid you adieu because if you prefer only hearing the interviews that suit you than let me say good-bye to you now because the time's going to come again when I will probably offend you." - Neil Cavuto of FOX NewsMichele Bachmann was, in part, created by FOX News and its supportive pundits. What FOX News anchor Neil Cavuto did last week was to remove his support for a creation he "respected" but still termed silly. What he found out almost instantly was that no one at FOX can question - let alone deride - someone like Bachmann, no matter how insipid a political stance she has.
The negative feedback was swift and harsh. At the end of that day's broadcast, Cavuto said a "record number of emails" had arrived.Bachmann Cavuto Overdrive
"They go pretty much like this," he said. "'Cavuto, you're a rude ass. If I were Michele Bachmann, I'd have a law against you.' Someone else said, 'Who do you think you are? [Bill] O'Reilly? You're an idiot. Quit blabbering, start thinking.'"
Even for FOX News, the exchange was testy, with Bachmann (as is always her want), repeating points endlessly, thinking that emphasis would pass for reason. But Cavuto hammered away at his original premise, that the "lawsuit" against Obama spurred on by the Republican party was totally frivolous and a needless waste of time, energy and taxpayer money. Cavuto was anchored in the here and now, while Bachmann was off in Anti-Obama Neverland. The Young Turks (see below) saw Bachmann as a robotic Frankenstein monster unleashed, with Cavuto trying desperately to restrain it, but in the end just saying "you're silly."
Now, calling a monster "silly" may seem silly in itself, especially when FOX viewers have a fondness for Bachmann's brand of "silly." It seemed to many that Cavuto was cutting off his FOX-paid nose to spite his face. But what Cavuto may have done was bring a breath of reality to FOX that was very, very unwelcome: FOX's coverage and support of Republicans on this issue was "silly." FOX's support of Republican agendas was not always right. OMG! FOX News, the ratings king, might be IN ERROR! Cavuto was being blasphemous and apostate!
In retrospect, it's amazing that the emails did not contain death threats.
Tipping Over The Tower Of Misinformation
It has long been understood that ideological news and straight news are two different species, and with FOX News the ideology of the Right is so paramount as to give its sub-banner "Fair and Balanced" a tongue-in-cheek aspect. Hosts like Glenn Beck (formerly at FOX), Sean Hannity and Mike Huckabee who depend upon the "opinions" of Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter veer so much to the right, that even treatment of the national and international political scenes is non-existent: at times it just seems like an Obama bash-fest. But the ideological news of FOX also serves another purpose: it keeps the misinformed public misinformed. In a real sense, Neil Cavuto was also challenging FOX the Misinformer, telling viewers to get past the irrelevance of the Republican (FOX News) Party's actions and "move on" to fix things.
The Price Of Going Rogue
As The Young Turks put it after viewing the heated exchange: "Is this FOX News?" FOX has certainly flirted with conflict involving the Republican Party,* but Cavuto's handling of Tea Party icon Michele Bachmann as a near nitwit was certainly far from it's usual right-wing course. Will Cavuto pay the ultimate price? No. Irate emails must be constant and consistant to have any effect on viewership. Cavuto will only be sacked if it's proven that he's slipped in ratings. Or if he spars again, say, with FOX's other darling nitwit:
*Megyn Kelly once remarked to Karl Rove that his projection over the 2012 elections might just be "something you made up to make yourselves feel good."