Sunday, August 19, 2007

Pimpin' for Rudy

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It was only a matter of time, but, then, no one who inhabits reality has ever doubted that the right-wing shills at Fox News -- and what other shills are there at that loathsome network? -- are committed extensions of the Republican Party. And now it's Sean Hannity, one of the most loathsome of the shills, who has made it into the news, not just by being a Republican but by throwing some rather public support behind one Rudy Giuliani, Republican candidate for president:

In a little noticed event this month, Hannity -- co-host of Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes" and host of a popular WABC radio show -- introduced the Republican front-runner at a closed-door, $250-per-head fund-raiser Aug. 9 in Cincinnati, campaign officials acknowledge.

In so doing, some believe that Hannity -- while clearly a commentator paid to express his opinions -- crossed the line from punditry into financial rainmaking for a presidential candidate whose bottom line is now better for it.

"Fox's in-kind contribution to Republican politicians in the form of softball coverage is one thing," said Steve Rendall, senior analyst at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a left-leaning media watchdog group. "But this is the first time they have crossed this line into fund-raising."

This was also the next, and perhaps inevitable, step in the developing convergence of media and politics. No longer determined to remain on the sidelines, many in the media -- not just individuals but entire media empires -- are not just blurring the lines but taking active roles. And this is happening far more on the right than on the left -- indeed, acting under cover of the myth of so-called liberal bias, the right has been working to take over the media and to partisanize them. (Just read David Brock's revealing The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy. The takeover of the media has been one of the right's main priorities since the '70s. Rupert Murdoch is the big name, of course, but the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, owner of The Washington Times, is also a major player, as are many others on the religious right -- see Michelle Goldberg's Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism.)

For its part, Fox has been pushing the Republican agenda for years, operating as a platform for the Republican Party and, more broadly, for the conservative movement. With Hannity's support for Giuliani, the obvious is just more out in the open.

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