Fox News usually is the news network that I love to hate. I watch it in lieu of aerobic exercise, because the unfair and unbalanced Fox News style does such a good job of getting my heart racing.
But today I enjoyed how anchor Shepard Smith handled two stories: the Texas state House’s approval of a bill that bans suggestive cheerleading and a provision in Congress’ Real ID Act that allows the Homeland Security secretary to unilaterally suspend federal laws.
It seems that long-awaited cracks are starting to appear in what used to be monolithic Republican support for conservative policies. Republicans with a libertarian, small-government bent (Shepard Smith seems to be in this group) are beginning to resist the social control, Christian right side of the party that wants to strengthen governmental powers.
Thus I found these Fox News snippets to be interesting reflections of divisions in the conservative ranks that likely will widen. First, here’s my DVR-aided transcript of the cheerleading story:
Shepard Smith: “The Texas state House has approved the so-called ‘booty bill.’ The bill restricts ‘overly suggestive cheerleading.’ Its sponsor says that the performances are a distraction for students, resulting in pregnancies, dropouts, and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.”
Then a clip was shown of the above-mentioned sponsor, Rep. Al Edwards, (who is a Democrat, but the state House has a majority of Republicans) saying, “We cannot afford to exploit our young girls the way we are.”
Smith: “Good Lord! Critics of the bill say it is unnecessary since Texas bans lewd acts in public places anyway and some are questioning the government’s priorities here.”
End of story. Smith begins to speak spontaneously to a network colleague after a several second silent quizzical look.
“Can you believe that, Janice? [a Fox weather girl]. It rarely happens, Janice… [I’m] Speechless. Unbelievable…Dumbfounded, Janice, dumbfounded.”
Second, here’s some excerpts from the more substantive border fence story that featured Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Andrew Napolitano:
Judge Andrew Napolitano: After talking about the driver’s license provision of the Real ID act, he said, “There is other language in this bill that is frightening…The same bill says to the Secretary of Homeland Security, build a fence between Texas and Mexico. You may suspend any federal law you may like that interferes with your building that fence.
Shepard Smith: What?”
Napolitano: “And no judge in any court in America may review your suspension of that law. That makes the Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, the king if he can suspend any law he wants. This has never happened before in American history.”
Smith (sarcastically): “So we have a king now. That’s good. I knew things were changing. You can feel it.”
Napolitano: “First the cheerleaders in Texas and now the king in Washington, D.C.
Smith: “There’s the problem. The judge has told you there is a king in Washington, D.C.”
Napolitano: “You’re exactly right. Our listeners and viewers need to know what the government is doing—with no debate about this in the House or Senate. They are about to enact the legislation that lets one person in Washington, the Secretary of Homeland Security, suspend any law he wants and prohibits any judge from reviewing that act of suspension. We’ve never had such legislation in our history.”
Smith: “Frightening. That’s frightening.”
Shepard Smith and Judge Napolitano then talked about the Texas cheerleading story.
Smith: “They are telling people what they can and cannot do with their clothed bodies. And then they’re not giving a definition for what ‘suggestive’ is. It is in the eye of the beholder, said the Texas state House representative from whom you heard earlier."
Napolitano: “Government should not be telling people how to express and what to look at, and what not to look at…. What will they regulate next in Texas?
Smith: “I don’t know. Maybe the color of your shoes. Maybe what your roof has to be made out of. Maybe the color of the person you can marry. Maybe we’ll go back to that too.
Napolitano: “Government has to recognize that it has limits. And morality comes from within, not enforced from without.”
Right on, Fox News. For once you really were fair and balanced in your reporting.