Monday, September 7, 2015

Factor This

I've never voted for a Republican. Politically, I identify as progressive.  Yet, I've been watching more Fox News lately.  It started around the 2012 Presidential Election.  As media coverage on Election Night pointed toward reelection for President Obama, my wife and I turned the television channel to Fox News.  We were curious how a network that clearly railed against an Obama Presidency would cover news of his reelection. My wife and I switched the channel in time to catch Karl Rove challenging the Fox Analysts after they had called Ohio for President Obama.  Rove insisted repeatedly that the analysts might have it wrong, and that the Network got it wrong for making the call so soon.  If I hadn't felt confident about a victory for President Obama, I would have been terrified at that moment.  I thought Karl Rove was smart.  Reading essays of his that predicted a Mitt Romney win were very persuassive.  Knowing the election was over, it was thrilling to see in real time what today is identified by some as the Karl Rove Meltdown or Freakout on Fox News.  

Over the past year, especially in the context of the police violence toward African Americans and The Black Lives Matter Movement, my wife and I again have occasionally switched to Fox, though the results this time around have not been entertaining and sometimes it's regrettable.  Last week, Bill O'Reilly said he was going to put Black Lives Matter "out of business." 

More recently, I've been watching Fox News on my own, in particular Bill O'Reilly. In the past two months, Little People of America (LPA) received two inquiries from Fox News. One came after the original news coverage of LPA's efforts to change the mascot name in Freeburg, Illinois. A reporter wanted to interview about the issue either over the phone or SKYPE.  I replied to the reporter's second request, but never heard back.   The second request came from someone from the network who reached out on behalf of Fox & Friends.  She requested a written statement from Little People of America in response to the news that the United States Department of Agriculture has plans to drop the word "midget" as a description for small raisins, (Here is a story from Washington Post).  Fox needed a reply within too short of a time. LPA was not able to send them a statement before they spoke about the issue on Fox & Friends. 

Basically, LPA has not responded to two Fox News inquiries within enough time to be a part of their stories. This is not a bad thing.  With public relations in the general, and with LPA specifically, the goal is to control the message and to look for opportunities to raise awareness.  In terms of language issues, Fox News might not be the best outlet to accomplish those goals.  If LPA wants to build sympathy within the public on language issues and wants people to stop using the word midget, we are probably not losing any ground by not appearing on Fox News.  Nevertheless, I've been picturing myself on Fox News and hope that we someday soon receive another request.  Specifically, I picture myself talking to Bill O'Reilly.  

If I were to appear with him, I wouldn't stand a chance. My issue wouldn't stand a chance.  He is a professional broadcaster. He is smarter than me. He is more savvy than me. Yet, O'Reilly uses the word "midget" disparagingly.  At least once, a member of the dwarfism community reached out to me, asking that I contact O'Reilly because of his use of the word. The community member had written him a letter. He never replied. Just last week, he referred to the 1964 New York Mets as the "midget Mets." Why? I don't know.  Because O'Reilly appears to use the word "midget" indifferently, with no concern for how the word impacts others; and because Fox News didn't appear to take very seriously LPA's issue regarding the mascot or the USDA, I hope to get another chance on the network. If I do, I may not stand a chance, but it's worth a shot. 

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