Bill’s FOX News Channel Report Card
At the outset I should disclose that this is not a fare and balanced report. I am an unashamed FOX fan. That said, I take some issue with the channel that takes up around 70% of the viewing time on the Thomas TV. Contrary to the FOX motto “Fair and Balanced” the folks at FOX are not. However, I do believe they try harder than the people at the Clinton News Network and certainly they dwarf the left wing nuts at the Media Standard Nonsensical Baloney Channel. It should be noted that this admirable slogan at FOX while not completely accurate is based on no lack of indignity on their part. Bill O’Reilly is quick to point out that FOX does in fact invite many liberals to appear on FNC. However, one is naïve beyond conception not to clearly see that the FNC has a conservative slant to their commentary. Personally I generally concur with the slant but it is a slant nonetheless.
I am prone to be more critical of FNC than I am of CNN or MSNBC. Basically I have simply blown off the two left wing channels as a lost cause. I have always been more upset when my political bedfellows err than when my political foes fail to meet basic ethical standards. My bride and I consider the folks at FOX family. When someone outside our family does something we don’t approve of it doesn’t bother us near as much as when a family member blunders.
On a point that has nothing to do with the merit of the reporting on FNC and at the risk of being accused of being a sexist, I have often marveled at one obvious accomplishment of the extraordinary job done by the people who do the recruiting and hiring of the ladies of FNC. With absolutely no exception they FOX foxes. It is not difficult to recruit extraordinarily beautiful women in America. It is easy to find tens of thousands of American women who are blessed with an exceptional IQ. Certainly a high degree of integrity can be found in the character of the American woman. It is not hard to assemble a fleet of American women who are just plain good people. However, I submit that to find the amount of ladies that excel in all these categories has never been done in the history of Television. As an American I would trust anyone of these ladies with the life of my country. As a professional warrior I would trust anyone of them at my back in any of the many battles I have fought. As an intellectual I have the utmost respect for their intelligence. As a Grandfather and Great Grandfather I would trust anyone of them to care for my precious grandchildren. As a country boy who admires sheer beauty, Oooo Weee Honey Hush!
The following is of course a personal opinion regarding a few of the stars of FOX. This article may be one of the few that I try to get by my bride of 46 years. My Georgia edits my work’s content about 90% of the time. However, we’ll try to slip this one in without her seeing it. My lady is a believer in the freedom of speech and as a rule respects even those opinions that she disagrees with. However, criticizing Glenn Beck is not allowed. There are four men in America that my Georgia considers perfect. I am not among this elite group. To suggest the possibility of President George W. Bush, Congressman John Carter, son-in-law Peter Landoll or Mr. Glenn Beck are slightly wrong on anything is hazardous to your health in my living room.
John Stossel B+
John Stossel is without question one of the most gifted communicators I have ever heard. There is no question that he possesses a high degree of education and an exceptional intellect. However, unlike a lot of folks who have such admirable attributes he feels no need to impress anyone with big words. Plain spoken and straight to the point is his style. He does have a tendency to push the envelope and tends to slightly exaggerate the short comings of his political foes. Nonetheless, his voice on the TV will short stop my sandwich making in the kitchen as I hurry to the den to pay attention to what he’s saying.
Glenn Beck B
Oh boy here we go. At the outset let me say that there are few men that I admire more than Glenn. He is a man who like Bill Thomas is passionate and unashamed regarding his devotion to his country. There can be no question as to the man’s motives or his intelligence. However, while he is almost always correct on the base issue he tends to go to talk to much after the sale. He is prone to make a solid case that his political foe is doing something that will undoubtedly hurt America. Unfortunately, he habitually dilutes the merit of his case by presuming to know the personal motives of those who are committing these improper acts. As an old debater I can tell you that this is a brilliant man who the average high school debater of less intelligence could easily defeat. I’m not talking about silly arguments the media call debate. I mean a real debate by the rules. Mr. Beck would make a solid case on 90% of his argument and get hammered by any youngster with formal debate training based on the supposition of 10% of his case. Stating that President Obama’s actions and policies are hurting America is fact that can of course be established. Stating that the President is intentionally hurting America is supposition. Frankly, this assumption is not only supposition I submit the suposition is completely unsupported by logic much less data. I have no question that the rebuttal to Mr. Beck’s presumption would be, “Mr. Beck has argued that the President is intentionally attempting to ruin America. There is of course no evidence at all to support the argument that Mr. Obama has the slightest idea what he’s trying to do”.
Bill O’Reilly A-
The No Spin Zone has a bit of spin. However, to be fair it’s as spin free as Mr. O’Reilly can make it. There is no question that Big Bill leans to my side of the political fence and his rhetoric clearly indicates his right wing concepts. That said, apart from occasionally bullying a guest he generally shows a high degree of fairness regarding their left wing point of view. However, in spite of his show’s conservative leaning, I don’t believe there is an individual in America who would not be a welcomed guest on his show and allowed to speak their mind. I believe that being absolutely fair and balanced with a complete lack of spin is virtually impossible. However, given Mr. O’Reilly’s character I have no question that he makes a stronger and more successful attempt at being objective than an overwhelming majority of folks in his profession. While he gets an A- as a commentator in my book, he’d get an A+ as an author. He’s a great read.
Gretta Van Susteren A
Wow! What a gal? Greta is pure unadulterated class. A typical FOX fox, Greta tells it like it is. I don’t know of an individual who combines poise, grace and beauty with the toughness and character of Greta Van Susteren. She walks that fine line of being polite and tough at the same time. She will never be rude to the individual she interviews but don’t try to run over this little lady. As my Grandpa used to say she’s got a BS detector that works real well and ain’t taking the first ounce of (stuff). If you insist on playing hard ball this pretty little lawyer can be rougher than a stucco bathtub.
Shepard Smith A-
Shepard Smith may be the best straight up news broadcaster in the ranks of FNC and that’s saying a lot. As a columnist I can tell you there is a clear difference between a reporter and a columnist. We columnist don’t need to be confused with the facts. We have the luxury of writing our opinion and labeling it as such. The same of course applies to our TV counterparts regarding the difference between news broadcasters and commentators. The reporter or broadcaster reports the news without the clutter of his opinion. Shep, like all passionate Americans, on rare occasions slips regarding this rule of his trade and his personal views are evident. However, more than any reporter or news broadcaster I know he follows another FOX theme. He reports and lets the folks decide. As a rule TV audiences have a much easier time getting to know the character of commentators than they do broadcasters. The commentators voice their opinions and frankly expose their personal beliefs much more than broadcasters. However, there are rare men the caliber of Shepard Smith whose strength of character can’t be hidden. Shepard Smith is a young man I respect based not only on his notable talent but on his transparent heart as well.
Sean Hannity B+
Sean Hannity is indeed a great American. There is no question as to his love for his country and his passion for conservative values. Perhaps the most gifted speaker on FNC. An exceptional combination of looks and brains make this guy a rock star in the world of media journalists. It is to his credit that this down to Earth superstar doesn’t believe his own press. I can picture Sean cutting the grass and weeding his own garden. He’s a man’s man that any good ol’ boy would be proud to call a buddy. Like Beck I am in general agreement with his basic points almost every time. However, again like Glenn but not to the Beck degree he is prone to over react and go a step beyond established data. I can not emphasize how deeply that destroys a good political case. If you can absolutely prove some guy stole four cars he’s a car thief and you can stand on that accusation. However, if the fellow is “suspected” of stealing another two cars leave it alone. You will be branded a liar based on your lack of proof regarding the two cars and it’s not necessary to prove your basic accusation.
Niel Cavuto A
Niel Cavuto has more personality than a litter of speckled puppies. Anyone who doesn’t like this guy hasn’t got enough since to pour water out of a boot with the instructions written on the sole. When you look up good guy in Mr. Webster’s best seller you should see this guy's picture. He is another man with obvious academic training and professional experience that give him a very high degree of knoledge. Like Stossel he clearly shows that he understands the true art of communication is speaking in plain English that is understood by his viewers. Although every inch a gentleman, he knows how to ask the tough questions. There will be no power puff interviews from this guy, but he has mastered the fine art of being tough without being offensive.
FOX and Friends A
In a word, incredible. My bride and I start every morning with the same routine. Breakfast has traditionally been my job. I do omelets, pancakes or bacon and eggs while Georgia makes the coffee. We sit in the den armed with TV trays and say our morning prayers. Then the TV is turned on. There is no need to select the channel. We have had our breakfast with FOX and Friends for many years now. That would be seven days a week. We are now often on the road. This home routine has been repeated in many a hotel room across the nation this year. As a rule we stay on military installations but occasionally must stay in a civilian motel. We actually checked out of a nice hotel in Nashville recently less than an hour after checking in based on the fact that the establishment only had CNN and no FNC. How could we be expected to start the day in such and unseemly manner? I must take my hat off to the producers of the show. Whoever they are it is clear that they understand the necessity of having a good woman aboard to supervise two men. Any two of these characters would undoubtedly run amuck without female guidance. They are all great. Even Peter’s Dad seems to have potential.
Michelle Malkin A-
Michelle is a female version of Glenn Beck, only much easier to look at and tons smarter. And frankly being tons smarter than Glenn gives her an IQ that resembles a long distance phone number. There should be a law against being that smart and that drop dead gorgeous. This is America and everybody has a right to be pretty and smart, but this lady abuses the privilege. Michelle Malkin may indeed be the sharpest tool in America ’s media shed. However, she does tend to consistently react negatively to the left wing without engaging that extraordinary brain. A classic of this was seen today regarding her “automatic” take on President Obama’s answer to Barbara Walter’s question regarding the Miami basketball team. Our President has no stronger critic than Bill Thomas. That said, we of the conservative persuasion must be guarded not to accuse the President of committing sins that he doesn’t commit, least we give the left wing credence to challenge our position. I heard the question and the answer. Barack Obama is not only the President he is a basketball player and a fan of the sport. His comments were basic sports opinion and had no political implications. The only link to politics was a leading follow-up question from Walters and frankly a common since answer. Again in a true debate you will lose ground by over playing your hand. If you are correct and stand on solid logic when you criticize Obama 98% of the time your opponent will hammer you to death based solely on the 2% of the time you were wrong. Michelle Malkin is far to smart to fall for this trap. While there is no question that my political cohorts Michelle and Glenn bug me when they over reach in their rhetoric, I actually admit to having a great deal of admiration for the reason for this practice by my media heroes. Both allow genuine passion for their love of country and opposition to a poor administration to trump their logic while attacking a socialistic philosophy that hurts their beloved America. One of the finest young men I have ever had the pleasure of commanding was a young farm boy from Oklahoma. Josh knew no fear. He fought like a tiger in every battle with a fierce passion. His problem was that his automatic willingness to eagerly attack the enemy caused him to rapidly empty his clips at the bad guys. It took a while but I finally convinced him to slow down and pick his targets. He became much more efficient.
Juan Williams A+
I have had the pleasure of shaking hands with Senators, Congressmen, Generals, Professional Athletes, Governors and Presidents. I would consider the privilege of shaking Juan Williams’ hand as great an honor of any of these guys and a superior to most of them. He is the brightest jewel in the notable FNC crown. It may surprise some to know that while I agree with the above commentators a good 90% of the time, I agree with Mr. Williams perhaps 70% of the time. Indeed it is not unusual for me to disagree with his political position. However, I have never failed to respect not only his opinion but to value it regardless of my personal take on the issue. I once fired a staff officer who was a very intelligent and hard working young Lieutenant. The young man was puzzled as to my reason for relieving him from his duties and reassigning him as a line officer. I informed him that he would make a fine platoon leader but wasn’t ready for a staff assignment. Art's problem was that he always agreed with the commander’s opinion. Only the staff officer who challenges his commander’s position with logic and reason is valuable. I don’t need someone to agree with me. I can agree with me on my own. For those of us who feel a genuine duty to take an active part in the political workings of our country, men the caliber of this extraordinary journalist are worth their weight in gold. It matters not whether he agrees or disagrees with my personal view, the respect I have for this gentleman’s logic, integrity and intelligence make his opinion invaluable. When he concurs with my view it boosts my confidence in my position. When he disagrees with my view it causes me to reevaluate my position. This reevaluation sometimes reaffirms my view, but often as not it causes me to alter my position based on Mr. Williams position. Unlike Bill Thomas and some of the fine journalists today this is a guy who does not over react. He examines every issue and makes his conclusions based totally on the logic of his unbiased strong mind. There is no reading from the liberal or conservative manuals to find out what he is supposed to think. He does a great job of that on his own.
Alan Combs C
It will be assumed by most that Mr. Combs is the recipient of the lowest grade in this article based on his liberal views versus my personal conservative tendencies. While there is no question that such an assumption is both logical and fair, nothing could actually be farther from the truth. I watched Mr. Combs for years on the Hannity and Combs Show. I habitually disagreed with his view but had a great deal of not only respect but frankly admiration for his professionalism. I believed him to be a man of the highest degree of integrity and courage. He handled himself with poise and dignity from a seriously minority position on FNC. No question that his grade at that time would have been equal to Sean’s. A few years ago Alan fell from grace in my book. I was invited to be his guest on his national radio show. I had recently presented President George W. Bush with one of my three Purple Hearts. It was a jester my wife and I had decided to make as a token of our personal esteem for our President. I shall not get into morbid details regarding the conversation. I have no problem with Mr. Combs’s disagreement with our act of personal devotion to a President he dislikes. However, he was guilty of employing what I consider to be a less than ethical and absolutely amateurish journalistic tactic. In his criticism of President Bush he stated that the President had lied to America when he said that we would be out of Iraq in six weeks. I responded by doubting the validity of the quote. At that point he claimed to have a tape proving the Bush statement. I am a Texan but at that point became a native of Missouri. Indeed I took a basic “Show Me” attitude. Mr. Combs then played the tape as proof that President Bush had made such a promise. For starters the voice on the tape was not that of George Bush but of Donald Rumsfeld. The clearly edited tape had taken the words “It may be six days but it won’t be six weeks”. That was the entire quote from the tape. As it happened I had heard the unedited interview. The question the Secretary of Defense (not the President) was answering had of course been edited out and had nothing to do with when we would be pulling troops out of Iraq. The question to Rumsfeld was asked shortly after Tommy Franks and his folks had invaded Iraq. The actual question to the Secretary asked fo his estimate of the time it would take our guys to defeat the Iraq Army, not when would we pull out all our troops. I called Mr. Combs on the intentional distortion and have never held him in the same high regard since.
I was not tuned into Mr. Combs show prior to him calling me at the appointed time. However, my daughter in Oklahoma and her husband were listening for couple of hours prior to Dad’s scheduled portion of the show. Had I heard what my Daughter later related to me I would have undoubtedly taken issue on another subject with Mr. Combs on his lack of professionalism and ethics. It seems that his hot topic that day was based on a quote from First Lady Laura Bush. On a talk show this gracious native daughter of Texas had reacted to the commentator’s statement regarding how much our nation had suffered during the war in Iraq . She commented that she was certainly aware of her nation’s suffering and no one had suffered more than her and the President. Combs shamelessly attempted to put a literal spin on this obvious figure of speech. Certainly had Mrs. Bush been asked the ridiculous question, “Do you feel that President Bush and you have suffered as much as a Gold Star Mother?” this gentile lady would have undoubtedly said, “Of course not”. If a guy stumps his toe and his buddy asked if that hurt he may very well answer, “Man that hurt worse than anything.” One has to have an IQ of less than a retarded sack of rocks to interpret that as meaning stumping one’s toe hurts as much as giving birth. I understand that Mr. Combs suffers from the handicap of not having been born or even raised in Texas. Having been so blessed, I can assure him that we don’t disrespect ladies in the Lone Star State in such a shameless manner. If he is intent on twisting the words of a fine lady the caliber of Laura Bush, I suggest that he continue to do so over the airways and not in person while visiting Texas. We have what many of the self professed liberal intellectuals from New York would consider an archaic code of chivalry. Mr. Combs unmanly disrespect for a lady would put him at serious risk. I have no doubt that some Texas gentleman would stomp a mud hole in the boy’s chest and walk it dry. Mr. Combs’ C grade is frankly a bit too high.
Laura Ingraham A-
It has long been my opinion that the two most misused words in the English language are debatable and unique. While many questions are arguable very few are actually debatable. While many things are unusual few are truly unique. An exception here can be found in Lauar Ingraham. The word peerless in a world exceptionally gifted TV journalists applies to the pretty blonde lady with the rapier wit. Bill Thomas is by nature extreme. There are areas that I am a misty-eyed emotional guy. Puppies, babies, patriotic speeches, the National Anthem, Taps and Old Glory are things that will find this tough old paratrooper made of pure jelly. When it comes to political speeches, football and journalistic commentary I become a pragmatic non-emotional evaluator to a fault. I played the game of football at the high school and college level and covered the game as a reporter and columnist for decades. I am hands down the least fun guy in the world to watch a game with. While others are cheering the touchdown I’m critiquing the right guard for his missed block. While others are moved by the opinion of the political commentator I’m evaluating the preponderance of evidence they have used in establishing their conclusions. Both Bill Thomas the football fan and Bill Thomas the political buff are extremely boring characters. I watch football and listen to political pundits with the demeanor (if not the brains) of a college professor grading an exam. However, when Laura appears on my TV screen this old hard nosed military officer and political hack transforms into a basic cheerleader complete with pompoms. After one of my scalding attacks on a local candidate for school board was published in a local weekly newspaper my dear friend Jerry Sizemore of the Philadelphia Eagle fame said, “You never want to be on the wrong side of Bill Thomas’s pen.” Make no bones about it you don’t want to be on the wrong side of Laura Ingraham’s commentary. While it is common practice today for political pundits to call people names when attacking the other side of the aisle, it is rare that they back up their attack with solid logic and evidence. The Super Bowl of television today is Laura Ingraham as a guest on the O’Reilly Factor. Few guests on Big Bill’s show are not at least to some extent intimidated by Mr. O’Reilly. Those who are not even slightly intimidated are generally simply not bright enough to understand the magnitude of Bill as an exceptionally dominating figure. Not so with Laura. With all due respect to the lady’s notable academic education I don’t know that she grasps the meaning of the word intimidation. This is one front running filly that even top line studs the caliber of O’Reilly can’t catch. You go girl!!
Geraldo Rivera B-
At the outset let me start with a very heartfelt personal thanks to this flamboyant media icon. In 1965 I was sitting on a sand bag bunker in the 173rd Airborne’s base camp in Ben Hoa, Vietnam. It was a good 110 degrees that day. A huge sweat soaked man in walking shorts and a ridiculous Hawaiian shirt sauntered up to the bunker. The fellow was Raymond Burr, the star of the Perry Mason Show. Mr. Burr was in Vietnam with a USO tour. He chatted with me and my buddy for a good half hour before walking to the next bunker. The positive affect visiting American celebrities have on our troops is extraordinary and should be applauded by all. Mr. Rivera has done a world of good for my brothers and sisters in arms and for that I will always be in his debt. It is ironic that the extremely positive opinion I have of Mr. Rivera is so closely related to my extremely negative opinion of the same man. While I truly believe that he is sincere about his respect for the Americans who stand in harm’s way, his staged theatrics in combat zones are an embarrassingly blatant attempt at enhancing his personal image in a dishonest fashion. To those who have not been there some of the simulated “combat” scenes may seem real. The obvious purpose of these orchestrated clips is to elevate his heroic image. In example I sight an obviouly staged episode depicting two guys in Arab garb casually stepping from behind cover to nonchalantly fire a round or two at nonexistent targets. Mr. Rivera knelt behind the partial wall beside these two guys microphone in hand. This was a transparent joke to he all of us at the local VFW who were watching on the bar TV. While impressing his coleques and undoubtedly his public, no combat vet was buying. There is no question that any journalist who accompanies our guys in a combat zone is a courageous American and his efforts are heroic. I have known many and have the highest regard for all of them. While certainly Rivera is to be commended for being in the ranks of these exceptional professionals, his flare for enhaning his personal role is out of line. The Geraldo Show was a slight upgrade from the Jerry Spinger Show in its day. Certainly anyone’s image improves when elevated from the ranks of the infamous Trash TV to the FOX News team. That said, Mr. Rivera still has lingering similarities from his days in the basest arena of the industry. It will be justifiably argued by many of my fellow soldiers that his contributions to our folks in uniform outweigh his embarrassing theatrics. I take no issue with those who feel I am wrong to point out this guy's short comings. Let me be perfectly clear about the fact that this is a personal grievance. I am admittedly a bit of a fanatic when it comes to the subject of media pretence related to combat.