By Lynn Ashby 25 July 2011
FOX GUARDING THE HEN HOUSE
THE CELLBLOCK – Oddly enough, my fall from grace began with a great breakthrough. I was a cub reporter on the Weekly Waffle (“We feel strongly both ways”) when I overheard the mayor talking on the phone to someone he kept calling “Snookums.” I kept count, then broke the story with the headline: “Mayor Places 34 Calls to Mistress!” It turned out Snookums was his wife. The mayor sued and won $5,000 plus my ouster.
I landed a bigger job at the Daily Duh (“Duh-Lightful Reading”) where I quickly came across notes from the sheriff’s expense account listing “$432 for Bonanza Club.” Then I listened in on an extension phone to hear him say, “That club beats anything anywhere.” My scoop was headlined: “Sheriff Runs Up $432 at Strip Joint – Charged to Taxpayers.” Then I learned a Bonanza Club is used by jailers to beat confessions out of prisoners, a policy approved by the Abu Ghraib Boosters Club and the CIA. The sheriff sued and won $6,000 plus a minor league deputy to be named later. I was fired.
But soon I received a call asking me to go to New York City for a meeting at the HQ of the News Corporation. There I was ushered into the offices of Rupert Murdoch himself, who wore a black patch over one eye. “Arrgg,” he said. “They tell me you’re an unprincipled journalist who will do anything, pay anyone, lie, cheat and steal to get a story. I hear you are a disgrace to your profession.”
“I’m not really that bad,” I whined. “I love my mother, although when I was a kid I blackmailed her for a bigger allowance. I like dogs, except the ones I ran over chasing a mail truck. Don’t hurt me.”
“When can you start?” he asked.
My first job was at Fox News in the Potential Presidents Dept. checking Sarah Palin’s statements for accuracy. I was to delete them. I was promoted to Newt Gingrich’s delivery boy from Tiffany’s. “I like that Net Getrich,” Captain Murdoch told me. “Arrgg. He and I and Rush Limbaugh have a lot I common.”
“Power and ruthless ambition?”
“No, three wives, except for Rush who’s had four.”
I was covering Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign, in charge of baseless accusations and proving that children born into slavery were better off than today’s black kids, when I came across damaging evidence against Michelle Obama. Actually, I was in a hot air balloon over Camp Davis at 1 a.m. with a high-powered eavesdropping device when I heard her say, “Barry, while you’re up would you bring me a glass of Ozarka?” The headline read: “First Dominatrix Humiliates Pres in Hillbilly Water Torture!!” Disguised as a caboose, I hacked into Joe Biden’s weekend Amtrak schedule to Delaware. The New York Post led with: “Veep Railroaded Out of Town!!”
Then I was transferred to Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal to cover the sleaze beat. “Banks Headed For Melt-Down?” was my headline. In the 45th paragraph I answered the headline’s question, explaining there was no melt-down, nor fear of one nor even a chance of one, but the Dow dropped 675 points in two hours.
“Now you’re ready for the big time,” said Captain Murdoch in his office. I noticed his patch was over his other eye.
“You mean I’m going to England to destroy your media empire with bribes, lies, scandals and arrests? Today News of the World! Tomorrow, the Sun and Times of London!”
“Arrgg. Even better. You’re now in charge of Fox News which needs to make a bigger profit. I’m still trying to re-coup the hush money paid to cover up Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment settlement, not to mention Greta Van Susteren’s twice-weekly plane trips to Aruba looking for that co-ed. Shiver me timbers, if only I could hire away Nancy Grace. Now there’s quality journalism. I want more rumors presented as facts. Tell Chris Wallace to stop asking tough questions of George W. Just let George talk without notes. No, wait, don’t. Hire more reporters with long blond hair and good legs. That goes for women, too. Use more exclamation points when you speak!!! Work into every newscast ‘embolden our enemies,’ ‘class warfare’ and ‘evil mainstream media.’”
“But you’re the biggest media mogul on earth,” I pointed out. “You’ve become a billionaire by pandering to the basest instincts of the lowest common denominator. Where could you be more mainstream?”
He glanced at his sword. “It depends. I’ve changed citizenship more times than I’ve changed wives, so the stars and stripes are a flag of convenience. I wonder if Monaco has an income tax? Anyway, look lively, lad, and remember our slogan, ‘We distort, you deride.’ Also, ‘fair and balanced,’ which is why News Corporation gave $1 million spread out over the entire Republican Governors Association. We’re even- handed.”
I saw Captain Murdoch just before my arrest on contempt of Congress, good taste and honest journalism, plus tunneling under Sasha Obama’s kindergarten to steal her finger paintings. “I’ve done everything to bolster ratings among the clueless lemmings who watch Fox News. I humiliated Anthony Weiner as often as MSNBC interviewed him. I spread doubts about Obama’s patriotism and law degree, while down-playing any mention of your own troubles. I made Karl Rove look civilized, Laura Ingraham appear likeable and got Hannity to stop interrupting O’Reilly while O’Reilly was interrupting his guests. For a going-away present, I gave Glenn Beck a new concrete bunker. I even bribed Jon Stewart to stop calling us Faux News. Now the FBI is coming after me, and all I did was follow your orders.”
He turned to the parrot on his shoulder and asked, “Have you ever seen this person before?”
I smiled sheepishly. “I have photographs of you cheating on your wife-du-jour, plus the second set of accounting books you hide from the stockholders and IRS.”
“How’d you get those?” he asked.
“Arrgg,” I said.
Ashby sensationalizes at firstname.lastname@example.org