Stewart: Hey, did you hear about this crazy thing somebody in power said?
(Plays tape of crazy thing.)
Stewart: Isn't that crazy?
But even if you don't find Stewart *funny*, you have to find him *informative*. And honest - he shows what people are *actually saying*. So even if you disagree with him, he's giving people the chance to see the actual quotes, the actual events for themselves.
Then - there's Fox news.
I won't rip on the individual people of the Fox News channel. It would be petty to go after people like O'Reilly or Beck who are hypocrites who contradict themselves depending on what the subject is.
No, I just want to rip on Fox News in general. Not even for being dishonest. But for being lazy about it.
Take this clip of Fox News going on about Harold Koh. According to Fox, Mr. Koh said that Sharia Law - the traditional law used in some segments of the Middle East and Asia - applied in the United States.
If you don't know anything about Sharia Law, it is pretty horrible. First, it's not even Islamic law (though its practitioners tend to live in Islamic communities). It's really old traditional law passed down for thousands of years - and yeah, it's pretty sucky. It's horribly misogynistic, allows for female rape victims to be stoned for losing their "purity", chopping off of limbs for crimes, and so on. By any modern standards (and by "modern" I mean "about 500 years old), it's overkill, barbaric, and just plain stupid.
So the charge that the Obama Administration wanted to appoint Mr. Koh to State Department Legal Adviser is pretty scary if Mr. Koh wants to say that Sharia Law applies in the United States. Alert the masses! The black president with the Arabic sounding name who had a Muslim father is trying to put a faux Islamic law into the US courts! Man the guns! Alert the militia! One if by land, two if by sea, three if by Holy God the Rapture is upon us!
Only one problem.
Fox News is the most fucking lazy news network on the planet.
How did they get their information that Mr. Koh was a big lover of a legal system that enforces stoning? Did they have a camera at some event where Mr. Koh said this? A legal brief about Mr. Koh waxing on about how awesome it would be to behead someone for walking backwards on the Sabbath? (BTW: I'm not sure if that's in Sharia Law.) Or maybe Fox News got their hands on Mr. Koh's family medical records showing that every female had female circumcision?
No. I mean, that would take work. Instead, Fox found an email, sent to a conservative blog on the National Review web site, where the writer says Koh made some statement about Sharia Law:
In your discussion of "global law" I recall at least one favorable reference to "Sharia", among other foreign laws that could, in an appropriate instance (according to you) govern a controversy in a federal or state court in the US.
We don't know what the quote was. Maybe Koh was talking about foreign law in general as an example. Maybe he was talking about one aspect. Maybe he was just discussing that the US courts shouldn't just include one national precedent, but can read from countries other laws for new ideas. Maybe he thought stoning really is *awesome* and was planning a party. Maybe Koh was talking about marriage laws, and the how a custody case between an American citizen and the citizen of an area practicing Sharia could be resolved.
But we don't know. The author doesn't say. He just says "Oh, you said something favorable about Sharia, so I'm going to quote a whole long line of stuff about how awful Sharia is."
Fox News, of course, being the lazy asshats that they are, took it an ran. No, they didn't know what Koh said either. Couldn't waste their time talking to people who were there, or seeing if there was a transcript of Koh's comments, or maybe even asking Koh himself.
Because that would take work. I'm not so much annoyed that Fox is a slanted news organizations that exists only to make conservationism appear to be the greatest invention since the orgasm - as their sheer laziness about even attempting to appear credible.
I've caught someone like Rachel Maddow in an exaggeration - she made some comment about John McCain that was *mostly* true, but at least she backed it up by showing an actual clip of John McCain saying it. In the case of Fox, they couldn't be bothered with that whole "fact checking" thing. Nope - a random email from someone who remembers something somebody said that was favorable to some unknown portion of Sharia law was good enough to freak out about how the Obama administration is trying to appease Muslim terrorists who want to come kill us all because they hate freedom and bacon.
Oooo. Scary, Fox news. Scary.