Schlock and Awe

The media march off to war with Iraq: A TV glossary

Xenophobia The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee should present its man-of-the-year award to Jacques Chirac. Every other day, networks parade images of French wine being poured into gutters (one long-haired jingoist instructs viewers how to buy American aspirin and antacids instead of German Bayer products). And hey, at least it curbs Fox's blood lust enough to keep the seething cadaver Brit Hume from demanding the precision bombing of Detroit kebab shops.

Yellow Journalism In between claiming that they're America's "most powerful name in news" and steeling us to "stay brave, stay aware, stay with Fox!" Murdoch's mujahideen also trumpet their swaggering product as "Fair news, balanced news." And in fact, in the first few days of the war, Fox's triumphalism is just a barroom braggart's version of CNN. By Day 6, though, the assertions of American omnipotence are starting to take on a desperate air with Fox World's Neil Cavuto delivering an I'm-Not-Embarrassed-to-Believe-in-America valentine that would strike Paul Harvey as Pollyannaish. On Day 8, Fox News suffers a military catastrophe: Loyal, senior military leaders--and not retired ones, mind you--have widely begun to question the assumptions and preparations behind the battle plan. (Tommy Franks may not do press conferences, but his underlings perform a smashing job of shaping the battlefield of blame against Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and the other suit-wearing warriors.) This isn't crisis coverage but coverage in crisis. How will Fox News pin the blame for public war doubts on the liberal press without questioning the judgment and disparaging the patriotism of our honorable men and women in uniform? Stay tuned.

Zahn, Paula see Smiling Disease

Zionists A remarkably industrious people. According to the Iraqi information minister, the Zionists are not only responsible for the bombing of Baghdad and the oppression of the entire Islamic world. They're also suspected of stocking the Yankees' pitching rotation, inventing hard lemonade in a Mossad laboratory, and producing the last two Friday films as an insult against the Muslim holy day.

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