We Retort, You. . . Oh, Nevermind

Also at Slate, Virginia Heffernan is impressed with Fox News Channel’s coverage, and in particular, with Sheppard Smith’s humility:

Two hours after U.S. cruise missiles smashed into Baghdad on Wednesday, a man with a mustache appeared on Iraqi television. He looked familiar. Technicians have since moved to determine the man’s identity, but, in the moment, anchorman Shep Smith, finessing a tough night on Fox News, expressed on-the-fly skepticism. “We are still getting indications from Baghdad that Saddam will address the nation,” he reported. “Whether it will be live, we do not yet know. We will show that, interpret it to the best of our abilities, and allow you to decide, when it comes, what you think of it.” A minute later, Smith pointed to the cartoon “bug” above his own live-action head and announced that, until they knew for sure, the network would revoke that “live” label from the Iraqi broadcast.

Smith’s sense of his place on the crowded screen was impressive. Even more than its competition, Fox News is now jammed with images and text, all of it in flux: Dominating the screen is a small box to the left with a Fox broadcast, mostly from here in America, and a larger one to the right with feeds mostly from the Middle East, chiefly Baghdad and Kuwait. Under these boxes is a red “War Alert” streak announcing the terror alert (high) and the financial indices (down). Under the streak is a bluish zone with an up-to-the-minute headline. To the left of the blue is the time and some branding junk, and finally, at the bottom, runs the unending crawl



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