Fox joins liberal media; CBS stays the course.

In 1968, Walter Cronkite returned to the United States after visiting Viet Nam and witnessing the Tet Offensive. He was distressed enough by what he saw to announce on national television that he thought the war was unwinnable. Legend has it that President Johnson saw that broadcast and told his aides, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America."

Tonight, I think watched the Bush administration lose The Simpsons. Fox (yes, Fox) ran an episode that was clearly mocking the current Administration's notion that everyone who disagrees with Bush is an enemy of America -- the Simpsons got sent to a re-education camp with Bill Clinton and Al Franken. (It's funnier than it sounds, really.) They also snuck in a few shots at the Patriot Act while they were at it.

Of course, Homer Simpson is no Walter Cronkite, but he's got a pretty loyal audience none the less, so that's one more dent in the shiny armor of jingo-patriotism. One more chance that a few audience members will wake up to what's happening around them. One more sign that America is waking up and realizing the crazy Orwellian mess it's in. One more chance that Bill O'Reilly will get worked up and have a fatal stroke. And the best part of it is that the episode will run in syndication forever, so it'll just keep coming back to annoy the Republicans again and again.

On a related note, I was arguing with my mother last week that the mounting failures in the War on Terror are going to have a lasting negative effect on her favorite television program, JAG. (She's old; of course she likes JAG.) That show has always defined itself as pro-military, and it hasn't hesitated to support military intervention in Iraq. I was trying to convince my mother that a close association with a failed war will drag down the long-term appeal of a television show. (After all, who says good things about war movies that say good things about the Viet Nam conflict?) Mom wasn't really buying my point, but that's her way.

On Friday, I actually tried watching JAG (because Stargate SG-1 was a rerun). About fifteen minutes in, they showed a British intelligence agent beating a suspect and reminding one of the show's regular characters that the U.S. military isn't allowed to brutalize its detainees. That's when I gave up and switched back to watching Lilo & Stitch cartoons on the Disney Channel. They seemed less offensive and more realistic.

Posted at 11:58:42 PM EDT on 16 May 2004 from Trenton, MI