1. Sheer incompetence by the Democratic representative
3. Skewed panels so that the Democrat has to counter points made by three or four Republicans.
4. Leading and/or inflammatory questions by the interviewer that are so outrageous the Democrat doesn't know where to begin.
5. The Democrat is not given equal time to respond.
Watching some Democrats on FOX News Channel, especially on shows like Hannity & Colmes and O'Reilly is like watching a slow train derailment. In the beginning, the Democrat comes out with a couple strong points, on message, and it looks good.
It is said that Demcorats on FOX can reach out to moderates; but usually, the arguments presented by Democrats--if they can be presented at all--are generally weak, wandering, and hardly blunt enough to convince even the most wavering of moderates.
It's exchanges like this that make Democrats want to swear off FOX:
DEM: Well, to start, there's the way he led us to--
HANNITY: Come on, name one thing. Supposedly you guys say he's lied and deceived America. Can you name one lie?
DEM: Like I said, the Presi--
HANNITY: Look, I asked you a question. Name one lie. Simple enough if you on the left keep saying you have all these "facts" and "evidence." Calling the leader of the free world a liar, that's a serious charge, a big thing. I'll give you one last chance. Name a lie the President of the United States has said to the American public.
DEM: Mr. Hannity, are you going to let me fin---
HANNITY: OK, OK, that's it. Look, I invited you to the show. I gave you a chance, a forum to speak to the viewers and susbtantiate these wild accusations made by these left-wing radical groups like Moveon.org and others, and you can't even come on TV with a staight face and ---
DEM: But, but you--
HANNITY: Wait. Don't interrupt me. Let me finish. So we at FOX, we're fair and balanced, see, and I gave you guys the chance to prove that the President is bad guy, and you can't even name one thing he lied about. At least the viewers now know that these accusations against the President of the United States are completely unfounded.
Is it no surprise that after half-ass interview after half-ass interview, many Democrats are saying it's time to boycott FOX News.
The logic behind that is this: Democrats aren't running away from FOX with their tails between their legs; they're taking a defiant stand against propaganda and are forcing FOX to play on their terms. Like Dean refusing to appear if the Scream was aired, it's thought that highlighting the media bias through the stark absence of Democrats will help our cause. Announcers will say "We invited Democrats to appear, but they refused because they say we're not fair." Viewers will be prompted to think "Hmm. Is FOX news not fair?"
In a semi-rational world, perhaps that would happen if Democrats boycotted FOX News. More likely, it would read more like this:
"We invited Democrats to appear, but they refused. Apparently, they don't think they have to defend their side of the story. We'll let that speak for itself." And FOX viewers (whose brains have been rewired through TV frequency so that they are incapable of independent thought) will think "Why, yes. O'Reilly is right. If Democrats are so convinced they're right, why don't they have the courage to come on TV and prove it?"
I don't think a FOX News boycott is in order. Yes, the environment is a hostile one. Yes, there are hard-core FOX viewers who have a barf bucket next to their Barcoloungers just so they can throw up every time a Democrat comes on the air. And yes, there is no way we'll change the fundamental FOX paradigm unfair and unbalanced by continuing to show up.
But Democrats have to work through the existing framework and try to reach those few FOX viewers who still have some independent brain function. I'm talking about old school Republicans; your mom, your uncle, your grandpa...you know, conservatives who don't think Hillary is the AntiChrist.
When Democrats go on FOX News, they have to realize that this isn't a "news" show. They can't go on there expecting equal time. They'll have to fight for it. They can't go on their expecting fact-based discussion. They'll have to be ready to shoot down the spin. In short, if Democrats are going to fight to get the truth on the air, they have to wage a war.
Just like a soldier doesn't go into battle without bullets (Rummy's comments aside), no Democrat should ever go to FOX News without being armed to the teeth with facts. FOX "reporters" think that an inability to recall minute details or facts results in shattered credibility; thus, it doesn't hurt for Democrats to, oh, I don't know, do a Google search or look at DailyKos or other informative blogs to catch the underreported details of a story.
But facts aren't enough. You can spout off facts all you want, but if you're basically talking to yourself, you may as well just wave a white flag. No. If you're on FOX, you have to fight on both fronts; both offensively informing the American public of the facts AND dismantling the opposing argument. Which is why the Democrats that go on FOX should be cunning, sharp, witty. They should be able to brush off opposing arguments with the flick of a tongue. They should take a page from the right-wing debate book and don't act like the other side's argument has any merit. When they talk about a Social Security crisis, don't begin with "Well, no one is saying that eventually, there won't be a problem, but..." Ugh. There is no time for nice talk on FOX. "There is no crisis. Stop scaring the American public."
And that leads me to my last point. The key thing to remember when Democrats go on FOX News is that they are there for viewer. Not to outsmart the host, not to look pretty for the camera. Their sole mission is to communicate directly to the viewer the Democratic message and the truth. They'll have to cut through a lot of bullshit to do it, but there are ways. They should keep saying phrases like "your viewers have to know that Republicans voted against arming our troops in war" or "American citizens know that benefit cuts are not in their best interest." Engaging the audience is the sole reason, I think, we have a duty to go on FOX in the first place.