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Fightin' Fred Takes on Fox

Note to Fred Thompson: Fox News Channel ain't your only problem.

On yesterday's installment of "Fox News Sunday," Fred Thompson criticized the Fair and Balanced folks for what he considered an anti-Fred tone to their coverage.

According to the Politico:

Fred Thompson attacked Fox News on Sunday for what he called a "constant mantra" that his floundering campaign for president is troubled, and he accused the network of skewing things against him.

Thompson certainly isn't the first politician to make that accusation, but he's the first high-profile Republican to do so.

The exchange has been one of the big topics in the media today, with people questioning his tactic of criticizing the channel that had given him a forum multiple times in the past.

Maybe this is the week that Fred sets the record straight?

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If so, now that he has taken on Fox, he can move down the list to:

  • The New York Times
  • Newsweek
  • Time
  • Slate
  • Fortune
  • The Los Angeles Times
  • The Washington Post
  • Reason

    These are but a few of the media outlets that have trotted out the stereotype of Mr. Thompson as "lazy" in recent memory. So he better get going, if he's trying to win the perception game.

    I'm not going to try to gauge whether the overwhelming caricature of Mr. Thompson as "lazy" is a fair one or not. Nor am I trying to say he didn't have a reason to take on Fox. Speculation is rampant. (Nice catch, FishbowlDC.) But 'lazy' is the word that has stuck. And this, lamentably, is the state of American politics. All too frequently, the media gets stuck in a routine of oversimplifying the candidates – and it takes a grand, unprecedented strike to counter the tide.

    In 2000, the Presidential Election boiled down to the "cowboy" versus that "guy who invented the Internet."

    In 2004, the Presidential Election boiled down to the "cowboy" versus "the flip-flopper." (After the "flip-flopper" beat the "screamer" in the primaries, that is.)

    Justly or (mostly) not, the media picks up on a meme – if there's one crack reporter on the Meme Beat, it's Rachel Sklar -- and it builds a media-manufactured momentum. That momentum is then echoed in the opinion columns and the late-night monologues and the "Saturday Night Live" sketches.

    So while Fred Thompson was correct to try to recalibrate public perception – and that he just so happened to do so on Fox was a nice maneuver to appeal to the conservative audience – it's just a first step.

    A quick day or two clarification campaign would be a win-win-win all around: he could (A) counter the "lazy" claims; (B) by doing so, demonstrate the claims are off-base and (C) bash the media. (Always a crowd-pleaser.)

    Fred's got a lot of work ahead of him, but he's still tracking at #2 in national polls. Maybe he's got a comeback in him in the final act of his new role.

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