Tuned In

We Report, You Disrobe

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It’s a truism among media-critic types that Fox News Channel is the "conservative" cable outlet. But every now and then, FNC airs something that makes you hit the TiVo rewind and pause buttons, repeatedly. Take this morning, on Fox News Live, when anchor Jon Scott did a hard-hitting interview with two models, in cleavage-baring halter bras, plugging the pay-per-view Lingerie Bowl airing during the Super Bowl’s halftime.

This is conservative? Well, his guests were wearing pants, so I guess it qualifies in that sense. Still, the jiggly debriefing (conducted in split-screen, so it was hard to tell where Scott’s eyes were focused), ran along with a lengthy cheesecake montage of models in last year’s show tackling, running pneumatically downfield and spanking one another. Not exactly what you might expect from the supposed handmaiden of the religious-right revolution.

But it’s a reminder that FNC is not George W. Bush’s network, it’s Rupert Murdoch’s — Rupert Murdoch of the topless Page Three girls in his Sun tabloid. Fox’s entertainment network will give you Married By America (along with true offensive genius like The Simpsons and Arrested Development); FNC will give you Bill O’Reilly — his harassment lawsuit neatly settled — fulminating about Hollywood’s moral corruption. That’s the beauty of the Fox news-entertainment combine. It’s a self-sustaining system, providing both the outrage and the outraged.

FNC hardly hides its patriotism, even jingoism — just before the Lingerie Bowl spot, we saw promos for its "The Cost of Freedom" news block. But it’s worth remembering that the label of conservative on Murdoch and FNC, like most political labels, is simplistic. There are different kinds of conservative, and Murdoch’s is a hyperthyroidal free-market kind that doesn’t worry too much about upsetting the vicars.

And it’s also worth noting that this year’s Super Bowl airs not on Fox but on ABC. Every football fan signing up to watch the Lingerie Bowl, after all, is one less watching the competition. That’s something any pro-business conservative could get behind. And some might even use the rewind and pause buttons.