Meet Fox News's Latest Liberal Tomato Can

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dennis kucinich

"Tomato Can" (Sports Idiom): A fighter with poor or diminished skills (at least when compared with the opponent they are placed against) who may be considered an easy opponent to defeat, or a "guaranteed win." Fights with "tomato cans" can be arranged to inflate the win total of a professional fighter. -- Wikipedia

So last night Dennis Kucinich made his debut as a Fox News contributor. The former Ohio congressman, perennial presidential candidate and liberal stalwart joined Fox earlier this week, but it was on yesterday's O'Reilly Factor that he had his official coming out party. As you can imagine, Kucinich received a very cordial welcome from O'Reilly, who couldn't resist taking the opportunity right off the bat to make the claim that Kucinich's very presence on-air disproved Fox News's critics, who insist that the network is nothing but a propaganda machine for the right. "Wow, what a conversion!" O'Reilly said to Kucinich. "Congressman, how did that happen? You know all the people on Fox News are far-right crazy people!"

Uh-huh. Because casting an ineffectual laughingstock like Kucinich as one of its maybe three token liberals, all of whom are ineffectual laughingstocks of one stripe or another, really proves that Fox News is committed to presenting a progressive viewpoint that's as bold, slickly packaged and indomitable as the traditional conservative viewpoint that's made it famous. Let's do a head count: You've got Pat Cadell, who's basically a Republican these days and who long since stopped being taken seriously by anyone; Bob Beckel, a slovenly buffoon who comes off as an especially hapless dupe in the face of Eric Bolling's smarmy, bullying used car salesman every night on The Five; and now Dennis Kucinich, who couldn't live up to the modern conservative preconception of progressives as pencil-necked, tree-hugging hippie-dippy twerps just crying out to be given a George McFly-style atomic wedgie and stuffed in a locker somewhere if he made an actual effort. All Kucinich is missing is a bow tie and a briefcase, or, personality-wise, a tie-dyed headband.

An interesting thing to keep in mind, though, when considering these three Fox regulars isn't simply that each of them has absolutely zero chance of coming out on top of any head-on confrontation with boisterous right-wing "tough guys" like Hannity, Gutfeld or even O'Reilly, it's that two of them actually allow Fox to continue pushing to its audience of resentful, white Middle-Americans the myth that nobody likes Barack Obama; both Cadell and Kucinich have regularly been critical of Obama, Kucinich largely from the far-left, which proves that in Fox's eyes, the enemy of my sworn enemy is my friend, regardless of his or her political beliefs.

The fact remains that you're never going to regularly see someone from the left or even center-left on Fox News -- the latter of which could be considered much more dangerous since he or she would be harder to pigeonhole and dismiss outright as the enemy -- with the smarts and the ferocity to make a real stand against the network's typical onslaught of horseshit. Regardless of network affiliation, there's never going to be anyone like a Rachel Maddow, or a Lawrence O'Donnell, or a Frank Rich defending President Obama or progressive principles on Fox News. All you're ever going to get are tomato cans because that's how Fox needs to present its political enemy. The network is all about providing good news from the front for desperate, angry conservatives, and confirming their worst suspicions about what liberals look, talk and act like.

The only person who can truly hold his own against Fox who actually gets an invitation once in a while is Jon Stewart, and that's only because O'Reilly vs. Stewart is always a ratings bonanza and because the network generally gets a crack at selectively editing any confrontation between Stewart and a Fox News host before it hits air. The rest are of the Dennis Kucinich variety: unthreatening glass jaws that can be pushed around with relative ease and who seem blissfully unaware that they're basically wearing a big "KICK ME" sign on their backs every time they step on-set.

Their presence on the network proves nothing except that Fox is unwilling to face a foe that can not just take a punch but can throw one back and have it land with devastating authority.