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Fox News “It’s Un-American”

October 19, 2009

Among Newsweek’s other great reads comes Jacobs Weisberg’s piece about FAUX News.  Plain and simple, too many people do not want the news as much as they want a source for ‘news’ to spin the world in the way they want to see it.  The fact that those who spend their time watching that channel try to tell me they are well informed boggles my mind.  If the same people who view the bimbo’s on FAUX News would spend just one hour with NewsHour on PBS think how much more fruitful our national discourse might be on the weighty issues of the day.

Any news organization that took its responsibilities seriously would take pains to cover presidential criticism fairly. It would regard doing so as itself a test of integrity. At Fox, by contrast, complaints of unfairness prompt only hoots of derision and demands for “evidence” that, when presented, is brushed off and ignored.

There is no need to get bogged down in this phony debate, which itself constitutes an abuse of the fair-mindedness of the rest of the media. One glance at Fox’s Web site or five minutes’ random viewing of the channel at any hour of the day demonstrates its all-pervasive slant. The lefty documentary Outfoxed spent a lot of time mustering evidence that Fox managers order reporters to take the Republican side. But after 13 years under Roger Ailes, Fox employees skew news right as instinctively as fish swim.

Rather than in any way maturing, Fox has in recent months become more boisterous and demagogic. Fox sponsored as much as it covered the anti-Obama “tea parties” this summer. Its “fact checking” about the president’s health-care proposal is provided by Karl Rove. And weepy Glenn Beck has begun to exhibit a Strangelovean concern about government invading our bloodstream by vaccinating people for swine flu. With this misinformation campaign, Fox stands to become the first network to actively try to kill its viewers.

That Rupert Murdoch may tilt the news rightward more for commercial than ideological reasons is beside the point. What matters is the way that Fox’s model has invaded the bloodstream of the American media. By showing that ideologically distorted news can drive ratings, Ailes has provoked his rivals at CNN and MSNBC to develop a variety of populist and ideological takes on the news. In this way, Fox hasn’t just corrupted its own coverage. Its example has made all of cable news unpleasant and unreliable.

What’s most distinctive about the American press is not its freedom but its century-old tradition of independence—that it serves the public interest rather than those of parties, persuasions, or pressure groups. Media independence is a 20th-century innovation that has never fully taken root in many other countries that do have a free press. The Australian-British-continental model of politicized media that Murdoch has applied at Fox is un-American, so much so that he has little choice but go on denying what he’s doing as he does it. For Murdoch, Ailes, and company, “fair and balanced” is a necessary lie. To admit that their coverage is slanted by design would violate the American understanding of the media’s role in democracy and our idea of what constitutes fair play. But it’s a demonstrable deceit that no longer deserves equal time.

8 Comments
  1. October 20, 2009 5:32 PM

    Just a quick note.

    “I think in that mix there is a liberal and conservative melding of reporting and ideas.”….meaning the Op-Ed nature of the publications.

    The vast majority of hard news in all the publications I mentioned could be labeled as down the middle. The opinion pages, as should be, are another story. They take sides and make their points with facts.

    Conservatives often write in Newsweek, as with Henry Kissinger this month, along with George Will and Lamar Alexander. Newsweek has steered away from the old model of ‘news’ magazine and instead uses writers across the range of thinking to write essays that mirror the weeks news. (Or at least the current ideas being battled that week.)

    As for The Economist they have a much more conservative stand on many issues of the day than where liberals stand. They were wide from the majority of opinion about the Iraq War, and are writing just this week for the need for more troops in Afghanistan. They are in the conservative camp on many tax and business issues (no surprise) and have a healthy respect for free markets.

  2. October 20, 2009 4:53 PM

    For the record I do not pretend to be a reporter on this site. This is a blog and reflects the OP-Ed pages of a paper, but never would I offer what I do here as front page reporting. I inject my thoughts and opinions in every paragraph, and make no pretense otherwise.

    In my past I did write and report objective news stories for a radio station where I worked. But those days are over. I am free to call them as I see them.

  3. patrick permalink
    October 20, 2009 4:52 PM

    Fair enough. But your very comment: ” I think in that mix there is a liberal and conservative melding of reporting and ideas.” suggests the point at hand. Mr. Weisberg is a giant hypocrite who would rather attack FOX–an organization he disagrees with–than actually address the larger bias of the media. The reason FOX is popular and conservative is that it provides a “balance” to the otherwise largely liberal media establishment. FOX did not come first. It was a response. Murdock is to be praised for seeing an opportunity and making money by providing a product people want. Lets not fool ourselves into thinking that the rest of the media–Time, WSJ, Newsweek, ABC, etc.–are “fair and Balanced.”

    P.S. you might be the only person who defines the Economist as conservative.

  4. Price Grisham permalink
    October 20, 2009 4:37 PM

    I stumbed on this while looking up the Balloon Boy story; and I must say that having Fox available for viewing is really no different than the remaining few cities which have two competing newspapers available for reading: For example, the Washington Post (more liberal) vs. the Washington Times (more conservative); and the Boston Globe (more liberal) vs. the Boston Herald (more conservative). I am a centrist, and watch Fox News, CNN, and PBS’ Jim Lehrer, all three. Fox News has excellent reporters, but their commentators do tend to skew sharply right (except for Bill O’Reilly, who is more center-right). I’ve stopped watching Hannity since they dropped Colmes and Glen Beck just needs to calm down and take a chill-pill; even when he has a good point, his crazy presentation ruins it. I really enjoy CNN’s political coverage–Candy Crowley is absolutely superb. I studied journalism in college and worked in Washington for ten years, and I defy anyone to be able to tell whether she’s a Democrat or Republican. Something you can’t say for may political reporters out there (including the writer of this blog, I’m afraid).

  5. October 19, 2009 10:35 PM

    Just for the record I get each morning the Wall Street Journal (and use it often as a source on this blog) and the New York Times on my stoop…..and the WSJ is the first read each day. And we get the more conservative mag “The Economist” for foreign affairs, and Newsweek and Time for politics and domestic concerns. And I do listen to NPR and WPR a lot. I would argue I get a pretty balanced type of news. I have found a need and interest to have more than the headlines over most of my adult life and so have found the above a great balance for news both international and national. I think in that mix there is a liberal and conservative melding of reporting and ideas.

  6. patrick permalink
    October 19, 2009 9:27 PM

    All “news” coverage is pollitical. An editor decides what is news and what is not. Consider how little of the coverage of the health care ebate centers around the “controversy” regarding who is saying what about the ligislation and how little surrounds what is actually in the bill. An editor–well, almost all of them–have decided its not important to cover the details of the bill(s) itself. That’s not political? Of course when we live in an age where representatives and senators vote on legislation that hasn’t been written or they haven’t read, what do we expect?

    I’m sure Mr. Weisberg is correct about many things, but the fact is that people have begun to lose trust in publications like his which, like FAUX, pretend to be unbiased but are not. Bias is in the eye of the beholder and we seek news which supports our world view–I’ll grant you that. But aside from the soft criticism of Obama on Darfur, its pretty clear you get your news from left-slanting sources. One way we see this is that you select Weisberg’s piece to react to, not one critical of the NY Times, NBC, or MSN. At least have the decency to concede that all news sources are likewise polluted and that “objectivity” is a myth.

  7. October 19, 2009 12:16 PM

    Your comment confirms my post.

  8. Ferrell Gummitt permalink
    October 19, 2009 11:56 AM

    Only news worth watching
    Before FOX we had a choice…The network “news” ran propaganda that lionized the socialists or they ran propaganda that demonized conservatives.

    You knew what they were going to say, regardless of the situation, even before an event occurred. ALL stories were pro socialist and anti American.

    Enter FOX. FINALLY someone started showing both sides of issues. So of course they’re solidly at number one. And that just KILLS the socialists. They want nothing less than total control. That is why they are hell bent on silencing us.

    Obama’s tough talking teleprompter threatens Iran with more Parker Brothers sanctions. What a joke.

    The fluffer in chief wets his pants in fear at the mention of FOX news yet he expects us to believe he’ll stand up to terrorist regimes?

    Because of FOX NEWS and Rush, Cable News and Talk Radio remain a powerhouse.

    What both mean to conservatives can not be measured. In almost every phase of our culture,
    a liberal mindset dominates. Public education, the entertainment industry and 80 % of the print media are controlled by the left.

    As we post, the left continues their attempt to stop Talk Radio. They tried for over four years with the “fairness” doctrine. Now Obama Czar, Mark Lloyd, works 24-7 to stop
    Laura, Sean and Rush.

    If he succeeds, FOX will be next.

    Then TOWNHALL.

    Then us.

    Final question: Would Obama rather fight FOX News or Al-Qaeda? It seems every Sunday the President is sending more of his minions out to the news shows to tell us how FOX is crapping on the administration…

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