Sunday, September 26, 2004

Fox Hunting

It's being banned in the United Kingdom, but I went fox hunting last night by watching Outfoxed. A fun evening with lots of junk food, and I found a parking spot right away. I had a new spell for that and it was nice to see that it worked.

Outfoxed is a documentary on the way the Fox News has reshaped the concept of journalism and the idea of what is 'fair and balanced'. The documentary has been extensively discussed on the internet and elsewhere, so there wasn't that much new in terms of the contents for me, but it was fun to see O'Reilly ridiculed as he should be. It was also very disturbing to observe how he created a lie and then stuck to it for a period of several months. He is a very uncouth man.

The real message of the movie was in the first few segments which gave a synopsis of Rupert Murdoch's rise to power. He currently reaches the majority of human beings on this earth through his various networks. Think of a large, fat spider in the middle of a wide conservative web, pulling slightly on one string, adjusting another and doing slow rounds of corpse sucking. That's how his corporation came across to me.

Journalism is not really approved of in the Fox News network. Stories are preselected based on their effects on George Bush and the Republican party, and stories which don't cast these in a good light are not covered. Likewise, the bias to be introduced in the coverage is carefully pre-specified, and those journalists who fail to abide by it are chucked out. I have naturally no way of knowing if the same happens at other networks, too, but even if it doesn't this should make us all concerned.

Not because Fox News has a conservative bias, but because they pretend to be 'fairandbalanced'. To do both at the same time is lying. Consider the ways this is achieved: not only are stories picked carefully and presented in a certain light, but certain soundbites are repeated over and over again in order to cause the viewer to be brainwashed by them, and the so-called liberal commentators are carefully picked to be as conservative as possible, as meek and mousy as possible and as ineffective as possible.

In defense of Fox News, one could argue that the 'fairandbalanced' bit is only intended to apply to their news coverage, not to the many conservative shouting-and-kicking opinion programs like O'Reilly and Hannity and Colmes. I don't actually believe that you can embed one tiny pearl of unbiasedness in the middle of the pigsty and then pretend that it lights up the whole enterprise, but in any case this is not what Fox News is doing. Their news programs are biased, too, not just quite as loudly and openly as the yelling matches that go for punditry on Fox News.

What I don't understand is why any liberal would voluntarily participate in the O'Reilly type of entertainment for the wingnuts. The game is rigged from the beginning and you can never get your point out at all. It must be money that is making some so willing to participate in their own torture.

I also don't understand why Fox News never has real lefties on. Their idea of a liberal is someone who has once whispered that maybe not exactly everything the government does is based on direct orders from the Devil. I also don't understand why Fox News is so scared of liberals who are good at yelling-and-kicking. Well, I do understand, but if they really wanted to be 'fairandbalanced' they'd give us better matches to watch.