Friday, August 20, 2004

Watched the documentary "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism" last night, an interesting deconstruction of FOX News and its claims to be "Fair and Balanced" and "America's Network." Available through their web site and being shown and distributed in various places, it's an unapologetic attack on a very deserving Fox empire. I can't watch Fox for more than five minutes these days (and the same goes for most cable news channels), with all the shouting, shameless flag-waving, pundit speculation and general circus that takes the place of actual thoughtful news dissemination. This doc shows how Fox's works are ordered from the top man Rupert Murdoch right on down. Perhaps you didn't know Fox News' Chairman Roger Ailes helped run George H. W. Bush's campaign in 1988, or the company directive memos shown here ordering Bush to be shown in a good light and Kerry and the Democrats poorly whenever possible. "Unfoxed" shows us how snazzy graphics, selective interviewing and slogans that are untrue but repeated so often they become true to unsuspecting viewers all add up to make Fox a propaganda machine the Soviet Union would've been proud of. You've got to love the excerpts shown in "Unfoxed" of conservative shouter supreme Bill O'Reilly ripping the head off of the son of a 9/11 victim who dares to disagree with him, and brings up the U.S. complicity in arming many of the terrorists we're now fighting. "Shut up! Shut up!" O'Reilly tells the lad, in a shining moment for the Journalism Hall of Infamy.

As a journalist myself, the popularity of Fox News and the poor quality of most other TV journalism dismays me to no end, but I don't really have any solutions to it all. What's particularly sad is all the "Fox-heads" out there who bitch about the so-called "liberal media" telling them what to think, and not realizing they've been brainwashed themselves by Fox's machine.
Take for instance this comment one of our reporters here at the paper overheard at a local restaurant recently: “That’s the thing about Rush Limbaugh, he gives us the news the way we want to hear it.” Ye gods. Journalism molded and catered to bend to your existing beliefs and biases isn't journalism at all — it's propaganda, whether it comes from the left or right. Journalism is about questioning, not cowtowing. "Unfoxed" isn't the best documentary in the world, with low-rent graphics and too many talking heads, but it's a nice companion to Michael Moore's work and others. It's about time more media critics stopped suckling whatever the White House teat feeds them and starts examining the muddy mess that passes for too much TV journalism. The problem is, most Fox worshippers not only wouldn't watch "Unfoxed," they'd be convinced it's another "lib'ral media conspiracy" to boot. Sad for all of us in the end.

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