Caution! You are about to read an opinion-based column about Fox News Channel’s opinion-based reporting.
This past week Fox News Channel (remember: “Fox, Not Facts”-Keith Olbermann) blasted and assaulted the President and the Administration for stating that, “Fox News is opinion-based news, and not factual.” At argument here is the topic of whether or not the conservative Fox News Channel is actually a worthy destination for the administration’s high-ranking officials.
While many political commentators have said the Obama Administration should “take the moral high ground,” and appear on Fox News, I respectfully disagree.
For the last few years, and definitely during the past administration; the Fox News Network has out right lied, made-up, and created news stories which discredit the profession of journalism. While the three of you who read my postings on a regular basis know that I personally tip to the left side of the scale; typically my writings (ok, rantings) are usually middle ground—especially given my background in the political arena. However, Fox focuses not only on the right spin, but creating false stories as demonstrated here by The Daily Show.
Now, there is nothing wrong with conservative-leaning journalism. The editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and the San Diego Union Tribune, for example, have some of the best-written conservative editorials and opinion pieces. But Fox is not about conservative journalism; rather, it favors pure sensationalism and exploitation.
Where’s the proof you ask? In the insane rants of (CAUTION!) Bill O’Reily and (sob!) Glenn Beck (who called the President a racist, only to backpedal on that not more than a minute later). If you need further proof, look at former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s bid for the Vice Presidency. Palin stole directly from that organization’s playbook.
Palin took the approach of playing ignorance off as patriotism (I represent the “real America”); arguing that supporting the troops means “those people” are wrong; and exploiting scare tactics to trick people into believing that right-winged conservatives are inherently “good and righteous.”
These are all the tactics Fox News uses on a daily basis. Unlike Palin, Fox News has not been proven wrong by America, but instead uses its growing viewership as further proof that they are, in fact, correct. You know who also uses those tactics–cult leaders!
Further, Fox spends a majority of its time blaming, finger pointing, and blasting the left, Democrats, and anyone who doesn’t outright agree with them. And worse, Fox News hosts often encourage audiences–a majority of whom confuse the channel’s hyperbolic, entertaining style with established fact–to take this attitude with their families and friends. Again, sounds a little like a cult.
The truly sad part is that as Fox amps up its rhetoric, so amp its profits and viewership. What gets lost is reporting the facts–and its competitors, pathetically, are following suit, putting the last few nails in the coffin of American journalism. In order for other networks to compete, CNN/Headline News’ has to employ sham journalists such as Nancy Grace (who is just angry and bitter at life) and other shows that have little-to-no redeeming value. Thus, the ratings game has sold out to sensationalism and fear. Even the formerly cuddly Katie Couric of the CBS Evening News goes with sensational scare tactics to elicit viewers. Which is why the Swine Flu/H1N1 story is not going away anytime soon.
So what’s the solution then? How do we fight back against sensationalized news; opinion-based reporting; and the stupidity found on Fox?
We begin by applauding the leaders that take a responsible approach to dealing with it. Like, in this case, Barack Obama.
You might not agree with him about the economy, healthcare, or the environment, but he’s standing up for you by standing up for the truth. When the nation voted for change, part of that change was saying no to Fox News Channel.
We should never fight the idea of freedom of speech. Even though Fox News exploits it; they have an inalienable right too it. However, I hope our nation realizes Fox News Channel’s programming hardly resembles freedom of speech for anybody but the power brokers and money makers at the house of Rupert Murdoch.
Journalism is about the pursuit of truth; the editorial page and online blogs — clearly marked — are for opinions.