Monday, January 19, 2009

That’s FOXed Up

As the famous X-Files tagline states: “The truth is out there.” There’s just one question: How do we go about finding it? The obvious answer should be through research and investigation. But when the sources of information – who have the tools, means, and responsibility to research and investigate – fail to disclose the truth, what then?

(Note: Don’t be surprised when X-Files references occasionally pop up. It’s bound to happen from time to time.)

Before I take a crack at answering that, maybe I should clarify. We’re not (usually) outright lied to by the mainstream news media, but given a selected version of the truth. But as the documentary OUTFOXED shows, sometimes lying is part of the gig.

The stories we’re told are not only fictitious at times, but suggest that “objectivity” – in other words, what journalism is supposed to be – is also a lie. When journalists can’t do their job, what does that mean for democracy?

I don’t care if FOX is a conservative, Republican, Bush-idolizing news source, but if they’re going to be that obvious, they should just admit it. Maybe journalism had it right when partisan presses were the norm. At least then you knew when you were getting the facts and when you were getting commentary.

When Bill O’Reilly – shudder – tells his left-wing, anti-war, anti-Bush guests to “shut up,” how can FOX news morally, legally, logically, consider itself “fair and balanced”? What’s even more amazing is that anyone watching the show can think it is.

However, to be fair and balanced, the same can be said about the more recent coverage of Barack Obama and John McCain. I can’t think of one news channel – besides FOX, of course – that regularly cast Obama in a negative light. On the other hand, McCain tended to be the subject of ridicule, if not for his relationship with Bush, then for his incessant references to Joe the Plumber, and major attitude shift throughout the campaign - oh, I almost forgot, Sarah Palin too.

I’m not saying those criticisms weren’t founded – especially regarding Joe – but it was clear that neither candidate received equal coverage.

To get the opposing view, and to see a neat bar graph comparing Obama and McCain coverage, visit
Donald Douglas’s blog. (Notice that he subscribes to the FOX newswire.)

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