I think the true “sin” over at Fox really has to do with their pretense at being a “fair and balanced” in their reporting. They pretend that what they present are neutral facts, when they are anything but neutral and much of which turns out not even to be Fact — and that they are entirely aware they’re presenting non-fact as fact when they present it.
They are, I personally believe, very conscious that what they purvey is propaganda and frequently, provably, false propaganda at that.
I don’t believe that MSNBC or CNN or NBC or CBS or ABC have just been lucky, not found out, in inventing news events and cheering on participants in those events, revving them up for when the cameras roll, the way Fox was caught red-handed at one of the T-bagger events (as a singular example).
Sure, sure: There was the whole Dan Rather Affair during the 04 elections. And whether Rather was duped or complicit in his reporting didn’t seem to make one whit of difference to the fact CBS fired him for becoming involved in a story and possibly treating fake reporting as fact.
Did we see a similar reaction to the Fox staffer caught, on camera, revving up the T-baggers in the DC “grass roots” movement Fox stage-managed? Of course not. The clear implication is this person was just operating according to editorial plan. And maybe it was an example of something more pervasive than this single incident.
Yes. They pretend that their propaganda is verity and pull at the wavering middle-grounders by doing things no other cable or broadcast outlet can do, at least ones without a clearly defined propagandistic vision. During the daytime, during news time, they do a very interesting thing: They have an almost equal number of Democratic vs. Republican guests in their interviews.
While the data is now old, I refer you to a ThinkProgress survey created back around Jan.-Feb. 08, looking at the ratio of Red/Blue guests during all the reporting on the Stimulus… . Fox came in more close to parity than anyone else, though it’s still something like a 5:4 ratio. MSNBC came in next, but with a not-good under 3:2 ratio. CNN was most shocking (though I guess I don’t know why anymore) — theirs was more like a 6:1 ratio.
I know. Such numbers would tend to demonstrate Fox is actually less biased, at least in terms of the political voices they interview. Certainly way less apparently biased than CNN. So how is it that I can assert this proves they are the more biased organization?
Here it is: The neoconservative movement has been hammering away for 40 years with the message that all the traditional media have a liberal bias. Whether true or not at that time, it took advantage of all these media economic bottom lines: The need for viewers or readers. To pull in the greatest audience numbers they had to offer up a supportable pretense at delivering news that is neutral. To be labeled as leaning one way or the other would equal losing viewers or readers.
That was step one. The neocons are experts at spin, this was a consistent theme, and they were successfully hammering the message into the heads of the average Jane/Joe Citizen.
Step two was a consecutive message they were successfully pounding into the public consciousness and popular lexicography that somehow “liberal” = “bad.” So, not only were they successfully branding all MSM as having a liberal political perspective, but that their slant was also somehow damaging, dark and evil in intent.
The desired affect? Everybody from the Gray Lady to CBS News falls all over themselves to “prove” they don’t have such a liberal (scary/dangerous) slant. They fall all over themselves asking Right Thinkers’ opinions on everyday happenings — to the point that they now find themselves favoring those Right Thinkers as guests and pontificators in high numbers.
CNN has exceeded expectations in “proving” they have no liberal bias, I would say.
Fox, on the other hand, doesn’t have to even play that game. They don’t have one scintilla of motivation to prove neutrality, since they know exactly how un-neutral they are. They can afford to have almost as many Blue guests as Red ones, because they know full well they will spin-out anything these guests have to offer with 100% of the remainder of their programming leaning to the right on those ideas and opinions.
It is my proposition that Fox has a vision and a direction that transcends their economic bottom line while simultaneously genuflecting to it. Unlike other news sources, I believe, just from the weight of their actions rather than pretending to be psychic and able to read any minds, that News Corp. has set out to change the political face of this country. To shape it into a consumer nation in thrall to corporations, but at a fundamental, structural level, at the level of altering governance toward corporate subservience. That is their vision, and a vision shared with the whole neoconservative movement they promote.
Sure, it just so happens that, until the last year, they were pretty much in the black (News Corp. losing an estimated $3.4 billion in 09). Almost everyone else? Not so much. Bottom line rules even more than political ideology. Look at MSNBC tacking to the Left because Olbermann and Maddow draw the largest numbers. I mean, before that happened, it was all Joe Scarborough’s evening show and Tucker Carlson and Chris Matthews getting in touch with his Right Wing Hyde-side. Now Tucker is gone (to Fox), Joe’s been demoted to the morning, and Matthews is attempting to wake his liberal Jekyll half from near-retirement.
Yeah. Fox News lost money last year. Do you see them swapping-out their political slant to suit ratings? Of course not, because those ratings, while essential to keeping them on the air, are of secondary importance to their mission to change the face of the United States polity.
They are powerful, they are dangerous, and comparing them to other outlets that are “honest” ratings or reader whores is a big, bad mistake. I find a direct and absolute parallel between the fact that they promote this T-bagger movement and all its incendiary rhetoric (Obama = illegal alien = not-actual-president = socialist = Nazi = Hitler = take away your guns = stock up on guns and ammo = “we all know what Hitler deserved, right?”) and the recent analysis that says threats against this president and other government officials has risen 400% over the past president.
Four hundred percent. Seems mighty high to me. And to the Secret Service too. To the point they are having to add extra personnel and maybe turn over their other investigative responsibilities, like keeping track of financial crimes (one of the reasons they were created) over to the Treasury, just so that they can keep up with the growing flood of threats.
They are not just like other Corporate Mass Media outlets. They are a danger to our polity. They should be outed as the White House and others are trying to accomplish. Once the myth that “they’re no different from any other MSM outlet” is put to rest, they begin to lose their power. And, just maybe, the thrust of their near-seditious promotions can be viewed for what they represent: An attempt to undo the democracy-based nature of this country, to overthrow — or even assassinate — democratically elected leaders, to mistrust ourselves (We the People) and bow down to the rule of the corporatocracy they represent.