Friday, February 11, 2011

Fox News just makes stuff up

(graphic borrowed from The Sauda Voice)

At Media Matters, there's an interview with a "former Fox News employee" that pretty much tells us what we already knew:
Asked what most viewers and observers of Fox News would be surprised to learn about the controversial cable channel, a former insider from the world of Rupert Murdoch was quick with a response: “I don’t think people would believe it’s as concocted as it is; that stuff is just made up.”

Indeed, a former Fox News employee who recently agreed to talk with Media Matters confirmed what critics have been saying for years about Murdoch’s cable channel. Namely, that Fox News is run as a purely partisan operation, virtually every news story is actively spun by the staff, its primary goal is to prop up Republicans and knock down Democrats, and that staffers at Fox News routinely operate without the slightest regard for fairness or fact checking.

“It is their M.O. to undermine the administration and to undermine Democrats,” says the source. “They’re a propaganda outfit but they call themselves news.”

And that’s the word from inside Fox News.

Note the story here isn’t that Fox News leans right. Everyone knows the channel pushes a conservative-friendly version of the news. Everyone who’s been paying attention has known that since the channel’s inception more than a decade ago. The real story, and the real danger posed by the cable outlet, is that over time Fox News stopped simply leaning to the right and instead became an open and active political player, sort of one-part character assassin and one-part propagandist, depending on which party was in power. And that the operation thrives on fabrications and falsehoods.

I can't say there's anything surprising here. After all, we've seen the leaked emails from within Fox (for example, here and here). Anyone who doesn't already recognize this about Fox "News" simply doesn't want to recognize it.

(graphic from The Smugger)

Unfortunately, this interview is weakened by being anonymous. Oh, that's understandable, I suppose.
It’s worth noting that Fox News employees, either current or former, rarely speak to the press, even anonymously. And it’s even rarer for Fox News sources to bad mouth Murdoch’s channel. That’s partly because of strict non-disclosure agreements that most exiting employees sign and which forbid them from discussing their former employer. But  it also stems from a pervasive us-vs.-them attitude that permeates Fox News. It’s a siege mentality that network boss Roger Ailes encourages, and one that colors the coverage his team produces.

As I say, it's understandable, because Fox "News" would certainly go after anyone who spoke on the record. That "siege mentality" would not let such an incident pass without making an example out of any person who did so - including, no doubt, ruinous lawsuits and the blackballing of any future employment elsewhere. (Fox makes so much money that even competitors are reluctant to antagonize them.)

Nevertheless, if we don't have the courage to buck them, Fox will never be stopped. In fact, their misinformation empire will just continue to grow. Without any doubt, legitimate journalists should be on the front lines in this. Instead,...
The former insider admits to being perplexed in late 2009 when the Obama White House called out Murdoch’s operation as not being a legitimate new source, only to have major Beltway media players rush to the aid of Fox News and admonish the White House for daring to criticize the cable channel.

“That blew me away,” says the source, who stresses the White House’s critique of Fox News “happens to be true.”

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