Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Master Opinion Blaster

I realize that I started yesterday's space post with a quote, so today I'm gonna one up me and start with two. From the same person!

Quote 1: "Our job is only to hold up the mirror - to tell and show the public what has happened."

Quote 2: "Objective journalism and an opinion column are about as similar as the Bible and Playboy magazine."

-Walter Cronkite


I look to these two quotes for inspiration today as I sift through the massive steaming pile of s**t that is the state of modern news media. The smelliest part of this pile, which I tend to avoid during my sifting, is Fox News; which tends to smell more like a rotted, bloating zombie corpse on a hot, humid summer day than the surrounding s**t in the pile. And there's nothing that exemplifies the s**tiness of Fox News and its parent corporation, News Corp, more than the current phone hacking scandal. In part one of this series of posts, though, let's take a look at what, exactly, news is, and how Fox News doesn't fall under that umbrella.

News, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a report of recent events. That's it. This blog, for example is not news, nor is it a news publication, as this is largely a chronicle of my friends' and my opinion based on facts. Ergo (yes, I just wanted to say "ergo"), it stands to reason, that all that Fox would be doing would be, as quote 1 suggests, holding up the mirror; telling and showing the public what events have happened. As the viewers of this blog are probably aware, that's not even close to what Fox News does. Fox and News Corp routinely demonstrate a willingness to slant the facts in favor of a conservative, right wing agenda.

That's not even the worst of it though. As evidenced by this clip from Media Matters where Eric Bolling claims that there were no terrorist attacks between 2000 and 2008 on American soil, Fox isn't even interested in telling and showing the public actual factual information. If it were true that there were no terrorist attacks on American soil between 2000 and 2008, then I suppose that it may also be true that I'm actually an astronaut (I'm not, just FYI). As we can see in this clip, also from Media Matters, Fox anchors routinely decide to just make things up. After, "doing a little math," this anchor decides that the U.S. will be fine if the debt ceiling isn't raised, and that all of the hype is just fear mongering and political brinksmanship. I'm so glad he was able to share his opinion with his many viewers, but wait! Where in the definition of News do we see the word, "opinion?" Oh yeah, we don't. Perhaps this is the perfect excuse for Fox and News Corp to change their name to, "Master Opinion Blaster."

Now, I'm not going to sit here and point out every example of bad/opinion journalism on Fox (and god knows other networks insert their opinions too), but I think it's pretty clear to most rational human beings that sharing your opinion doesn't constitute news. In case we all forgot what it looked/sounded like, Edward R. Murrow's spine tingling coverage of The Battle of Britain and the blitz on London is a perfect example of what news actually is, and provides an accurate picture of what was actually going on in a format independent of pictures. And he did it without resorting to the cheap tactics of self styled "journalists" like Eric Bolling or Bill O'Reilly. If you ignore the video, you can clearly see that good journalism, and actual news actually requires going places and reporting on things, or providing some sort of investigation into, for example, complex and obscure records of actual things. It doesn't involve standing (or sitting) in front of a camera and endlessly repeating the same five phrases in reference to something that Reuters reported eight hours ago.

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