Home > People, politics > Faux News

Faux News


“Deceive one and you’re a liar. Deceive thousands and you’re a cable news channel.”

Xenocrates

Faux News I’ve been watching cable news for a long time and I will admit that running a 24 hour cable news network on live national television is no small feat. That’s why occasionally, even with the best intentions, the monotony can get to the producers who have to be constantly coming up with new ideas and ways to tell true stories. That’s why any cable news channel has to have a bevy of staff writers and producers who are constantly innovating. They have to. But no matter how hard they try, human emotion always finds a way into the mix with these gloomy lunatics with their fluffy boom sticks and their cheap verbal tricks. Now some cable news channels make this faux pas only every once in a while. Unfortunately, some like Fox News make that mistake frequently. Now even though CNN and other stations clearly have some liberal bias, at least they have the dignity to not make it appear so blatantly. Fox News on the other hand is clearly conservatively biased and has unapologetically exposed themselves as a Republican propaganda machine. Yet, they have the audacity to classify themselves as being “fair and balanced”. How is this possible? It’s based on a very simple explanation really. Allow me to elaborate:

Cable News is a Business

Now, to be fair, no news network (save for CBS maybe – as you will see later in this post) can claim the dubious honour of being truly fair and balanced. The very nature of these networks forces them to surreptitiously employ the use of opinion and debate to drive up their ratings. After all, this is a money making business. The higher the viewership, the higher the ratings. The higher the ratings, the higher the advertising fees they can charge. At the end of the day, this comes down to money. So Cable channels must find a way to drive up ratings. That’s their bread and butter.

One of the key ways to drive up ratings is to feature opinion and debate segments that allow correspondents to come on and take turns shouting at each other over political issues. Every cable news channel does it. Debate taps into human emotion. This makes the program interesting and thus attracts a larger number of viewers. Opinion segments which allow former news achors to give their biased opinion on a matter also do the same thing. This is an obvious way to pander to a particular demographic – and again, boost ratings.

So what do you think is going to happen when a cable news channel features more debate and opinion segments in their prime time than actual news segments? This is where Fox News and other cable news channels begin to part company.

Opinion is not News

Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reilly

While networks like CNN and CBS feature a more independent oriented general purpose exposé segments, Fox News features more Republican oriented segments with dominating characters like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. Each night, these guys take turns ripping into people who don’t agree with them or the Republican party. These two guys are outright bullies. If you can bare to watch, they regularly invite Joe Schmo’s onto their program who were outspoken against them to have them gutted like fish – promptly cutting them off once they feel like they’ve had the last word.

But that’s not all. Even during their regular daytime programming, their news anchor men and women (particularly during the last election) conducted a campaign of their own against the Obama phenomenon. They spent so much time trying to derail the man’s character, that even one of Fox News’ own segment chiefs, Shepherd Smith, was appalled at the falsehoods that were being spread by his own network. From saying that Obama went to a Muslim school to focusing on his middle name, Fox News pulled out all the stops to sell him as a dangerous choice while Republican aficionados lapped up the BS. Take a look at this video:

None of this information was investigated before it was broadcast. That’s what is called irresponsible journalism (if it can be called journalism at all). This introduces an obvious integrity issue. Now you can’t be balanced without being fair and you can’t be fair if your intention is to pander to a particular audience. So, if you are pandering to a particular demographic in the public viewership, then it’s obvious that your network doesn’t cater to ‘common sense’. How can you cater to common sense if most of your material is based on opinion and debate? Think about this:

The term ‘fair and balanced’ is intrinsically redundant. You cannot be fair without being balanced and being balanced automatically predicates fairness. Putting the two words together as a slogan is like saying “reverse backward” or “progress forward”. Therefore Fox News’ slogan achieves no meaningful communicative objective, except to state the obvious to further obscure the inconspicuous. The term ‘fair and balanced’ is a cheap psychological trick designed to sell propaganda as news. It serves the same purpose as a con artist saying “trust me” before ripping you off, or as someone making a suspicious suggestion starting out by saying “I know this sounds crazy, but…”. Nobody goes around saying that the sky is blue – precisely because it’s obvious. If you need to go around saying the obvious, then that automatically says something about your credibility.

But to be fair and balanced…

Fox News ChannelI know what you’re thinking: I’m just mouthing off on Fox News because I feel they have committed some grave injustice. Far from it. What’s going to surprise you is that I used to watch Fox News religiously – more so than I now watch CNN. In fact, Fox News was my deFacto news source right up until I noticed the uneasy imbalance over the last eight years. That’s when I decided that they were an expressly Republican station. It was only afterward that I discovered other folks who also watched Fox and had the same opinion. That cemented it for me. I wasn’t seeing things. Fox News is almost expressly right aligned.

I don’t dispute that Fox tries to be “fair and balanced” – but they fail miserably at it. That’s when I realised that the only reason why I liked Fox News more than CNN, was simply because the characters on Fox News were far more entertaining. Yes, you read right. I don’t mean that as a dis. They really are more entertaining. They’re better actors than those folks at CNN – especially that Bill O’Rielly retard. CNN’s people are rather boring by comparison – but that’s because they spend more time giving it to you straight. That’s what News should be; not entertaining while pandering to the right or left.

I have since changed my source of entertainment news and replaced Fox with John Stewart’s Daily Show. John Stewart is a lot funnier than Bill O’Reilly and at least he doesn’t try to sell BS on the air with a straight face. John Stewart also has a talent for sniffing out bull on both Fox and CNN. You can watch John Stewart owning Crossfire hosts here:

Needless to say, Crossfire was canceled immediately after this appearance. This is part of the reason why many viewers (especially younger audiences) now go to Comedy Central’s Daily Show with John Stewart to gain an independent (albeit humorous) perspective on the affairs of the day. That is sad in many ways than I care to mention. But this draw towards John Stewart’s Daily Show happens for a very good reason. It appears that like John Stewart, many other people have become cognizant of this untrustworthy characteristic of 24 hour news networks that has given so many viewers a mutual sense of cynicism that can be described as follows: Deceive one and you’re a liar. Deceive thousands and you’re a cable news channel.

However, as bad as CNN was, Fox has provided more fodder than the former, simply because of the extremely conspicuous nature of its bias. So now I’ve substituted Fox News with The Daily Show for all my entertainment news. I’ve since completely dropped Fox News from my cable channel line-up. I fail to see the point of paying any of my hard earned money for pretentious BS. Concordantly, they could rename that station Faux News, just so that people know right away what they’re paying for. But I digress for reasons you will soon see…

Proof

Now in case you think that my claims about Fox News’ reliability as a news organisation is dubious at best or you think that I’m just relentlessly smearing Fox News because they appear to be Republican inclined, I decided to get some hard cold proof. If Fox News is as worthy as they claim to be, then certainly the channel would have won the attention and respect of their journalistic peers to have been suggested for some prestigious award – right? This should be a good measure of the integrity of any news organisation since these awards are given by media professionals. They should know what good journalism is.

Of the many journalistic awards out there, I chose five of the most prestigious awards that recognize Television Journalism, namely the Peabody Awards, the Emmy Awards, the George Polk awards, the Alfred I. DuPont awards and the Gerald Loeb awards. Each award committee has a database of their winners online. So I painstakingly went through each database (several hundred records in all) and counted the wins achieved by the major news networks over the years. This process took the better part of two weeks since some databases didn’t have a search feature. That means I had to wade through all the records for some award committees sequentially – a painstaking task at best. Never-the-less, I was determined. I wanted my data to be accurate.

I tabulated the wins not just for Fox News, but for other news networks as well. Just to be fair, this comparison includes ABC, CNN, CBS, BBC, NBC, Fox News and PBS. That should give us a nice cross-section of all networks, comparing 24 hour channels, local and foreign networks, older and newer networks. I’ve tabulated all the results and presented them here for you as hard evidence. You can check these websites yourself. After comparing all the results, even I was surprised at their relative consistency:

Peabody Awards

The Peabody AwardThe George Foster Peabody Awards are administered in recognition of distinguished achievement and meritorious public service by TV and radio stations, networks, producing organizations, individuals and the World Wide Web. The awards program, established in 1940 and administered by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, is the oldest, most prestigious honor in electronic media. Here are the top winners of the Peabody Award in Journalism from the major news networks mentioned earlier:

CBS

174 (since 1940)

ABC

122 (since 1943)

BBC

56 (since 1950)

PBS

47 (since 1970)

NBC News

15 (since 1958)

CNN

14 (since 1983)

Fox News

0

Emmy Awards

The Emmy AwardThe Emmy Awards are presented for outstanding achievements in Television. They are considered the Television equivalent of the Academy Awards which are presented for feature length film. While the Emmys were originally focused on entertainment, they have since expanded their recognition to Television Journalism. The following is a breakdown of Emmy Winners from the major news networks mentioned earlier:

PBS

28 (since 1978)

NBC News

10 (since 1961)

CBS

9 (since 1956)

ABC

1 (since 1943)

BBC

0

CNN

0

Fox News

0

George Polk Awards

award-polkThe George Polk Awards memorialize the CBS correspondent who was murdered while covering the civil war in Greece in 1948. The Awards rank among America’s most prized honors in journalism. A committee of jurors, faculty members and alumni of Long Island University, select the winners from entries submitted by journalists and news organizations, as well as nominations made by a panel of journalists and editors, including a number of former winners.  The following is a breakdown of Polk Award Winners from the major news networks:

CBS

21 (since 1948)

NBC News

21 (since 1951)

ABC

13 (since 1968)

PBS

5 (since 1973)

CNN

5 (since 1987)

BBC

3 (since 1984)

Fox News

0

Alfred I. Dupont Awards (Columbia University)

award-dupontThe Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards aims to bring the best in television and radio journalism to professional and public attention and to honor those who produce it. The duPont Awards engender a collective spirit for the industry and inform the public of the contributions news organizations make to their communities and to the nation as a whole. Winners of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards receive gold or silver batons designed by the late American architect Louis I. Kahn. The awards are considered the equivalent of Print Journalism’s Pulitzer Prize. Unfortunately, the committee only has data as far back as 2005 online. Even so, with this little information, the trend remains the same when you observe the breakdown of the winners for the major news networks since 2005:

PBS

8

ABC

3

NBC News

3

BBC

1

CNN

1

CBS

0

Fox News

0

Gerald Loeb Awards

award-loebThe Loeb Awards were established in 1957 by the late Gerald Loeb to honor journalists who make significant contributions to the understanding of business, finance and the economy. He intended to encourage reporting on these subjects that would both inform and protect the private investor and the general public. Distinguished journalists nationwide participate. UCLA Anderson School of Management has presented the program since 1973. However, data for television journalism is only available from 2001 when the awards began their recognition of such. The following is a break down of winners from the major networks as mentioned earlier:

NBC News

3 (since 2003)

CBS

2 (since 2004)

ABC

1 (since 2004)

CNN

1 (since 2002)

BBC

0

PBS

0

Fox News

0

Grand Total as at November 28, 2008

CBS

206

ABC

137

PBS

80

BBC

59

NBC News

49

CNN

21

Fox News

0

Now the issue is not how many awards each station won since inception. That wouldn’t be a fair comparison since stations like ABC and CBS have been around for over half a century. By comparison, CNN is almost three decades old and Fox News as of this writing is still a teenager. However, the fact that a major network such as Fox News (which supposedly has comparatively higher ratings than many other stations) has zero awards since inception speaks volumes.

There are very new print publications (since 2002) and small town TV networks (like some of those in Ohio) which have won more Peabody awards than Fox News in a shorter span of time. Even if you take all of the awards won by each station between 2005 and 2008, Fox News still falls short. They have nothing to show for their credibility or their journalistic accomplishment. Nada. Zip. Not even a honourable mention.

Conclusion

I’m not even going to wax philosophical on this one. The evidence speaks for itself. When it comes to the value of the network in terms of the significance of its contribution to journalism, Fox News simply doesn’t rank at all. So there’s very little point to belabouring the idea that Fox News isn’t news. Admittedly, there’s really no justifiable purpose to even making fun of the name, calling it “Faux News” (as I did earlier) as this would insinuate that they actually deserve some credibility. The very name of the network is an oxymoron. Either way, my point is very simple: Don’t believe everything you see on TV News – especially if you are watching Fox News. You have been warned.

Advertisements
  1. Stewart Panton
    December 3, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I spelt won wrong earlier…. spelt it as one…

    Anyway.

    Sad isnt the right word… pathetic is more the word you are looking for

  2. December 2, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    That just goes to show you that John Stewart and Stephen Colbert (who recently won a Peabody award), have more credibility than Fox News… which is sad.

  3. Stewart Panton
    December 2, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Well I must say that this was definitely an eye opening post.

    First I didnt know fox was that young, nor did I know that fox has never received an award… they way they behave you would assume they were the leading news team in the country.

    However I did realize from the 2004 elections that Fox was really a baised news station and since then I haven’t watched it for its news and instead watch it for its shows (like family guy lol). Really though These guys are just outwardly blatantly republican and they do it so unapologetically its quite scary I think. Even with our local media we know that certain papers lean more towards one party than the other, but if you dont do some form of research you would never know, but Fox might as well have a picture of the elephant with 3 stars as their logo.

    As for John Stewart, between him and Stephen Colbert I really used to watch their programs for entertainment purposes only, but it has only been since recently (like 2 years now), that I’ve begun to realize that these guys really provide what can only be described as the best news coverage. Once you look pass the sarcasm you realize that they are really giving news the way it should be, which is why I try to ensure I watch their programs whenever I can. Especially with Stephen Colbert and his seemingly republican leanings lol. You realize even John stewart has one more emmy’s than fox right lol

  1. November 4, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s