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Political bias on Fox News

by on November 29, 2013

The notion that news organisations, television programs, reporters and all other areas and actors in the media are completely devoid of bias is ridiculous. All individuals have values and opinions and so these transfer into the institutions they build. Thankfully, in the West, we have the right to hold and exercise these rights without fear of persecution. Fox News is a right wing media outlet and is part of the News Corporation family owned by Rupert Murdoch. They, as with all other Western Individuals and their institutions, are perfectly entitled to hold whatever values they wish to believe in and push those values through their media outlets. Where they cross the line is their attempt to portray themselves as un biased. In a country who’s wheels are greased by court action it is quite remarkable that their strap line ‘fair and balanced’ has not been hung out to dry as misrepresentative of their obvious political sway. One would like to think that if this was a case in the UK, trading standards would have them remove this prevarication and have it replaced with something more appropriate like, ‘using our rights to free speech to support the republicans since 1996’ or maybe something more punchy like ‘far from balanced’.

 

 

Regardless, this is an American company and not subject to our arguably superior democratic society. Unfortunately there is little risk of any one asking management of the organisation about external ties which might effect the level of fairness and balance they proclaim to promote. For example it is unlikely the president of the station, Roger Ailes, will face awkward questions about his time working for the Republican party, nor is their going to be any court case put against Bill O’reiley for his diabolical treatment of guests such as Jeremy Glick on his show. No, Fox News have done a fantastic job of conning the American public into believing they are indeed ‘fair and balanced’ and now use this to promote their right wing agenda, unchallenged. Its a scam. But it would seem that American society is quite content with the way things are. It could be argued that Bill O’reiley has told lies and spread untruths about various events and issues, but unless he can be proved to be knowingly doing this then American law is unlikely to be able to punish him. Perversely, the more he behaves this way the more he becomes a legal joke but remains a ‘fair and balanced’ news caster to the American public; he has become untouchable and no one can or feels it necessary to do anything about him.

 

O’reiley is just a small cog however. The political preference to the right is part of the foundations of Fox News. Ailes’ work with the Republican Party and Murdoch’s fixation with Reagan aren’t secrets and there is no need for them to be. Guests on their programs are mainly Republicans and the few Democrats they have on are often to the right side of that scale, again, no problem there. When guests, like Glick, come on who start to promote issues that may not be to the preferred ideology of the station they are shouted down and taken off air, this is a bit more edgy but nonetheless not illegal and well within their democratic rights. In fact the way that Fox News operates is totally legitimate and it is reasonable they have political preference. The problem is that they promote themselves as ‘fair and balanced’ and even more worryingly the American public love it.

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One Comment
  1. This is a spirited entry and you are clearly developing a writing style for the blog, which is laudable. And I like the argument about bias not being the problem. Perhaps there is a definition of propaganda here, something along the lines of presenting biased opinions as objective and balanced. If you decided to include this entry in your portfolio, perhaps you could revise and improve it by making some reference to the literature on propaganda, as well as on Murdoch’s media empire.

    There is a more general point here: we would like to see you root your blog entries in the academic literature, tying your thoughts into the concepts of the module. You should also include links to relevant websites and images/video clips where appropriate. Is there a good clip of O’Reilly (check your spelling) interview with Glick? I found this piece: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BAFb97L3KU. In short, you need to provide evidence to support your assertions.

    There are a few typographical errors that need correction (e.g., there/their, it’s/its, prevarication/provocation, etc.).

    Finally, on the impact of Fox News, you might like to see this report on a study which found that viewers of that station know less about world affairs than people who watch no news at all: http://www.slate.com/blogs/business_insider/2014/01/30/does_watching_fox_news_make_you_less_informed.html.

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