Saturday, September 19, 2009

Media Uproar

A story on CNN.com caught my attention yesterday: it seems that Fox has promoted itself in an ad implying it was the only major news outlet to report on the recent Tea Party protest in Washington, DC.

Of course, all the major news stations HAD reported on the protest.  What interested me was the response.  Fox's competition is challenging them directly, going so far as to accuse Fox of lying.

Ain't It Cool News, of all places, has gathered together some quotes, along with video of CNN's Rick Sanchez attacking Fox directly.  On the same page, if you have time, the entirety of the 2004 documentary, "Outfoxed", is available.  I strongly recommend it.

Also, you'll find a response from Fox's marketing department, where they claim the other networks "either ignored the story, marginalized it or misrepresented the significance of it altogether."

It may surprise you to hear this blog post isn't actually about Fox, at all.  I'm here to gripe about the other networks, in particular CNN.

I consider completely irrelevant whether Fox lied in this story.  In fact, when Fox lies outright, I consider it a relatively minor infraction.  Lies are, after all, easily disproved.  They are falsifiable.

Whether they lied or not, they misrepresented the truth.  And that, as "Outfoxed" demonstrates, is something Fox News has a long and frightening history.  For the past decade, they've implied false information and skewed the truth, and this is a far worse trend.  Consider the 2003 PIPA survey, where it was demonstrated that Fox News viewers had a poorer understanding of facts related to the war in Iraq compared to viewers of other outlets.  This was not caused by "lies" - it was caused by misrepresentation and implication.

The ad in question could be, depending on your interpretation, described as an outright lie or not.  It comes down to how you interpret the word "miss".  Maybe they were using shorthand for "missed the point" or something else.

But, short of presuming absolute incompetence, there can be no question the organization which wrote, authorized, and used the ad knew it would widely be read as implying that they alone covered the story in question.  Just like there can be no question the organizations reporting on the war in Iraq using references to 9/11 knew it would contribute to their viewers inferring a connection.

But, as I said before, this isn't about Fox.  They've been doing this for years.  No, I'm not here to address Fox.  Rather, I have a few questions for CNN:

Where were you when Fox was misrepresenting the war in Iraq?  Why didn't you report seriously on the connections between Fox and the Bush administration or the misrepresentations they were implying?

You did not adequately challenge the misinformation pouring out of this network for years.  But now that you've been misrepresented, you've responded with fury.

CNN: don't look for sympathy.  Just start doing your job.

2 comments:

Tor Hershman said...

The "News" media exists mostly to keep the "Herd" from running wild.

Stay on groovin' safari,
Tor

Matthew said...

Agreed.