It has been argued, and it is true, that one of the most important pillars of a free and democratic society is a free press. Indeed, access to complete, accurate, and reliable information is key to the manifestation of a well-informed, vibrant, and civically engaged population. If access to quality and accurate information is denied, either through willful or unintentional methods, then democracy itself is tainted. However, it is saddening to note that, in the era of 24-hour TV coverage, access to accurate reporting has declined considerably. Several channels have become propaganda tools, serving selfish interests or the masters that support them. This, not only brainwashes the listeners, it also makes them make wrong choices as well as stifling democratic ideals . This paper will strive to explore Fox News’ claim of “fair and balanced reporting” in the light of two incidences in the recent past. It will be shown that their claim to fair reporting is just a gimmick as Fox News is a propaganda tool that not only brainwashes listeners, but also engages in character assassination as well as flipping for reasons best known to them.
Bias in media coverage has been espoused in the recent past. The idea that major news organizations could have political undertones has been investigated by several researchers. According to Goldberg, the CBS News has a liberal bias. According to him, most of the staff at the CBS News, including those in the top positions had liberal views that indirectly affected news coverage because their views affected stories that were viewed as newsworthy.
In the American society, research findings indicate that citizens spend an average of 50 hours per week searching for information on the various media. At the same time, cultural literacy levels have gone down. Today, mainstream media entertain gross misrepresentation of facts and history of well-known people. In addition, they also legitimize violations.
One of the most recent propaganda that everyone is well aware of is the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) campaign that led America to war with Saddam Hussein. This was information that was taken as truth by Fox audiences; believing that Saddam had these weapons. Fox News has been able to achieve their goal of brainwashing people about the weapon of mass destruction through the use of saturation. Effective saturation has three components; continuous repletion of the same message, being ubiquitous, and lastly being consistent with ones opinion. In essence, a message is repeated over and over and it must be everywhere and share across all the commentators. There is a mental effect of being exposed to the same message several times, irrespective of whether it is true or not. However, a clear seeker of truth will unravel a systematic approach used by the Fox News to distort information, for obvious reasons. This analysis will examine several incidences of distorted reporting that has been passed on to the audience as gospel truth.
Fox News knew well of the ineffectiveness of the report claiming “WMD” peddled by Sen. Rick Santorum and Rep. Peter Hoekstra. The two gentlemen the existence of the chemical munitions in Iraq was proof that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. I their reportage, Fox News highlighted these claims as enough proof of the existence of weapons of mass destruction. Immediately after the news conference by the two gentlemen, intelligence reports were categorical that the pre-1991 shells were clearly not the WMD that the government cited in its drive for war in Iraq. Moreover, the Duelfer report had indeed exposed that old and abandoned chemical munitions were found after the invasion. However, such information did not prevent Fox News from playing up the supposed discovery of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Moreover, Fox News will go a head and attack anyone who tries to point out that the United States did not find the WMD in Iraq after the invasion.
Fox News reporting can never be fair and balanced in the sense of the word. Several credibility issues arise when we consider some one video clip from the Fox News (Justice Dep't Atty Tony West Defends American Taliban and Fights Arizona). In this clip, Gregg Jarret fields questions to the Justice Department concerning its decision to hire Tony West to represent the American Taliban in court. Viewing this clip will reveal that Fox News is one of the most dangerous propaganda tool in the history of America. The first question is obviously made to discredit Tony West. Fox News indents to tell the viewers that the government is instituting a lawsuit against Arizona for attempting to protect its citizens, which sounds rather ridiculous. The suit is based on infringement of the federal jurisdiction by the state.
In his first question, the anchor clearly wants to discredit lawyer West by feeding the idea that one who is defending a terrorist is in appropriate in American culture. However, this is historical and based on the American constitution can be proven by historical facts. Consider the case where John Adams stood defense for the British soldiers who executed the Boston massacre. According to Fox News, Tony West is the “American Taliban Lawyer”; which is a title aimed at underscoring everything that is said. In addition, it can be noticed that the anchor makes a comment that “a vast majority” of the U.S. citizens are supportive of the Arizona law. A vast majority should be a figure well above 80%; however, the actual figure is 59 % . Here, Fox News wants the audience to believe what they want. This means, it is a tool for spoon-feeding the audience.
Fox News will not waste time pursuing a certain idea or debate and they will prefer a quick route to discredit anyone. In this interview, the aim is harm the reputation of the lawyer; call it character assassination. Fox News and other media with similar approach use ad hominen attacks not only aimed at individuals, but even a group of people in order to discredit the idea of anyone who does not subscribe to Fox News’ thinking. This form of approach, which does not provide a genuine platform for a balanced debate can never be democratic, but draconian and biased, which is the opposite of what Fox would want people to believe they are. Another strategy that Fox News try to employ is flipping which is quite frustrating for any viewer who is keen to follow on a debate in their broadcasting. Flipping involves the use of underhand tactics that one is using and trying to accuse the opponents of doing it first. Consider the case of immigration in the United States, where people who are opposed to racism are accused of being racists.
In conclusion, Fox News is not free or unbiased as they claim to be. In order to advance democratic ideal and be balanced, a news outlet must be free from bias. It is true that people are not perfect. However, journalists have an ethical obligation to remove personal inclinations and bias from their reporting, unless they are giving personal opinion. From this discussion, it can be seen that Fox News are choosey in the news that they run and they try to spoon-feed their audience, effectively misrepresenting information. Propagating biased reporting is quite a hopeless endeavor. Whether by design or otherwise, it will result to embarrassment fro those who carelessly pursue it. In the end, it might to be the most costly mistake to execute by the top executive at Fox News.