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Fair and balanced?

By concerned Cannuck - Posted on 29 February 2012

I'm wondering what people's opinions here are towards FOX "News"....Do you think it has contributed to the deterioration of political discourse in America and the general dumbing dpown of the population....or do you beleive that it is a useful and necessary counterweight to some sort of  vast left wing conspiracy going on in the "lamestream" media?
(BTW....I always shake my head at the fact that FOX peoople don't think they are part of the mainstream media given their ratings).

I know some may object to the source I am posting but this "pundit prep" document from the RNC to FOX is recently in the news so I think relevant for discussion.

I've long felt that meetings in the FOX hierarchy and punditsphere must revolve mainly about how they can drive the narrative so it works for their role as the unofficial mouthpeice for the Republican Party....Not so much about the news per se....but how to minimize any news favourable to the Democrats/left....and how to deliberately hype up anything that would reflect well on right wing ideology (and if there's nothing....make it up).

I suffer from no illusions that the media/press can always retain total objectivity or that unintentional bias will creep in even for the most concientious reporter....However, with FOX I think it's completely deliberate and I think that their not even trying to tell the truth.

I also don't believe that the Tea Party was "grassroots"....they had a whole network and its website promoting events, supplying maps and directions and providing FOX "News" celebrities to appear at Tea Party rallies....Heck! They were even urging people to go. Not something done by the so called leftwing media when they reported on the OWS. gatherings.


David Frum: Fox News Has An Interest In Marginalizing The GOP



David Frum continued his ‘Waterloo’ media rounds this weekend stopping by Reliable Sources to further discuss both his firing from AEI and his continuing takedown of the GOP’s decision-making throughout the health care process and its relationship with the GOP. It’s unhealthy relationship with Fox. Says Frum: “The Republicans originally thought that Fox works for us, and now we’re discovering we work for Fox.” He elaborated for Howie Kurtz:

What that means is that Fox, like Limbaugh, has an interest in pushing the Republicans to the margins, making people angry. When people are angry and alienated, they don’t vote. They succumb to feelings of helplessness. What people need right now are feelings of power, that they can make a difference by participating in politics.

Actually, I’m not sure how it benefits Fox to keep people from voting and, alas, Frum was not able to elaborate further due to time constraints. It’s certainly no secret that the extreme rhetoric has resulted in great ratings for Fox, however, whether they are overly concerned with the effects of that rhetoric remains to be seen. The fact the GOP is so vulnerable to the power of the Fox meme I think says as much about their lack of direction as anything. Ironically, this hard love Frum is peddling of late sounds a teeny bit like the hard love Glenn Beck was peddling at CPAC last month, though it’s hard to imagine the two finding any common ground beyond this. Video below.

Easy, in some states they passed laws that says if you are registered as a party you MUST vote for that party - as in they won't give you the ballot with all the canidates, only your party.

Meaning anyone that is Republican has to vote for the Republican nominee, Independent can vote for who they want (since not really reg as a party), and Democrats have to vote for the Democratic nominee.

Some states didn't warn their citizens either.  So, while some were able to change their party before voting in 2008, others had no idea wth was going on, and since you can't change your party on the day of voting - well, you can only imagine.

So, they aren't keeping you from voting, just making sure you vote for people you may not want to.

I am amazed at how the Republican candidates, Governors, Congressman, Senators, and etc. want to shift the discussion to jobs and the economy during the general election but behind the scenes they enact laws that suppress voters right’s, institute rigorous immigration laws, dismantle Worker’s union, cut social programs for the poor, introduce a blunt amendment, maintain low tax for the rich and even now they want to find trivial reasons to impeach the President. They have an Article of Impeachment in congress ready to impeach the president if he initiates any military action (War) without congress’s approval. I am sure they will find other reasons to impeach the president besides the War. The possible motivation behind the impeachment is that he may be reelected in Nov 2012. The economy is stable enough to tolerate an impeachment I guess. Not only will they impeach the president, they will remove the Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and all civil officers.  The healthcare bill is in the Supreme Court being determined if it’s constitutional or not!!  According to Congress, everything the President does is against the constitution.  President Bush should have been impeached for his grave lies about WMD and creating this momentous debt from two wars!-- I cannot believe that after the American people found out that he lied, they reelected him again anyway!!      


It is amazing how the political process has been stalled due to partisanship. I guess this saga will continue as long as President Obama is in office!!  He has become the Republicans’ fixation and obsession!!--- They cannot focus on anything else because they are too consumed with every step the president makes, every word that comes out of his mouth, be it subtle or overt. They are so engrossed with him holding office until they are willing for the Country to fail rather than see him Govern. Charges should be brought against congress for rebutting the President’s entire request; they deliberately acted against the President. There has to be some criminal charges which can be brought against their reckless behavior!!---- Their actions were unconstitutional despite their opposing political views from the President. Certainly, I have no clue of what charges could be brought against them, but an investigation needs to be done regarding Congress’s behavior against the Presidential office. It is astonishing how congress is allowed to act in the manner they do all in the name of “Balancing Power.”


I hope the American people do not go to sleep mentally during the general election and buy the Republican candidate and his endorsers’ pipe dream about a better economy and job creation; the American People only have to look at what actions they (Republican leadership) have done to determine their true agenda. Nothing should be taken seriously from their lying tongues; they will say whatever they have to say to deceive the American people.  They want power so badly that they are willing to compromise all integrity and honesty.      

 FOX "News"....Do you think it has contributed to the deterioration of political discourse in America and the general dumbing dpown of the population"

I don't know about political discourse but there has been a deterioration of what I would consider traditional -- and superior -- ethics of broadcast journalism. (Old geezer complaining about how things were better in the old days alert!!!)

But Pstient Zero in this epidemic of junk news is, oddly enough, SIXTY MINUTES which, itself, is actually a very good news program and, with some few exceptions over the years, has been so consistantly.

But SIXTY MINUTES committed a serious "crime" or even a sin : it was the first major television news program to make a lot of money. 

Prior to the 1960s broadcast news, including radio news, was a barely break even proposition and often a net loser in terms of bottom line. Thus, it was a public service provided by the networks and, as such, was exempt from many of the compromises that the sports and entertainment divisons of the networks had to live with on a daily basis. (Wm Paley, more or less founding father of CBS felt specifically about news in this way. David Sarnoff, patron saint of NBC, thought the whole Network and all of radio should be used to elevate national culture***)

By the 1970s SIXTY MINUTES -- a news division production -- was making tons of  money, competing with and beating networkI entertainment hits for ratings and ad dollars. It was not long before the corporate mentality took over: if a news division COULD make money, then it MUST make money.

PRELIM TO FOX NEWS. Enter the era of the mega news anchor as superstar. Cronkite replaced by jet black haired/chiseled JOhn Hamm looks of young Dan Rather. (Loved Cronkite, but as a male model he left something to be desired). A relatively young Barbara Walters (who is a damn fine journalist and has been for decades) famously grabs a scandalously unprecedented 1 million dollar deal  as co-anchor on the ABC evening news  with Harry Reasoner, who actually looks black and white even in color.   Anchors and star reporters  acquire talent agents who negotiated their deals and drove star journalist salaries and perks through the roof.  Journalistic credentials, at least for a while, stayed in top priority but "television viewer appeal" became a factor -- and it grew,

SKIPPING OVER A LOT HERE, INCLUDING TURNER AND CNN  TO FOX NEWS.Fox/Roger Ailes either figure out on their own or they learn from Limbaugh's complete revolutionizing of AM radio into a right wing talk and country format (killing off your favorite rock and roll radio stations -- if you are over 50 anyway) that advocacy news targeted for a political as well as social demographic will sell. Like SIXTY MINUTES, they couch their stories in terms of dramatic conflict with an uncompromisingly clear hero/correct side and villain/incorrect side. (SIXTY MINUTES FOUNDING PRODUCER used to describe the success of this news show in these terms: "It is the adventures of Mike, Dan, Morley, and Leslie" -- effectively, entertainment narrative.

In addition to reducing its political stories to melodramas ("Jermiah Wright: Religious Leader or Muslim, Socialist Terrorist Svengali who Controls Obama's Every Move, Thought, and Impulse? We report, you decide), Fox is terrific with graphics and short, quick answer talking points, subtle and explicit.  It also knows what an attractive woman looks like.  (Apparently there are no Republican or Democratic "strategists" that look over the age of 26 on camera, and not too many males of any age or appeaerance. Remarkable that their chief demographic is males over 40).

Or, put another way, Fox -- or the people who like it, at least -- have made a colossol mess of journalistic standards. Now, the leadership of television journalism belongs to a whole generation of people who never saw or may have never even heard of the Edward R. Murrow/Cronkite/Huntley-Brinkley standards of  less exciting but more professionally responsible reporting.

But once broadcast news became a profit center, which it is virtually across the board (God save  PBS and NPR) something like Fox News, or worse, was bound to happen.

***FUN FACT. Sarnoff wanted radio to bring classical music to the whole country. He brought the conductor Arturo Toscanini out of retirement to lead an NBC-hired symphony orchestra to do weekly nationally- broadcast live concerts of classical music. Sarnoff had a special studio in NBC built/remodeld to hold that gigantic orchestra and broadcast the concerts, which NBC did from the late 1930s to the mid 1950s.  The studio NBC built specifically for those concerts is still in use... and you have seen it. Saturday Night Live has been in that studio since its premiere in 1975.




Tom, Enjoyed the history lesson.  The description reminds me of what NPR is (or at least attempts to be) today.

If I may add a post script / editorial / observation, I find it ironic that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have turned mocking "journalism" into one of the few news sources I trust anymore...

BTW: at least once a day I lament the lack of Cronkite, Huntley, Brinkley,

Since my career and passion are managing investments I pay close attention to the level of financial news in the mainstream, mainly because clients often quote it to me and I have to contradict it.  The hidden agendas of financial news sources - political or otherwise - are appalling. 

 Thanks, Kim. Some years ago I accidentally wrote a book on the early history of broadcasting (mostly radio)... totally fascinated me and ginned up my interest in political journalism.  I miss the glory days of the network news -- especially Cronkite and that great CBS team (Eric Sevareid, Robert Trout, Douglass Edwards, Charles Collingswood, and even young Dan Rather was a kick -- yes, not much in terms of  diversity but they did run a helluva shop).  Old geezer laments, LOL.

It kills me to say anything critical of 60 MINUTES but in addition to the great work they have done,  they also laid some serious groundwork, especially early on,  for the overly hyped journalist as star crusader, career wrecking interviews,  ambush interviews and dubious hidden camera reports, even more dubious editing,  blurred line between on camera expert  and paid network consultant, etc. -- breeding ground for unfair and unbalanced news.

PS  I always loved the NBC ochesttra and Toscanini story, which has numerous twists and turns in it beyond what I recounted here -- the studio 8H  story is just the easiest to pitch because of the connection with Saturday Night Live.

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