Why Fox can’t just admit it

Fox News logoSlate has published a wonderful deconstruction of the lawsuit by Fox News to stop Missouri’s Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Robin Carnahan, from using Fox file footage in her ads. Fox argues that her use of the footage hurts the reputation of its news business for accuracy and objectivity. The problem is that Carnahan’s opponent also uses Fox News footage, but the Republican isn’t being sued.

I read this stuff and wonder again why Fox just doesn’t admit that theirs is a network that supports Republicans and issues of the right. That wonder doesn’t last long, because the reason is a familiar one (this was our view at CBN): Fox takes the position that the established press is biased and they are fair and balanced. To prove this proposition, Fox News believes that by simply including the point-of-view of the right, they’re providing “we report, you decide.” It may seem like “bias” to others, the thinking goes, because the average citizen is used to only hearing one side — the liberal side.

This is all well and good (and logical) until something like this lawsuit happens. Suddenly, the BS of it all is revealed, but Fox cannot risk simply admitting its bias, because to do so would disprove their marketing position. How? If Fox admits bias, then others can claim the middle ground. If Fox would admit a position of extreme on the right, it would be “balanced” by extremes on the left, and the traditional press could then claim the center. Fox cannot allow this to happen.

There’s also the matter of audience expectations. Your audience can’t “fight” on behalf of your position, if you admit it’s otherwise.

I don’t think there’s any question about what’s happening with Fox, but I don’t think you’ll ever hear anybody from Fox News admit it.

Comments

  1. Why not have everyone disclose their biases then? The myth of “objectivity in journalism” has always been a crock. Bias sets in the minute you decide to cover/not cover a story. Who you interview. What goes in the lead paragraph vs. the pat closing argument…er…paragraph that tends to round out most “mainstream” stories today. What page it goes on. etc, etc.

    What you refer to as the “traditional press” can claim the center? On what basis? That’s it’s objective? Only if you believe a/there is objective reality, and b/that the traditional press faithfully represent it (as opposed to defining “center” as something approximating mainstream consensus viewpoints in the country at large, which the traditional press certainly does not reflect).

    I’m not going to go the route of juxtaposing Fox News with MSNBC, because that’s too easy (although so far as I know MSNBC does not announce it’s bias). Ditto, Huffington Post, or Slate for that matter. No, I’m referring to mainstream outlets… NYTimes, CNN, PBS News, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, etc. News flash: They’re biased…more blatantly in recent years, but always have been, truth be told. Many in media can’t see it because the biases these outlets promulgate are like comfortable old shoes for most of us, so we can’t “see” the lack of objectivity…it all seems “right” (as in, “correct”).

    FoxNews is the squeaky wheel in the media machine. Sorry, on balance, I think that’s a good thing.

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