Saturday, March 13, 2010

Why don't honest journalists take on Roger Ailes and Fox News?

God bless Howell Raines for saying what the rest of the MSM won't.

One question has tugged at my professional conscience throughout the year-long congressional debate over health-care reform, and it has nothing to do with the public option, portability or medical malpractice. It is this: Why haven't America's old-school news organizations blown the whistle on Roger Ailes, chief of Fox News, for using the network to conduct a propaganda campaign against the Obama administration -- a campaign without precedent in our modern political history?

Through clever use of the Fox News Channel and its cadre of raucous commentators, Ailes has overturned standards of fairness and objectivity that have guided American print and broadcast journalists since World War II. Yet, many members of my profession seem to stand by in silence as Ailes tears up the rulebook that served this country well as we covered the major stories of the past three generations, from the civil rights revolution to Watergate to the Wall Street scandals. This is not a liberal-versus-conservative issue. It is a matter of Fox turning reality on its head with, among other tactics, its endless repetition of its uber-lie: "The American people do not want health-care reform."

Fox repeats this as gospel. But as a matter of historical context, usually in short supply on Fox News, this assertion ranks somewhere between debatable and untrue.
During the last election we all remember how the New York Times and others eventually found themselves with no option other than to call out McCain's campaign for it's rather loose relationship with the truth.

But, when it comes to Fox News, there is simply silence. Indeed, when Obama called them out for being the broadcasting wing of the Republican party and attempted to remove Fox from the White House press pool, many journalists sided with Fox News rather than challenge Murdoch and Ailes.
Perhaps realizing the implications for their own networks, all the White House officially approved networks refused to go along.
They told the White House that if Fox were banned, none of the other networks would participate.
Fox's handling of the universal healthcare issue has been a classic example of the way they skewer facts to suit the Republican agenda.
It is true that, after 14 months of Fox's relentless pounding of President Obama's idea of sweeping reform, the latest Gallup poll shows opinion running 48 to 45 percent against the current legislation. Fox invariably stresses such recent dips in support for the legislation, disregarding the majorities in favor of various individual aspects of the reform effort. Along the way, the network has sold a falsified image of the professional standards that developed in American newsrooms and university journalism departments in the last half of the 20th century.

Whatever its shortcomings, journalism under those standards aspired to produce an honest account of social, economic and political events. It bore witness to a world of dynamic change, as opposed to the world of Foxian reality, whose actors are brought on camera to illustrate a preconceived universe as rigid as that of medieval morality. Now, it is precisely our long-held norms that cripple our ability to confront Fox's journalism of perpetual assault. I'm confident that many old-schoolers are too principled to appear on the network, choosing silence over being used; when Fox does trot out a house liberal as a punching bag, the result is a parody of reasoned news formats.
And Raines is right when he states that the silence of other news organisations has, "helped Fox legitimize a style of journalism that is dishonest in its intellectual process, untrustworthy in its conclusions and biased in its gestalt."

Fox have championed the Tea Party protesters with Glenn Beck being seen as the movements leader. And yet they still display surely the most inappropriate logo of all time, by claiming that they are "fair and balanced".

And yet, other networks go along with this, pretending that Fox is just like the rest of them.

Click here for full article.

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