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Wednesday 4 February 2004

Fox News gets Fair and Balanced on the Beeb [shinji]

I'm no great fan of much of the British media, particularly our tabloid newspapers and the 'tabloid of the airwaves', Sky News. I find it pretty worrying how these news sources, rather than sticking to what they're actually good at - namely convincing Laura from Milton Keynes, 23, to stick her chest out, and devoting two page spreads to the mundane lives of soap stars - attempt to cover serious issues like the Hutton Report or the Iraq War or the cloning debate by dumbing them down into a few hundred words and a 'hi-larious' headline in five-inch high letters.
However, my trips to the USA have convinced me of one thing; when it comes to dumbing things down, the Americans lead the world, and we can but stare in awe at their magnificent abilities in this regard.
The best example of this yet is Fox News - a news channel which came from being quite small prior to September 11, 2001 to being one of the largest and most influential in the USA right now. They accomplished this by being relentlessly patriotic (often overstepping the mark into the realms of jingoistic propaganda, in my own opinion) and right-wing, political leanings which appeal to a lot of current thinking in the USA. Throughout the second Gulf War, Fox played like a true propaganda channel - with a flapping stars and stripes in the background at all times, and American soldiers referred to at all times as 'heroes' and 'liberators'. That's fine; you always support your own soldiers in a war. Putting the caption 'March Madness' underneath images of the million-odd anti-war protestors in London last year, well, that grated a little more - especially from a station whose tagline is 'Fair and Balanced'.
You can probably imagine, then, how Fox News reported on the Hutton Report. Or at least, you probably think you can. However, this video clip - a genuine clip of John Gibson, who presents a one-hour news story each evening on Fox and always rounds off with a short opinion piece such as the one you're about to see - left me absolutely aghast, even as someone who's pretty cynical about the American media in the first place.
[Fox's Fair and Balanced take on Hutton]
It's worth bearing in mind, when you watch this, that millions of Americans use Fox as their primary news source - and will have taken this item as gospel truth. After all, how could a man with such an architectural miracle of a haircut be speaking a word of a lie...?


  1. As has been expressed in IRC, I'm absolutely gobsmacked. Not because I'd like to step up and defend the BBC, I'm one of their most fierce critics concerning the events surrounding Gilligan and David Kelly but this... this is just frightening.
    They cannot believe this. Reasonably intelligent people must switch on the lights and man the cameras and VCRs, or at least people who are capable of enough thought to fill out the job application form.
    Sometimes, when faced with this sort of unbelievable wrongness, I wonder if we aren't actually closer to the Middle East than we are Americans? This sent a true shiver down my spine.

  2. There isn't a great deal to be said on the matter, really. The guy is either a tool or simply playing to the nationalistic masses. Either way, it doesn't speak well for the state of American popular culture.
    That said, CNN's reporting on the subject, whilst still critical, is at least reasoned. This gives me hope.

  3. Preumably this is some sort of personal comment, entitled 'My Word', rather than the Fox News channels main reportage. Sometimes extremists who spout lies are put on these sort of soap boxes on national TV. It sounded like an ill informed biased rant from someone who wanted to stir up nationalist fever for the war, and point the evil finger at the BBC as Yank haters. It almost smacks of a comedy sketch to me.

  4. I'd just like to point out that NO ONE with half a brain who lives in the US watches Fox News to be informed. They watch it for laughs. The whole 'fair and balanced' thing is a running joke.

  5. Gordon, you're a Scot living in the US. I don't think you're representative of the people who would be watching that going 'Wooo ah!'. The point of this really must be, that there are people without half a brain that take that shit seriously and that is very disturbing.
    I mean... The Sun and the Daily Mail kinda annoys and depresses me but it doesn't actually make fill me with dread on the state of humanity like this does.

  6. The most deeply disturbing thing about this kind of factually incorrent chest beating hyperbole is that you could fade it to black & white, change a few of the characters around & it could be being played by Mr Adolf & his leather coated friends. It goes directly against the very freedoms that the yankeedoodledandies purport to support so stongly. Jakboot/cowboy boot, what's the difference...?

  7. Well exactly. The same fuckers that bang ceaselessly on about how they're the bastion of democracy the world over (and frequently, how they invented it - sigh) and the shining example to the world... It's this sort of thing which makes even us, America's traditional allies, start to understand how the rest of the world comes to hate them.
    The fact that there's enough people genuinely ignorant enough to be receptive to this jingoistic propaganda, as Shinji aptly put it, is one huge public relations own goal for the United States of America. Freedom and truth? Freedom to be a patriotic zombie seems to be the message. And we all know how well that's worked for other nations.

  8. The Beeb could possibly have been accused of being anti-American at certain times - the infamous Question Time in the aftermath of 11/9 is one possible example. However, you see things like that and you have to start thinking 'well, can we really blame people?'The BBC's attitude to America is completely irrelevant to Hutton, as far as I know it was never even mentioned. The fact that this guy is so utterly self centered and jingoistic to think that hatred of America must be the reason behind it just gives further evidence to those who do express a dislike of lots of aspects of the US.On the one side you have morons like this, effectively telling people America is great and good and anyone who doesn't think so deserves whatever's coming to them. On the other side you have muslim clerics in the madrases telling children that to die and take some Americans with you is a guarantee of heaven. All over the world people are being fed lies just to convince them to do or allow something they should be wise enough not to take any part in. Even here, it's looking more and more like that was exactly what was done to us.Frankly, it all sickens me to the pit of my stomach. The fact that there are enough people in the world that stupid and blind makes the idea that the human race is evolving in any useful sense laughable in the extreme. When we're all clever enough to tell these idiots that they're talking complete rubbish and they should clear off sharpish then we'll have got somewhere.