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Monday, August 30, 2004

Movie review

I rented Outfoxed this weekend and watched it with a couple other party victims on Sunday. We thought it was incredibly entertaining considering the rather dry topic of media consolidation and how it affects the standards of journalism. Of course, one of the reasons it is so entertaining is they use a bunch of clips from Fox News, and Fox News is designed to be a lot more entertaining than your average news show/network. In fact, the primary pleasure in watching the film is the MST3K./Beavis and Butthead factor--an opportunity to watch others tear apart and mock the manipulative techniques in a program.

Would the movie convince someone who likes Fox News to reconsider their opinion? Probably not, but that doesn't mean that this movie is only preaching to the choir. Many people are so used to thinking about the country as "polarized" that we tend to forget that the large masses of people aren't even aware of how bad the right wing tilt in the media has become. Even if most people understand that Fox News is ideaologically conservative, they are probably still under the false impression that Fox is a news-gathering organization, when of course it is more properly understood as a Republican propaganda machine. This movie is a great tool for showing people exactly how bad it's gotten, that so-called "journalists" will cheerfully lie and brainlessly repeat RNC talking points all day long if it furthers their political cause.

The one weakness is that while the movie tried to make a point about the "Fox effect" on the other cable networks, that point is sort of lost in all the noise coming from Fox itself. It would have made for a tighter, better movie to simply address the issue of Fox News by itself. But on the other hand, it would have been irresponsible not to point out that the viewer isn't escaping conservative propaganda by simply switching over to MSNBC or CNN. I'm not sure what could have been done to avoid this catch-22, though. Maybe another documentary chronicling the loss of journalistic standards overall to right-wing propaganda?

Anyway, it's a good movie and it's perfect to show to those people in your life who consider Fox News to be just another news channel. Also, it exposes various manipulative techniques that viewers will be sure to start noticing more often, not only on Fox but on other news shows as well.

29 Comments:

Blogger The News Writer said...

As one of those "other" journalists I can testify to how difficult it has become in the face of Fox "News," but often not in the way one would think. We are prone now to sounding more conservative -- but not so much to match Fox but to avoid sounding as god-awful partisan as Fox does.

On the other hand, to be called the Clinton News Network by one side and derided for falling in line with conservative talking points by the other isn't all bad.

I've been preaching to my fellow newsroomites lately that the lack of context is a particular breeding ground for ignorance. When we don't know -- and don't present -- the background on a particular story, we're being misleading. This new story about the possible mole in the Pentagon is an example of that -- this fellow works in Doug Feith's office, who is one of the top regime change kings of the Bush administration -- particularly Iran regime change, which just so happens to be what this guy is suspected of passing on to Israel: classified info about U.S. policy toward Iran. Why might Israel be interested in that? Because with Iran's new nuclear capabilities, Israel is currently considering whether or not to bomb Iran, and knowing where the U.S. stood might just make help make that decision. And there's connections to Iran/Contra and all ... the list goes on. But cable TV, in particular, doesn't make those connections, and, I believe, that's a huge disservice. It adds to our collective memory lapses on issues of great import.

8/30/2004

 
Blogger The News Writer said...

As one of those "other" journalists I can testify to how difficult it has become in the face of Fox "News," but often not in the way one would think. We are prone now to sounding more conservative -- but not so much to match Fox but to avoid sounding as god-awful partisan as Fox does.

On the other hand, to be called the Clinton News Network by one side and derided for falling in line with conservative talking points by the other isn't all bad.

I've been preaching to my fellow newsroomites lately that the lack of context is a particular breeding ground for ignorance. When we don't know -- and don't present -- the background on a particular story, we're being misleading. This new story about the possible mole in the Pentagon is an example of that -- this fellow works in Doug Feith's office, who is one of the top regime change kings of the Bush administration -- particularly Iran regime change, which just so happens to be what this guy is suspected of passing on to Israel: classified info about U.S. policy toward Iran. Why might Israel be interested in that? Because with Iran's new nuclear capabilities, Israel is currently considering whether or not to bomb Iran, and knowing where the U.S. stood might just make help make that decision. And there's connections to Iran/Contra and all ... the list goes on. But cable TV, in particular, doesn't make those connections, and, I believe, that's a huge disservice. It adds to our collective memory lapses on issues of great import.

8/30/2004

 
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