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ISSUE 118 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 10/1/2004

Outfoxed, A balanced debate: Networks unfairness exposed in new film

By Jonathan Graef
Opinion Editor

Friday, October 1, 2004

The past few years have been an incredible time for documentaries. One of the more controversial documentaries released, Outfoxed: Rupert Murdochs War on Journalism, was recently screened in Viking Theater.

The subject of criticism for this new film is a contentious topic: Fox News. The thesis for Outfoxed is that Fox News, using techniques that range from subtle to skull-crushingly obvious, reports the news with a conservative spin.

Through these two tactics, the film surmises that the effect Fox News has on the way news is reported is a negative one.

The film begins by detailing how exactly Rupert Murdoch, who is the CEO and chairman of News Corp (who more or less own everything but the pants youre wearing  and those pants youre wearing are probably owned by Clear Channel) began the Fox News Channel with a promise to correct what he felt was biased reporting in the news.

Murdoch began his noble quest by choosing Roger Ailes to be the CEO and Chairman of the Fox News Channel.

Roger Ailes is a former media strategist for the campaigns of Presidents Ronald Reagan (whom Murdoch idolized), George Bush Sr., and finally, Richard Nixon.

If I could only figure out the ideological connection between these three presidents and Ailes! Curse you, God of clear thinking! Curse you!

That being said, one should give Ailes the benefit of the doubt. A person can easily separate their ideology from reporting clear facts. However, as the film goes into great detail to show, the reporting of Fox News is clearly biased towards conservative thought.

A Media Matters study cited in the film shows that in a 25-week period (summer to fall of 2003), the number of Republican guests on Fox News Special Reportoutnumbered the Democrat guests by a five-to-one ratio.

This means that 83 percent of the guests on Fox News Special Report, arguably the marquee program on Fox News, were Republicans, and only 17 percent were Democrats. Now thats some fairness and balance!

Also worth noting is a PIPA study from October 2003 cited in the film that found that 67 percent of Fox News viewers thought President George W. Bush and his administration had proven links between Iraq and al Qaida (links which havent been explicitly proven yet.)

On the other end of the spectrum, a Public Broadcast-ing System (PBS) survey found that 16 percent of its viewers had that same perception.

Outfoxed has another segment that reveals that a reporter for Fox who was speaking with President George W. Bush had a wife who (at the time of the interview) was campaigning for Bush.

Now, I would like to take the time to float out a phrase to the critical thinkers reading this piece: conflict of interest. Do with it what you would like.

Contrary to what you may be thinking, there is nothing that is wrong with these facts. If Fox News Special Report decides to have conservative guests, then that is its prerogative.

However, one considers the Fox News promise of being fair and balanced, and that Fox News is obligated to that promise, there is only one clear reaction: the person taking these facts into account should be so angry that they would contemplate lighting their hair on fire and then have their roommate put it out with a sledge hammer. But we dont have time for rational solutions.

Simply put, if you think that you are getting accurate news from cable news, then you should sit down and watch Outfoxed. By watching, you will find out how bamboozled the American public has become, and hopefully, be able to resist against it.

Opinions editor Jonathan Graef is a senior from Glenview, Ill. He majors in English and political science.

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