Friday, September 29, 2006

Fair and balanced means having the last word, according to Fox News

This absolutely infuriating video clip encompasses the American conservative approach to "fair and balanced" argument, i.e the assertion that any challenge is incorrect because they, the right, are, erm, right, whereas any opposition to their opinion is based on ignorance.

Note here that the presenter's responses - themselves irresponsible coming from a 'journalist' - contain no actual argument, but instead aim always to have the last say, that last say being an essential dismissal of the opposing argument.

"Fair and balanced"? Well, not really. When an interview such as this is conducted, it is itself a response to that which it is addressing. This means that Senator Boxor's comments are the balance. They are a response, the voicing of the other side of the opinion about the success of the war in Iraq. Jane Skinner's response serves to bring the argument swinging back over to the right, in an aggressive attempt to close the argument in a way which undermines Boxer's comments. A "thank you, Senator, but viewers - please remember that her comments are worth overshadowing with my own" if ever I heard one. Let's not forget that closing arguments are often the most poignant and will stick in the heads of the viewer.

I've laboured this metaphor repeatedly to my friends, that journalists should be like butlers - they should deliver the news and be pretty much unnoticed. No attention to the self, no personal opinions. The BBC achieves this pretty well, as does, to a large extent, CNN. Whereas a year ago I would have taken with a pinch of salt any assertion that Fox News is a skillfully veiled propaganda machine, over the past months I am certain of it.

2 Comments:

Blogger Helena Handbasket said...

It is infuriating. As I told you by phone, I witnessed the same kind of exchange on Friday morning on CNN; Newsreader A was challenging Democratic Party Leader Howard Dean, interrupting and agressively pushing to get in the last word. What the fuck are her credentials, I wonder, Newsreader A?

12:40 am  
Anonymous FuegoDiego said...

It's true. It's about being right at all costs, and in the event your wrong, you should at least be stubborn in your conviction, because that shows courage and honor. It is literally a page out of Roger Ailes training guide for his anchors at Fox News. The other useful and successful tactic is to associate yourself with the disenfranchised by appealing to their helplessness by standing for unwinnable issues, i.e. abortion, religious influence in government and "less government" style government. This way the very people who stand to lose the most by supporting you will gladly vote for you because you are, at the very least, as disenfranchised as they are. It makes my stomach hurt to watch the poor vote for millionaire republicans because they claim some sort of brotherhood within their religious conviction. When the truth is that the poor go to church because there's no where else to turn and the Republicans go there to get votes.
But I digress. The part I find most disturbing about Fox News is that people like Howard Dean continue to grant them interviews, as if anyone watching would ever dare support him. By allowing them to torture and edit you on live television, you give them 'mainstream credentials' to do just that. It makes it somehow acceptable to be a bully-jouralist when you continue to land prize guests.

6:08 am  

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