How does bias color the advice and information we get from fair and balanced sources? This graphic might illuminate:
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FOX News laments media bias
For a good belly laugh, I guess I could have quit right at the post title. What a mouthful. That still would have made an awesome post.
What the hell? Let’s dig just a bit deeper.
So there I was minding my own business when I came across a piece on FOX News Opinion written by Dan Gainor. The piece is entitled “The Scandal No One Is Talking About.” The premise of the piece is that the media sensationalizes some stories and not others. It’s a premise he explores for a whopping two sentences in the first paragraph before launching into attacks on liberals and Democrats.
What else would you expect? It’s FOX News, right? Anything other than that and you’d likely get whiplash from too much surprise.
He wastes no time in calling sexual harassment reporting about Herman Cain a “media assault.” In the FOX News world, apparently harassment allegations against a leading presidential candidate shouldn’t be reported. It’s just he said/she said, right? I’m sure FOX News would lead the way on restraint if the accusers were pointing a finger at someone like Obama. Or if they made baseless accusations about something really important, like his short form birth document wasn’t good enough.
Gainor laments the lack of ethics in the news and jokes that the media and Joe Paterno could teach each other a thing or two about that. Funny. Not.
Here’s a question. I wonder how many people ever heard of the so-called Ground Zero mosque? If they did, it was in no small part due to FOX News. Talk about media cherry picking a “scandal,” eh? Prompted by the ravings of an ultra-right blogger, FOX News and the “right-wing media machine” led the way in demonizing the Ground Zero mosque, which many have pointed out was not actually located at Ground Zero and was not a mosque, either, although the structure contains a “Muslim prayer space.” The actual name of the location is Park 51.
Here’s another question. How many FOX News viewers know that the Ground Zero mosque recently opened for business? In late September 2011, a 4,000 square foot Islamic center opened at the Park 51 location.
Did FOX News cover the story with the same amount of interest, excitement, sensationalism and rhubarb? Where were the “screaming headlines?”
Few people seemed to have noticed that last month, without the sky falling down, the Park 51 Islamic Community Center opened for business in lower Manhattan.
Source: FOX News Opinion – One Year Since NPR Fired Me — What Are the Lessons Learned?
Does media seek out scandals to sell copy? You bet. “If it leads it bleeds.” I think this is based on the same human instinct to turn our heads and lookie-loo at grisly traffic accidents. But personally I find it odd that FOX News would choose to toss stones from their glass house regarding this sort of thing, but to each their own, I guess.
By the way, one last question. Ever heard of a little something called the “phone hacking scandal?” You know, the scandal where police were bribed and soldiers, celebrities, politicians and crime victims had their phones hacked by news media owned by Rupert Murdoch? Anyone who answers “no” to this question just might get their news from FOX News. The lack of coverage of such a monumental and troubling story barely raises at blip over at America’s newsroom.
It’s hard to imagine media could make a mountain out of one molehill while quietly turning a blind eye to others. I find it hilarious how FOX News can lament that phenomenon while being so excellent at it.
I think we should all head Gainor’s advice. Get your information from as many different news sources as possible. Don’t get your filter bubble target locked on only one news outlet, and if you do, at all costs don’t let it be FOX News.
FOX News hit by hackers – or not?
You know how news organizations like to pre-write obituaries for famous people so they’ll be ready when it finally happens? I’ll bet this was one of those type of dealios!
Wall Street Infernal
This week I happened, totally by chance, to see some opinion pages from The Wall Street Journal. I don’t subscribe to WSJ nor do I seek out their opinion very often. But my boss loves money – he loves to eat it – so he’s a subscriber. You know the type. He has investments and actually gives a shit about what happens in the stock market. He spends his free time reading about tax laws, learning how to live life and structure things so he can pay as little as possible, etc.
I happened to glace at the opinion page on Tuesday, April 12, 2011, and there was Barack Obama front and center. Above him, a headline asked, “Who’s the Extremist Now?” I remember thinking, “Nice. Now that is subtle.”
Then, a mere two days later, on Thursday, April 14, 2011, I noticed Obama was featured on the opinion page. Again! There was another picture of Obama and the headline above asked, “Who Do You Trust?”
Holy fuck shit, Batman. It looks like we’ve discovered a trend!
Yes, I’m aware I’m about to discuss the opinion pages of a major newspaper. The op-ed pieces I mentioned above were apparently produced by WSJ staff writers who both had WSJ email addresses. It is fitting and proper for a newspaper to let it all hang on their opinion pages. But I’ll expound on this further in just a bit.
For those of us not too quick on the uptake, here’s how drive-by journalism works. Grab a picture of someone you don’t like, perhaps even the President of the United States. If possible, select a picture that is unflattering, but not overly so. Perhaps your victim is in mid-sneer or has a slightly ominous look on his face. Perfect!
Next comes the fun part. Write your headline. Since this is the “opinion” page feel free to phrase it as a question. This simple but effective method allows you the freedom to implant almost any message into your reader’s brains.
Lastly, try to find a writer, journalist and/or pundit to write an article to go with your creation. This might seem superfluous and a little bit overboard, but it’s actually quite important for your opinion page to appear, at least to the naked eye, to have some small measure of legitimacy.
There! Stand back and marvel at what you’ve done. An honest day’s work you can be proud of. And, best of all, it’s subtle.
So, I couldn’t help but wonder. This little tactic is so effective and fun, could this possibly work on anyone else?
First, let’s connect some quick dots.
- The Wall Street Journal is owned by Dow Jones & Company Inc.
- Dow Jones & Company Inc. is owned by News Corporation.
- The Founder, Chairman, and CEO of News Corporation is Rupert Murdoch.
Ah. Rupert Murdoch. The man who brought us FOX News. Suddenly I think we’re on to something here. He’s not exactly known for his desire to be unbiased. Murdoch’s penchant is for “advocacy journalism” or “agenda journalism.” Both labels fit his style quite well, I think.
Murdoch has been married three times. Notably, after divorcing from his second wife, he married for the third time only 17 days after his divorce was final. Only 68 years young at the time, Murdoch married Wendi Deng, age 30, presumably among those who find personal wealth on the order of $6.3 billion to be reason enough to find Murdoch’s face highly lickable. (An assumption on my part.)
All hail true love! As always, when it is really true that is a very magical and special thing, indeed.
I guess it might be a good thing for conservatives in the United States that Murdoch doesn’t inject too much of his own morals and sensibilities into his endeavors like FOX News and the WSJ.
Back on August 1, 2007, the merger between News Corp and Dow Jones was a done deal. The WSJ responded with an editorial on that same date claiming that Murdoch intended to “maintain the values and integrity of the Journal.” The WSJ was long considered to be liberal in news reporting and conservative on the opinion pages.
Now, back on topic, I’m wondering if we can take a page from the WSJ and try it ourselves. All we need is a picture and a headline. Let’s try it out!
Fooled Around While Still Married to Wife #2?
Whoa! I take it all back. This shit is fun after all! 🙂
So, what do you think? Are the tactics above featuring Obama on the WSJ opinion pages fair tactics? Or do they go too far?
And, more importantly, can you think of great headlines for other photos? Give it a try!
A tale of two headlines
Yes, my little liebchens. The posting blitzkreig continues. Is there no limit to how far I’ll whore myself out for some stats? Apparently not. Now post, damn you, post! Schnell!
Some dipshit from BP testified before Congress today. Or something. Whatever.
So I log in to my iGoogle home page tonight.
I normally eschew the iGoogle thing. It’s a bit lame. But I got this new widget thingie with a hamster that runs in a wheel, and, well, frankly, it makes it worth the trip.
Anyway. I get on iGoogle and the following two headlines blast me right in the face:
Fox News: BP CEO’s Day in Congress’ Kangaroo Court
New York Times: BP Chief Offers Few Answers, Frustrating Lawmakers
Oh, God. What a treat. Seriously, I just adore Dove moisturizing liquid, relaxing baths in Calgon, boxes of fine chocolates, sweet Zinfendel wine, and, of course, good belly laughs. Voila! My after work pick-me-up of the day.
Neither link went to a page that was clearly labeled as “opinion.” Remember in the newspaper they actually denoted which pieces were news and which were editorials? “Opinion” had its own page. On the web these days those lines seem to be blurred. To be fair, however, the Fox News piece was served up under the heading “Common Sense.” Riiiiiiiight.
Call of Doodie: Modern Warfare 2
Let’s file this one under the heading of “Conflicting Coverage.”
The new game “Call of Duty 2: Modern Warfare” is being released on Nov. 10. Normally I wouldn’t deign to speak to this topic, but I noticed something interesting in the media coverage.
First up, Reuters, which says (my emphasis added):
Some critics point fingers at the video game industry for often graphic depictions of bloodshed — especially after sensational acts of public violence. But while the “Grand Theft Auto” series has been criticized by some for glorifying crime, “Call of Duty” has not been similarly condemned.
Now a little something from FOX News. Compare and contrast:
NEW YORK — The publisher of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” seems to have a hit on its hands. The company is also hoping to brush some controversial images under the rug.
Footage leaked from the game (and since removed from a variety of Websites) reveals that players can shoot innocent civilians in an airport in a realistic rendering of a terrorist attack.
These are the first two paragraphs of the FOX News coverage of this story. In journalism this is what we call “the lead.”
Reuters emphasizes the release date and the financial projections for the company involved and the potential stock market impact. FOX News prefers to examine the most controversial angle. Interesting to say the least.
Go read for yourself. I report you decide. Now move like you have a purpose, maggots!
Crazy like a FOX journalism
Here’s an example of some bad journalism. At best it’s sloppy. At worst it is crass deceitfulness. I’ll just go ahead and report and let you decide.
This is a story about a small town news report that ended up getting some national attention.
Last month the owner of an apartment building in Albany, Oregon, decided to implement a ban on flags on vehicles in the parking lot. The story was picked up by the local newspaper, the Albany Democrat-Herald, with the unfortunately misleading headline: Apartment bans U.S. flags. In actuality, the policy banned all flags. A resident of the apartment complex was understandably upset and took the policy as an attack against his U.S. flags which, like all flags, were included in the ban.
From the local newspaper’s original story:
… American flags and others such as Mexican flags and college team flags were no longer allowed on vehicles parked at the complex … the rule applies to flag decals as well …
The newspaper later ran an editorial that further clarified the policy:
The management explained that it had a rule against flags of all sorts, including college and team banners as well as national flags, in order to avoid possible friction among the tenants.
A ban targeting the American flag while permitting others certainly would be offensive and it’s easy to see why that would get people riled up … if only that had been true. Based on the local newspaper reporting, however, it is crystal clear that the ban was not targeted at any specific flag. The policy applied to all flags regardless of content.
The story then got national legs as a ban of the American flag. In a slight twist on the truth, a local FOX affiliate in Boston then picked up the story and ran coverage under the headline: Let It Rip: Apartment flag ban. A video graphic on the site shows the American flag.
People living in an Oregon apartment complex are up in arms after their landlord asked them to keep the American flag off their cars.
Managers say they made the move because the image is offensive to some people.
Nowhere in the FOX coverage did they indicate that the ban was on all flags and didn’t specifically pertain to U.S. flags. In my opinion this is sloppy reporting because they probably wrote their short and and fluffy coverage. I suspect they didn’t conduct any investigation or attempt to interview anyone before they took the original piece of news and published it from a slightly different perspective. Like I said, I don’t know it was a deliberate attempt to deceive or not, but I do think it was sloppy.
Due to the national attention and bowing to pressure, no doubt exacerbated by the misleading focus on U.S. flags, management for the apartments eventually rescinded the policy.
The thing that confuses me the most is that this was essentially a non-story. If the nation wants a debate about a flag banning policy, go ahead and have that debate. The debate ended up being about a ban on U.S. flags, but that was never the policy. It was a total red herring. Of course, that sort of story is much more sensational and creates a lot more excitement than the more mundane actual truth.
Score another victory for opponents of critical thinking.