Fox News gets okay to misinform public in court ruling.
This is a 7 year old story but it explains how Fox works.
Many news agencies lie and distort facts, not many have the guts to admit it…in court…positioning the First Amendment as their defense!
The attorneys for Fox, owned by media baron Rupert Murdoch, successfully argued the First Amendment gives broadcasters the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on the public airwaves. We are pushing for a consumer protection solution that labels news content according to its adherence to ethical journalism standards that have been codified by the Society of Professional Journalists (Ethics: spj.org).
A News Quality Rating System and Content Labeling approach, follows a tradition of consumer protection product labeling, that is very familiar to Americans. The ratings are anti-censorship and can benefit consumers.
Appellate Court Rules Media Can Legally Lie.
On February 14, a Florida Appeals court ruled there is absolutely nothing illegal about lying, concealing or distorting information by a major press organization. The court reversed the 5,000 jury verdict in favor of journalist Jane Akre who charged she was pressured by Fox Television management and lawyers to air what she knew and documented to be false information. The ruling basically declares it is technically not against any law, rule, or regulation to deliberately lie or distort the news on a television broadcast.
On August 18, 2000, a six-person jury was unanimous in its conclusion that Akre was indeed fired for threatening to report the station’s pressure to broadcast what jurors decided was “a false, distorted, or slanted” story about the widespread use of growth hormone in dairy cows.
The court did not dispute the heart of Akre’s claim, that Fox pressured her to broadcast a false story to protect the broadcaster from having to defend the truth in court, as well as suffer the ire of irate advertisers. Fox argued from the first, and failed on three separate occasions, in front of three different judges, to have the case tossed out on the grounds there is no hard, fast, and written rule against deliberate distortion of the news.
The attorneys for Fox, owned by media baron Rupert Murdoch, argued the First Amendment gives broadcasters the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on the public airwaves.
In its six-page written decision, the Court of Appeals held that the Federal Communications Commission position against news distortion is only a “policy,” not a promulgated law, rule, or regulation. Fox aired a report after the ruling saying it was “totally vindicated” by the verdict.
Fox defended its right to distort and lie in court and it won. If you know someone who gets all their news from Fox please urge them to read this. We have great problems in our country and solving them will be hard under any set of conditions. If groups of our citizens are being spoon fed lies then reaching solutions becomes even harder if not impossible. If they would only mix the Fox propoganda with a little real news then their minds would start to function again. They might even find that they prefer the truth to Fox fiction.
Why is Fox News successful?
Despite the frequent lies and distortions pushed forth by Fox News, and specifically by the likes of Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, Fox News continues to drive a plurality of viewers to its TV shows. Why would anyone watch Fox News’ reports if they are so deceptive and misleading?
1. A strong market for protestant-Christian views in the United States.
Where else can you go to watch criticism on evolution, and non-Christian values? For non-stop criticism on evolution, you’d have to go to the creationist history museum. For a more liberal twist on religion you could watch CNN bash and ridicule atheists and agnostics; but for profit, and at the expense of reason, the major news networks acknowledge that religious controversies are better fueled than ignored. The invention of new controversies like “wars on Christmas” or whether Barack Obama is actually a practicing Muslim in disguise (and by implicit extension whether he is a terrorist or not), generates viewership, regardless of the merit of the fabricated story.
2. A jingoist and elitist “journalistic” culture.
What other news network displays red, white and blue, or the U.S. flag, non-stop? Whether the controversy is illegal immigration or the war in Iraq, no one will enrage you more than Bill O’Reilly’s tabloid journalism, regardless of whether you agree with his talking points or not. Tabloid journalism is not new, however, the sleek computer-generated graphics and the disappointingly-intelligent, self-important commentators can capture the attention of even some well-educated viewers, who if not fooled by the misleading, fabricated, or poorly-sourced material, are accused of being or implied to be un-American through a psychological (but clearly fallacious) tactic reminiscent of 1950s McCarthyism.
The underlying message typically is, if you don’t agree with our “news” or our interpretation, then you are a traitor. Bush said so. We can’t afford to think otherwise.
The same group mentality is fostered by the deceptively-playful morning shows, where the participants (news anchors is not a good title,) go from one pointless or mundane story to the next, talking casually as buddies or friends, but intermittently highlighting a real or manufactured political event to inject a Christian-conservative slant on the controversy of the day.
Whether or not you agree with the content or lack thereof, it is difficult to turn off the channel. Controversy is interesting, and tabloids sell. But when the controversy appeals to your dogmatic and/or erroneous beliefs, your only source of semi-intelligent debate comes from the mouth of Bill O’Reilly.
In other words, if you can’t normally defend your jingoist, “Christian”, or elitist political views (because they are just wrong), Fox News provides you with the ammunition to do so.
3. The symbiotic relationship with the Bush Administration.
Because the agendas of Fox News and the Bush administration coincide in large part, Fox News can deceive the public to enable the Bush administration, and the Bush administration can send exclusive leads to Fox News before they are made available to other networks. Now that Bush is no more the lies and made up stories are more frequent.
4. We are in danger all the time.
If you follow the Homeland Security terror alert (eternally present on Fox News’ news ticker), or listen to Fox News, we are constantly under attack by terrorists from Osama Bin Laden to Barack Obama and his “sugar mama”. Fear captivates. If Bill O’Reilly can get away with scaring old people (the plurality of his viewers are old people) into believing that Christmas is going to end this year, he will. If he can shock Christians with indecent pictures of young actresses, or perhaps entice them to watch his show safely with the pretext of outrage, he will do that too.
For a commentator who pretends to oppose nudity and embrace Christian values, his show and others on Fox News certainly appear to do the opposite most of the time.
5. No significant alternatives in U.S. media.
It’s not necessary to place all the blame on FOX News. Lou Dobbs (fired from CNN and now with Fox) on CNN does plenty of fear-mongering about immigrants and the potential demise of the English language. Or watch any presidential debate and watch the subtle manipulation via the choice and number of questions for the candidates.
Why would the choice of questions make a difference? Well, if you consider that a network-favored candidate will receive more opportunities to clarify a statement, will receive more airtime, and will therefore be more familiar to the average voter. Voters vote based on familiarity when not informed. These voters influence the next set of poll results, which are not necessarily a reflection of true political preference, but rather simple name recognition.
People who are serious about understanding politics won’t rely only any single source. A good portion of the news we get from CNN and CBS and Fox News is much closer to entertainment than news-worthy information, and even when the information is intended as news, it is filtered, distorted and framed to be controversial, or entertaining, or to fit a point of view. Other countries and cultures also have an influence on their national news, but it is widely acknowledged that serious international sources tend to be more neutral and objective when reporting news.
Sadly, there is less demand for accurate news than there is for thrilling-ambulance-chasing-tabloid material or news that appeals to religious and jingoist nuts. And even if there were more demand for accurate news, most of us in this part of the world couldn’t tell the difference.
This is why Fox News is successful.