A Menagerie of Outspoken Opinions on Science, World Politics, and Geek Culture

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Murdochatron vs. Sorosaurus! Tokyo in Flames!

In a mighty clash of the billionaires, George Soros has directed his MoveOn.org troops to attack Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Channel. "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism" attempts to document patterns of partisanship (they don't come right out and say "bias" - at least not yet) in FNC programming and will premiere this weekend in town halls and private residence house parties. There is not a release planned for movie theaters a la' "Fahrenheit 9/11".

Fox, of course, has a response. Here is their statement regarding the film itself, and here is what they have to say about their "former employees" who were interviewed for the film (it turns out only a few actually worked for FNC). The most telling part of Fox's entire response is this:

Any news organization that believes this story is big and FOX News Channel is a problem will be challenged by FOX News Channel in the following manner:

If they will put out 100 percent of their editorial directions and internal memos, FOX News Channel will publish 100 percent of our editorial directions and internal memos, and let the public decide who is fair. This includes any legitimate cable news network, broadcast network, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.

That's quite a gauntlet for a news organization to throw down; they're either very confident in the impartiality of their own editors or very confident in the bias of those to whom they've issued the challenge. I actually find myself hoping the whole lot of them takes Fox up on it, because I'd love to read editorial directives from the WaPo, CNN, and FNC.

For my part, I agree that there is conservative bias at Fox - but very little of it is in their news reporting. Sure, O'Rielly and Cavuto are unabashed conservatives and they take positions appropriate to their views ... but O'Rielly and Cavuto (and other FNC personalities) are editorialists, not news anchors. They're supposed to be giving opinion. If you actually watch Fox's news reporting, it is, to borrow their phrase, fair and balanced. Much more so than CNN or NBC, who air less partisan editorializing but have a severe leftward slant to their hard news coverage.

And of course no news outlet is 100% fair, which is why it's so important to get your news from multiple sources.