Scrudato: Everyone hates Fox News

I have a confession to make. I used to watch Fox News. I used to, that is, until I came to Yale and discovered that only the intellectually challenged watch Fox News. When even online commenters on the News’ articles about a student’s murder case call out Fox News and only Fox News for sensational coverage, you have to wonder if there’s some truth to the criticism.

After fairly exhaustive coverage of recent events, I have to admit that Fox certainly covers the news differently from most news networks. One could say it skews facts to suit its agenda. For example, during the April 19, 2009, “Tea Party” protests, Fox asked protesters leading questions, asking among other questions what their motivations were. Even more shocking was Fox’s decision to air protesters’ answers, giving them a national platform to spread their agenda.

CNN took a different approach. The channel’s Susan Roesgen interviewed a man whose sign equated Obama to Hitler. Fox, given its reputation, would probably have shown the sign in a propaganda-like video montage accompanied by a corny one-liner. Not Roesgen. Not CNN. She started with a zinger, asking the man if he “realized how offensive” his sign was. She then expressed her disdain for him as any good reporter should before lecturing other protesters on the finer points of the stimulus legislation.

I later learned that Roesgen handled this situation so well because she had faced the very same thing before. In a Jan. 13, 2006, anti-Bush rally she covered, a man displayed a papier-mâché head of President Bush depicted as Hitler. For the 2006 protest, CNN ran Roesgen’s video montage prominently featuring the Bush-as-Hitler display accompanied by a clever one-liner. Undoubtedly, it was the Obama protester’s lack of effort on his sign and poor Photoshop skills that kept him from receiving the same treatment.

Then there’s MSNBC, a favorite of many campus Fox critics with whom I am acquainted. These critics rightly point out that Fox relies on speculation and sparse evidence for many of its stories. In their infinite wisdom, they note that MSNBC contributors never rely on such wild conjecture or sweeping generalizations.

I think this is perfectly exemplified in the wisdom of MSNBC’s David Shuster. On Sept. 11 Shuster discussed Republican Rep. Joe Wilson’s cry of “You lie!” during the president’s speech on health care. As Shuster noted, “Joe Wilson is from South Carolina” and (obviously) “it strikes a lot of people … that maybe there was some sort of racist or bigoted element there.” Not one to give bigotry breathing room, he adeptly points out that if “you look … you see older white men, all Republicans, sitting there. Just it gives off a strange vibe.”

Only a few days before, on Sept. 3, Shuster had already solidified his image as a reasonable voice above the fray of identity politics and partisanship when, while observing a picture of a small group of Republican senators, he commented that they are “all white males with short haircuts. They look sort of angry. No women, no minorities, and it looks like they’ve sort of become unhinged.” I really ought to thank Shuster; he’s opened my eyes to the latent racism that apparently all conservatives suffer from.

Let’s not forget MSNBC’s history of avoiding sensational reporting or misrepresented facts, both common criticisms of Fox. Certainly when, on the Aug. 18 broadcast of “Morning Meeting,” NBC anchors ran a video of a man carrying an assault rifle outside the venue where the president was speaking, they didn’t mean to cut out crucial parts of the footage. Surely when they brought up the “racial overtones” of white men bearing arms in the vicinity of the president, they must not have known that the original footage shows that the gun-toting man is black. Thankfully they salvaged the segment by alerting the public that we have “these hate groups rising up.” Even if that isn’t true for the given video, it must be true somewhere, probably somewhere with lots of old, white men with short haircuts. It’s probably somewhere where people watch Fox.

I could cite many more examples — from MSNBC to ABC to The New York Times — of misleading, sensational or speculative news coverage, certainly more than this column has room for. Despite bias and rhetoric that sounds as absurd to a conservative as Bill O’Reilly must sound to a liberal, nary a word of protest is heard. Where are the opponents of sensational commentators or manipulated facts when these networks commit the same sins as Fox? Could it be that those who harp on Fox’s “propaganda” have no problem with a media slant so long as they agree with it? If I didn’t expect better from a university with a “diversity” of opinion and a reputation for tolerance, I just might think so.

John Scrudato is a junior in Morse College.

Comments

  • ProfJoe

    When are Americans going to start evaluating their beliefs–religious, political, economic, environmental? For those who haven’t yet read the free ebook series “In Search of Utopia” (http://andgulliverreturns.info) it is a readable and insightful series that brings us back to the basics of thinking and the needs of our nation and world. Our poor education, as clearly seen in the international education achievement comparisons, seems to make so many people wildly support un-thought-out opinions. Democracy cannot work without people who are both educated and wise. Yale has a major national responsibility in this area.

  • HDT

    The problem with all the networks you mention here is that their intention is not to provide news, but to provide entertainment. What’s more entertaining than mocking the bizarre views of the opposition?

    The NYTimes, on the other hand, belongs in a different category. Its liberal bias is well known, just as the conservative bias of the WSJ is well known. But if you have reason to believe that their journalism is as irresponsible as the TV news networks’, then you really should have explained that more.

  • The Contrarian

    Thankfully at Yale “diversity” means “Black” — and of course, “Liberal Black.” And “tolerance” means Feminist Jewish-born atheist women-with-short-haircuts may not have their deeply-held beliefs challenged.

  • ROFLCOPTER

    While I admire your sentiment, Mr. Scrudato, you need to make your parody a bit more subtle methinks.

  • anagram

    Right…but the same could easily be said of conservatives who criticize the “liberal media” – a term at least as prevalent as indictments of Fox News. There is no such thing as unbiased reporting, any more than there exist unbiased individuals. So given that, plenty of evidence exists to apply your argument to Fox News – or, for that matter, to the inconsistent rhetoric of those who watch it. For example, why is it that extolling the virtues of “small government” is so strongly correlated with support for the Patriot Act? And why do prolifers often support the death penalty? If we weren’t all hypocrites who selectively use evidence to support our strongly held beliefs, these phenomena might be surprising. So in the interests of full disclosure, I happily admit to not watching Bill O’Reilly and Shawn Hannity because of the grating sounds the sound of their voices, their remedial grasp of argument construction, and, lastly, the dubious quality of their reporting. But for the record, I don’t watch Chris Matthews or Keith Olberman either, liberal though I may be.

  • Jack

    The reason people watch Fox is because of the errors in presenting the facts by the administration and your friends at CNN and MSNBC and others, so if you compare it to their reporting it is skewed. No one thinks an Obam Hitler image is good for anyone but out of all those people how many had signs like that? Not reported! How many arrests were there? Oh yes “0″! Not reported! Oh yes they also picked up their own trash. Gee I don’t think I heard that reported by your impartial news agencies. Imagine that! I guess when you are in the tank for a politician you don’t have time to actually give the real truths. This was definitely a rowdy group!
    We are told no insurance for Illegals yet everyone knows their is a SC ruling already stating that you must insure them equally. The CBO tells us their facts on costs are simply incorrect, understated, where is tort reform and why not and the list goes on. There has been a distortion of the truth especially by a person, Pres Oboma, who knows these laws because of his work as an organizer attorney. Now you can take those issues and multiply it by all the rest of the issues which are half truths at best. Now do you still wonder why people don’t want anything to do with these offerings? Is he working with both sides? No, he hasn’t accepted any meetings with the opposition since March for Health Care or the Tax & Cap for the purpose to discuss their plans and try to work any compermise? That’s definately the way to build consensus, right? If you look past the icing you won’t find any cake and you as an educated person should be smart enough to peal back the layers and see the truth not the canards that are out there and yes some on both sides. Get your moneys worth for that expensive education, think for your self, don’t let Yale do it for you John. Good luck in College.

  • yalemom’13

    John, you are showing signs of your own intellectually challenged mind. Fox News while not perfect, is the ONLY fair and balanced organization deliveing the news. To prove to you how immature your knowledge is about biased news, let me use your own quote…
    “She then expressed her disdain for him as any good reporter should before lecturing other protesters on the finer points of the stimulus legislation.” John, a “good reporter” never expresses their side of the news. You have so much to learn…but your still young, God bless.

  • yale11

    Good article. Fox is a horrid horrid station, and does a disservice to our country. But unfortunately people often fail to hold other mainstream media outlets to the same standard, or worse, don’t recognize when biases are revealed. We need more ethics in our news..

  • Y11

    Great article, John. Something everyone should remember when they start viewing something complex as solely “us and them.” Both sides have crazies.

  • @Yalemom’13

    I hope your kid is better at reading satire than you are…

  • Silliman ’10

    Nearly 50% of the country gets their news from Fox News. Nearly 50% of the country is conservative. Only about 20% or so of persons at Yale University are conservative. So maybe the headline should read, “Everyone at Yale Hates Fox News”.

  • goldie ’08

    lol @ yalemom. That whooshing sound is this article flying over your head

  • good article topic

    yess finally a little fairness for FOX!

    but, oh…
    yalemom…
    i suggest a little more careful reading next time before you call someone “intellectually challenged.”

  • The difference is that Fox gets the FACTS wrong.An egregious example is that Fox reported that Annie Le’s body had been found roughly 24 hours before it was actually found. That’s not a matter of “slant;” that’s shoddy jouralism.

  • npr listener

    this is why i get all my news from public radio

  • Bill

    “Fox, given its reputation, would probably have shown the sign in a propaganda-like video montage accompanied by a corny one-liner”

    Is this the thinking that Yale teaches for journalists, speculation?

    Try sticking to facts to make an argument.

  • Anonymous

    @ 4:

    I’m not sure readers would be able to handle something subtler. It seems some people didn’t get the satire as it is.

  • yale ’09

    *sigh*
    That’s quite the straw man you’ve set up there: “Fox asked protesters leading questions, asking among other questions what their motivations were”.

    And then you demonstrate how the other networks do similar things. (likewise with the Obama/Hitler and Bush/Hitler treatments).

    However, I would bet that many of the people who have a problem with Fox News do not have the problem you’ve chosen to address here.

    For example: The fact that Fox News PROMOTED the 9/12 rally through Glenn Beck’s show. How many people would have shown up if not for him? That’s not reporting news, that’s creating it.

    Or this weekend’s full page article in the Washington Post from Fox News that implied that no other network covered the 9/12 rally. Which is a blatant lie.

    Fox News also has an interesting habit of getting politicians party designations wrong, marking Dems as “R” when they’ve done something Fox likes or Repubs as “D” when they’ve done something Fox doesn’t like.

    the list goes on. Asking demonstration organizers what their motivations were is NOT the problem I have with Fox…

  • Madas

    #s 16 & 17:

    You two are the problem incarnate. Do you bother to acknowledge the gaping flaws in MSNBC, CNN, etc? Stations that are, to your eyes (presumably), superior to Fox? Do you bother noting that MSNBC has moronic commentators and manipulates its coverage by ingoring or marginalizing news stories that go against its obvious ideological agenda? Of course not, it’s far easier to pick on the flaws of your ideological opposition and completely ignore your “sides” asinine in-your-face partisanship.

    You want Fox fans to acknowledge their station’s faults? Fine, but you could have the good grace to admit the same of most media outlets. Except, as partisan hacks, you’re obligated to ignore the flaws of your sacred cows and ideological champions.

    Why, when a few hundred global warming protesters or a dozen anti-war protesters show up, does that make front page news? When over 100,000 people drive hundreds and thousands of miles to go to Washington, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, etc. barely cover the event, mentioning it briefly and then tucking away online coverage on back pages?

    Why has no station besides Fox investiaged ACORN? “Well it was a setup,” you’ll doubtlessly respond. So what? The investigators did nothing wrong. ACORN employees went out of their way to give advice on prostitution, underage trafficking, and murder. How can anyone ignore that, regardless of the source? Would you fault undercover investigations of meat farms? Would you fault successful undercover investigations of anything that you didn’t already oppose? Probably not…

    Keep throwing stones from the top of that rock. Sooner or later you’ll wish that everyone, yourselves included, had been a bit more civil.

  • Recent Alum

    #17: Unlike his counterparts on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, etc., Glenn Beck does not purport to be objectively reporting the news. Like O’Reilly and Hannity, Beck is very open that his show is basically an opinion show.

  • @4

    I don’t think the satire needs to be more subtle because I can already count 3 or 4 people on this comment board who missed it completely. It’s quite hilarious actually. That, or they just need to learn to read the entire article before commenting.

  • Anon

    Great article! As a conservative at Yale who watches Fox news, I usually hide this fact just so I won’t have to deal with being a pariah to the oh so “tolerant” liberals surrounding me.

  • And?

    Ditto on the sweet strawman article. This seems like one of those pieces written by someone with a bit a of a persecution complex that presents self-righteous sarcasm laden arguments that expose the heretofore “unrevealed” hypocrisy of the major networks.

    Unfortunately everyone who owns a TV knows that there’s hypocrisy and mischaracterizations by people on every network, and that in fact completely unbiased and unslanted news likely doesn’t exist in today’s media. I hardly think any intelligent individual takes every word that’s said on MSNBC (or any other network for that matter) as gospel, no matter what their political leanings.

    Legitimate arguments can be made as to what network gets the most objective facts right or wrong, but newsflash: today’s news and infotainment has a perspective, and that’s not exactly news.

    When someone lectures you so earnestly on a point that no one is really disagreeing with, it always comes off as sort of bitter and odd, and that was definitely the feeling I was getting from this article.

  • Gob

    #19 claims that the mainstream media gives lots of coverage to anti-war protests and anti-global-warming rallies, but little to health care reform protesters, which is odd, because I’ve seen nothing but protests of health care reform on the news for about three months. By contrast, I never found anti-war protesters to get much coverage at all. One group was trying to prevent the loss of life, the other was trying to prevent a change that would save tens of thousands of lives a year.
    Anyway, I just don’t see how somebody could have gotten the impression that the media gave anywhere near as much coverage to left-wing protests.
    In response to 20, yes, all of Fox’s opinion shows are right wing, but their news is also right wing (go to foxnation.com and tell me they aren’t slanting their news).
    Finally, people on the left won’t take as their own TV media like CNN, ABC, etc. because they are also conservative. These networks won’t challenge conservative opinions except on rare occasions like that this article cites, and they fail to give attention to leftist points of view (e.g. they helped the run up to the Iraq War precisely by not giving voice to protesters). TV news (MSNBC may be an exception) attacks any opinion which does not appear to be “in the mainstream” and thus skews conservative.

  • Madas

    @Gob:

    Obviously, you have a short memory. Go back a few years to the constant fawning over Cindy Sheehan and MoveOn.org. As for saying networks don’t challenge conservative views… I’m speachless. Either you don’t actually watch those stations or your definition of liberal differs very much from my own. Furthermore, you might notice that networks portray the healthcare protesters as racist or crazy. You might agree with that judgement, but there are many who don’t and for you to not acknowledge that presenting them predominantly as crazies is biased against conservatives really amazes me.

    @23: I believe the author’s point was that students are always ready to criticise Fox but they refuse to even acknowledge the flaws in other networks.

  • Bill O’Reilly

    I love Fox News. It is the only real world news network in the world.

  • Gob

    Sheehan and Moveon were often questioned by the TV media, particularly the latter. Moveon was treated as a partisan organization (which it is), and so they were just treated as one side of a debate, with little analysis of the truth or falsity of their claims. That’s how the media, especially the TV media, works. It’s so focused on spin that it denies the possibility of truth, and rarely goes searching for it. But I would contend that moveon got at least as harsh if not a harsher treatment than conservative talking heads–the media is so spooked by the so-called liberal bias that if the Right demonizes something enough, the media will follow suit as a means of demonstrating its objective bonafides. (Witness the way Sanjay Gupta attacked Michael Moore’s Sicko, simply because it was by Michael Moore (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/06/the-trouble-with-sanjay-gupta/)).
    Now, in the case of the crazies–they ARE crazy. Journalists should be wedded to truth, not the type of relativism that accepts any opinion as valid. People shouting about death panels are ill-informed and their viewpoints should not be treated as reasonable. Just as we shouldn’t listen to 9-11 truthers or fake-moon-landing people. If the tea-partiers are questioned, it is not nearly often enough. Members of the media sometimes confront them, but more often they present their statements as valid without analyzing them, or offering facts. There’s an argument to be made against health care (not a just one, I think), but from the tea-partiers up through Sen. Grassley and Sarah Palin, few people are even trying to make it. And the media is complicit in propping up their nonsensical fear-based claims.
    The right often decries relativism, but it is relativism that keeps it afloat. When I said the media “won’t challenge” conservative opinions,” I meant they won’t seriously challenge them–they will at times pretend they have a backbone and come after somebody, as they would at times with Sheehan, et al, but in general they treat everything as a horse race and have no interest in asserting facts. You will find somebody at one moment asserting the falseness of the “death panels” myth, but then they continue to give voice to those who assert those lies (and on Fox that’s the primary voice). You will find someone on occasion note that torture is not a useful way of obtaining information, but in general the media just accepts the terms of the debate as those the conservatives want (it’s immoral/illegal vs. it’s effective/keeps us safe). As any conservative would agree, conservative ideals are simple–this makes them perfect for the short-attention span focus of television. There is no hope of getting a complex idea across on Fox or CNN. Fox’s greatest success is making other networks a) move right and b) nonetheless appear liberal by comparison.