Thursday, January 13, 2005

Whose afraid of Fox News? Not I, but Timmy is

Timmy the G at Voice in the Wilderness is "afraid of Fox". And why is Timmy afraid of Fox...why because fox is promoting political ignorance and an extreme right wing agenda!

Fox News is not a news station. Its central purpose is to push an extreme right wing agenda with all the propaganda tools of the modern age at its disposal. (It is unfair to conservatives to call Fox conservative, since it is not. Conservatism is a political philosophy with much to admire. Fox News pushes a corporatist and extremist agenda and demonizes segments of the population that fail, in its opinion, to be patriotically correct.)

A study of Fox News viewers showed they were woefully misinformed. The result of this misinformation has been linked directly to support of the Iraq war. From the study:"The extent of Americans' misperceptions vary significantly depending on their source of news. Those who receive most of their news from Fox News are more likely than average to have misperceptions. Those who receive most of their news from NPR or PBS are less likely to have misperceptions.

These variations cannot simply be explained as a result of differences in the demographic characteristics of each audience, because these variations can also be found when comparing the demographic subgroups of each audience."

People who are actively misinformed make bad decisions. One such bad decision was the Iraq war.

This cover the gist of Timmy's commentary. Its tempting to rather glibbly dismiss this as nothing more than the unsubstantiated mutterings of an acknowledged lefty. Ironically, therefore, his denounciation of the bias of the news channel would be denounced with an accusation of his own political bias. However, rather than a glib dismissal I've decided upon a glib refutation.

Firstly, Timmy claims that Fox News is biased and that makes it propoganda rather than "news" as it were. However, this claim seems to flounder upon the fact that ever news organization has a rather easily percieved bias. The Toronto Star is full of extreme left wing drivel and dare I say "propoganda", while the CBC in its incestous relationship with the government can barely restrain itself from constantly expressing its effusive love of the federal Liberal Party and big government in general. The National Post tends to be Conservative, as are the various Sun papers and Global News. The Globe and Mail tends to check in at small l liberal or red tory, while CTV is Liberal. Essentially every single source of news is biased and to some degree promotes a point of view. Timmy takes umbrage with Fox claims to be "Fair and balanced". Sadly given that no news source is objectively fair, claims of balance and fairness which all news organizations make are simply a matter of perspective. Hence Fox is Fair and Balanced if you tend to be right wing. While CBC News is only "Trusted, Connected and Canadian" as opposed to "Mistrusted, Disconnected and Liberal"if your left wing.

I've remarked in past conversation with friends that the media seems to be reverting from the trend that began in the late 1800s and early 1900s where party papers would almagemate from two opennly biased publications to one "balanced" paper to the tend to diverge along political lines once more. Its become of matter of simply choosing your preferred source of slant. Mine happens to be Conservative. If you want to say Fox News is propaganda all news becomes propaganda which is definately absurd. Fox and all other news simply suffers from open bias.

Secondly, Timmy points out that more Fox News viewers believed Saddam had something to do with 9/11. I'd be inclined to say that its difficult to interrept that statement without seeing the exact question as it was posed, as everyone knows the answer to any poll taken varies tremendously with the way the question is worded. Many Americans are aware that Saddam Hussein had connections with terrorism, and there have been signs of Al Quaeda activity in Iraq currently although before the war the connection to Al Quaeda is tennous at best. However, Saddam Hussein is well known to have been a backing of Palestinian terrorist efforts, doling out money for suicide bombers. Hence it would not be mistaken to connect Saddam Hussein to the War on Terror. The war on terror is the offspring of the 9/11 attack, so the degrees of seperation are such that its not impossible to see how casual and occasional viewers of the news could mistake the issue.

However, I'd also like to note that studies tend to find what they set out to find. Rarely do they simply seek out the truth like a knight after the holy grail. It would be easy for a Conservative research organization to publish a study that "Toronto Star readers are more likely than National Post readers to suffer from the mistaken belief that in the 2004 election the Conservative party had a diabolical secret agenda."

Sadly with the news, its all relative.


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