How Fox News has Inadvertently Benefitted Political Discourse
Those of us who find Fox News a repulsive entity feel that way because we see it as a right wing propaganda arm of the Republican Party that has, at times, encouraged divisiveness and disinformation in equal measure. However, don’t be put off by that description if you disagree with it, because it isn’t alone in encouraging those things. Yet while there are certainly those on the Left with whom I personally find myself regularly disagreeing, it cannot be denied that Fox in particular has contributed to the dumbing down of the U.S. population when it comes to worldview.
The uber-conservative publication Forbes reported the results of a study in 2011 demonstrating the overall ignorance of Fox News viewers when it came to international issues and affairs. MSNBC didn’t fare much better, by the way. But MSNBC doesn’t have anywhere near the resources and funding of its right wing counterpart. Ultimately, Fox News viewers were the least informed of all those polled.
It’s also true that the demographics for Fox News consists mostly of Republican whites over the age of 55, according to a Gallup Poll conducted in 2013. It isn’t a giant leap of logic to presume that a supposed news network known for its blatant opining would gear its message towards that particular group. The national discourse has become polluted with Fox News parrots, each of whom feels they are in the know because Fox somehow stands alone in its delivery of “the real story.”
We could spend forever pointing out all the inaccuracies in Fox News’ reporting, although perhaps the real term is “obfuscation” in their case. But why bother when the documentaries listed below have done the job so well? For that is the one thing Fox News could not have foreseen when it first erroneously claimed to be a “fair and balanced” alternative to the reporting of news. Through their success, they also created an environment that necessitated an ongoing rebuttal. In fact, the claims being made by the pundits on Fox in particular were enough to spawn many documentaries to the contrary.
Here is a list of 5 such documentaries that, ironically, owe their existence to Fox News while at the same time exposing its ongoing disinformation campaign:
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism- This is the granddaddy of them all, a film that literally takes on Fox News’ deceitful practices both on the air and off. Filmmaker Robert Greenwald has an obvious political bias, but the information he presents isn’t based on opinion. Featuring actual memos and emails from the company itself, this film shows that Fox isn’t just a propaganda machine at its upper levels, but even lower down the ladder among the local affiliates.
Bush’s Brain- It’s always fun when a documentary is done in the style of a crime investigation. This one looks into the events of Bush’s questionable election victory in 2000, drawing the conclusion that Rove’s involvement in politics has almost single-handedly shaped U.S. policy at home and abroad. While obviously not a direct challenge to Fox News, the documentary still deconstructs the fictions surrounding the Bush administration that Fox so vehemently defended for eight years.
Jesus Camp- Sometimes a documentary can actually be regarded as a masterpiece, and this is one of those times. The filmmakers gain unprecedented access to an evangelical brainwashing…er, indoctrination…umm, summer camp for kids where they are encouraged to scream and cry when abortion is mentioned and come disturbingly close to praying to a picture of George W Bush. The kids are tragically likable but swiftly headed toward adult obnoxiousness and intolerance mixed with willful ignorance. The film is actually fair and balanced and could teach Fox a thing or two or three about how to maintain objectivity. It presents both sides of the issue and never takes a side, preferring instead to allow those involved to speak for themselves and the viewer to draw their own conclusion.
Capitalism: A Love Story- We all know Michael Moore loves to shake up the squares and has made a very good living doing it. We all know his message doesn’t always reconcile with his actual life, especially when it comes to earnings. But in the end, his work has benefited more people in need than anything done by anyone on Fox…ever. This film could be his magnum opus if he never makes another, an in-depth analysis of how the right wing hijacked the concept of democracy and slapped it together with capitalism using duct tape. Unlike his previous films, Moore is taking on a broad topic, one that most Americans have been taught to revere: Namely the very existence of a supposedly “free market.” The results are heartbreaking, hilarious and, oddly enough, encouraging.
The Corporation- Another one for the masterpiece category, this documentary runs for over two hours without ever feeling long. Using the psychopath test psychologists use for individuals and based on the right wing conceit that corporations are people, the resulting profile is frightening. Point by point, we get to see how, if corporations actually are people, they are dangerous, murderous, uncaring psychopaths. The very thing that Fox News is and what it represents and defends 24 hours per day is put on the couch and revealed to be a lunatic. Required viewing!