Thursday, April 27, 2023

#117 / The Press And Media As "Representative"

There are some stories that are important enough to pause the news cycle and linger on them, to explore not just what happened, but why. And so it is with Fox News’s role in the events leading up to Jan. 6, 2021. Thanks to a recent filing by Dominion Voting Systems in its defamation lawsuit against Fox, there is now compelling evidence that America’s most-watched cable news network presented information it knew to be false as part of an effort to placate an angry audience. It knowingly sacrificed its integrity to maintain its market share.
The quotation, above, comes from a New York Times' opinion piece by David French, "Why Fox News Lied to the Viewers It ‘Respects.’" French's column is worth reading, and if The Times' paywall permits, a click right here should take you to it. 

Of course, we now know, as French did not, when he wrote his statement, that the Dominion lawsuit against Fox has been settled - at a huge cost to Fox. Nonetheless, while the lawsuit has been settled, I think that it is still worth paying attention to one of the statements that French made in his discussion. Here it is: 

In the emails and texts highlighted in the Dominion filing, you see Fox News figures, including Sean Hannity and Suzanne Scott and Lachlan Murdoch, referring to the need to “respect” the audience. To be clear, by “respect” they didn’t mean “tell the truth” — an act of genuine respect. Instead they meant “represent.”
I think this observation is not only accurate; it is important. 
Fox News is not, ultimately, in the business of "presenting the news." It is in the business of "representing" a particular political perspective - the Republican Party/Conservative/Right perspective.  
The Guardian, a British newspaper, commenting on news coverage of the horrific train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, said that "the right racialized the Ohio train disaster." Fox News is prominently featured as one of the "representatives" of the right that The Guardian says is seeking to "racialize" that accident.

I think everyone should understand that Fox News is not "objective," much less "fair and balanced," as Fox News used to claim.

However, to try to be a little bit "fair and balanced," myself, let's not fool ourselves. Let me say that I think that all commercial news sources tend to "represent" a particular position as they "present" the news. When I read The Wall Street Journal every morning I note that The Journal has a "slant" on the news (it's a lot like the Fox News slant, and Fox News and The Journal are both owned by the same person). This is, though, not something out of the ordinary.  The New York Times and The Washington Post, which I also read on a daily basis, pretty consistently "represent" a particular point of view on politics, society, and the economy. Donald Trump, and his supporters, have fulminated (and continue to fulminate) against the so-called "mainstream media," certainly including The Post and The New York Times, and they say that they are biased and dishonest. Are they wrong?
Actually, I think that they do have a point. The commercial media - on all sides - virtually always tends to "represent" a particular perspective. There is no totally "objective" and "fair" presentation of the news, and it is up to us, if we don't want to get fooled, to remember this!

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