For those unfamiliar with American news shows, Fox News - the topic of Robert Greenwald’s OutFoxed: How Rupert Murdoch is Destroying American Journalism - is a national 24/7 channel, which offers outrageously right-wing “infotainment” and has blitzed American television cable ratings. That is why producer and director, Greenwald, has created OutFoxed, a guerrilla-type “mockumentary” in the style of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.
While Fox News is not news, OutFoxed is not a documentary either: It’s 75 minutes of reactionary politics.
Neither of them offer impartial coverage, although much of the content of both toys with this concept: Fox News with its “Fair and Balanced” logo and OutFoxed in its criticisms of the former as a “24/7 commercial for the conservatives and the Republican Party”.
To make OutFoxed Greenwald enlisted a team of volunteers to monitor Fox Channel 24 hours a day for months. With appropriated news material he demonstrates how the Murdoch-owned cable channel uses repetition, visual word blocks and catchy verbals to disseminate right-wing propaganda. In OutFoxed he discusses the danger of propaganda in a democratic society.
One “talking head” explains that those living under a totalitarian regime are constantly aware of being manipulated by the media and are “on guard”, whereas members of a democracy are not psychologically prepared for such brainwashing techniques and are therefore far more vulnerable.
I found this and a number of points raised by OutFoxed to be as belittling to the intelligence of viewers as are the identical claims it makes against Fox News.
We’re all used to the tools of propaganda. They’ve been employed on us by the advertising industry for years. You can’t walk down the street without being encouraged to buy Kylie’s knickers or Thorpie’s jewels. Having an “Only 268 days till Bush is re-elected” slogan (or some such word block) flash over your screen while briefing yourself on world events is pretty overt propaganda.
I don’t think many Fox News viewers would miss the fact that Fox supported George W Bush for American President.
What I find more interesting is that Fox News is the obvious evolution of what news becomes when the principles of business have been applied to the “n”th degree. News is business. It has “star” presenters, or from what I gathered from Greenwald’s selected snippets they are. Anchormen who look like John Wayne or Barbie’s Ken and B-cup Barbie anchorwomen: Because as everyone knows, breast size is inversely proportional to brains on commercial TV.
Fox News has got the lot. It’s a recipe for success that has been created by Rupert Murdoch’s team: one of the world's most successful businesses. I am sure Murdoch would quickly change the formula if it didn’t work. His company Harper-Collins published Michael Moore's best-selling Stupid White Men after all.
So are the viewers of Fox News unsuspecting innocents who have been indoctrinated into media watching patterns and political preferences? Or are they a pro-Bush demographic who wish to have their beliefs stroked 24 hours a day?
I have to share with you one young man’s reasons for watching Fox News which I think can be applied to the viewing habits of many people when it comes to our “so bad its good” media products:
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