Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fox News - Unfair and Unbalanced - Essay #2

Written for: Social Dynamics of Communication Technology 509-A2, Gonzaga University, Dr. Alex Kuskis
Essay #2 - February 11, 2011

Recently, I had the pleasure of watching "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism", directed by Robert Greenwald (2004). The documentary was created to showcase how Fox News delivers their broadcasts. Though their slogan claims "Fair and Balanced" news, their objectivity and partiality for most things republican seeps through rather loudly. The abuse of information and repeat disrespect to guest speakers and officials shows a need for stronger regulations in regards to distributing the news. Opinions pawned off as facts, (i.e. Fox news reporters use of the phrase "some people say", as opposed to saying "we at Fox think" or "I believe" which is prominent throughout the Greenwald's film) should be eliminated from television and a refocus on delivering information adhered to. Unfortunately, since this will not occur anytime soon, I propose that Fox News change their slogan to a more appropriate description as to convey to the public exactly the type of information they are receiving.

The Fox News slogan, "Fair and Balanced" is a misleading statement delivered by the station. According to Webster's Online Dictionary(2011), the term fair means, "marked by impartiality and honesty : free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism". The term balanced means, "equality between the totals of the two sides of an account". There are multiple examples to choose from on Greenwald's documentary that contradict their statement based on the definitions of these words. Whether it's pulling Democratic guests who have a tendency to lean right on hot topics or belittling and degrading causes because they don't fall into what the GOP is currently petitioning (such as the war on Iraq), their reports can be considered biased. According to Terry McDermott (2010), "No reasonable person would sincerely deny that Fox has a bias favoring Republicans, and conservative Republicans especially. Even Fox used to admit as much. When he started the network, Ailes was straightforward in talking about his desire to redress what he saw as ideological bias in the mainstream media. He wanted to address the same “silent majority” his old boss Richard Nixon had sought to serve." With such strong examples to prove Fox News is not completely fair and balanced, one possible slogan change is "Fox News - Balancing Fairly Republican Opinions".

In a society that is fed information through multiple streams - internet websites, television newscasts (locally, nationally, internationally), radio, newspapers/magazines, word of mouth - it is important that "fair and balanced" news is delivered honestly. Fox News abuses this term and undoubtedly does so with little regard to what public perception is. Reviewing the examples listed previously (and acknowledging by this author that there are many more cases that could be analyzed, though recommends watching "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism" to fully comprehend how extreme their reach is), my short argument remains that to truly deliver fair and balanced news, one must be impartial. Since Fox News refuses to be impartial, and have admitted to leaning right in the past, they should make the statement of what they stand for and stop lying to their viewers.


Balanced. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved February 11, 2011, from

Fair. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved February 11, 2011, from

Greenwald, R. (Producer and Director). (2004) Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's war on journalism [Motion picture]. United States: The Disinformation Company.

McDermott, T. (2010). Dumb like a fox. Columbia Journalism Review, March/April 2010, 26-32.

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