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Outfoxed
July 11, 2004 3:25 PM   Subscribe

Outfoxed, a documentary detailing Fox News's Republican bias, is being shown at house parties organized by MoveOn next Sunday amidst concerns about its extensive use of Fox News footage. Check out the article in today's NYT Mag section or sign up to host a screening at your house. I haven't seen this yet, but the stuff I've read on it makes me think immediately of this film.
posted by alphanerd (44 comments total)

 
cool. thanks for the heads up.
posted by troutfishing at 4:10 PM on July 11, 2004


I'll wait to see it before commenting, but anything exposing the rethoric and bully tactics of Faux News is very welcome to me.
posted by elpapacito at 4:12 PM on July 11, 2004


They are just preaching to the choir. Let's see this on ABC, NBC or CBS.
posted by caddis at 4:14 PM on July 11, 2004




liberals meeting in catacombs is a good metaphor of the US current political climate
posted by matteo at 4:38 PM on July 11, 2004


Fox News has a republican bias? hm. This changes everything.
posted by stavrogin at 4:40 PM on July 11, 2004


This was also featured on NPR's On the Media this week.

Two things I found interesting in the discussion:

(1) While Fox claims to have a conservative bias, Robert Greenwald notes that they don't have a ideological bias so much as a partisan bias. The distinction between "conservative" and "republican" may be a fine one, but I think it's a very important one. I think it's more frightening to have a media outlet be for a certain set of people ruling than a certain set of principles.

(2) Greenwald also notes that Murdoch's news media tend to be friendly to whoever is the ruling power of the country. Was Fox friendly to Clinton when he was in power?
posted by weston at 5:05 PM on July 11, 2004


Murdoch's news media tend to be friendly to whoever is the ruling power of the country.

I have come to conclusion, simply, that Murdoch likes to back a winner (or whoever looks most likely to win). I believe bias in Murdoch media is, firstly, local not universal. The top priority is to sell papers and ads. The next priority is to lobby for desired changes to media laws. I have seen the Murdoch media turn quite liberal in view, or attack conservative politicians, when it suits them - that is, when it's going to sell. I remember the anti-Iraq war protests last year, when 100,000 of my city's population of 1 million people (police estimate) came out onto the streets. For the next week, the local Murdoch newspaper jumped completely to the left - headlines dissed on the war, every letter to the editor was anti-war, columnists were anti-war. They sensed the rising tide, at that time, and simply took advantage of it, when they knew that going against public opinion was just going to hurt them financially.
posted by Jimbob at 5:27 PM on July 11, 2004


I think everyone is well aware of Fox's bias. I once had a history teacher who said that you could write a sentence, a paragraph, or a book about almost anything. Here, someone decided to make a film.

There are a lot of related issues that are probably of comparable significance to the content of the documentary, many of which are touched upon in the NYT article. One of them is the way this film is being released... It's not being shown in theaters, it's not being sent out to distributors, it's being shown in the homes of people who are part of an internet-based network of progressives and promoted by web-based organizations. Members of MoveOn helped create the film by volunteering to observe Fox and referred the filmmakers to specific incidents, which helped them weed through footage. There's also the donation of time and talent by people in Hollywood, and the fact that this guy seems ready to go to court and hammer out the legal issues surrounding fair use.

This may be the beginning of yet another internet-driven phenomenon that serves to counteract mass media's timidity toward addressing controversial issues. But it goes above and beyond what weblogs are doing because it brings people together in their homes (and obviously has precendent both in Uncovered and in Dean's campaign, and probably more). Matteo's "meeting in catacombs" comment seems far more applicable to what happens every day on the blue than it does to what's going to happen next Sunday.
posted by alphanerd at 5:29 PM on July 11, 2004


It does seem pretty pointless to document Fox News' right-wing bias when you could just, you know, switch over to Fox News and see it.

We get Fox News on Sky here in the UK. It's absolutely hilarious to watch. Next to the BBC and ITV news channels (or even the Murdoch-owned Sky News, which sometimes shows a few innocuous reports from "sister channel" Fox News), CNN and friends actually look pretty right-wing, but Fox News... Jesus. That thing is an embarassment to your country.
posted by reklaw at 6:26 PM on July 11, 2004


Is it true that FoxNews has been banned from the Canadian airwaves?
posted by Fupped Duck at 9:04 PM on July 11, 2004


Anyone got a torrent for this or seen it on any underground networks? I don't feel like waiting a week for it to show up and I don't feel like attending a house party.
posted by mathowie at 9:40 PM on July 11, 2004


Murdoch likes to back a winner
Yep. Pilger illustrated this in Hidden Agendas. First he sucked up to Thatcher (and Major); as soon as it looked like Blair was a shoo-in, he swapped 'sides'.
posted by John Shaft at 9:50 PM on July 11, 2004


Is it true that FoxNews has been banned from the Canadian airwaves?

Yeah, I guess so. Here's a petition to get it on Satelite TV. Here's a discussion on this topic. But, based on the CRTC's history, they are probably "banning" FOX to reduce American influence on our media, and having three American News Stations (MSNBC is available here) would be against their agenda.

For example, we had MTV come up here a couple of years ago, but they were mandated to *not* show a lot of music videos because they would be in direct competition to MuchMusic, the Canadian channel for music videos. There's also been weird situations where MuchMusic were not allowed to show Ren and Stimpy or Beavis and Butthead because their license didn't specify they would show cartoons. It is a different system up here.

(please, no snarking about MTV not playing music anymore)
posted by sleslie at 11:08 PM on July 11, 2004


OMG, you mean that Fox News has a pro-GOP bias?

I'm shocked, shocked! well, maybe not that shocked.
posted by clevershark at 11:16 PM on July 11, 2004


good comment from the thread at atrios place:

Fox is owned by News Ltd - an Aussie company. Luckily for us, Murdoch is upping stakes and transferring News from the Australian stock exchange to the NY stock exchange.

We've had thirty-five years of him here in Australia: rigging elections, buying policiticans (of both sides), inventing stories. You're welcome to him for the rest of eternity.

One consoling thought: one day he'll get sick of Bush and support the other side. Why not? He's done it in every other country he's ever done business in. Don't think you're immune over there. One day you may find yourself watching Fox just so you can see the Rethugs bashed - fair and balanced, of course, but bashed just the same.

Don't believe me? No-one here did, either until he did it in 1972 (yes, that long ago) by supporting Labor for election. He supports Blair, and he's Labour (British). Don't think it can't happen there.

Fool's gold: Murdoch's support.
Aussie Bob

posted by mr.marx at 11:22 PM on July 11, 2004


''It won't be long before people will be shooting and editing short documentaries that they'll stream from their blogs."

Ahem.
posted by Dok Millennium at 1:12 AM on July 12, 2004


mathowie: There's a torrent (from here) with a bunch of clips and the trailer. Haven't seen anything on p2p, though.
posted by reklaw at 2:47 AM on July 12, 2004


"This was also featured on NPR's On the Media this week." -
"On the Media" can be useful, but I now listen that show with a somewhat changed perspective after having heard Bob Garfield give an extremely credulous rim job interview on Michael Issikof's asshole. A reputable journalist would have solicited comment from this guy since, after all, it is his book that Issikof quotes extensively and - according to the author - incorrectly in at least seven different significant ways.

"It does seem pretty pointless to document Fox News' right-wing bias when you could just, you know, switch over to Fox News and see it." - I wouldn't call it pointless at all. The actual point is to watch everything - every last little scrap of garbage Fox dumps over the airwaves, 24/7, and subject it all to statistical analysis in an attempt to make a more rigorous determination of Fox' bias. There will be a subjective component to this, and in many areas. Of course. But, it's worth a try, and there are some more objective measures. For example : how often do Fox news reporters, anchors, and pundits still repeat the discredited Saddam/Iraq/9-11 link, or the Iraq/WMD claims? How often do they mention the general expert consensus, now that those claims were untrue and/or intentional bullshit?
posted by troutfishing at 4:56 AM on July 12, 2004


I am finding Sinclair Broadcasting Group to be far more odious than Fox. My local affiliate airs News Central and it is rather awful stuff. Pretty fast and loose with the truth.

BTW, spellcheck suggests sicklier as a correction to Sinclair.
posted by piskycritter at 5:05 AM on July 12, 2004


News Corporation have no central ideology. They will always do precisely what they think will make them the most money, whether it be genuinely fair and balanced reporting in many of their British publications, tits and ass in the Sun, or the far-right nonsense on Fox.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:52 AM on July 12, 2004


(2) Greenwald also notes that Murdoch's news media tend to be friendly to whoever is the ruling power of the country. Was Fox friendly to Clinton when he was in power?

weston - I heard that interview and was thinking the same thing. I hardly had the impression that Fox News was friendly to the Clinton administration, quite the opposite. Can't wait to see this movie and decide for myself. At least it's not a blatant thesis of 'conservative bias' being presented; it sounds like the filmmaker really did his homework and due diligence in researching the material.

The NY Times Magazine also ran an article (login/PW here) on the making and distribution of the movie.
posted by skechada at 7:53 AM on July 12, 2004


I just posted the memos on the Outfoxed website.
posted by jgilliam at 8:20 AM on July 12, 2004


Here's an article from yesterday's Washington Post that raises the question of whether the NYT ambushed Fox News by giving them too little time to comment. Greenwald purportedly didn't want Fox to slap an injunction on him, and thus stipulated that the NYT hold off on contacting them. Boynton asserts he gave Fox three days, not 24 hours. In any event, the article wound up yielding one choice quote:

"People steal our footage all the time," says Dianne Brandi, Fox News's vice president for legal affairs. "We generally sort of look the other way."

See also Kurtz's more detailed piece on the film.
posted by alphanerd at 9:16 AM on July 12, 2004


donna wentworth at copyfight has a good post about how outfoxed fits into the "fair use it or lose it" strategy for preserving and reinvigorating the doctrine of fair use in intellectual property law.

it's another side of the conversation about this documentary and the primary reason i'm interested in seeing this film get exposure.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:49 AM on July 12, 2004


...i'm interested in seeing this film get exposure.

For the purpose of? Who cares if it has a right-leaning bias? As if the rest of the mainstream media IS fair and balanced. C'mon.

Perhaps there's just a bit too much of what's "right" in what Fox News presents that it makes the lot of you uncomfortable (or whatever it is that has you so bunmched up). Whuddya gonna do? Shut 'em down? Please. Turn the TV off and switch on some NPR and jerk yourself to death.
posted by Witty at 10:33 AM on July 12, 2004


Good lord, Witty. She said she was primarily interested in watching it because of its implications on fair use.
posted by alphanerd at 10:38 AM on July 12, 2004


For further reading, I invite you to check out this article from Salon, in which Charlie Reina, a former Fox News employee, discusses bias at the network. (Incedentally, Reina turns up again on Romanesko's Poynter page discussing Outfoxed.) More disturbing, however, is the section of this report on "Variations in Misperceptions According to Source of News" (this may have been posted here before):

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.

[snip]

Variations in misperceptions according to news source cannot simply be explained as a result of differences in the characteristics of each audience.
posted by alphanerd at 11:08 AM on July 12, 2004


For the purpose of? Who cares if it has a right-leaning bias? As if the rest of the mainstream media IS fair and balanced. C'mon.

Witty, you missed a large amount of the point. A right-leaning bias is one thing. A partisan bias is something else. One advocates principles. The other advocates a certain group of people being in power.

Not to mention that if you genuinely see NPR as a liberal haven, I think that says far, far more about your own position on the spectrum than anything else.

If you dare be contaminated by its foment of communist ideals, there was an excellent program on media bias on the Diane Rehm show in May that frankly ought to be required listening for anyone who wants to even pretend to know what's going with media bias. But be aware, the National Review, that paragon of unbiased yet erudite coverage, does not trust her, because she didn't press Clinton hard enough about what his time in the White House did to his marriage.
posted by weston at 11:57 AM on July 12, 2004


Also, I made reference to Spin in the post, which is a documentary about the way news is covered, or at least was covered in 1992. Brian Springer shows politicos of all stripes trying to slip and slide their way out of uncomfortable situations, and this film is a masterpiece. It doesn't really delve into institutionalized bias, but shows some very compelling cases in which appearance and reality don't line up. It blew my mind to see Al Gore try to fend off a question about his switcharoo on abortion, and to see Pat Robertson's rabid homophobia laid bare in footage taken from commercial breaks in media appearances. If my memory serves me correctly, in both cases a caller asked a question and they went to commercial with the answer to follow. Both had press advisors present, who pointed out that the callers were no longer around and that they could say whatever they wanted. And they did. I'm also interested in seeing Control Room.
posted by alphanerd at 12:29 PM on July 12, 2004


you can download Spin here
posted by jacobsee at 12:33 PM on July 12, 2004


I wouldn't call it pointless at all. The actual point is to watch everything - every last little scrap of garbage Fox dumps over the airwaves, 24/7, and subject it all to statistical analysis in an attempt to make a more rigorous determination of Fox' bias.

as importantly, the other point should be to document everything that doesn't make it on the air.

the most chilling story from The Corporation was the Fox News/BGH scandal. the specifics of how Fox News suppressed an important health story from consumers are very interesting.

i'd be very curious to know about any other stories that didn't make it to the air, though maybe they learned their lesson from the BGH disaster and fired all their investigative reporters.

"suck it up, it's the real world."
posted by mrgrimm at 12:37 PM on July 12, 2004


Book recommendation: Into the Buzzsaw
posted by ao4047 at 1:14 PM on July 12, 2004


yes, witty, if you were responding to my comment, i very clearly stated that my interest in the documentary is entirely related to the "fair use it or lose it" strategies being developed by some of the heavy-hitters in intellectual propertly law. i hope fox does pursue a lawsuit because greenwald has a dream legal team lined up, gratis. there's always more to a FPP than the immediately obvious issue. this is a collateral issue that i find more interesting than media bias. the other collateral issue mentioned has been internet-only distribution.

(and if you were deliberately quoting only half of the sentence to mock the out-of-context quoting fox is accused of doing, i'm not entirely sure what your point was. although the first part of the sentence you cut off answers your question, i'll spell it out explicitly, just in case: i'd like to see the documentary get more exposure because the more exposure the documentary gets, the more exposure the likely lawsuit will get, which will hopefully lead to a resurrection and expansion of the fair use buffer for criticism, commentary and review.)

for the record, i only get my news from print media (not that they're without bias, just less strident, i think) and only listen to NPR for wait, wait, don't tell me.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:18 PM on July 12, 2004


good review from Don Hazen of AlterNet.

i don't dig these MoveOn parties too much, but i'll definitely make an exception for this movie. i hope it gets sued by Fox.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:41 PM on July 12, 2004


they are certainly posturing to sue, via ernest miller.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:20 AM on July 13, 2004


This article turned up on Salon today, flirting with Godwin at the end.

I'm curious... I thought people could start RSVPing yesterday, but Outfoxed's web site does not appear to have been updated with details, nor does MoveOn's.
posted by alphanerd at 11:31 AM on July 13, 2004


Wonkette has a bunch of internal memos that illustrate Fox News' abilities to bend the truth and twist the news.
posted by crunchland at 4:35 AM on July 14, 2004


witty, et al.

Most of us here have the ability for critical thinking, and look at our media intake with that critical eye, although, despite that, we'll give media that agree with our worldview the benefit of the doubt. The importance of a movie like this is that most people don't look at their media intake that critically. For example, I used to work in Cambridge, MA, a city that Nader won in 2000, at a company that was overwhelmingly liberal, but because I was so used to being surrounded by liberals, I just thought of them as "right" (as in "correct"). Now I work on the New Hampshire border, at a company that has people who span the political spectrum, from neo-con to libertarian to socialist to ambivalent. When I started working there, I saw the conservative bias in conservatives, but I also started to see the liberal bias in liberals, myself included.

In particular, I worked with a man, a friend of mine, with whom I'd constantly have political arguments that astounded me because he couldn't see the bias in Fox News at all. He saw every other media outlet as liberal - CNN, the networks, whatever - but Fox News was The Truth. The problem with this is that when confronted with a paradox between O'Reilly's talking points, for example, and the reality that everyone else was reporting, he couldn't concede that, perhaps, O'Reilly was not telling the truth! He would jump to other topics, erect red herrings from thin air, anything other than confront the difference between the opinions he had completely assimilated from Fox and reality. He was a 21-year veteran of the US Navy and, now retired, he depended on his veteran's benefits. When I asked him what he thought about the Bush administration cutting veteran's benefits, he would deny that it was happening. When I proved to him that it was, he would argue something completely different, like that Saddam Hussein was a threat or that 9/11 has a tremendous effect on him or something equally irrelevent. Even though the Bush administration was directly taking money out of his pocket, out of his retirement check and health benefits, he couldn't accept that it was happening because Fox hadn't reported it and he was hearing it from me, whom he saw as a wild-eyed liberal.

This sort of duplicitousness, of accusing everyone else of lies and distortions, as Fox does all the time, while being unable to confront the constant, overwhelming bias of their own reporting, while distorting the truth, creates the impression on the impressionable that Fox is telling The Truth and everyone else is out to get them. I know that I'm going to vote for John Kerry, though I have my reservations and I'm critical of some of his actions. I voted for Bill Clinton, but again, I recognize that he was a human being who made a million compromises out of political expediency to the ideals that those who voted for him believed he would represent. But many who support Bush and only get their news from Fox can't fathom any criticism of the president, lest the assuser be unpatriotic, treasonous, lying, and deceitful, because their beacon of Truth conforms their reporting to a worldview that insulates any such criticism. This is dangerous to a democracy, which only works if the public is informed. Otherwise, it's reckless gangsterism in pursuit of a win rather than the personal or common good.
posted by billpena at 6:31 PM on July 21, 2004


Nice post billpena... just wanted you to know that someone came back to read it.
posted by Witty at 8:54 AM on July 22, 2004


Thanks witty ... I was feeling lonely ... ;)
posted by billpena at 11:56 AM on July 22, 2004


I managed to snag OutFoxed off BitTorrent. I can't host it, though, what with being on a laptop that's not full-time net connected.

I will, however, keep it in my BT queue for the next month or so.

The film is amazing. I would really like to see a similar treatment for Canada's CBC and CTV/Global networks.

The scary thing about Fox News is that a good portion of their 24hr play consists of talk show hosts masquerading as news anchors/reporters. There is a seamless blend of actual news items and op-ed, which rather puts lie to "We report, you decide."

If Fox is how most of America gets its information, America is in deep, deep shit.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:33 AM on July 25, 2004


Actually, Fox news is in the process of saving the American press, exposing its leftward slant.

Hope that shit is nice and smelly where you imagine it to be!
posted by ParisParamus at 9:38 AM on July 25, 2004


Paris, as you are undoubtedly the most rational voice on MetaFilter and the one user all other users look up to, you've convinced me. Fox is the all-American saviour!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:48 AM on July 25, 2004


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