Boycott Fox News
November 21, 2018 5:36 AM   Subscribe

"We need to stop treating Fox like a normal media company and start treating it like any other business devoted to actively harming the public. It should be boycotted."
posted by Lycaste (79 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
 
How do I boycott something that I've only seen a handful of times and don't even currently have access to? I guess I'll just keep not watching it. The interesting thing is that Fox (and all cable news) has a pretty tiny viewership; even in primetime, Fox News only gets a little over 2 million viewers a night. Somehow it's influence reaches far beyond the people who actually watch it.
posted by octothorpe at 5:45 AM on November 21 [36 favorites]


Wasn't anybody who is going to do that kind of already doing it? If only by default?

Sure, pressure advertisers, but once again, my understanding is that most of their advertisers are already part of the same gated community Fox and its audience live in - weird schemes to buy gold and what not that are already not welcome on normal media.

Again, if you want to actually punish Fox News, it's going to take something a lot less polite. Like blacklisting anybody who appears there from ever appearing or publishing anywhere else.
posted by Naberius at 5:50 AM on November 21 [44 favorites]


Yeah, this article is a bit weird. It rightly acknowledges that "Readers of this article are probably already boycotting Fox News on one level — statistically speaking, you’re unlikely to watch it". And then it...doesn't really explain what else we're supposed to do in service of the proposed boycott?

It does have a two-sentence aside that says "But Fox has big advertisers, and pressuring them has worked in the past". So I guess the article is advocating for more of that? Which, yeah, sure – so dig into that. Tell us how that's gonna work, what it's gonna look like, how individual readers can contribute to the effort.

Also, it seems strange to make this argument without mentioning Sleeping Giants, who are (as far as I know) the leading activist group in this area. Follow 'em on Twitter and Facebook. Kick 'em a few bucks by buying some swag (I'm wearing my shirt right now! it's quality!).
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:51 AM on November 21 [27 favorites]


Somehow it's influence reaches far beyond the people who actually watch it.

That's because small but significant proportion of its devoted viewership are researchers and writers for late night talk shows and similar, looking for things to rebroadcast and be appalled about. If The Daily Show or Stephen Colbert or Samantha Bee boycotted Fox, that would be something.
posted by Grangousier at 5:52 AM on November 21 [17 favorites]


A few weeks ago I flew to the Chicago area for a wedding. One morning the TV in the hotel's continental breakfast room was on Fox News, and since no one in the room seemed to be paying much attention to it, I flipped to the local CBS affiliate. It was the tiniest of tiny acts and I think should be anyone's baseline. Any place that has Fox News on as background noise, change the channel.

As for the rest: Sleeping Giants, etc: thanks to everyone else for giving me that homework.
posted by pianoblack at 6:03 AM on November 21 [42 favorites]


Should’ve at least thrown in a line about making a stink wherever that garbage is shown publicly.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:15 AM on November 21 [12 favorites]


I spend a lot of time in doctors offices and to a varying degree get it turned off.
posted by tilde at 6:18 AM on November 21 [32 favorites]


Lots of things make sense if you ignore reality.
posted by tommasz at 6:21 AM on November 21 [2 favorites]


Somehow it's influence reaches far beyond the people who actually watch it.

That's because small but significant proportion of its devoted viewership are researchers and writers for late night talk shows and similar, looking for things to rebroadcast and be appalled about. If The Daily Show or Stephen Colbert or Samantha Bee boycotted Fox, that would be something.

This is a good point, not only because keeps Fox News and its bias in the media but because for Fox News fans it reinforces the us vs them mentality. All the revulsion I feel for Megan Kelly, fox news fans see for Colbert and others. They BELIEVE in Fox News, let me tell you.

The author also underestimates the general public when he says most of America disapproves of Trump and the GOP. There are plenty of folks who are outright fans of both and plenty more folks who think Trump is a horrible person but still think Hillary would have been a worse president. And all of them see the way Fox News reports as reporting from their point of view, as opposed to the "liberal"bias of CNN. They can't or won't distinguish that Fox sometimes just flat out fills in the details with whatever suits them, truth be damned.

This is domino, reporting from smack in the middle of thousands of Fox fans.
posted by domino at 6:24 AM on November 21 [16 favorites]


I hate stupid and manipulative sophistry disguised as news and informed opinion, and BuzzFeed is propaganda just as is Fox.

I wrote the book on how Fox News is manipulative propaganda.

I also wrote the book how lies become news regardless of political sway, and the book how journalism's lost ways brought its own collapse, and I have done exhaustive research and have much more to say about this topic.

We are living in an age of propaganda where people want to shove their own ideology down people's throats, and then pretend that's fact. The FNC is garbage, but so is BuzzFeed.

Journalism needs to be replaced by an alternative. We need an empirical alternative, and this has been something I have been working on for over a quarter of century. We no longer have a rational press. Online publications are no better than traditional ones, and vice versa.

Stop telling people how to think. Start giving narrative-free facts.

People who do not agree with Fox do not use their partisan lies, just as people who do not agree with CNN or MSNBC do not use their partisan lies. The world is not binary, nor is there a single one right way to see the world.

People have opinions on things they know nothing about, have done zero research, and think their manipulations are going to help them "win" some non-existent pecking order.

No, you cannot fool all of the people all of the time, and BuzzFeed isn't fooling any critical and independent thinker who sees reality...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 6:25 AM on November 21 [44 favorites]


I'm already boycotting Fox news, and all other cable news, since I haven't had cable for years. Cable is going the way of the rotary phone (I think). It's what comes next that I fear more.
posted by lordrunningclam at 6:26 AM on November 21 [8 favorites]


The craziest thing to me is their headquarters are right smack in the middle of Manhattan. Why they don’t get a truckload of sewage delivered to their doorstep daily, I don’t know.
posted by fungible at 6:26 AM on November 21 [5 favorites]


I wasn't in the market for a catheter, gold bullion, or his pillow anyway so this is going to be easy.
posted by Stanczyk at 6:28 AM on November 21 [10 favorites]


I had my kids in for an orthodontist consultation recently. The orthodontist was bringing up some pictures of the braces he intended to glue to my daughters' teeth, and when he typed "f" into the browser location bar I noticed the top URL was not his clinic (which also started with f), but foxnews.

We did not hire him.

I thought it was a fine decision.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:31 AM on November 21 [54 favorites]


How do I boycott something that I've only seen a handful of times and don't even currently have access to?

Don't use their sponsor's products. Make sure the sponsors and people you know are aware that you aren't using those products and why. Plenty of corporations have a fear of publicly appearing partisan and will back away from anything that limits their market.
posted by cmfletcher at 6:47 AM on November 21 [39 favorites]


thank you, cmfletcher. I was just going to say that this article was almost useful, but fell short of linking to info on the advertisers. It would be an excellent idea to contact the advertisers and make sure they know we're keeping track of them even when we're not watching, and make sure they know who we find most odious.
posted by es_de_bah at 6:51 AM on November 21 [2 favorites]


I hate stupid and manipulative sophistry disguised as news and informed opinion, and BuzzFeed is propaganda just as is Fox.

Oh, come on. Whether or not Buzzfeed is propaganda is, quite honestly, besides the point. The problem is that Fox News is dangerous and often life-threatening propaganda, aimed at both individuals and entire groups. Nobody is reading Buzzfeed and shooting Jews or Muslims or immigrants or PoC or women. Nobody finishes a listicle and straps on an AR15 to harass mosques or feminists or restauranteurs. Nobody finishes a "which celebrity vegetable are you" quiz and goes out to plaster their vehicle with conspiracy theories about DNC staffers or Clinton aides or children's TV shows.

There is simply no reason to compare the two as if they are remotely the same. For all your talk about empiricism and research, there seems to be no acknowledgement that one needs only to spend a couple seconds to come up with the facts on what Fox News represents. This kind of bothsidesism, which is one of the primary tools that the very same media you're criticizing constantly uses, is part of the propaganda problem.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:53 AM on November 21 [165 favorites]


Uh huh. What exactly is Buzzfeed’s ideology, then?

As to advertiser boycotts: the Fox News audience is, at this point, a pre-screened group of suckers, likely over a certain age, and likely with some disposable income. Most companies who make money off that demo aren’t going to feel it much when the rest of us stop buying their products. We have already cleaved into separate ecosystems.

It will take regulation.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:56 AM on November 21 [16 favorites]


I have no idea about the technical aspect of this but I once saw someone on reddit giving instructions for people to block Fox News from their (non tech-savvy) parents homes.

It is unethical in a way but at the same time Fox News has radicalized a lot of senior citizens with lies.
posted by Tarumba at 6:58 AM on November 21 [19 favorites]


It is unethical in a way but at the same time Fox News has radicalized a lot of senior citizens with lies.

I seem to remember way back in one of the US Politics megathreads, somebody admitted to using the Parental Controls to block Fox on their parents TV.

It tickled me that Parental Controls could therefore be used by parents or on parents.
posted by jontyjago at 7:05 AM on November 21 [37 favorites]


my understanding is that most of their advertisers are already part of the same gated community Fox and its audience live in

Nope, top sponsers that Mefites might use are:
Proctor and Gamble
Darden Restaurants (Red Lobster, Olive Garden)
USAA
Capitol One
Ford
Ace Hardware
Progressive
Wayfair
Amazon
Office Depot
Keurig
Pet Smart
Expedia
Beaches and Sandals Resorts
Choice Hotels


BuzzFeed is propaganda just as is Fox

Buzzfeed propaganda brought you:

Two Pulitzer Prize finalists
The excellent reporting of Anne Helen Petersen that has created many FPPs
A story that led to the dismissal of murder charges for 9 different men
The Steele dossier
Reports on sexual misconduct in Congress that led to DC reforms
Changes in detainee consent laws
etc etc
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:05 AM on November 21 [99 favorites]


Stop telling people how to think. Start giving narrative-free facts.

This, too, is dangerous. Dropping "facts" without context is not actually useful. If I told you that substance X is toxic in humans and is in drinking water, that's a "fact." But maybe the dangerous dose is much higher than any human could ever ingest by drinking water? You need a narrative to give context.
posted by explosion at 7:10 AM on November 21 [62 favorites]


Fox News continues to make money. Until it becomes an unprofitable enterprise, it will continue to do what it's been doing. Same with Sinclair, and same with, (if we must) Buzzfeed and the New York Times.

What we're seeing is the perfection of Clickbait. Fox News preys on conservative outrage, and has made it their entire business model. The New York Times does the same with their opinion section, for what it's worth, but at least has the rest of its content be, generally, straight news.
posted by SansPoint at 7:12 AM on November 21 [3 favorites]


Stop telling people how to think. Start giving narrative-free facts.

What is a "narrative-free fact"? I would argue they don't exist, for two reasons. One, someone has to choose what facts to report. And two, even a fact without context is going to immediately be given one by the audience.
posted by ropeladder at 7:14 AM on November 21 [48 favorites]


Don't follow Fox News links, even if you're morbidly curious to read something outrageous with your very own eyes. Deny them the impressions. Clickstrike.
posted by Construction Concern at 7:14 AM on November 21 [11 favorites]


I followed Sleeping Giants and participated as they organized a campaign to drop advertisers from Breitbart. It was inspiring, sending an email of complaint to a company, getting a response from their marketing team, and then seeing them pull their ads from Breitbart later that week. Fox has a much bigger market share than Breitbart and will be harder for advertisers to give up. I don't imagine Pfizer will stop advertising for all of those sweet, sweet retiree viewers, for instance. Wayfair, on the other hand, or Office Depot might with enough pressure. It certainly won't hurt me to take a few minutes to shoot of an email to them.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:19 AM on November 21 [6 favorites]


So, Buzzfeed bloggers are now to be considered a better source of information than is Fox News?

You've got to hand it to Fox - they wear their bias on their sleeve. There's no question as to what side of a story they're reporting.
posted by tgrundke at 7:21 AM on November 21


Can someone fill me in - have we gone from "Buzzfeed is silly nonsense fluff" to "Buzzfeed is Actually Good" and now to "Buzzfeed is fulfilling [?????] sinister agenda"?
posted by ominous_paws at 7:23 AM on November 21 [14 favorites]


Buzzfeed bloggers

As far as I know Buzzfeed News is ran independently from Buzzfeed the clickbait site. They are not "bloggers". They are journalists. Clickbait generates revenue to support journalism.

Although I admit Buzzfeed News is a shit name if they want to be taken seriously.
posted by Tarumba at 7:28 AM on November 21 [16 favorites]


I assume Fox News, Trump, et al, are merely symptoms rather than prime movers. The real problem lies amongst the 327,653,066 fellow citizens we figuratively rub elbows with every day. I see no remedy. Any individual or organization that tells them what they yearn to hear and paints rosey vistas they wish to inhabit must flourish...
posted by jim in austin at 7:42 AM on November 21 [3 favorites]


Local papers used to fund real journalism with funds from classified ads, which are no longer a thing and is part of the crisis. Buzzfeed is gambling it can fund real journalism by cute cat pictures.
posted by mark k at 7:43 AM on November 21 [18 favorites]


Any cable or satellite TV bundle means you're paying money to Fox directly, right? This assumption on my part made cord-cutting easy.
posted by bendybendy at 7:55 AM on November 21 [4 favorites]


> One morning the TV in the hotel's continental breakfast room was on Fox News, and since no one in the room seemed to be paying much attention to it, I flipped to the local CBS affiliate.

I'm pretty much against TV news of any sort being on in public places in 2018. Everyone has a device in their pocket where they can access all the news they want, and plenty of people have no desire to watch the news just because they want a hotel muffin or to go to the bank.
posted by smelendez at 7:59 AM on November 21 [10 favorites]


Like lordrunningclam I've avoided American cable news since, oh, 2001 or so. I'll find web pages published by CNN, MSNBC, ABC, Fox, etc., and I've read articles about cable news, but have largely kept my eyeballs free of the thing.

Recently I've started checking in on it for various professional reasons (keeping up with the broader media ecosystem; digital literacy work; futures practice) and made myself watch Fox News for 90 minutes. It was really shocking and surprising on numerous fronts.

One was how boisterous, manic, and loud the thing is. Most of the time people were shouting or snarling, speaking quickly, hollering at enemies. Visually the thing never stopped moving, as animations kept unfurling and pushing things back and forth across the screen (it was like playing a top level strategy game). It's a world removed from, say, a 1970s broadcaster calmly telling us stuff.

Another was a Saturday Night Live level of blurring commercials and content. At least once there was an advert for some PAC (I think?), and the call to action was "call us to donate and express your support of the president, who's under attack."

It was like the tv news in Verhoven's Starship Troopers or Robocop . Way beyond what Network had dreamed up as mere satire.
posted by doctornemo at 8:08 AM on November 21 [27 favorites]


Start giving narrative-free facts.

There is no such thing. As soon as you decide which facts to present and how, you're building a narrative. You can strive for objectivity (and it's a worthy goal), but your presentation will always be influenced by your understanding of the situation surrounding those facts.

We are living in an age of propaganda where people want to shove their own ideology down people's throats

This is an opinion article that is making an argument; it's not a news report. Its purpose is to convince you of something. Sharing facts in an objective manner is not remotely the point of the piece. That would be a fundamental misreading of the article's genre.

I don't think that removing all opinion and argument from public discourse is a good idea. I don't think you do, either - you've in fact written a book in which you advance an argument, as far as I can tell. So, I'm having trouble understanding your objection to this piece. Is it that you think news outlets shouldn't have opinion pieces too? What precisely makes it so bad that this piece is making an argument?

The FNC is garbage, but so is BuzzFeed.

Yes, but for very different reasons; it's not because they both have a viewpoint. It's because one has a viewpoint that is harmful garbage, and will twist the facts to advance it.

I think there is a common fallacy here: If someone uses a means to a bad end, then the means is bad. Fox News uses the news to advance a reactionary and regressive viewpoint, and will twist the facts to do it; therefore it's wrong to advance a viewpoint. Some people use anonymity to harass women online; therefore anonymity is bad. And so on.

If you want to argue that Buzzfeed is also harming political discourse, you have to do so with more than a false equivalence. Maybe you do so in your book, I would bet that most of the people in this thread haven't read your book.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:15 AM on November 21 [37 favorites]


You've got to hand it to Fox - they wear their bias on their sleeve. There's no question as to what side of a story they're reporting.

Wikipedia claims they only started phasing out the “Fair and Balanced” slogan in late 2016, and doesn't even seem certain of that.

Nationalists I know who are heavy consumers seem to believe they're getting a range of viewpoints but then upon further discussion appear to know less even about conservative figures and political activities than I do. The way they speak makes it sound like they've been indoctrinated to a network of talking points, basically extended aphorisms, that are actually designed to prevent getting a clear understanding.

Their brains are stuffed full of half-truths that intentionally leave them unable to get a firm footing on any topic, a state of affairs which functions in concert with a trained reflex to seek more detail only from ideologically approved sources. You can't present them with plain facts, like the actual text of the Constitution for example, because they've been taught that truth is inaccessible to them and needs interpretation from a conservative media outlet like a priest presenting the Gospel or the Vedas.
posted by XMLicious at 8:17 AM on November 21 [19 favorites]


You've got to hand it to Fox - they wear their bias on their sleeve. There's no question as to what side of a story they're reporting.

"At least Trump Fox tells it like it is!"
posted by XtinaS at 8:25 AM on November 21 [8 favorites]


It is unethical in a way but at the same time Fox News has radicalized a lot of senior citizens with lies.

I mean, if a pipe was pumping noxious gases into your parents’ house but they refused to do anything despite it killing them slowly, it’d be your moral obligation to block the pipe and neglect to mention it.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:32 AM on November 21 [16 favorites]


I don't want people to wear some biases on their sleeves. I want them to be furtive and guilty and ashamed. I want them to be Raskolnikov.
posted by Chitownfats at 8:32 AM on November 21 [11 favorites]


"You've got to hand it to Fox - they wear their bias on their sleeve. There's no question as to what side of a story they're reporting."

With all due respect, I think their bias is obvious to us (that is, liberal-leaning folks on metafilter) and not at ALL obvious the majority of their viewership. And why should it be? They're heralded as a "news" organization -- if not the BEST news organization by their own accord that will show you the REAL truth -- just as CBS, NBC, CNN, etc. etc.

I really don't think most people understand what it's actually all about. They just think they're watching the news.
posted by knownassociate at 8:37 AM on November 21 [22 favorites]


For me, traditional television news died with Peter Jennings.

I do quite like Vice News Tonight on HBO, but it's a bit different.
posted by hippybear at 8:43 AM on November 21 [1 favorite]


Bigger businesses, hospitals, nursing homes, hotel chains, instacares, should step in and make guidelines about what shows up on their courtesy media. Often the channel choice falls to whomever has an interest, on staff, or randos in the lobby.

Personally, I put my TV on the curb in 2006. I put black electrition's tape over the camera in my then new laptop, before I ever turned it on, in 2007.

I was in a clinic, waiting for a CT scan, last year. I had my choice of waiting rooms, in the mammography waiting room, the video display was playing New Age flute music, with videos out of the Utah National Parks, and other outdoor scenes. It was lovely. There were no legs, no suits, no makeup, no highly remunerated opinions, no stress, no sales. Bonus, it was in California.
posted by Oyéah at 8:57 AM on November 21 [4 favorites]


The craziest thing to me is their headquarters are right smack in the middle of Manhattan. Why they don’t get a truckload of sewage delivered to their doorstep daily, I don’t know.

the specific place where it is in Manhattan is "one block away from Rockefeller Center" and "surrounded by lots of office buildings which are predominantly owned by banks". Most of the people who are in that area of Manhattan on a regular basis are either a) tourists or b) commuters who may be centrist-to-right, so they aren't as fussed by that building as you might think.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:09 AM on November 21 [5 favorites]


What exactly is Buzzfeed’s ideology, then?

I agree Fox is the dangerous one, but BuzzFeed is not non-ideological. Nothing is. It'd be something along the lines of progressive liberalism.

As knownassociate says, their bias is obvious to us (that is, liberal-leaning folks on metafilter) and for that same reason, BuzzFeed's isn't as obvious.

It's not a value judgement to recognise that an organisation or text is ideological. They all are. It doesn't mean they're equivalent in other ways. BuzzFeed News Australia publishes a lot of good stuff here. Alice Workman is a great journo, from what I hear.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 9:19 AM on November 21 [4 favorites]


>Somehow it's influence reaches far beyond the people who actually watch it.

The last time that I checked, Fox News was both the most watched and the most trusted television news service. That's not saying much except that Americans don't trust the media in general because the rates of trust and viewership for Fox are also very low to be sure.

When I worked in DC during the Obama years, every political appointee had Fox on mute in their office all the time. You want to keep one eye on the opposition that could light your house on fire at any given point.

Here's the thing, the US media has been being attacked as the "liberal media" for ages. Average journalists actually want to be respected as objective, so that accusation stings. In the striving to be neutral, the media ends up being easily trolled and manipulated by extreme viewpoints that grab ratings. The media is reactionary to "headlines" and also always looking to keep up with the other news outlets. Fox writes the headlines because they don't have to wait to jump on the bandwagon. They're driving it.

Fox gets to set the news agenda because in the land of the blind, the eye-eyed troll is king. Fox doesn't wait for news to happen, they create the hype and the rest of the media is forced to report it. An example of this is the migrant caravan. There have been other protest caravans but this is the one that caught Fox's attention to the service of Donald Trump. It wouldn't have been a debate if it wasn't a convenient political football for Republicans. All the other news outlets took the Republicans' lead to make it news. What choice would they have?

Boycotting Fox would mean finding a new way to drive the news cycle, such as giving journalists permission to stop reporting "two sides" on issues have have clear moral or scientific backing. But in this world where all truths are up for political debate, that's going to look like liberal bias, so we have to give mainstream journalists permission to have that bias.
posted by Skwirl at 9:42 AM on November 21 [6 favorites]


I really don't think most people understand what it's actually all about. They just think they're watching the news.

Think about that statement for a moment, then flip the subject of this thread from Fox News to MSNBC or CNN. The argument can be made on both sides.

The media, in general, has always been like this. Why people are suddenly surprised and shocked and scared about it is a mystery to me. Go back to the early 20th century US press, or go back to the battles over the gold standard - there have always been journalists who reported "facts", and those who provided heavy interpretation of the facts.

None of this is new.
posted by tgrundke at 9:47 AM on November 21


The SCOPE of it is absolutely new.
posted by agregoli at 9:52 AM on November 21 [3 favorites]


Oh, come on. Whether or not Buzzfeed is propaganda is, quite honestly, besides the point.

No, no, no. You are not going to bring in a confirmation bias into this. BuzzFeed is Leftist propaganda. The FNC is Rightist propaganda. There is no "right" here because the model of journalism is broken, and if it were functional, it would call bullshit on both.

What you are indulging in is a default delusion: if the guy you disagree with is wrong, you are not right by default, and we will never progress as a society if we keep thinking that we are beyond reproach just because we do not agree with someone who is wrong. You are just as wrong because we do not have an empirical model of journalism.

We are living in the dark ages because we have ways of making journalism empirical, but everyone wants the ideology they blindly follow to be perfect, and it's not.

Propaganda is propaganda and what we have is a serious problem with the structure of how we gather, analyze, and disseminate propaganda.

BuzzFeed is as dangerous as Fox because it gives a false sense of smugness that you are smarter and more informed just because you disagree with Fox and do not see all of the lies that you believe to be true.

What we have is a void vortex. We are living in a black hole where we are fooled into thinking we know more than we actually do.

I went into journalism with the express intent to study it and conduct experiments on how it functions and where it fails. I am not some armchair philosopher.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 10:00 AM on November 21 [5 favorites]


Why people are suddenly surprised and shocked and scared about it is a mystery to me. Go back to the early 20th century US press,

Well, those two sentences kind of remind me of something. I think the old "norm" or expectation for everyone was the post-WWII model of having a handful of central news media providers that you and your neighbors and everyone you know read, listened to, and watched. Of course views outside of that existed, but they usually didn't get far because they weren't broadcasted on any mass level. And they certainly didn't have enough news content to last 24 (or even 2 hours), and not even the major providers made news content for the whole day either.
posted by FJT at 10:07 AM on November 21 [1 favorite]


I think the effect of Fox News might be a tad more dangerous than whatever false sense of smugness we get from reading Buzzfeed News. Not to say that the latter’s fine, but suggesting they’re as bad as each other is rather a bold move.
posted by inire at 10:13 AM on November 21 [14 favorites]


Most 24 hour news channels aren't 24 hours of news content. They're mostly people telling you what you should think about the little news that has actually happened.

If you actually listen to most hour-long personality news channel programs, they really don't have much news content. They have a news moment and then 10 minutes of telling you "what that means" or "how you connect the dots" or "here's context for that" (which can often be a forced narrative constructed out of cherry-picked other news and never mentioning any contradicting facts).

Even though I appreciate Maddow's politics, I can't watch her. She's Hannity for the left, only with brains instead of anger. Ditto most other people presenting views I appreciate for an hour. I don't want views presented, I want the news.

NPR isn't perfect, but it works for what I want. Same with Vice News Tonight (but not Vice in general, although they do interesting reporting).
posted by hippybear at 10:14 AM on November 21 [5 favorites]


>We are living in the dark ages because we have ways of making journalism empirical

I would argue that we're living in the dark ages because we don't have comprehensive critical thinking training in schools.

Empirical journalism? We could build peer review and some kind of experimentation reproduction into journalism in theory, I suppose, but... how? Not all facts are reproducible in any experimental way and if you create some kind of empirical journalism journal for publishing peer reviewed journalism, someone will create the same thing but faster, juicier and with a hidden bias.

Average people believe patently stupid things like anti-vax and pizzagate. It'd be great to have smarter journalists but what we really need are smarter audiences.
posted by Skwirl at 10:19 AM on November 21 [12 favorites]


If exposing sexual predators is "propaganda" and not journalism, give me more of that propaganda I guess.
posted by tofu_crouton at 10:21 AM on November 21 [19 favorites]


"but everyone wants the ideology they blindly follow to be perfect"

I mean, this seems in the spirit of things, so [citation needed]
posted by ominous_paws at 10:30 AM on November 21 [9 favorites]


No, no, no. You are not going to bring in a confirmation bias into this.

I'm...not? Seriously, though, point us to all the terrorists who have quoted Buzzfeed talking points in their manifestos. Show us the studies of marginalized groups where Buzzfeed is mentioned as the catalyst for attacks against them.

You want to talk empirical evidence? Then show your fucking work.

BuzzFeed is Leftist propaganda. The FNC is Rightist propaganda. There is no "right" here because the model of journalism is broken, and if it were functional, it would call bullshit on both.

Buzzfeed is not "Leftist propaganda." It is, at best, the US definition of center-left with a possible bias towards politicians of a similar bent, which not coincidentally is exactly the kind of thing progressive journalism watchdog groups have called bullshit on.

What you are indulging in is a default delusion: if the guy you disagree with is wrong, you are not right by default

Which is not something I stated, let alone a "delusion."

You are just as wrong because we do not have an empirical model of journalism.

We are living in the dark ages because we have ways of making journalism empirical, but everyone wants the ideology they blindly follow to be perfect, and it's not.


Please define this, because the more you say this the more I feel like we're getting into an Vizzini/Inigo Montoya situation here.

BuzzFeed is as dangerous as Fox because it gives a false sense of smugness that you are smarter and more informed just because you disagree with Fox and do not see all of the lies that you believe to be true.

So if I go to my Muslim or LGBTQ or immigrant friends, they're going to tell me Buzzfeed's smugness is more likely to get them killed, then? And if they don't, their experiences are invalid and that they're actually delusional and don't believe in science? This is getting ridiculous.

What we have is a void vortex. We are living in a black hole where we are fooled into thinking we know more than we actually do.

Who's "we" here? You're the one going on about empiricism while discarding the observations and experiences of people being targeted by dangerous rhetoric.

I went into journalism with the express intent to study it and conduct experiments on how it functions and where it fails. I am not some armchair philosopher.

I'm beginning to think that, yeah, ya kind of are. Every statement you have made is bargain-basement philosophizing, because at no point have you supported your arguments with the evidence that is necessary to prove anything in what you claim is your area of expertise. All I've seen is a bunch of sweeping unsupported statements of what you claim as fact and accusations of bias, which it turns out are themselves based on what appears to be your own biases, as well as often being directly contradicted by the very same empirical standards you claim to champion and uphold.

You like to go on and on about all the books you've written, so I'm sure you've got at least some evidence lying around. What are you waiting for?
posted by zombieflanders at 11:20 AM on November 21 [47 favorites]


We are living in the dark ages because we have ways of making journalism empirical

No, we don't.

Journalism has never been unbiased and it never will. It can't be. And thank goodness, because if a project to make journalism 100% "empirical" weren't impossible, it would probably be more terrifying and destructive than anything FOX has done.

Better to focus your efforts on encouraging media literacy and critical reading/consumption skills.
posted by Mike Smith at 11:21 AM on November 21 [8 favorites]


the need to smack any outlying point of view down to the lowest common demoninator here is kind of embarrassing.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:36 AM on November 21 [4 favorites]


Anecdote of change: I was thrilled to see the TV in (state agency) break room turned to PBS recently, when that location's entrance TV* was previously set to Fox News. (*The bigger question is why was there a TV even in the entrance area? There aren't even chairs to sit and wait to meet someone! Did the receptionist really want to have a TV blaring in her ear all day?)
posted by filthy light thief at 12:02 PM on November 21 [2 favorites]


BuzzFeed is as dangerous as Fox because it gives a false sense of smugness that you are smarter and more informed just because you disagree with Fox and do not see all of the lies that you believe to be true.

People who fanatically believe every bit of clickbait posted at Buzzfeed aren't shooting up schools and churches. They aren't working to destroy the last 60 years of civil rights progress. They're not putting children in cages. In what way is Buzzfeed "as dangerous" as Fox?

I read and enjoy some things on Buzzfeed. I wouldn't say I'm an avid follower - my news tolerance is low these days; there's only so much horror I can accept. I certainly read and agree with much more at Buzzfeed than at Fox. What are "all of the lies" that I believe to be true? Since you don't know me specifically, what are the lies that Buzzfeed fans in general believe, that make them just as dangerous as Fox viewers?

As others have said: There's no such thing as narrative-free reporting of "just the facts." All facts are reported in a context, even if that's just "these are the only facts we're reporting right now." You can never give anyone "all the facts"; there isn't time enough for that. We are all making decisions based on limited information.

We can hope for no deliberate hiding of facts, of journalism that reports the same kinds of facts in any situation, instead of only reporting things like a criminal record when it relates to a candidate they dislike. But we all live in a world of endless interconnections and nuances, and no journalism will ever report all of those details. What we can strive for is laws that require journalists to report their biases - for organizations to be honest about what kinds of stories they refuse to run, about what kinds of sympathies they will present as reasonable.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:25 PM on November 21 [15 favorites]


" ...BuzzFeed is propaganda just as is Fox."

Nice false equivalence you have there. It'd be a shame if something happened to it.
posted by AJScease at 12:38 PM on November 21 [11 favorites]


Humanity was not meant to know such dangerous and arcane knowledge like the myriad of different ways to concoct sliders.
posted by FJT at 12:57 PM on November 21 [8 favorites]


lowest common denominator

What do you mean by this? I can't grok the phrase in this context.
posted by ominous_paws at 1:07 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


the need to smack any outlying point of view down to the lowest common demoninator here is kind of embarrassing.

The outlying point of view here is that Buzzfeed's opinion columns are propaganda in the same sense that Fox News's "straight" reporting is, and more broadly that journalism should seek to present facts completely outside of any meaningful context, so as not to influence the reader one way or the other. Neither of these points makes sense, so it's not surprising that people are having a good time knocking them down. Dogpiles aren't dignified, but it wouldn't be more dignified to nod sagely and agree that facts should be presented like isolated stars in the sky, without drawing the lines between them that make them constellations by which we navigate the sea.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:10 PM on November 21 [18 favorites]


Speaking only for myself: I don't even think of my comment as knocking those views down, and I didn't particularly have a good time writing my comment. I disagreed, so I said so, and explained why. I've been checking back, hoping for some follow-up that would address what I thought was missing from the argument. Instead there was just more scolding that we're all sheeple.

So, you know. Baa.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:37 PM on November 21 [13 favorites]


Journalism has never been unbiased and it never will. It can't be.

This is exactly correct. We all like to think that humans are rational, logical beings. That couldn't be further from the truth.

When it comes to fight-or-flight or resource scarcity issues we are driven by the lizard mind.

I can watch Fox, CNN, and NPR and I can call bullshit when I see or hear it. I'm a skeptic at heart, and I have a natural doubt about what "they say".

It's why when I watch Trump or Obama I tend to hear and filter out the BS. Pro tip, there's a lot on both sides, but filtering for the messenger is key.

Fox is going to run a segment on the wildfires that says that forestry mismanagement was was to blame. CNN is going to run a similar segment and drop "climate change" into the story. The reality is, of course, far more nuanced: more people, more housing, more encroachment on nature, droughts, etc. are all part of the picture.

Several things can be true simultaneously. The climate can be changing, and people can be expanding further into the wilderness, and there can be mismanagement....all at the same time.

Generally speaking, a lot of loosely connected things tend to come together to create shitstorms, and it's very difficult to blame just one thing (or person) for that event.

Family breakdowns and major disasters often share one thing in common: rarely is it just one thing that leads to a bad day, it's a culmination of dozens or hundreds of little things that lead up to the trigger event.
posted by tgrundke at 2:18 PM on November 21 [3 favorites]


Slipping in “terrorist fist jab” and constantly mis-labeling Republicans they don't like as Democrats in graphics simply is not the same thing as (supposedly inappropriately) slipping in “climate change” to the news. And that's without even getting into opinion programming that falsifies video or abets white supremacy.

Saying that there is no perfect objectivity is not the same thing as all biases being fungible. If your filtering simply increases the number of news stories you can shrug at then you aren't drawing back the veil of bias to peer at the nuance underneath, you're just engaging in lazy rationalizing.

“None of this is new” is exactly why you have to figure out how you would have backed abolitionism or women's suffrage or opposed the Holocaust rather than retreating to a risk-free relative centrism.
posted by XMLicious at 2:57 PM on November 21 [9 favorites]


If this kind of warmed over 'journalism without narrative despite this not being how humans work' is all you have from 25 years of thinking about the issue, maybe you're the wrong person to be trying to answer that question. I haven't written any books on Fox News and I know enough about sociology and human psychology to know that humans think in terms of narratives.
posted by Merus at 4:21 PM on November 21 [7 favorites]


I think it's important to read Klion's article as not being for any of us -which he himself acknowledges- but rather for his peers in the media, and for anyone thinking about touching Fox in the future. NBC didn't have to hire Megyn Kelly; they could have decided that her activities at Fox disqualified her. Her colleagues could have walked out instead of taping with her. If the Murdichs want to endow a university chair, the university can reject the cash.

This isn't an article for everyone. It's an article for steeling the nerves of people in places where they can have the most impact.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:21 PM on November 21 [6 favorites]


As a complement, I would probably look at Ashley Feinberg's article on Tim Miller and Pod Save America, which could also be considered an argument for boycotting all Republicans from leftish media.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:46 PM on November 21 [2 favorites]


Propaganda is propaganda and what we have is a serious problem with the structure of how we gather, analyze, and disseminate propaganda.

Most of the time people were shouting or snarling, speaking quickly, hollering at enemies. Visually the thing never stopped moving... It's a world removed from, say, a 1970s broadcaster calmly telling us stuff.


Fox News: proudly following the delivery performance of Hitler and Mussolini

I won't watch any news program, most especially and particularly Fox, because all of the newscasters either have a dogmatic delivery or they have to emote all over the news to let the 'viewing public' know how to think and feel. I'll read a paper, or read online news, and if there's video, I want to see the actual news as spoken or filmed, and I prefer to interpret 'the reality' with as little gloss as possible. I do read criticism and commentary, but reading it is enables me to process the tone and intent, and reflect on what is being said, much more so than being told.

The reporting of the Acosta incident is a perfect example of the type of reporting that Fox skews into the dramatic.

Relatively neutral news report:
Acosta refused to surrender a microphone provided by the White House, while trying to ask Trump another question. A female staffer tried to take it from him and Acosta held on.

Fox headlines and report:
Acosta was captured struggling with an unidentified White House aide
Other reports used words such as forced, steamrolled, pushed, muscled, and shoved, to suggest violence toward the intern.

Saunders statement was just ridiculous, and a further skewing of the truth.
We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern.
Releasing a speeded up video claiming that it's done in sports reporting is beyond news and deep into propaganda.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:36 PM on November 21 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty much against TV news of any sort being on in public places in 2018.

I'm pretty much against TVs of any sort being on in public places in 2018, but I lost that fight years ago.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:47 PM on November 21 [5 favorites]


Fascists deliberately poison the political debate with lies and laugh about decent people's struggle to fight them with truth. Saying that both are equal is advancing the facist playbook, and makes one a fascist as well.
posted by patrick54 at 11:02 PM on November 21 [4 favorites]


Falling prey to common logical fallacies doesn't make one anything, other than human. Incidentally, we need to define propaganda. News cannot avoid having a point of view — even if it's produced algorithmically, someone had to choose the training data. Facts cannot be neutral — unless you simply report a random sample of everything, regardless of newsworthiness, your choice of facts is already a point of view. Having a point of view is not propaganda — or everything is.

I don't see that Fox or Buzzfeed are propaganda - Fox presents the news from a white supremacist point of view, Buzzfeed is coming from a more liberal anti-racist angle, and one of those things is abhorrent and one isn't. In the same way that the problem with "grab them by the pussy" was not the coarse language, the problem with Fox is not that it's biased. Bias is inevitable.

Obviously, it doesn't matter to the adversary how we frame it, the retort is always going to be "no u". But framing it as if bias is the problem isn't saying what we mean, which is that bigotry should be stigmatised.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 1:50 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]


In some sense, Fox is anti-propaganda. That is, I would assume propaganda is created by the state to promote an agenda. In contrast, Fox has an incredible synergy with the state that lets it five the agenda. (Consider how Pirro and Hannity periodically speak with the President.) Fox hosts have the ability to set the talking points used by the President, even if they also take cues from him. This seems to be a complete inversion of the classic role, but I'm no historian.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:01 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]


I mean, yellow journalism gave us the Spanish American War, so my thoughts aren't running too deep.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:20 AM on November 22


I was staying at Stage Coach Inn in West Yellowstone, Montana, recently. It's the best town to stay in if you visit Yellowstone because the west entrance is the biggest and is open 24/7 year round. So the town sees quite a bit of tourists and visitors. The hotel's lobby and dining room both have a single TV each playing fox news all the time. I asked the receptionist at one point during my stay if we can change the channel (without tell her to which one or why), she informed me that she wish she could, but it's company policy to keep on that channel for all TVs in common areas.

We might see it as the propaganda machine that it is, but in many parts of the country it's the gold standard of "news".

I used to have one of those "ninja remotes" that works with most TVs by basically cycle through preset codes until you get one that works with that TV and you can control it without alerting anyone, I'm really tempted to buy an upgraded one that works with newer TVs. The downside is that you're controlling the TV itself, not the cable box, which almost everyone has these days. So at most you can change the input, mute the TV, or turn it off, but you can't really change the channel.
posted by numaner at 1:39 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]


Not too long ago I was having some car work done and was in the waiting room, with the obligatory Fox News channel on the TV. I was the only one there, so went and turned it off and started reading my book. A few more people wandered in, and then the receptionist came over and turned the tv back on. I asked if anyone in the room wanted it on, and turned it off again when I got a chorus of no. The admin stormed back in, turned it back on, and said that they were contractually obligated to keep it on -- but acquiesced to my request to turn the channel to something else, perhaps the weather channel.

About half an hour later, an old white guy grumps in, glares at everyone, and turns the channel to Fox, then ups the volume. I do have one of those keychain universal remotes, so as soon as he'd sat down, off it went. He got up, turns it back on, once he's down again, off it goes. After a few repeats, he stomps over to the receptionist and loudly and offensively complains that the TV is broke and she has to fix it NOW, damnit!

A few more iterations, and she declares that the TV is broke and there's nothing she can do about it. About then, my car was ready, so I left without knowing if an emergency repair man was called or if someone eventually turned it on again, or if the others got a little peace and quiet while waiting.

They're not expensive, I think mine was under $10, and occasionally, they just come in handy.
posted by Blackanvil at 11:43 AM on November 23 [11 favorites]




You really want this link:
https://www.foxnewsadvertisers.com/

Which has the top sponsors for 2018 Q3 here:
top-fox-news-advertisers-3q2018-quarterly-summary/

Keurig, Ford, Pfizer, Liberty Mutual, Bayer, Honda, Ace Hardware, P&G, Allstate, Capital One are the top 10 companies that sponsor programs; there's a separate list for top ten advertisers overall.

Perhaps an organized campaign to ask those advertisers to not actively feed this?
posted by talldean at 9:13 PM on November 26


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