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2012, bias, commentary, conservative, convention, Fox, hurricane, isaac, liberal, media, national, news, partisan, republican

Opinion vs. News…Learn the Difference

As the Republican National Convention finally gets off of the ground today, I am watching many people on my Facebook news feed respond to the coverage.  Of course most of the talk is about how horribly liberal the media is.  During the last election they said that they were swaying the coverage because their ticker had the poor Wall Street figures running.  This election they are saying that the news is swaying the coverage by having the radar images of hurricane Isaac on a loop in their feed. 

Those darn liberals!  Creating a hurricane and a recession just to mess up the coverage of the Ridiculous, I mean Republican National Convention!  Oh, wait!  It was eight years of Bush that caused the horrible recession and God (whom Republicans are always trying to write into the laws) who created the hurricane.  If I’m not mistaken…economic recession and hurricanes have always been major news. 

And the “So Absurd It’s Funny” award goes to the comment that the only way to get the truth is by watching Fox News.  I don’t even have the words. 

Yes I do…Fox News is generally regarded as one of the most biased media organizations in the U.S.  The University of Columbia Journalism Department created the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), an organization that acts, in part, as a watchdog for the media.  In a 2011 article, the CJR reporter discussed the problem with Fox News.  The problem he found was that Fox News packages opinions as news without distinguishing between the two.

“There are real consequences to this kind of biased and misleading entertainment packaged as news: viewers come away believing things that just aren’t true. According to a 2003 study by the University of Maryland, Fox News viewers are more likely than consumers of any other news source to believe demonstrably false statements. Respondents were asked to assess the veracity of claims such as “evidence of weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq” and “Iraq was directly involved in carrying out the attacks of September 11.” Fully 80 percent of Fox News viewers believed at least one of the three such statements they used, compared to only 23 percent of fans of NPR, which Fox constantly attacks for its supposed liberal bias.
Being a network with a lot of, even exclusively, conservative opining is a perfectly valid choice for Fox to make. There is nothing wrong with opinion journalism that openly proclaims itself to be just that. But pretending to do straight reporting while choosing stories and dishonestly presenting nuggets of information in order to advance a political agenda perniciously undermines the work of the entire press and ill serves American democracy.”

Fox News has even been described by foreign news agencies as. “the relentlessly rightwing channel that has revolutionised American television news by making it overtly partisan.”  The editor of the CJR described Fox News:

“Fox News is not really a news network, it’s a commentary network. Its news output is a small island in a vast sea of very conservative commentary.”

This is a major problem with the political landscape today.  So many people believe what they hear from these so-called news organizations without verifying facts.  Because they say it on Fox News does not make it fact.  You might notice that, whenever I link to a source, I try to provide a link to a trusted source such as an academic source or government agency.  This is because I don’t take anything at face value (and I’m not even a news source!  I’m only a blogger!).  When people believe that commentary media like Fox News is actually fact, they start to lean very partisan.  Eventually we end up with a political climate where there is no real discourse.  It has become finger pointing and accusations.  Every time I try to bring up an argument I get one sentence about my argument (with no actual facts) followed by a discussion of how my side of the discussion did something horrible.  People might as well just write “I don’t believe your facts because Fox News told me so.”  It makes me sad for our country that this is what passes for a reliable news source in people’s minds today. 

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