September 7, 2011 by David K. Sutton
Fox Narratives, False News
That Fox News has an agenda fueled by the deep-pocketed conservative movement is well, old news to liberals and progressives. Fox News acts more like a propaganda mouthpiece to the Republican Party than it does a legitimate news organization. That does not mean everything presented on Fox News is factually inaccurate. There are stories reported on Fox News that display objectivity and it is these stories that Fox News viewers will point to when they claim fair and balanced reporting.
Move past those displays of objectivity and you will find the modus operandi of Fox News is false narratives served up by misinformed pundits and personalities with corporate agendas. The golden standard of false narratives is liberal bias in the mainstream media. Even if it were true – and it just might be as you’ll read shortly – it would not prove inaccuracy in reporting among the various media outlets. I do find the idea of liberal bias in the media interesting when all the major news networks are corporate owned. It might be a generalization on my part but we don’t tend to equate corporations with liberal thinking.
This false narrative exists to question the accuracy of reporting within the mainstream media. I would argue that the tendency of any good reporter is to find the truth and that this tendency will skew left of center. I don’t mean to say that conservatives don’t seek the truth but I do think they put greater emphasis on adherence to a strict order of authority that could be disrupted by the truth and prove inconvenient to a belief system.
A second false narrative is that traditional conservative values are under attack by the liberal, moral-less and god-less elites. Within this narrative Fox News serves as a shining beacon of hope for traditional conservative values. Both Fox News and conservatives play the role of victims to the liberal, moral-less and god-less taking over the country.
The first problem with this narrative is that it’s in direct conflict with the idea of Fox News as fair and balanced. If Fox News is serving as the only media outlet for traditional conservative values it would be safe to say fair and balanced would not be the first priority.
The second problem is that of victimization. It is a laughable idea that conservatives are victims when they and the Republican Party control most of the political dialog in this country. Democrats and liberals are always in response mode to the conservative rhetoric that makes up most of our political discourse. It is an equally amusing idea that Fox News be considered a victim when it consistently gets the highest ratings – by a large margin – of all cable news networks.
The third problem is the derogatory labeling of “different” people and “different” ideas as liberal, moral-less, god-less or any other term for which the Right has no shortage. They claim status as the real Americans but display a thorough lack of understanding of what this nation is about, acceptance and inclusion of different ideas, religions and races. The contempt displayed – by many on the right – toward people that they view as different is appalling to say the least.
The last false narrative I’d like to speak about is the use of high ratings as validation of ideas and opinions. This narrative is most often on display on The O’Reilly Factor. Bill O’Reilly has regularly used the ratings of his show as ammunition when in debate with a guest. O’Reilly believes that because 3 million people watch his show his side of the argument has already been validated. This is a weak tactic used by someone lacking a good response within the context of a debate.
High ratings for a cable news network – particularly when these ratings are much higher than the competition – should be paired with great skepticism instead of validation of accuracy. We should question the reason a particular cable news network has higher ratings. Do large numbers of like-minded people flock to one news network for facts based on evidence produced by the highest of journalistic standards? Or is it more likely that large numbers of like-minded people turn to a source that validates pre-existing opinions and narratives?