Fox News to get its comeuppance?

It’s definitely about time. The new documentary Outfoxed sounds like revenge at its sweetest.

”Outfoxed” has been made in secret. The film is an obsessively researched expose of the ways in which Fox News, as Greenwald sees it, distorts its coverage to serve the conservative political agenda of its owner, the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. It features interviews with former Fox employees, leaked policy memos written by Fox executives and extensive footage from Fox News, which Greenwald is using without the network’s permission. The result is an unwavering argument against Fox News that combines the leftist partisan vigor of a Michael Moore film with the sober tone and delivery of a PBS special. A large portion of the film’s $300,000 budget came in the form of contributions in the range of $80,000 from both MoveOn and the Center for American Progress, the liberal policy organization founded by John Podesta, the former chief of staff for Bill Clinton; Greenwald, who is not looking to earn any money from the project, provided the rest.

A week after its New School premiere, the film will be shown throughout the country in hundreds of small local screenings, arranged by MoveOn, where people will be able to watch and discuss it. Though the existence of ”Outfoxed” has been quietly publicized, its particular nature and content have been closely guarded for fear, Greenwald says, that Fox would try to stop the film’s release by filing a copyright-infringement lawsuit. Nobody has ever made a critical documentary about a media company that uses as much footage without permission as Greenwald has, and the legal precedents governing the ”fair use” of such material, while theoretically strong, are not well established in case law. He has retained the services of several intellectual-property lawyers and experts to help him navigate the ambiguous legal terrain. (A Fox News representative, in response to several phone calls, said that no one in the legal department was available to comment on copyright issues.)

If Greenwald is lucky, Fox will be gun-shy, having earned nothing but public chiding when it brought a trademark lawsuit last year against Al Franken, whose book ”Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right” ironically appropriated Fox News’s signature phrase ”fair and balanced.”

This is something I’ve been waiting for, though I’m afraid it’ll only be seen by those already aware of what a fraud Fox News is. I just heard an interview with Greenwald on the radio, and he read off memos sent out to the Fox news announcers each morning telling them what positions to take on issues — they should stress the Dems’ postion on abortion, for example, or talk about how happy the Iraqi people are.

Unprecented is an over-used word but it applies here. The TV news stations may lean one way or another, but they don’t order their reporters to take specific partisan positions on the stories they write, all designed to keep the ruling party in power.

This entire blog could be dedicated to the sins of “the nation’s most-watched news station,” but enough blogs and sites are already doing just that.

I never watched Fox until I came home from Asia, and I watch it nghtly out of a morbid curiosity, a kind of disbelief that such undisguised BS could be watched by so many people. But I do understand the phenomenon; it’s kind of fun, the sheer outrageousness of it, and O’Reilly and Hannity are so despicable you have to wonder if they aren’t parodying themselves, playing a huge joke on all of us. On some days I’ve even kept a tally of how many times the newscasters (especially Brit Hume) and guests repeat certain phrases, like:

John Kerry is the No. 1 most liberal Senator

John Edwards is the No. 4 most liberal Senator

John Kerry has flip-flopped on this issue in the past

Some say the democrats are out of touch with American values

Massachusetts liberal

More liberal than Ted Kennedy or Hillary Clinton

Some fear that terrorists might attack before election day to ensure a Kerry win

Kerry has no problem with partial-birth abortions

A new victory in the war on terrorism

Things the liberal media don’t want you to know

Proof that Al Qaeda did have a close working relationship with Saddam Hussein

Those are just some of the things they drum into your head, and it’s no small wonder so many listeners believe Saddam was one of the architects of 9/11.

The NYT link comes from Dan Gillmor, who has some interesting comments on the legal challenges Greenwald could be facing with this documentary. He notes that Fox has threatened to come out with its own exposee of “liberal media” if the documentary comes out, which would be completely fair. I just don’t think there’s enough there that could be anywhere near as shocking as what’s going on at Fox.

Update: Here’s thte link for the Outfoxed Web site.

The Discussion: 14 Comments

Your link to isn’t working properly.

July 12, 2004 @ 2:13 am | Comment

The way things are going, by September you can expect to see Republican campaign commercials that look something like this:

Headshot of Kerry morphing into Bin Laden, cut to headshot of Edwards morphing into Saddam Hussein, with the Muslim call to prayer playing in the background. Dissolve to grainy footage of the Berg beheading, with voiceover: “This is what Kerry and Edwards want to do to you.” Cut to photo of beaming Bush cuddling a cute puppy. VO: “Vote Republican. We won’t chop your head off.”

July 12, 2004 @ 3:07 am | Comment


Remind me sometime to tell you about being on O’Reilly’s show; he’s so arrogantly dumb be thinks we’re friends.

By the way, I took that McCarthy dude on in a rebuttal. Keep up the good fight.


July 12, 2004 @ 8:54 am | Comment

Joseph, I would kill to hear your story. The problem is, O’Reilly doesn’t give in. You can prove him wrong ’til the cows come home and he still claims victory.

As the election nears, Fox’s slant has gone from alarming to criminal. I wish you were here to see it. But then again, I wouldn’t wish Fox News on anyone.

July 12, 2004 @ 10:24 am | Comment

Tom, link is repaired — thanks for telling me.

July 12, 2004 @ 10:24 am | Comment

I’ve been watching Fox news since I’ve been home. It’s great! [sarcasm]

I just listened to Ollie North ask a military lieutenant, “Is this a sign of the insurgency weakening, or strengthening?” Obviously the answer was weakening.

July 12, 2004 @ 10:39 am | Comment

Just curious but why of all people did Fox news hire Oliver North as an anchor for certain segments. Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t he convicted of defrauding congress for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal? Is he some sort of hero in conservative circles? A martyr who sacrificed himself for his country (not to mention helping himself to some of the funds for personal use). The only close parallel I can see between the Fox/Oliver North relationship is that reality show whiched hired Lewinsky to be the host. Is it all to get a cheap thrill out of people, or is the man still regarded as a hero despite violating congressional edicts.

July 12, 2004 @ 3:01 pm | Comment

Jing, that’s a wonderful question, and it illustrates the kind of scum Fox News puts forward as “political analysts,” along with Ann Coulter and the truly repellent Dick Morris. These aren’t just conservatives, they are truly from the wingnut lunatic fringe. With so many responsible, well informed conservatives like William F. Buckley and George Will and David Brooks, why does Fox reach into the bottom of the barrel and choose the least responsible, the most abrasive and inflammatory, and the least informed? The answer is simple: their goal is to misinform, inflame and lie. So they need inflammatory liars. North was a key player in one of America’s most shameful episodes, and now he’s Fox’s premier cheerleader for Bush. It seems we don’t care about the past anymore, as other Iran-contra criminals like Abrahms and Negroponte attain high positions under Bush.

July 12, 2004 @ 3:24 pm | Comment


While we would love to be in the great Southwest visiting with you, as things are in America at the moment, I will take Beijing, CNN Asian Edition, the BBC, C-SPAN, CCTV 9, and China in general, over the depression I would feel every day in America at what is happening to my beloved homeland and its ideals.

Of course, with absentee voting ballots Ellen and I can help in some small measure bring about a peaceful Democratic regime change come November.

I will tell you my O’Reilly story in person–isn’t that reason enough to get you back on this side of the Pacific?

July 12, 2004 @ 10:39 pm | Comment

“Unprecented is an over-used word but it applies here. The TV news stations may lean one way or another, but they don’t order their reporters to take specific partisan positions on the stories they write, all designed to keep the ruling party in power.”

For someone who has worked in Singapore and Asia for a spell, this should not be an alien concept. Heheh.

July 12, 2004 @ 10:46 pm | Comment

mb, am I wrong, or didn’t a China news station get called out recently for some revealing pictures that show a news reporter interviewing a subject and standing right beside her is a man with a placard identifying the key points the subject must address during the interview.

July 13, 2004 @ 4:10 am | Comment

Have you seen the Salon review of Outfoxed yet?

If not, you really, really should.

Herewith, a sample:

[S]ome people would say that Fox News Channel is nothing more than the private right-wing propaganda machine of a sneaky right-wing billionaire who is — now these are just the facts, people — not an American at all but some kind of Down Under, funny-accented, shrimp-on-the-barbie-eating, crocodile-hunting, profoundly un-American Australian, for goodness’ sake.

And while I know Australia is not obviously very much like France — treasonous, untrustworthy France — let’s look under the surface a little, OK? Do you know what one of Australia’s top agricultural products is? That’s right, it’s wine. Draw your own conclusions, people, that’s all I ask. And when you get right down to it, isn’t there something French about Shep Smith, if you know what I mean? Isn’t that “mousse” in his hair? Does that sound like an American word to you? Isn’t there something about him that suggests the French government of, say, 1943? Something a little Vichy French? Nazi-collaborator French, possibly? I don’t know, I’m only asking. You decide.

Cheney’ing brilliant.

July 13, 2004 @ 12:51 pm | Comment

Sorry for the italic failure, but I’ve just had a bit too much “Freedom” wine, if you know what I mean.

July 13, 2004 @ 12:54 pm | Comment

MB, I know it applies to Singapore, but the US is supposed to have a very different system. But that raises an interesting comparison, and the more I thin about it, Fox News really is, like Singapore’s media, a government-run tool. Usually.

HK, I read the same story; I think it was on Danwei but am not certain.

Vaara, absolutely brilliant. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Murdoch speaks French (which automatically makes him an anti-Semite and a terrorist sympathizer). Keep drinking that “Freedom” wine, it’s obviously inspiring. I’ll check the Salon article right now.

July 13, 2004 @ 1:11 pm | Comment

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