Faux News: Where heroes and fools dare

I suppose that after Supersize Me it was only a matter of time. Someone has spent an entire 24 hours watching Faux News a.k.a. Fox News, the Republican propapanda operation disguised as the US’s most-watched cable channel.

John Oliver once joked of watching a mere eight hours of FN straight that, “In winning the Fox News challenge, I wonder if I may have lost something deep down in my soul.” (Video here.)

So, did Brandeis University student and HuffPost contributor Nathan Robinson last the distance? What were the long-term effects of extreme exposure? Permanent brain damage? Did his eyes fall out?

Wisely, Robinson decided to take no risks. He started his “torture” at 9p.m. “I’ve been deliberately waiting until after The O’Reilly Factor. I’m not sure that I can take that kind of horror straight off. I need to build up to it, like trying to boil a frog”, he recorded.

But he forgot that Hannity & Colmes comes on at 9p.m!  Read the rest of his ordeal here.

When I first took up blogging, all those months ago (at least four or five), I debated the bias in the US news media with the kiwiblog right. Of course, if you’re a fully paid up member of the KR, then FN probably does seem balanced and fair. And very reasoned, too.

Never mind that FN is run by senior Republican Party apparatchik Roger Ailes. and that FN personnel get told everyday what line to follow — before they look for the news.

This week — and Robinson felt compelled to watch 24 hours devoted to the same story — FN made the news by picking up Jesse Jackson’s “nuts” comment. But last week FN was in the news in a more revealing way…

A couple of weeks ago New York Times reporter Jacques Steinberg wrote a very factual story (judge for yourself here) about FN, which has been losing its edge on its rivals. FN, notorious for the intimidation of other media who aren’t obsequious, retaliated by showing photoshopped pictures of Steinberg and his boss, amongst other things. Some said that Steinberg was made to look more Jewish. Judge for yourself.

Nathan Robinson, you’re a hero in my books. But, please, don’t feel that you need ever make another such sacrifice. You’ve done your bit.

[Update: There’s an updated version of Outfoxed (2004) on its way.]

[This post’s for AJ & Martha.]



10 Responses to “Faux News: Where heroes and fools dare”

  1. MacDoctor Says:

    Yes, JP, Fox news is biased. And the New York Times has no political bias at all…

    Yeah, right.

    (PS. Robinson is a braver man than I. 24 hours of any news channel would have me chewing on the furniture.)

  2. jafapete Says:

    Not quite what I wrote, MacDoc.

    I’ve always held that, as Ruth Butterworth who taught me media politics many years ago put it, “objectivity is bullshit.” But I’ve always thought that we should strive to be as objective as possible. I believe that the NYT makes more of an effort in that regard than Faux News.

    In coming to that assessment I try to take my own biases into account. I can’t see that those who argue that Faux News is not biased are attempting that at all.

  3. MacDoctor Says:

    Pete: You did quote the NYT twice to support your theory of bias. Technically, you were claiming them to be more objective than Fox News. This is not my experience. I refer you to Bob Kohn’s book Journalistic Fraud: How the New York Times distorts the news and how it can be no longer trusted WND Books 2003. It is less sensational than its title suggests!

    MacDoc, Once, but fair point. However, the article is full of evidence of the bullying tactics employed against other journalists. I will put the book on my readuing list for when I have the big project off my plate.

  4. Stephen Says:

    On Obama touching fists with this wife:

    “HILL: A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab?”

    Maybe not Fox policy, but methinks you’d only see it on Fox! Google it y’all.

  5. underground Says:

    The bias of Fox and the effects of their poor and distorted coverage is best illustrated here:
    I encourage people to check out that report, it really is illuminating. Cheers.

  6. MacDoctor Says:


    Actually this report tells you nothing about the effects of Fox News. All you can conclude is that people with more conservative viewpoints tend to watch Fox News. This is hardly revelatory.

    I have read through the actual report and, I must say, its definition of “misconceptions” is quite left-wing and gravitates mostly around WMDs and Al-Qaeda connections, both of which are highly contestable and lack objectivity. I therefore doubt if their conclusions have any particular validity,

  7. underground Says:

    Yes you are right to some extent, but that people who watched Fox were more likely to hold these “misperceptions” is not reflective of them being conservative, which they likely are, but that they have had these perceptions reinforced by Fox’s broadcasts. The false link between Saddam and al Qaeda was consistently made on Fox in the build up to the invasion, often subtly (“war on terror” banner in corner of screen when reporting on Iraq prior to invasion) and often more overt statements from commentators.
    What the research did show is that people who watch Fox were more likely to believe the official Bush lie about WMDs and Saddam’s connections than people who sought their news from elsewhere. I’m not sure these are contestable. The Bush Administration has admitted the evidence for WMDs was flawed and that there is no link between Saddam and al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or 9/11. What is highly contestable or “left wing” about that? Are you asserting that conservative people are more likely to believe their government’s lies than liberals?

  8. adamsmith1922 Says:


    “What the research did show is that people who watch Fox were more likely to believe the official Bush lie about WMDs and Saddam’s connections than people who sought their news from elsewhere.”

    What did you expect?

    Fox caters to a conservative audience. The Bush administration is a Republican, i.e. conservative administration.

    They may not be more likely to believe the Bush lie, as more likely to believe a pronouncement of a government they probably voted for.

    We see the same thing in NZ those of a political persuasion, either right or left are more likely to believe a statement from a politician of their persuasion even when it can be shown to be based on a mis-conception.

    It is not that conservatives or liberals are necessarily gulled, it is that they wish to believe.

    We see this happening now with Obama. The American left sees him as the great liberal redeemer, but he is in fact a very ambitious man who wishes to be President of the USA. To be elected he needs to do as every such candidate has done before him, which is move to the centre. His left supporters have nowhere else to go, and he can only be elected if he can secure the so called Reagan Democrats.

    Similarly in NZ, whether the right wishes to admit it or not, NZ has a pronounced centrist stance, probably at present with the pendulum swinging from left to centre and not in a complete arc, therefore John Key, who is not a stupid man, whatever some might like to say, has recognised that and has pitched his message accordingly. Further, I would suggest that in a number of respects Key is more centrist by nature, than either Brash or Clark.

  9. underground Says:

    I am not surprised by the findings of research, which reinforces the view of Fox as a conservative news source. No amount of “fair and balanced” claims can refute that. Their slant is as conservative as their viewers’.
    I agree with you entirely Adam, about people tending to believe the messages of those they support. I think with the influence the media has, it is irresponsible of Fox not to challenge the official line and to in fact become a mouthpiece for the government, even though both Fox and their viewers undoubtedly support the Republican party. Of course it is incredibly idealistic of me to say that, but it’s what I think!
    Fox really don’t have any credibility.

    Underground, Sadly, a lot of self-proclaimed liberals also watch Faux News, although they’re probably immunised. I have a couple of very liberal friends in Wellington who were avid watchers last time I spoke to them. Will be interesting to see how long they lasted. I can only stomach small doses now myself.

  10. underground Says:

    I watch it myself occasionally, just to see what ridiculous shit they’ll come up with next. I appreciate and respect different views and opinions, and like to expose myself to those different opinions, but a lot of what is on Fox is insane! What I think is most concerning is that the line between news and views is so blurred, you can’t tell opinion from “fact”. Their news shows are packaged as entertainment, sexed up even, with stories on Iraq squeezed in between stories on Britney Spears, so that hard news is glossed over with big tits and fake smiles! I hope our own news doesn’t go further down that path…

    Underground, Watching FN can be very useful to get advance warning of Republican/right-wing memes, given that they’re right there in the engine room. I first heard that Obama was “the most liberal senator” from Karl Rove on FN, and it was only a week or so later that it started to seep into general debate.

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