Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism

The general opinion of most people is that Fox News Channel is that it has a conservative bias in its reporting.  For the people behind Outfoxed:  Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, their view is especially dangerous given the fact that they claim to be "fair and balanced."  It is one thing to delivery commentary if people know it has a slant.  It is another to give skewed reporting under the guise that it is impartial.  Outfoxed in an entertaining and informative documentary that uses the Fox New Channel's own words against them.  It succeeds over other similar documentaries like Orwell Rolls in His Grave (two commentators appear in both) to the grandaddy of them all, Fahrenheit 9/11 because it tones down the rhetoric and meticulously and methodically argues its point.

First, it is important (and obvious) to note that Outfoxed is clearly anti-Fox news.  The purpose of this documentary is to bare open the faults of Rupert Murdoch's 24-hour news channel, and it presents a compelling argument.  Unlike Fox news, director Robert Greenwald (Steal This Movie, Uncovered:  The War On Iraq) is not trying to hide anything his view.  Given that this is a round the clock operation, he has a lot to sift through, and undoubtedly selects the clips that work to his advantage, as is his every right.  He interviews many people that used to work for the channel, who may have a bone to pick with their former boss.  He interviews media watchdogs, who, for the most part, are pretty shocked at the antics of Fox.  The one thing this reporter found missing was any sort of rebuttal, which would definitely work in Greenwald's favor.  He could either flash on screen the vehement rantings of an angry Murdoch employee, or the more likely letter from Fox lawyers either refuting all of the allegations as without merit yet providing no backup, or the "no comment" letter.

Greenwald is curiously silent on the lawsuit between Al Franken and Fox for his use of the term "fair and balanced," which Fox had copyrighted, but does have Franken comment on Bill O'Reilly and Jeremy Glick.  O'Reilly is the caustic host and commentator most easily associated with Fox's brand of loud, brash conservatism.  Greenwald plays a clip where O'Reilly claimed to have only used the phrase "shut-up" once, then plays a montage of scenes where O'Reilly clearly uses the term a few more times.  Glick's father died on 9/11, and he held a view contrary to O'Reilly's.  Instead of allowing Glick to articulate his view, O'Reilly became visibly enraged, yelling at Glick and calling him wrong and stupid, and nearly attacking him.  It's very amusing and a good segue into the conservative nature of Fox News.

More substantive is the mounds of backup information that Greenwald assembles to assert that Fox News is conservative.  Ex-employees claim they were terminated for questioning stories, or trying to present fair views.  Daily memos with talking points were allegedly circulated from superiors to focus on certain hot button issues (abortion, gay marriage) or to ignore others.  One pundit comments that all of the conservative commentators were extremely smart and well respected, while the liberal ones were relative unknowns.  Heck, the conservative hosts were even better looking than their liberal counterparts.  There are numerous clips of anchors giving clearly conservatively biased comments in their newscasts.

The most damning evidence comes in the allegation that the Bush administration and Fox news are bedfellows.  Greenwald effectively uses a series of clips showing how various administration officials used similar language to try to get a point across to the press, and how the various Fox News anchors parroted those same phrases back to their audience.  For each of his assertations, Greenwald exhaustively gives example after example of Fox News anchors giving biased opinions, mocking liberal commentators, or other biased things.  His worry is that the public thinks they are getting unbiased news, when in fact they may be getting nothing more than propaganda.  The ironic thing is that Outfoxed, in its own way, is a piece of propaganda, but, unlike some of the anchors, and Michael Moore, he does not stoop to mocking Fox.  He simply shows them for what they are, and asks the viewer to make his/her own decision.  Greenwald ends with a call to action, which is a nice change from the slew of liberal-minded documentaries (the only other one to do this was The Corporation).  He correctly believes that the public has the power to change things, and if enough people believe that Fox News should change, then it eventually will.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 17 minutes, Not Rated but would probably be a PG or PG-13.

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