Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fox News: Toxic Waste or Free Speech?

I was happy when I heard the news that advertisers were pulling their ads from Fox News’ Glenn Beck show. I am all for free speech, but I am also for people accepting the consequences of it.

Beck had referred to President Obama as a racist, with “deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.” How Beck arrived at his revelation I have no idea. But based on what I have seen of the public face of Barack Obama, Beck’s conclusion seems skewed in the wrong direction. Based on the public outcry regarding Beck’s comments, including Fox News themselves distancing themselves from Beck’s statements, it seems clear that Glenn Beck crossed the line. According to the New York Times, “That day, Fox News appeared to distance itself quickly from Mr. Beck’s remark that Mr. Obama was a racist, telling the TVNewser blog that Mr. Beck had “expressed a personal opinion, which represented his own views, not those of the Fox News Channel."

I actually tune in to Fox News on the weekends every now and then, mostly in the morning on Sunday and on Saturday for their business shows. I watch only to see what the extreme right is saying. My husband used to like the business shows, but we find that we now record them on the DVR and watch them later so we can fast forward through all the political whining which frequently has nothing to do with the business climate. We can now watch about 2 hours of the show in about 20 minutes, and it’s getting to the point we will likely not watch at all. Why? Because Fox has reached the point of overkill on its right winged slant. When I get my news, I also like to get more than a singular opinion. (I actually prefer the news relatively opinion free, as how the broadcast networks handle it.) Remember when Fox used to call themselves “Fair and Balanced?” I haven’t heard that tag line in ages, likely because the media made a joke out of it, as historically Fox has been far from fair and balanced.

While Fox seemed to distance themselves from Glenn Beck, the network’s penchant for extreme commentary supporting the extreme conservative right has created what I see as a “toxic” news environment filled with talking heads who try to yell the loudest and say the most controversial things against moderates and liberals. My opinion is that it doesn’t matter to Fox if their comments are really factual, they just want the shock value so they can attract more eyeballs to their channel. In the case of Glenn Beck, he doesn’t seem to be able to support his accusations, and advertisers are not willing to put their reputations on the line for such unsubstantiated commentary. This may be the only thing that can teach Fox News that free speech does indeed have a price, and that Fox may need to dial down the vitriol if they want to keep making money. People may watch to see what wild comment comes out of one of the mouths of their talking heads, but if advertisers aren’t there to pay for all that overhead, Fox News will be hurting in the wallet and the nasty talking heads may eventually disappear.

My conclusion is that Fox News is toxic waste disguised as free speech. And like most toxic waste, it will eventually need to be buried far far underground where it can't hurt anyone. Fox is more than welcome to continue to allow their talking heads to have a free reign with their mouths, and I hope advertising continue to speak right back to them by pulling their adversities dollars.

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Michael said...

I'm not a fan of Foxnews, but agree that things have become toxic across the board from 24 hour news stations. Truth is I don't even care anymore which news outlet they are referring to with it. MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, all different shades of the same turd.

Anonymous said...

Brava my dear. You expressed my very sentiments when it comes to what passes for news these days. How I long for the day when news was just presented without the opinions of the presenters (I refuse to call them newscasters). Cronkite, Jennings, Brinkley, it seems like yesterday when you could tune in and watch the pros at work. Alas they are all in a better place now away from the poop burgers these guys are.


samfan said...

I totally agree! It is one thing for Fox to be right-winged, it is another to be Anti-American. I can't even watch Fox news anymore because they are always negative, about everything. And they always have to put their spin on it. I am just glad that I am not watching Fox.