Saturday, 15 December 2012

Summary - Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism

Summary - Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism:

Title: Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism.
First Release: July 13, 2004.
Material Designation: DVD/Film.
Filmmaker: Robert GREENWALD.
Production Details: Distributed by and
Brave New Films.

Themes: Media empires, politics, influence. 

Summary of Film:

The film examines the global growth of Murdoch's media enterprise in the context of concentration of media ownership considerations, and evaluates the effect of having one person in control of a large media conglomerate on freedom of the press. Outfoxed's analysis includes:

  • Review of Fox News's coverage during the lead-up to, and the aftermath of, the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
  • Interviews with former Fox News journalists, exposing incidents where Fox News asked journalists to lie, and when they refused, they were fired. When the reporters sued Fox in court, providing proof of their claim, the court ruled that there is no current law against lying on a news program.
  • Instances where Fox News commentators such as Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity attempt to intimidate guests with whom they disagree, such as author and activist Jeremy Glick.
  • Studies which evidence more airtime and coverage is consistently given to Republican politicians, particularly those in the George W. Bush administration, than to Democrats.
  • Inspection of whether Fox News' premature result-calling of the 2000 presidential election contributed to George W. Bush officially being elected.
  • Scrutiny over Fox News management, including Murdoch and president Roger Ailes, both conservatives, in controlling the network's content, and editorial control from Murdoch down ensuring which stories and issues are covered and the strongly conservative perspective of such coverage.
  • Discussion of suspensions and other reprisals meted out to reporters and producers for not promoting the channel's political point of view.
  • Highlights of Fox News's tendency to pick strong, confident, conservatives and weak-looking, complacent liberals to appear on it.

Former Fox News journalists appear in the film critiquing the methods and perceived integrity of their former employer...[1]

Key Quotes:

  • "...we were ordered to run an uncut piece from a current affair... it had zero news value..."
  • "...they want all news to be a matter of opinion, because opinion can't be proven false..."
  • "....facts didn't seem to have any effect upon him [Shaun Hannedy]..." Larry Johnson, Former Fox News Reporter.
  • "...Special Report chose their guests based on political considerations rather than news judgement..." - Steve Rendall, Senior Analyst, FAIR.
  • "...[Concerning Jessie Jackson] anything we could get... to discredit him... we were encouraged to report..." - Jon Du Pre, Former Fox News Anchor-West Coast Bureau.
  • "...[About Rupert Murdock] he will use his immense media power to shape the content especially the news, that furthers his interests and those of his allies..." - Jeff Chester, Exec. Dir. Of Center for Digital Democracy.
  • "They don't like to spend money doing serious stories, they like to do cheap easy stories that will... get a gut reaction." - John Nichols.

My response:

My fourth film recommended by Mr Wlliamson, the documentary brought a plethora of concepts relating to the reporting style of iconic American news giant FOX. As this was produced in 2004, it was disturbing how many of these assumptions were brought to light even in the British media; such as that of the 'Hacking Scandal' in the infamous News of the World, disturbingly, another publication owned by media mogul Rupert Mogul.

A major issue exposed was the evident flip-flopping and hypocricy of FOX's news spokesmen. As seen above, Bill O'Reilly blatantly lies during his attempt to defend both himself and the company. Essentially, the company is defensive and will warp the opinions of political opponents (or those who do not agree with them) in order to assert its own bias as correct or moral. Often utilising propaganda strategies to promote this, ranging from their slogan - "You're watching FOX news, real journalism, fair and balanced." - the incorporation of the American flag into its imagery, to the extensive use of terror-alerts to exasperate their news. 

Furthermore, the sheer influence of the broadcaster has affected the views of the public in comparison to watchers of say, PBS-NBR. When asked "Has the US found links between Iraq and al-Qaeda?", the results were as follows:

Thus, just watching the show has distorted the minds of the watchers, for all these "...simple questions with simple answers..." watchers of FOX held radically different views to watchers of PBS-NBR that are not based n the most facual of evidence.

Taking all into account, the very eye-opening movie has shown to me how corrupt the journalism field can become when in control of 'businessmen'-esque people like Rupert Murdock, whom manipulate their power to push their own politics and sieve out what we, the people, can see. This will definitely be a prime talking point of my EPQ and something I will research further, perhaps testimonies of corruption form the UK. 



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