Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism
Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”
Liberal viewers looking to work up a little post-election rage can still depend on this firecracker, more incendiary and coherent than "Fahrenheit 9/11" despite Michael Moore's greater ambitions and budget. This one is relentless and jaw-dropping, showing rapid-fire montages of insanely biased comments from news anchors and the results of surveys showing how many more times Fox viewers are to believe erroneous information than public broadcasting viewers, not that public broadcasting is an ivory tower of perfect objectivity.
What I think this documentary misses is a larger issue, beyond just Fox News as propaganda: Fox News as entertainment. This channel is to journalism what the WWE is to wrestling, it offers a grand story of the heroic champion president and the squirrelly, conniving Democrats who want to chip away at his greatness. This channel tells its news as part of an ongoing portrait of American politics as mythology, satisfying you with the righteous triumph of its hero and keeping you coming back to find out how the story progresses. I wouldn't describe it a news channel in any sense beyond the nominal; it's a form of news-themed television entertainment.
"Outfoxed" misses this issue and makes a case against Fox News Channel as a right-wing propaganda machine, constantly distorting the truth with conservative & religious bias, so I'll judge it on that merit. It's generally strong stuff, convincing of its points despite your nagging suspicion that it's taking the most extreme moments and splicing them together. Its best strength is its reliance on actual footage, which gets much more screen time than the interviewees, most of whom are famous for their liberal bias; the footage of Bill O'Reilly in particular is damning. The film strays off-topic a few times, such as when it stops to portray O'Reilly as a mean-spirited debator, or in its ridiculous pro-activism epilogue (a transparent ass-kiss for MoveOn.org for funding the project), but for most of its running time it is a withering, passionate decry of Fox's twisted take on journalism and the ease with which it gets away with it. It set out to prove a point and succeeded well, and on that merit I applaud it.
Because the urge was overwhelming, I turned on Fox News Channel after the movie, to take a random sampling at that moment in time. An interviewee was telling Hannity how good it is that this administration's re-election will restore family values to our nation, then Colmes said (over cartoony music) that after the break, they'd discuss loony liberals who now had to make good on their promises to move to Canada.