Fox News: GOP’s Trashy Tabloid Television
Fox News is nothing more than tabloid television, complete with drama and radical generation of reality not unlike The Truman Show.
Moments ago, I compared the Fox News and National Enquirer home pages, which both included scandalous news about an affair or romance of sorts. The minimal difference was that Fox News’ story was about a political candidate, and the National Enquirer’s was about a Hollywood actor and actress.
Characteristics of a Tabloid
- Based on assumptions, gossip
- Lack of fact-checking
- Extremely simplistic and easy to read
- Sensational with colorful adjectives
- Personal stories, often based on rumors
Fox News rewards its hosts and analysts, who are no better than the paparazzi, for creating controversy. NPR’s recent decision to fire Juan Williams for inflammatory remarks about Muslims prompted Fox News to offer him a new three-year contract with compensation amounting to nearly $2 million dollars.
“When I get on a plane, I gotta tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb, and I think their identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried.” —Juan Williams (full video)
Despite the rapid disappearance of the Park51 Islamic community center from the news, anti-Muslim sentiment still exists within this country. Just when you think that we’ve moved on, Fox News finds a way to bring it back to the surface.
One day before President Barack Obama’s inauguration, Fox News debuted the newest show in the prime time lineup, featuring Glenn Beck. Since that day, Glenn Beck has spewed some of the nastiest conspiracy theories involving everything from government concentration camps and Nazi accusations to McCarthy-esque fearmongering about the liberal plot to reduce Americans to “surfdom.”
In 2006 while working for CNN, Beck interviewed Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress. In his typical fashion, Beck threw gasoline on the flames, and spewed bigoted remarks.
“You are a Democrat. You are saying, ‘Let’s cut and run,’ and I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, ‘Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies,’ and I know you’re not. I’m not accusing you of being an enemy, but that’s the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.” —Glenn Beck (full video)
Glenn Beck & the Tides Foundation and ACLU
Back in July, Byron Williams planned a terrorist attack on the Tides Foundation, a nonprofit organization. This attack was specifically meant to create fear and violence as a means of coercion; Williams wanted “to start a revolution.” The only reason Williams was caught was because he was driving recklessly, and engaged in a 12-minute shootout with police.
Most people had never heard of this obscure nonprofit prior to Beck’s 29 attacks seen on Fox News. Byron Williams thought of Beck as a “schoolteacher on TV” who had “been breaking open some of the most hideous corruption.”
“[My son was upset by] the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items.” —Mother of Byron Williams
Although we cannot place full blame on Beck, a person with a high visibility show has the responsibility to ensure that content is honest and factual. Since its inception, Beck’s show has lost 296 advertisers, and causing some to dub the show “empty calories.”
O’Reilly & Dr. Tiller
From 2005 until Dr. George Tiller’s murder in 2009, Bill O’Reilly of the O’Reilly Factor dramatically discussed Dr. Tiller in at least 28 episodes. Bill O’Reilly constantly referred to the doctor as “Tiller the Baby Killer.”
“Tiller the baby killer out in Kansas, acquitted, acquitted today of murdering babies. … There’s got to be a special place in hell for this guy.” —Bill O’Reilly
A special edition of The Rachel Maddow Show called The Assassination of Dr. Tiller aired tonight, and is partially available online. During the documentary, interviewees talk about the environment that O’Reilly reinforced through sensationalistic news reporting, which some believe caused Dr. Tillers murder. (Watch now)
O’Reilly & the Muslim Problem
Tonight on his show, Bill O’Reilly said, “Conservatives generally believe there is a major Muslim problem in the world, and liberals tend to downplay the situation.” O’Reilly went on to say that 40,142 people have been killed by Islamic extremists in 17,835 attacks. O’Reilly said that proof of this “Muslim problem” exists in the $1 trillion we have wasted on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, in addition to a video from almost ten years ago showing people celebrating the Sept. 11th attacks.
WikiLeaks recently published a set of documents indicating that over 115,000 Iraqis have been killed since the U.S. military invaded in 2003. Below are the latest death tolls for the Iraq War:
- 66,081 - Iraq civilian casualties
- 23,984 - “Enemy” casualties (labeled as insurgents)
- 15,196 – “Host nation” casualties (Iraqi government forces)
- 4,408 - U.S. military casualties
- 3,771 – “Friendly” casualties (Coalition forces)
This “Muslim problem” might make for good television on Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor, but it really only stokes racism, and fear of the Muslim culture. There is very little evidence that we are improving the world by remaining in Iraq and Afghanistan. The real story is that civilians comprise almost 60% of the total number of casualties, which isn’t entertaining in the least, but a harsh reality Americans need know and deal with.
In the age of American Idol and reality TV, there’s only one reason to utilize sensationalism in the way that Fox News does—dollars and cents. The saddest part is that the shallowness inherent in this very line of thinking, and the constant bombardment of sensational news stories with too much emotion and very little fact, causes a sort of accelerated deterioration of our communities.
The Fox News channel has a very well-documented GOP-slant. News Corp, Fox’s parent company, has even gone as far as to donate $2.5 million dollars to Republicans, and employs several key GOP figures—Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, etc. I am not aware of any other reputable news network that has implemented this practice. If you watch Fox News, even for a short period of time, it is very easy to draw parallels between the opinion injected into the stories and GOP talking points.
The sensational, slanted, sleazy style of the Fox News Channel has merely catered to the Republican Party, and further polarized our country.
 ABS News. Wikileaks: More than 109,000 Deaths During Iraq War
 Defense.gov. Operation Iraqi Freedom U.S. Casualty Status
 AlterNet. WikiLeaks Confirms Shocking Civilian Death Toll – But US Has Been Paying Off Victims’ Families for Years
 CBS News. California Highway Gunman Byron Williams Aimed for “Revolution,” Says Cops
 I-580 shootout suspect mad at left-wing politics
 Alex Jones: ‘You Are Going To See More’ Byron Williams-Type Incidents
 Glenn Beck vs. Fox News: ‘Tension’ Between Beck & Network
 Post-Gazette. Fox News rewards analyst after firing by NPR