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Even though it is politically one-sided, I think that Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, is a highly effective liberal activist documentary. I would recommend the film because it sets out to prove something and it does so. I'll bet anything that it will make (or has made) the blood of both liberals and conservatives boil, if for different reasons. When Rupert Murdoch launched Fox News in 1996, its CEO (or Chairman, 1 of the 2!) Roger Ailes said, "We'd like to be premier journalists and restore objectivity." Which is like a tobacco company spokesman insisting cigarette smoking doesn't cause cancer.
The documentary zeroes in on the politicizing of Fox's reporting, from daily memos deciding on what topics to focus on and which to avoid all together. It discusses the trivializing of the "Fox News Alert," originally conceived as an attention-grabbing device for earth-shaking events, but soon used to report the daily movements of J-Lo and Martha Stewart. The filmmaker also uses amusing rapid-fire compositons of different aspects of the network to make a mockery of such claims as "We Report, You Decide" and "Fair and Balanced" (the network's slogans).
A good part of Outfoxed focuses on the company's blurring of news and commentary, how anchormen and reporters are encouraged to repeatedly use catch-phrases like "some people say..." as a means of editorializing within a supposedly objective news story; how graphics, speculation and false information are repeated over-and-over throughout the broadcast day until it appears to become fact, and in doing so spreads like a virus and copied on other networks. A PIPA/Knowledge Networks Poll points to glaring, fundamental misconceptions about the news perpetuated upon Fox viewers, versus information received from widely respected news-gathering organizations like NPR and PBS. Asked, for instance, "Has the U.S. found links between Iraq & al-Qaeda?" only 16% of PBS and NPR viewers answered "yes," but a frightening 67% of Fox viewers believed there had.
In one sense, Fox is an easy target. Few would accuse Fox News of objectivity. And despite Ailes's promises of objectivity, despite the widely-held conservative belief in a "liberal media," Outf...
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...tween media analysts and former Fox employees, and excerpts from Fox News programming. It's possible that current anchors, and the film's biggest targets -- Bill O'Reilly, Carl Cameron, Brit Hume, Shawn Hannity -- were invited to participate but declined, or perhaps Fox got wind of the documentary and forbade its employees from participating. (2) Outfoxed rightly accuses the company of blurring objective news with editorial commentary, but in not identifying what's what (what's presented by Fox as news vs. that identified by them as commentary), the film only confuses the argument further.
In conclusion, I do indeed recommend Outfoxed because the film provides stimulating evidence of how thoroughly news can be distorted, and is succesful in showing how Fox News sells itself as an objective information service, but in reality offers very little distinction between news and commentary. When one ideological perspective is passed off by a media corporation and accepted by millions as objective news reporting, those millions are being Outfoxed. This documentary has Outfoxed the corporation. I think its a must see for both liberals and conservatives alike.
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