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Archive for Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fox not a news organization

July 24, 2011

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A few words on what Fox News is.

The question has, of course, been debated forever. Fox says it is, as the name would suggest, a news network. Its critics say it is actually the propaganda arm of the Republican Party and that its highest loyalty is not to accuracy, fairness or other journalistic values but to the furtherance of the party line. Not that any sentient life form should need the help, but events have recently arranged themselves such as to make painfully obvious which view is truth and which is tripe.

As it happens, one of the biggest news stories of the past few weeks has been the phone hacking scandal that now ensnares media baron Rupert Murdoch. For those who somehow missed it, it involves revelations that reporters at Murdoch’s News of the World British tabloid routinely paid police sources for information and hacked into people’s cell phones, including that of a murdered 13-year-old girl.

That’s led to the shutdown of the 168-year-old newspaper, a spate of resignations and arrests, hearings in Parliament, rumored hearings in Congress and criminal investigations here and in the UK. This story is a gift from the news gods, and any news organization worthy of the name would jump on it like a trampoline. Most have. Fox has not.

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism just surveyed reportage of the story in two time frames: July 6-8 and 11-15. In that period, according to Pew, CNN devoted almost 170 minutes to the story, MSNBC about 145. Fox? About 30. That bears repeating: One of the biggest stories of the summer gets, over the course of six days, a half-hour of attention from Fox “News.”

Now, let us be fair and balanced here. Fox is owned by Murdoch, and the last thing any news organization wants is to be in the awkward position of reporting on itself. To have to air that which might embarrass or damage colleagues or bosses is the definition of a no-win situation, especially since there will always be doubts, from within and without, about your ability to do so fairly. But when professionalism demands, this is what you do.

When CBS News’ report on President George W. Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard turned out not to be credible, CBS reported it.

When Jayson Blair hoodwinked and humiliated the New York Times, the New York Times reported it.

When NPR was mortified by a deceptively edited hidden camera sting, NPR reported it.

Fox’s failure to report — and allow viewers to decide — speaks volumes and offers definitive answer to the question of what Fox is.

It is the nation’s leading manufacturer of false outrage and fake fury — War on Christmas! War on Christmas! — the top supplier of bogeymen for those who need to feel terrorized in order to feel alive.

It is America’s No. 1 distributor of misinformation — Hide Nana! The death panels are coming! — a warehouse of conspiracy theories, junk history and dubious “facts” given credit by virtually no one who does not watch Fox.

It is a noisemaker, a box of cacophony from which reason will seldom emerge unscathed. And it is a bovine excreta machine.

But a news organization? No. That is a designation you have to earn.

Step 1: Report the news.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. lpitts@miamiherald.com

Comments

uncleandyt 2 years, 8 months ago

The "Both sides do it" answer needs to stop. With very few exceptions, like Rachel Maddow and Dylan Ratigan, Corporate "news" outfits promote corporate desires. Why would the vast and powerful "liberal media" fail to report on the things that are harming us ? Why aren't we hammered with stories that are anti-war, anti-poverty, anti-injustice, anti-coruption, anti-pollution, anti-swindle ? MSNBC gets rid of hosts that won't play along. Phil Donahue was correctly against our stupid, stupid, stupid pre-emptive war on Iraq. He had to go. Jesse Ventura got paid to not do his show after his crazy ideas were found to not match conventional wisdom. ComCast in - Olberman out. Cenk Uygar of the Young Turks on YouTube can tell you what happens in the real world of "Both sides". Many of you are too smart to continue being duped. Find out for yourself.

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George Lippencott 2 years, 8 months ago

jafs (anonymous) replies… I agree, which is why news sources should be offering facts, not opinions"

Of course I agree with you but who determines what is fact?? That is why we have established freedom of the press so that the populace determines what is fact and not some board or group.

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fastwalker 2 years, 8 months ago

do your history, people. what is 'journalism' but propaganda? that's first. i'm not a republican, but i am so sick of liberals prescribing the cures to the nation's perceived ailments (eg right-wing talk radio, fox news) by recommending simple deletion. i used to consider myself a leftist. not anymore. i've been disaffected by the left's zombie-like hive mind conformism, and inability to consider the scope of their opponents' arguments. i am progressively more stupefied by the comments on the ljw forums.

yeah yeah, fox is propaganda. and so is every other 24 hour cable news orgy of stupidity. go on, gobble down what jon stewart says and spew it back up to anyone who disagrees (instead of actually analysing why they might be exerting the energy to defend their position) - it's the same thing the pinheads listening to rush or watching fox news do, too.

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George Lippencott 2 years, 8 months ago

I am appalled by the absolute ignorance – maybe stupidity in this thread. No one makes anyone watch FOX. If those on the right choose to do so, is that not their right? If you do not like what they sell, don’t listen to it.

Your ranting only leads to concerns that you wish to censor FOX. That is frightening.

Mr. Pitts laments our inability to get along in his column today yet he lambasts FOX in this column. Getting along means accepting that others may not see the world the way you do. The notion of a world of reason seems to have devolved to a world of reason as I reason – if you do not reason as I do – well you are unreasonable and not worthy of participation in public discourse. Even more frightening!!

Sounds to me as if elements of the left are so unsure of their product that they must censor anyone or thing that challenges it.

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parco814 2 years, 8 months ago

Usually I'm in Leonard's corner, but I disagree on this one. FOX is a news organization, but it is a destructive one, a symptom more than a cause of a society that generally rewards ignorance and punishes critical thought.

All news sources have a bias; FOX is dishonest about its bias by describing itself as "fair and balanced," when in fact it is a jingoistic reactionary (not conservative) news source. One of the main problems is that millions of people believe FOX is fair and balanced.

They believe this because they want to believe it, and they want to believe it because they see themselves as victims of the "liberal media." The audience is as much a part of the problem as the source is, just as American voters are as responsible as politicians are for the rottenness of the nation's government.

FOX and other corporate news sources are just that, corporate news sources, i.e. corporations. For me, the best way to determine a source's bias is to look at the amount and type of advertising it contains (if it is a commercial source; sources with little or no advertising also have biases, but are usually much more honest about them, i.e. the reactionary magazine National Review and the leftist magazine Z).

FOX has an extremely effective format, an ideal vehicle for its reactionary ideology. The best and really only way to deal with FOX is to inculcate genuine critical thinking and to apply that thinking to all news sources, not just FOX. The so-called liberal mainstream media sources such as CNN, NY Times, CBS, NBC, and ABC sell a similar ideology to that of FOX, but without FOX's aggressive energy. All of these sources reinforce capitalism and individualism; none question the social, political, and economic structures of the west.

No news source simply reports the news, contrary to Pitts' statement, even though there is good reason for Pitts and others to be alarmed by FOX's approach.

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panzermike007 2 years, 8 months ago

Let's face it, Pitts is not a journalist anymore, he is a left wing propagandist.

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jaywalker 2 years, 8 months ago

First of all, thanks Moderate. Rationality isn't common 'round these parts, love how you stand out.
Second, as to this unbelievably pathetic "piece" from The Pitts, ... what does this guy get paid for this drivel? He lists a bunch of scandals with other orgs and states they "reported it"??!! Ummm...so did Fox!! Pitts' proves as much. Think maybe he didn't provide the ratios for his "evidence" ''cuz they might not be favorable......? Naaaaw.

Yes, it's simply shocking that any company wouldn't publicize their own boss' exceptionally serious scandal. But all Pitts offers up Is: - CBS selflessly reporting on ............Dubya? Ooooo! What a personal sacrifice for a news network.
-the Times cutting loose on one of their own -- a reporter they celebrated 'til he was discovered, but still, only a reporter. Not the person writing the checks.
-and NPR admitting they had a guy caught on camera. Gee, thanks for admitting that what we saw and heard was what we saw and heard. And again, the person NPR had no problem "reporting" on was merely a pawn, not the king.

I rarely tune to Fox so I can't speak on how skewed they are. As far as their 'talk shows', no doubt they're politically right, idiotically so with folks like Hannity and Beck. Their morning people are so smarmy I've never been able to stand 5 minutes of 'em so I can't speak on their 'balance.' When I have seen actual news reports from people like Harris Faulkner it's been just plain news.
The funny thing is just how often I hear or read about "Faux News". Please scroll up a couple inches and read George's post again. MSNBC and CNN...no bias there, huh?? Not to mention the countless mainstream mags and papers that are admittedly left of center, .......and yet Fox is the bogey man? It's extraordinarily sad that so many people are so blind, or better yet, unfair and unbalanced.

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Gandalf 2 years, 8 months ago

Hey I like watching fox occasionally. I need a good laugh sometimes.

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George Lippencott 2 years, 8 months ago

So the mob decides who is a news organization??

Now IMHO, FOX, CNN, MSNBC, CBS and countless other sources of information are simply tools for the rest of us to use to seek information. You listen/read/watch whatever you choose. Hopefully you chose well enough to form good conclusions.

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 8 months ago

I cited an instance on this thread at 2:45 AM. I guess you either missed it or had your blinders on.

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SilverShadow 2 years, 8 months ago

Anyone who considers Fox a news source is totally beyond hope. Ignorance in that group is beyond belief.

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camper 2 years, 8 months ago

I've seen some people even say that NPR is liberal biased.

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George Lippencott 2 years, 8 months ago

So the mob decides who is a news organization??

Now IMHO, FOX, CNN, MSNBC, CBS and countless other sources of information are simply tools for the rest of us to use to seek information. You listen/read/watch whatever you choose. Hopefully you chose well enough to form good conclusions.

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meatandpotatoes 2 years, 8 months ago

"A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul."

This is precisely what is driving the left to hysteria about Fox News. Fox News is virtually THE only news outlet that has challenged Obama's European Socialist agenda. Every vote swayed away from it via watching a fair and balanced and truthful news organization is a threat to the modern liberal's definition of justice.

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jayhawxrok 2 years, 8 months ago

The leadership at Fox admits they blend news and entertainment, but their parrot followers defend them anyway. It's kind of funny to watch if it didn't leave a significant portion of the country ignorant on purpose.

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meatandpotatoes 2 years, 8 months ago

Leftist zealot's and Bush hater's dreams were fulflilled totally upon Obama's selection. These folks had Nancy, Harry and Barack on their team now---finally. Ok? Well then here comes the tea party. What happened? They kicked about 60 leftist congresspersons out. This has them in a stupor, and now the attack on Fox News is a desperate attempt to recoup the loss. Sorry. Obama, at least at this juncture, is a one-termer. Maybe things will change, maybe they won't. But now, if you follow the smell, things don't look to swift even year out. Sorry. This is a fact.

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meatandpotatoes 2 years, 8 months ago

Years and years ----heck decades--- of indoctination by Cronkite, Jennings, Rather, Couric, Williams etc etc simply has rendered committed liberals brain dead when it comes to discerning news from fluff, spin and flat out bias. Fox is too heavy for their consciousness.

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Jean Robart 2 years, 8 months ago

Fox IS a news corporation. Too bad if you don't agree with their presentation of the news.

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Agnostick 2 years, 8 months ago

Almost two years later--because nothing has changed--Jon Stewart's take on the "news" content at Faux News is just as relevant today as it was then....

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-october-29-2009/for-fox-sake-

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ObamaCairWaiver 2 years, 8 months ago

If FOX was funded a little bit by taxpayers like NPR is, liberals would respect them. Liberals like to be told the news by the government. Anybody knows that.

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George Lippencott 2 years, 8 months ago

Interesting. If I follow the logic here the only “news” organizations would be those that reported events pretty much the same. Now, Mr. Pitts has been fixated on the Murdock affair for several columns. To him it is big news. To me, not so much. So far most of it seems to be confined to the UK, the appropriate authorities are sorting it out and I really doubt that if there is anything actionable, action will not be taken. I don’t need to be reminded of the situation on an hourly basis for days on end.

If “Fox” or any other “news” provider has an opinion closer to mine above does that make them unworthy to be called a ”news” organization or do they have a different but certainly acceptable focus. The notion being put forward by Mr. Pitts smacks ultimately of censorship by some entity entrusted with the determination of what is “news”.

Very bad idea for oh so many reasons!!??

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Lana Christie-Hayes 2 years, 8 months ago

Thank God we live in a country that gives them the right to say whatever they wish. However, it's obivious that Fox"News" is just Political Republican far right-wing propaganda feeder for those that don't have sense enough to seek the bigger picture and see the whole forest instead of the tree their dog takes a leak on in the back yard!

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gogoplata 2 years, 8 months ago

Antipropaganda. 1. It really doesn't matter if a Republican or a Democrat sits in the White house, they are almost the same on the things that really matter.
2. Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi don't really care about the American people, They care about power, just like George Bush and the rest of his crew.
3. The Troops are not fighting for your freedom.
4. Paper is not real money.

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 8 months ago

The fact that Fox "News" is so blatantly anti-democrat and so stridently pro-GOP disqualifies them from being a news organization.

Objectivity is part of the news. Every reporter and news organization has their biases, but most keep them in check and at least maintain some objectivity.

Fox has thrown objectivity out the window. They are an opinion/commentary organization similar to MSNBC, the Daily Show, and the Colbert Report.

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uncleandyt 2 years, 8 months ago

Somebody should bury this piece. There are too many comments. What if someone who hasn't thought about these ideas starts thinking ? What if someone with no ideas starts having thoughts ? Just because this Pitts column fell into a 3-day memory hole, there is no reason to suspect that there isn't a reason to filter our info. People say that we get the Charlie Sheen and Laci Peterson stories because that is what we are interested in. Let us embrace the bone-headed logic that maybe we aren't shown things that are not interesting. Why should we hear about stuff that will bother and confuse us ? Nobody wants to know about the new nuclear weapons plant in KC. It's none of our business why I-70 was shut down Monday, and I certainly do not wonder what was written on the dude's truck. Give me Liberty, or give me... squirrel.

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Charlie Bannister 2 years, 8 months ago

Fox is not a news organization? Hmmm. Then I guess PMSNBC is a wing of the DNC and gets its talking points from them. This is nothing more than a partisan argument which has zero merit. I watch all the cable news networks and some have a liberal bias and some tend to have a conservative slant. I can tell you one thing for sure. The lame stream media has been in the tank for this utter joke of a so called president since he announced his candidacy. Jimmy Carter reincarnated, only much, much worse.

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Paul R Getto 2 years, 8 months ago

"My summary: Fox makes money by selling what people want to hear;" ==== Excellent point, which can be made with any news organization that sells advertising. They are in the entertainment business, pure and simple, no matter what the political bent. Real news:
BBC and NPR. We will know American news outlets are concentrating on the news when they refuse all advertising and get the PR folks and the entertainment division out of the newsroom.

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Chris Golledge 2 years, 8 months ago

If anyone likes actual numbers instead of just adjectives, here is something interesting,

http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/dec10/Misinformation_Dec10_rpt.pdf

My summary: Fox makes money by selling what people want to hear; that's true of most media outlets. NPR, which does not live and die by commercial sales, has the least misinformed audience. Huh, funny that.

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jayhawklawrence 2 years, 8 months ago

I think the excuse the news media will give us is that we want these kind of shows. They are giving the customers want they want and if the customers happen to be brainwashed zombies then so be it.

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whats_going_on 2 years, 8 months ago

Why is anyone shocked that Fox isn't reporting on this much? That "news" organization has the morality of a deranged serial rapist. After all, what better do they do than to rape the minds and screw the emotional well-beings of would-be free thinking citizens?

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notleft_notright 2 years, 8 months ago

Bozo and Merrill go on about the military-industrial complex. What I believe has developed, or is developing today, could be termed the political-media complex, a defacto political-media oligarchy; the media effectively acts as the propaganda machine of the two established political parties. Journalistic integrity or objectivity has largely vanished, replaced by propaganda provided pretty much verbatim from the political parties and their "think tanks".

Fox, CBS, CNN, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, NPR, Reuters, AP, Washington Post, Washington Times, etc are all machines of propaganda. Look back a hundred years ago and yellow journalism was a scourge upon the nation. But it was centered upon and in tune with the populace. If I could name todays journalistic sellout I'd call it Brown Journalism. Brown for the substance I flush down my toilet.

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Centerville 2 years, 8 months ago

Leonard Pitts is a journalist. Who knew?

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 8 months ago

Can someone please tell me why, to date, FOX hasn't been allowed into Canada? You see, Canada actually has "truth in reporting" codified in it's broadcast regulations. It's been successfully used to keep FOX from expanding into that country. It was a source of rawness for Rupert Murdoch, Canada being a Commonwealth nation and all.

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ObamaCairWaiver 2 years, 8 months ago

NPR fired Juan Williams because he worked at FOX. This was another example of compromising wisdom born of compassionate liberalism

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Aiko 2 years, 8 months ago

Thank You Haiku! People tend to listen and/or watch what they want to hear and see.

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 8 months ago

By the way, CNN is reporting that FOX "News" is under FBI investigation in the US for phone hacking of 9/11 victims, survivors and their families. You can just about bet that if the slime is in Britain, it's here too. This is a top down thing, not a bottom up.

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drake 2 years, 8 months ago

How much time did CBS devote to the Dan Rather scandal?

Mr Pitts simply says that CBS reported it. Well guess what, Fox News reported this story also even though it happened in another country.

I dare say that the majority of the time spent by the other networks covering this story was to try and link it to Fox News, their competition.

Honest, thinking people see the difference Mr. Pitts.

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lunacydetector 2 years, 8 months ago

pitts is disingenuous. c.b.s. was extremely reluctant admitting they lied about bush's air national guard experience.

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jayhawklawrence 2 years, 8 months ago

Bingo.

It is almost impossible to get real news anymore and when you do, it is definitely filtered and biased in some way.

Was Casey Anthony the only news on the planet for almost 2 weeks?

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Haiku_Cuckoo 2 years, 8 months ago

Can anyone name a news outlet that isn't biased?

  • crickets chirping *
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donttreadonme 2 years, 8 months ago

"meatandpotatoes (anonymous) says… Libs have since November 2008 declared America as smarter, then turn around and imply America is largely a nation of Fox News watching dum-dums. Does not compute. Which is it, libs? "

Fact is, Fox appeals to the drooling haters and retards, such as yourself. Because it is a small fraction of the great USA, you don't bring us down too much. Now get back on the couch and complain about something else. Real men have to go to work.

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donttreadonme 2 years, 8 months ago

"jhawkinsf (anonymous) says… What's the difference between Fox News and MSNBC? Nothing."

You could not be more wrong.

MSNBC's corporate owners are in it to make money and offer a variety of viewpoints from Morning Joe to Rachel Maddow. They also own CNBC, which has always had a conservative/business spin.

Fox exists solely to further Rupert Murdochs and Roger Ailes political interests. As Ailes was/is a GOP operative, everything on Fox is tailored to that. Why did they support Glen Beck after advertisers deserted him? Because he jabbed the President. Why have they ignored the phone hacking story (or even ran a story that confused hacking victims such as Citibank with hackers from NOTW)? Why does half the GOP presidential field work for Fox?

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meatandpotatoes 2 years, 8 months ago

Libs have since November 2008 declared America as smarter, then turn around and imply America is largely a nation of Fox News watching dum-dums. Does not compute. Which is it, libs?

Fact is, Fox News is a dreaded threat to libs and their agenda---that's just a basic fact that is crystal clear.

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mloburgio 2 years, 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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jayhawklawrence 2 years, 8 months ago

The last boss I had, who constantly preached about ethics and character, was fired after a year for serious flaws in both departments.

He was also an immensely proud conservative from Texas. Yes, you know the kind.

He used to like to brag that FOX was the ONLY fair and balanced news organization and always complained about the liberal media. Years ago, when I was a brainwashed conservative, I would have accepted this as fact. I am disturbed that there are probably millions out there that are still in dire need of exit counseling.

I travel a lot in the rural areas of our country and have for many many years. I have noticed that their major news shows are Limbaugh, Beck, Savage and Hannity among others. If not for NPR, when you can get it, the world out their is a literal desert where insane people populate the air waves.

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meatandpotatoes 2 years, 8 months ago

Pitts and those who think like him can't stand it that Fox News is the most watched news outlet. Pitts should be nice to them because one day when he's out of work, he may need to fire off a resume to Fox News.

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ksriver2010 2 years, 8 months ago

"It is what it is". That is the way I feel about Fox News or any other news source in the country. All media is propaganda, always has been, and why are we surprised when it is suddenly so obvious? And no more obvious than with the debt "crisis". The misinformation from the media and from the President and Speaker themselves has been monumental. "Seniors won't get their Social Security checks". The reality is that it would take 6 months to change the computer systems to NOT send the checks. The government won't default on its obligations. The real reality is that first the Federal Government will halt or delay its funds paid to the states for highways, medicaid, etc. Which would make our state budget issues even more significant.

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Liberty_One 2 years, 8 months ago

This article reveals more about Pitts than it does about FoxNews. Everyone knows that they are just a shill for the republicans and who cares? If you don't like it then don't watch it. No, the real surprise is just how concerned Pitts is to make him write this. All FoxNews does is confirm people's pre-existing biases. In the past there were newspapers that were overtly Democratic or Republican and Fox is just a TV channel that's pretty much the same thing. So why is Pitts so worried about it? Who cares?

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 8 months ago

What's the difference between Fox News and MSNBC? Nothing.

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meatandpotatoes 2 years, 8 months ago

Again, this is to be expected; the trashing of Fox News leading up to the 2012 election cycle---especially after the beating Dems took last November. Nothing to see here---move along.

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 8 months ago

Been into the current regime's stash of talking points, have you, Lenny?

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SilverShadow 2 years, 8 months ago

Apparently JW management didn't like column, so decision was made to only use in print edition. They knew very few would see it, so then forum users wouldn't post their agreements with Pitts facts.

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 8 months ago

This is the first I've seen of this article and it's date is three days ago? Why? To address the article itself; I have been stating for at least the past year that FOX "News" should be kicked out of the White House Press Corps for not being an actual "news" organization. Failing that, Jon Stewart needs to be admitted. I actually wrote a blog post about FOX this past March when CNN reported that a FOX foreign correspondent was filing falsified stories about the Libyan revolution. The so-called reporter never left his hotel. http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/cait48/2011/mar/22/dissension-in-the-ranks/ This wouldn't have come to light if, in a terribly stupid move, the FOX reporter hadn't made false allegations about the other reporters from other real news outlets that actually were covering the story (and in the process putting their own lives in danger). Come to think of it, does anyone know of a FOX reporter that ever got killed in action? I can think of several from CNN, NBC, CBS but not a single one from FOX. (I even Googled it and, nope, couldn't find a one.)

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uncleandyt 2 years, 8 months ago

I will discuss this with myself.

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