Opinion: Europe gets the joke of Fox News

January 25, 2015


Tucker Carlson said on Fox that more children die of bathtub drownings than of accidental shootings. They don’t.

Steve Doocy said on Fox that NASA scientists faked data to make the case for global warming. They didn’t.

Rudy Giuliani said on Fox that President Obama has issued propaganda asking everybody to “hate the police.” He hasn’t.

John Stossel said on Fox that there is “no good data” proving secondhand cigarette smoke kills nonsmokers. There is.

So maybe you can see why serious people — a category excluding those who rely upon it for news and information — do not take Fox, well ... seriously, why they dub it Pox News and Fakes News, to name two of the printable variations. Fox is, after all, the network of death panels, terrorist fist jabs, birtherism, anchor babies, victory mosques, wars on Christmas and Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi. It’s not just that it is the chief global distributor of unfact and untruth but that it distributes unfact and untruth with a bluster, an arrogance, a gonad-grabbing swagger, that implicitly and intentionally dares you to believe fact and truth matter.

Many of us have gotten used to this. We don’t even bother to protest Fox being Fox. Might as well protest a sewer for stinking.

But the French and the British, being French and British, see it differently. And that’s what produced the scenario that recently floored many of us.

There was Fox, doing what Fox does, in this case hosting one Steve Emerson, a supposed expert on Islamic extremist terrorism, who spoke about so-called “no go” zones in Europe — i.e., areas of Germany, Sweden, France and Great Britain — where non-Muslims are banned, the government has no control and sharia law is in effect. Naturally, Fox did not question this outrageous assertion — in fact, it repeated it throughout the week — and most of us, long ago benumbed by the network’s serial mendacities, did not challenge Fox.

Then, there erupted from Europe the jarring sound of a continent laughing. British Prime Minister David Cameron called Emerson an “idiot.” A French program in the mold of “The Daily Show” sent correspondents — in helmets! — to interview people peaceably sipping coffee in the no-go zones. Twitter went medieval on Fox’s backside. And the mayor of Paris threatened to sue.

Last week, Fox did something Fox almost never does. It apologized. Indeed, it apologized profusely, multiple times, on air.

The most important takeaway here is not the admittedly startling news that Fox, contrary to all indications, is capable of shame. Rather, it is what the European response tells us about ourselves and our waning capacity for moral indignation with this sort of garbage.

It’s amazing, the things you can get used to, that can come to seem normal. In America, it has come to seem normal that a major news organization functions as the propaganda arm of an extremist political ideology, that it spews a constant stream of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, paranoia and manufactured outrage, and that it does so with brazen disregard for what is factual, what is right, what is fair, what is balanced — virtues that are supposed to be the sine qua non of anything calling itself a newsroom.

If you live with aberrance long enough, you can forget it’s aberrance. You can forget that facts matter, that logic is important, that science is critical, that he who speaks claptrap loudly still speaks claptrap — and that claptrap has no place in reasoned and informed debate. Sometimes, it takes someone from outside to hold up a mirror and allow you to see more clearly what you have grown accustomed to.

This is what the French and the British did for America last week.

For that, Fox owed them an apology. But serious people owe them thanks.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald.


Paul R Getto 3 years, 1 month ago

Good column, sir. Glad we can provide Europe some amusement, they need it.

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 1 month ago

Should be an interesting day once the Fox News junkies wake up and start attacking Pitts. How dare he slander the only "fair and balanced" reporting out there?

Brock Masters 3 years, 1 month ago

Anyone who blindly believes what they read on the Internet, hear on the television regardless of the source, or read in a newspaper without verifying it for themselves is someone who will act on bad information.

Paul Wilson 3 years, 1 month ago

Emmerson is a guest on opinion shows right? I don't watch much TV news. How is this "The News"? He gives his opinion...he can be wrong. If he we're reporting the acutal news...as given to him by actual network reporters and the AP...then it would be a joke. If you look at CNN's opinion shows...they are no less left leaning than those of the right on Fox. right? They seem to report the same news though...just in a different package.

James Howlette 3 years, 1 month ago

He gave an opinion when he said "I think Europe is finished." He didn't give his opinion when he claimed that the police refused to take him to certain areas because they were "no-go zones" ruled exclusively by Sharia law and outside of police control. He was attempting to claim something false as a fact. Something very very obviously wrong, but the Overton window has moved so far to the right over there at Fox newsville, that they can no longer tell fact from fantasy.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 1 month ago

Oh, Paul. Opinions not based on facts are lies. Lies should not be allowed on any news program, opinion or not. If it's raining outside, and you say that in your opinion it isn't raining, it's still raining outside.

I hope that the city of Paris and Birmingham sue FOX. More people in the US should sue. I hope after Obama retires from office, that he sics lawyers on them. Why anyone would watch that crud is beyond me.

On Facebook, whether or not it's from a liberal friend or a conservative friend, I will fact check some weird outrageous story they post, before I pass it on (I check the site first though, in case it's the Onion). I am not beyond calling out lies, and asking them not to pass on lies, providing the facts. Most of the ones that end up being lies are the conservatives, but it happens with liberals too. I have had some people unfriend me, because I question their "opinion", but it doesn't bother me. If you don't understand that opinions have to be based in fact, then you will believe anything. It's a good thing I'm not a conman, because I know a few chumps. The people who haven't unfriended me thank me for pointing out the lie, both conservative and liberal, and usually pass on the facts to the person who sent them the lie.

Brock Masters 3 years, 1 month ago

I would cut and paste for you but I can't for some reason. So, Google the definition of opinion and you will see facts are not part of it. If facts were, then it'd be a fact and not an opinion.

Yes, if it is raining outside and someone says it is not then they are mistaken or they are lying, but it would not be a lie to say, it is not raining hard because that is an opinion.

I've had people share Onion stories as if they were true. Some people are just dumb.

Pitts plays loose with the truth. I defy anyone to find what Pitts claims Guiliani said?

Now, Guiliani has something along those lines but not what Pitts indicates by his editing that he said. Pitts statement is misleading.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 1 month ago

But if your opinions are based on lies, then your opinion, in my opinion :>), is baseless and ignorant. I wonder if Emerson has ever been to England or France? Why is he considered an "expert"? Has he ever interviewed those people are radical Muslims to find out why? Has he ever travelled anywhere? Fox uses a lot of these faux experts.

It's just part of the whole problem that the US has. Companies hire MBA's who have never worked in their business to cookie cutter them. In the past, companies brought people up from the ranks. And now every politician is an educator, geologist, scientist, etc, even if they have never done any of those things. Apparently, by virtue of being elected, you know everything about everything.

Brock Masters 3 years, 1 month ago

Everyone can have an opinion but not everyone's opinion is of equal value.

Which is why I said and you said people can't blindly follow others but must do their own independent research. There is no excuse for not doing it.

For example, Pitts' comments about Guiliani didn't ring quite true so in a matter of seconds I was able to find what Guiliani actually said and it isn't what Pitts want you to believe he said.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 1 month ago

Oh, and Fred. Try restarting your computer. Sometimes, when I can't cut and paste, it's when I haven't restarted my computer in a long time.

Brock Masters 3 years, 1 month ago

It is my IPad and I've rebooted it. Can cut and paste everywhere else but here.

Grégoire Guillaume 3 years, 1 month ago

I've often wondered when the moment would come that we would see that "the emperor has no clothes", meaning all this fake outrage and drummed up scandals ad nauseam that Fox bombards their viewers with would be seen for the "claptrap" it is, as Mr Pitts so eloquently points out. Sadly however, most Fox viewers will circle the wagon and fight tooth and nail for their phony brand of news. Fox news' only function is to operate as a tool for the billionaire class to sway the people who have been hurt the most by republican polices to side with them by making them afraid and angry. That it took the europeans to call Fox out for their blatant lies shows just how far the U.S. has fallen.

Brock Masters 3 years, 1 month ago

Interesting data about drowning. It is true that far more kids die from drowning than gun accidents and while it is not true that more kids drown in a bathtub than by gun accidents the numbers are surprisingly close.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 1 month ago

Well, if I had been there for the conversation, I would have stated that both can mostly only happen from the carelessness of adults who are caring for the children, whether or not it was considered an "accident". Drunk drivers cause "accidents" and kill people, and they are punished, but we just say, poor parents, they are punished enough by losing their child. I think they all should be punished. Leave your gun around and someone dies accidentally, it's criminally your fault. Yap on the phone while your kid is unattended in the bathtub, it's criminally your fault. Sounds heartless maybe, but I don't think a drunk driver ever intentionally goes out to kill someone either. What is the difference?

Brock Masters 3 years, 1 month ago

I agree that people should be held accountable for their actions. But I guarantee you people will say about the mother who was taking on the phone and let her baby drown in the tub, hasn't she suffered enough?

There are gun accidents that are unforeseen and shouldn't be prosecuted and there are those that should. Just like car accidents - some are just accidents and others are accidents but would not have happened if not for the reckless behavior of the driver.

James Howlette 3 years, 1 month ago

Some people might say that. Most people would not. Baby drowning while mom talks on the phone is preventable and negligent. I'd say it's the same people who think grandpa shouldn't be punished for leaving a loaded gun on the bed where the toddler could reach it.

Lawrence Freeman 3 years, 1 month ago

Seems you still don't understand that gun ownership is legal and drunk driving is not. Also there are all kinds of charges that can be brought in case an accidental death, from any cause, if there was negligence involved.

Are you promoting zero tolerance for any kind of accidental death? If so that is not only heartless, but just plain stupid. Should we arrest and punish a playground teacher if a child falls from a swing and dies? How about a coach if a player dies in a game?

James Howlette 3 years, 1 month ago

Nearly all kids have an unsecured bathtub in their home. Not all kids have a gun in their home, secured or otherwise.

Bob Smith 3 years, 1 month ago

At least people can listen to Air America for the progressive side of the news! Oh, wait, never mind......

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 1 month ago

Anyone who depends exclusively on Fox is beyond hopeless. Or even anyone who believes what they say without verification elsewhere is beyond hopeless or worse yet a Tea addict.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 1 month ago

What is Air America? Is that the station that used to broadcast to countries behind the iron curtain? On the radio, I usually only listen to NPR or an oldies rock music station and usually only in the car. TV - channel 9, since they have more Lawrence news, and I'm not a WOW (or whatever their name is this week) customer. I am a reader. I read all sorts of stuff, conservative, liberal, in between. Hate celebrity news. I don't care much for celebrities, especially those with no talent, just somehow fame. If they have talent, I only care to hear them speak about their art, not their ex spouses. Sometimes I watch PBS news, BBC news, or Al Jazeera (sp?), mostly because they go into stories completely. You see all sides of the story, not just one.

Bob Smith 3 years, 1 month ago

You are thinking about Radio Free Europe. Air America was a failed attempt to push progressive views on the radio. They couldn't make enough money to stay on the air. You really should expand your horizons and find out more about the world around you.

Andy Anderson 3 years, 1 month ago

...even Air America's targeted audience didn't know they were on the air...

James Howlette 3 years, 1 month ago

It turns out that people identifying as liberal are less likely to get their news from a single source than those identifying as conservative.

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 1 month ago

Chinese New Years celebrations are coming up in Birmingham, England on the 22nd of February.


Just saying, Google is your friend.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 1 month ago

Oh my god!!! The Chinese are taking over Birmingham now!!! Everyone will be forced to become a Buddhist!

Mike Ford 3 years, 1 month ago

Oh my favorite Faux is real news moments......My father and I were in Emporia, Kansas at a McDonalds before my father gave a sermon on Detreich Bonhoeffer. The people around us were between fifty and eighty years old and White intently watching Faux. I felt like I was in an alternate universe. I also remember on separate occasions at the Chicken House in Olpe, Kansas, and at a restaurant on the square next to the original Wal Mart in Bentonville, Arkansas, where French fries were called freedom fries. Arkansas was originally settled by French traders who took the word Ooo ga pah named for the Quapaw Tribe who had much of Arkansas as their territory and Oo ga pah became Arkansas after the French butchered the word much as English speakers butcher many words. Faux News was on in this Café in Bentonville ironically. I almost utters the words Parlez Vous Francais? in protest. Oh how some people set this country back centuries.

Andy Anderson 3 years, 1 month ago

It looks like by my count, the Foxdinistas posts attacking Fox are leading by a wide margin to those...the post... vaguely supporting Fox.

Is that what the first poster aflutter was referring to as 'interesting'?

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