Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A lost cause

Worldmagblog points out William Raspberry's piece in yesterday's San Diego Union Tribune, Is Fox News promoting media bias?

I don't watch Fox News (or any TV news at all) so I'm anything but authoritative on this matter, but Raspberry is partially correct.

Raspberry claims that Fox's biased programming has two dangerous effects:

The first is that the popularity of the approach – Fox is clobbering its direct competition (CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, etc.) – leads other cable broadcasters to mimic it, which in turn debases the quality of the news available to that segment of the TV audience.

The second, far more dangerous, effect is that it threatens to destroy public confidence in all news.

That last, I admit, is more fear than prediction, but let me tell you what produces that fear. Fox News Channel – though the people who run the operation are at great pains to insist otherwise – is deliberately partisan. It is as though right-wing talk radio has metastasized into cable and assumed a new virulence.

As for his first point, he may be right that the opposing views will drive each other toward the right and left fringes, but Fox certainly has legitimate claim to the grade school argument "he started it!" There would have been no market for Fox had the other networks not already disenfranchised so many viewers.

I think his second point is further along than he believes. I have had no confidence in TV news for years. It's just entertainment, as the ridiculous coverage of election day 2004 goes to show (remember how none of the networks would call the election for Bush, and each picked their states carefully to keep us all hanging on through the next commercial break?)

People who are seeking the truth and not just clever soundbites will choose their sources carefully, and will also become adept at separating fact from bias.

Raspberry's idea that bias and the loss of credibility of TV news is FNC's fault is ludicrous - Fox isn't helping the situation, but the other networks lost credibility long before Fox came along.

If you're serious about finding truth and aren't interested in sorting through the BS to get to it, I must recommend that you turn off the TV.