After years of rumors, high-profile CNN anchor, Anderson Cooper, acknowledged his sexual orientation last month in an editorial at The Daily Beast. A most eloquent analysis was offered by Huffington Post contributor, Chuck Gomez.
Today’s point of view has nothing to do with Mr. Cooper or sexual orientation. But it has a lot to do with network news and—like the Anderson Cooper revelation—it deals with the inflection point between an unacknowledged fact and one that is acknowledged by the subject, or at least, universally recognized.
Today, the inflection point involves Fox News. Once and for all, this Blog uncovers what so many readers already know. Let’s please not make this political! This posting has no conservative or liberal agenda. It doesn’t question the quality or value of Fox News (Well, at least not as a biased, editorial Blog with celebrity entertainers). It’s not meant to be inflammatory. It just shines a bright light onto an unspoken truth. A truth that many Fox insiders, friends, foes and viewers already know.
Does Fox News strive to be neutral, balanced, fair and unbiased? (O.K. These are synonyms. But it is the key question). Is Fox News a mouthpiece of the Republican Party? Does Bill O’Reilly really believe that his popular editorial show is a “no spin zone”?
To better understand how a special interest operates, it helps to understand a little bit about media, entertainment, News, and the Fairness Doctrine. AWildDuck is not an expert on all of these things, but we allude to each and you can take it from there…
Consider the World Wrestling Federation. They refer to their stage craft as “professional wrestling”. Yet, in a dispute with the World Wildlife Foundation, they changed their name and website to ‘World Wrestling Entertainment’ (WWE). This pleases linguists and anyone who cares about truth-in-advertising. After all, they are hardly professional and the entertainment nomenclature fits…
To be fair, the definition of a ‘profession’ is that participants get paid. For this reason, most Olympic athletes – no matter how good – are not ‘professionals’. That term applies only to the ones that compete for money apart from the Oympics. But by any common definition, there is nothing ‘professional’ about television wrestling (aka: WWE or “rubber wrestling”), because it is not a sport. It provides choreographed media entertainment with slapstick antics. Wrestlers bounce off ropes, flip opponents into the air, whip them into body slams and then jump on faces. Performers are rarely hurt, but actors with names like Hulk Hogan and Mad Dog yell into the camera about crushing skulls and rupturing internal organs.
At first, organizers denied that these fights were choreographed for entertainment value. It took Geraldo Rivera to push the group into more truthful packaging. Of course it is rehearsed and structured. It’s all play acting in the guise of a professional sport. But hey! Entertainment can have just as much value as a professional sporting event. Fox News is no different…
Fox may have evolved from a pure journalistic credo in its early days. But anyone who watches Bill O’Reilly’s “No Spin Zone” understands that it’s all about spin…and a pervasive religious undertone. Even journalists and editors within Fox news have gradually begun to acknowledge that the broadcaster has taken on a role of unofficial spin doctor for conservatives.
Off camera, they no longer deny the far right perspective of their ‘news’. They represent family values (at least for white, Christian families), a Republican/Tea Party perspective, and an agenda that is slightly pro-military, anti-pluralism, and somewhat redneck.
When they were disguising the agenda in a cloak of balanced journalism and the Fairness Doctrine, they thought it might win the hearts and minds of viewers—or at least undecided voters. Now that the horse is out of the barn (and the Fairness Doctrine is no longer the Law of the Land), they still serve a useful purpose. Their talking heads help to explain and interpret the Republican platform and contrast candidates from one corner of the ring. But they certainly aren’t a balanced news organization. They are a reasonably good editorial platform and a spokes piece.
For the past 6 or 7 years, the winks and nods were all too evident. They are one sided and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you don’t agree with them or simply want to learn another perspective, tune into Bill Maher or read The Huffington Post. We live in a world of balance through choice. Fox news is an extreme proponent of the far right. My only beef with the organization is that they masquerade as a legitimate news organization.
I was once a Republican. I respect Fox News. But Republican or Democrat, Black or White, Jew or Gentile, Resident or Immigrant, let’s just call a spade a spade. Anderson Cooper finally came out of the closet because rumors were beginning to interfere with his job. It’s time for Fox News to come clean, so that legions of viewers can move them back from the Entertainment column to the News & Commentary column. Face it, Bill: Fox News is biased as all get out! No disrespect intended. We’re just nudging the organization toward truth in packaging.
» Ellery Davies is a frequent contributor to Yahoo, CNet, ABCNews
» and The Wall Street Journal. He is also editor of AWildDuck.com.