Published DateTo the editor,
In response to Ms. Shealy's referencing of Fox News and MSNBC, I would like to begin by reviewing accepted journalistic ethics and standards. While various existing codes have some differences, most share common elements, including the principals of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability. Fox News, apparently Ms. Shealy's prime source of news, is unencumbered by journalistic ethics. They are quick to break any rumor, opinion, half-truth, distortion or lie as "hard news."
As we all know, Fox News is the conservative alternative for viewers like Ms. Shealy who believe the so-called mainstream media have a liberal bent. It's shows offer a steady diet of right-of-center commentary delivered with plenty of attitude and verbal sparing. Fox News is popular because it is entertaining, but it has little to do with objective reporting. This "news" agency is incapable of recognizing the very craft they're supposed to practice.
Executives of Fox News have boasted that their network aims to be "the voice of opposition." What ever happened to "Fair and Balanced"? A former Fox News producer, Charlie Reina, described the Fox newsroom as being "permeated with bias." He described how executive memos were distributed electronically each morning addressing the stories that would be covered and often suggesting, "how they should be covered." "At the fair and balanced network no one in authority in the newsroom makes a move unmeasured against management's politics, actual or perceived." As long as Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes rule Fox's roost, the network will be the last place to find "balanced journalism" –— it's a megaphone for right wing propaganda.
In her statements that we "study the Muslim faith in our schools" and "Watch out America . . . God is aware and very patient. He will not hold his anger long", Ms. Shealy exemplifies two of Fox's favorite techniques — fear and the Christian God. With Fox there is never a break from fear: from Muslims, to swine flu, to recession, to homosexuals, to immigrants. The belief at Fox seems to be that when people are afraid, they don't think rationally. And when they don't think rationally, they'll believe anything. Also at FNC, they like to portray themselves as one of "the people" and those with opposing views as an enemy of the people. The opponent is often referred to as "elitist", a "bureaucrat", "government insider", etc.
FNC, as does Ms. Shealy, will invoke Christianity. The idea is to declare yourself and your allies as patriots, Christians and "real Americans" and any one who challenges them is not. Basically, God loves Fox and Republicans and America, and hates taxes and anyone who doesn't love the other three. Because they have been chosen by God to speak on behalf of all Americans, they perceive any challenge as immoral.
Fox audiences, birthers and tea partiers often defend their arguments by pointing to the fact that a lot of people share the same views. This is a reasonable point to the extent that Murdoch's News Corporation, as pointed out by Ms. Shealy, reaches a far larger audience than any other single media outlet. But, the fact that a lot of people believe something is not necessarily a sign that it's true; it's just a sign that it's been effectively marketed.
My criticism of Fox News should not be interpreted as defending any of the other news networks that also neglect journalistic ethics.
L. J. Siden