Two Months With Fox 4: June 19, 2017
I’ve been sick for the past couple of days but I’m back! I tried my best to check the Fox front page once in a while in bed, but to be honest with you, I really wasn’t in a state to produce any cogent or meaningful analysis. Sorry about that. I’ll cover Otto Warmbier tomorrow after some deliberation and research, but for today, I’ll just summarize my thoughts regarding a Fox video I saw yesterday.
On the front page was the London terror attack. Perhaps because the story was just breaking, most publications were reporting similar facts and similar quotes. Though it was an event of great import, I had to pass on that story because I could find little to analyze regarding media bias.
Naturally, my eyes strayed to the right sidebar, marked by the words: “WATCH NOW.” I was immediately electrified by the irresistible title: “Which news stories deserve more media attention?” It was one of the questions I had set out to answer myself on Day 0. Considering that both journalists and readers are limited resources, which stories, which media, and which styles of reporting should publishers prefer?
Though its title raised a captivating question, the video itself was a bit of a letdown. The three journalists on the panel each introduced an issue they saw as being ignored by “mainstream media”: Afghanistan, Trump’s favorable Rasmussen poll numbers, and Republican healthcare strategies.
First, Afghanistan. Upon hearing that mainstream media was neglecting our struggles there, I opened the New York Times and Washington Post’s websites. Afghanistan was on the front page of both publications.
I understand that “media” and “journalism” are two disparate categories, and that Fox and the other two publications stand on different sides of the divide. Still, I was intrigued — and a little confused — to see the video first point out the lack of media coverage directed toward Afghanistan, then brush past the issue: as if their purpose was to blame, not to explain.
Same with Trump’s favorable poll numbers. The correspondent and the host were asking why mainstream media wasn’t 1) noting the fact that according to the the Rasmussen poll, Trump’s approval rating was over 50%, or 2) at least comparing the Rasmussen poll to the less favorable AP polls (which had disapproval at 64%) to find the source of the dissonance.
I agreed that the discrepancy deserved some scrutiny. So did Politifacts, Five Thirty Eight, and Newsweek.
The consensus was that other polls show lower numbers than Rasmussen because Rasmussen consistently cherry-picks data. But hey, that doesn’t mean that I had a problem with the fact that the panel raised the question in the first place. I think that was reasonable and critical point. What I am troubled by is the fact that it would have taken little to no airtime for them to present their viewers with the simple and straight answer. We shouldn’t dangle questions in front of our viewers’ noses just for the sake of intrigue — especially if we already have the answers.
My bigger concern is that they then went on to discuss how the Rasmussen poll numbers show that voters are unfazed by the investigations surrounding the Trump administration’s ties with Russia. If the electorate really wasn’t, then sure, that’s all good, because then they would be reporting a matter of fact. But you can’t point out how your poll is contested, refuse to examine or debate the validity of your poll, and then proceed to use it as evidence to back up a claim about Trump’s success. I think we all agree that good journalism depends on objective facts and observations. But so does argumentation.
In short, journalism isn’t a tool or an excuse for antagonism. If you think other publications are slacking, spend less time throwing mud and pick up the slack. Dedicate less time to blaming the “mainstream media” and more time to breaking down the issues for your viewers — especially if prominent publications and blogs are covering those issues.
Note to self:
No matter how divisive the issues, always remember, our primary purpose is to inform.
Sorry if my tone was a little more biting today then usual. Sickness makes me bitter. I think I need to take some time to conduct comprehensive research on Fox News’ financial, political, and cultural backings and leanings. If Week 1 was a surface-level examination, now it’s time to dive deep.
Diana is a Co-Editor-in-Chief and columnist at Seoul International School’s prized student publication, Tiger Times. In addition, she manages the teen division of the ex-pat magazine 10 Mag and contributes to the SIS Media Club’s Facebook page, Tiger News Today.
p.s. I’ll add some videos and articles pertaining to the three issues the panelists brought up later this afternoon.