Sunday, July 10, 2005

London attacks bring out the worst in Fox News

Robert Furs: 'London attacks bring out the worst in Fox News'
Posted on Sunday, July 10 @ 09:43:26 EDT
This article has been read 434 times.
Network becoming more than soft on terror as on-air rhetoric reaches a new, dangerous level

By Robert Furs, CounterBias

The London terror bombings have brought the evil out of the hearts and minds of the faces of America's most successful cable news channel. In this age of global terror, where the media has an even greater responsibility to calm and inform the public in the face of growing fear, Fox News is instead acting to inflame the anger and confusion of their audience while allowing inflammatory statements--from their own hosts and anchors--that border on dangerous.

Brian Kilmeade, outspoken conservative and host of Fox & Friends, started the cacophony of egregiousness by belaboring the top-level ranking of global warming and African aid on the G8 agenda. The London attacks were "the first time since 9-11 when they should know, and they do know now, that terrorism should be Number 1," Kilmeade suggested. "But it's important for them all to be together. I think that works to our advantage, in the Western world's advantage, for people to experience something like this together, just 500 miles from where the attacks have happened."

In other words, the terror attacks were good for the Western World. Looking for the positives in a disaster is a regular occurrence for journalists exploring the bigger picture. But Kilmeade used the attacks to provide support for his own agenda--that the G8 was too worried about Africa and global warming, issues far from the top on the American Right's agenda. To suggest that terror attacks on London were a good thing because they remind people about terrorism is an incredibly political and rather devious suggestion.

Then, during Fox anchor Brit Hume's coverage of the London bombings, Hume shifted to an economic perspective of the attacks--not normally a devious form of coverage in a capitalist world. But instead of looking at the economic significance of the attacks on world markets, Hume invoked his own stock portfolio: "I mean, my first thought when I heard -- just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, 'Hmmm, time to buy'."

On July 6, the day before the attacks, Fox's John Gibson appeared on Bill O'Reilly's radio show and said that "the International Olympic Committee missed a golden opportunity" to pick France for the 2012 Olympics. "If they had picked France instead of London to hold the Olympics, it would have been the one time we could look forward to where we didn't worry about terrorism. They'd blow up Paris, and who cares?"

The next day, on his own Fox show, Gibson added to his anti-France inhumanity, saying that "The bombings in London: This is why I thought the Brits should let the French have the Olympics -- let somebody else be worried about guys with backpack bombs for a while."

"They'd blow up Paris, and who cares?" is a comment from a significant media personality, feeding the minds of hundreds of thousands of American viewers every day. Even if it was uttered sarcastically or with intent of humor, its on par with the mindset of an al-Qaeda sympathizer--just anti-France instead of anti-American.

What makes Gibson's comment any different than a terrorist calling for the bombing of a specific country? Why such glee in anticipating terror wrought against another nation? Is the hatred displayed by Gibson any less severe than that of someone advocating--not acting, just advocating--terrorist actions against a nation (a peaceful one, at that)? Gibson has viewers, one would assume, so his words don't exist in a vacuum. Hating France is one thing--suggesting that a nation, one with only minor disagreements with America, was deserving of a terrorist attack brings Gibson into the realm of terror advocate. An irresponsible propagandist, yet host of America's self-proclaimed anti-terror, pro-freedom channel.

While Fox's Bill O'Reilly accuses the New York Times of all-out anti-Americanism and quasi-treason for reporting too often and too critically on Abu Ghraib, his own associates appear to almost cheer terror attacks and even wish them on others. How will he react?

Imagine the above comments coming from someone, whether mainstream media or not, on the Left. Imagine the outrage that would flood the right-wing blogosphere and conservative press had alleged liberals (or anyone on a non-Fox network) said anything remotely resembling the above.

Imagine if Dan Rather had opined on 60 Minutes, for example, that the London terror bombings were good for the Western world because they allowed Londoners to experience what Americans experienced, or if he asked, "They'd blow up Riyadh--who cares?"

Imagine if Aaron Brown or Keith Olbermann had wondered aloud whether it was time to buy more security stocks to profit from the attacks, or if any journalist on the face of the earth had suggested that another country deserved the terror attacks that the United Kingdom had suffered.

The blogosphere would be buzzing, Fox News pundits (ironically) would be humming, ridiculing their competitors all the while, and Republican politicians would be out in full force, calling for apologies and resignations from these soft-on-terror, anti-American journalists undermining the War on Terror.

There is no doubt that News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch, President of Fox News Roger Ailes, or news director John Moody (whose now-published memos to reporters directed the framing, or bias, of their coverage) have the ability to prevent outrageous statements from being made by their high-profile Fox hosts. July 7th might have been scary enough to shock and awe these on-air personalities, but they aren't just a guy in a bar commenting on world events--they are the middlemen between the world and Fox's keen audience, and wondering aloud about personal stock market gains due to terror bombing, or wishing terrorist attacks upon France, is problematic to say the least. The subjectivity and agenda of Fox has long been an issue of criticism, but Fox is free to decide the skew of their own coverage. This recent terror reporting (especially that of John Gibson) goes far beyond that, and is more than just an issue of liberal annoyance. Unless the executives at Fox News choose to do something about the reckless messages coming from on-air news personalities, the network will be seen as more than just a propaganda arm of the Republican Party. It is reaching the point of being a news outlet corrosively dangerous to the American public.

(c) 2005