One thing that irritates me like pepper spray on my nether regions is when people use the term “Faux News” to describe Fox News. I’m not a dog being led around by the News Corp leash; I get my news from a number of sources. I use Google Reader with feeds from approximately 40 different outlets focused on different themes that are generally news or science based. As someone who prides himself on exercising proper skepticism, I feel it is important to be quite diverse in gathering information. So I look for numerous sources, and then do my best to weed out the ones who prove to be less than honest. I would never recommend someone getting all their news from one source.
There are a couple of issues on the “Faux News” front that annoy me in particular. The first being that people often don’t seem to differentiate opinion from hard news.
On Fox for instance, Bill O’Reilly, The Five, Red Eye, and others are opinion, while Brett Baier, Shep Smith, and others are hard news. The hard news people just bring you the stories and facts. Opinion however, is people interpreting those facts and providing analysis of what they presume those facts mean.
Opinion journalists therefore are often prone to spin and distort things in a light that is favorable to their ideals. You’re a fool if you think CNN, MSNBC, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, and the networks don’t spin too. That’s just what opinion journalists do. But you can’t rightfully attack a network based on the opinions of one panelist. That’s like attacking the NFL because of what Mike Vick did. If Piers Morgan or Sean Hannity misspeak in some way, attack them, not their networks as a whole, because I guarantee there are others in their organization that are nothing like them.
Fox, MSNBC, CNN and the networks provide plenty of hard news that is good and factual. The charges that Fox lies are generally from people who just don’t agree with the opinions of the op-ed talent, and can rarely cite examples where the hard news people blatantly lied. Opinions, by definition, do not have a right or wrong answer. If you don’t like the opinions of the analyst, then don’t watch, but insulting them because they don’t agree with you is childish and pathetic.
The problem with hard news, is that it is often boring to people. News agencies have been delivering hard news for years, but once opinion programs started picking up entertaining talent, people preferred that over just a boring rendition of the facts. Human nature seems to be that most of us like hearing from people we think are similar to us because we trust those people more.
So while some think opinion is bad because it distorts facts, the truth is that it gets more people interested in the news who otherwise wouldn’t be. People like Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, and Greg Gutfeld bring news with humor in such a way that younger crowds who would never watch hard news all of a sudden find themselves caring about the issues of the day. The more people learn, the better off we all are. We didn’t get to the top of the food chain by being ignorant.
So being the free-market capitalist I am, I love that the news has evolved to meet the consumer’s wants, instead of making us suffer through boring anchors of old who are just as likely to put me to sleep as they are to pique my interest. More importantly, I’m happy we have freedom of the press so left-leaning folks can watch MSNBC and I can watch Fox.
The other problem I have with the Faux News folks, is they’re not only insulting Fox, but they’re insulting everyone who watches it. Being a Libertarian, I love that Fox allows people like John Stossel, Greg Gutfeld, and Judge Napolitano to have a voice. Most other news media often ignore libertarians, yet Fox kills in ratings because it provides information to non-left-wing people like me that we would otherwise not get.
To me, it’s said with the same hate and ignorance used by racists, sexists, and other hate groups. I would almost never watch MSNBC because of their statist bias, but I don’t insult them for it. If the Michael Moores and Janene Garafolos of America want a news program to watch, MSNBC is there for those people; more power to them.
The bottom line is that America is too often a nation of haters. Hip-hop music lovers call people who like country music inbred. Rock lovers call people who like rap music thugs. Conservatives call leftists commies; the left call conservatives greedy bastards. Just about everyone calls libertarians anarchists or potheads, of which I am neither. The intent behind these insults is to demean those different from you, which is no different from all the racial, homophobic, or sexist epithets people used in the past.
If you feel the need to insult someone who is different from you or has a different opinion than you, you are the problem in my opinion, and it’s time to grow up. America’s freedom and free markets guarantee that no matter what you like in this world, as long as it doesn’t threaten someone’s rights, you have a right to consume it or sell it. The left would be furious if people like me tried to get MSNBC off the air, yet they’ll sing it from the mountain tops that Fox lies, and should be shut down.
I’ve always said, if you can’t win, don’t bemoan your competition, motivate yourself to be better. If you find yourself on the losing end, the problem isn’t your competition; it’s you. So until the other networks start beating Fox, maybe they need to look in the mirror and see what’s wrong with them that people don’t care for their message as much. But to sling insults and demand the competition be shut down, while it would make Hugo Chavez proud, has never been, nor should ever be the American way.
So you watch yours, I’ll watch mine, and let’s stop insulting people because they differ from you. The beauty of America lies in our differences, not the people who like to attack us for being different. We all know racism and sexism are bad, but it’s time hate in general be seen for the unhealthy emotion that it is.