Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fox the counterweight

Well, so much for “fair and balanced.”

Fox News’ Chris Wallace admitted what any objective viewer already knew: Fox News sees its job as providing a conservative alternative to the “liberal” media, most specifically, NBC.

Here’s part of an exchange between Wallace and Jon Stewart last Sunday morning:

Stewart asks Wallace if he truly believes that Fox is "exactly the ideological equivalent of NBC News."

Wallace: "I think we're the counterweight. I think they have a liberal agenda and we tell the other side of the story."

You have to give props to Wallace for speaking the truth, even if he didn’t exactly set out to do so. It appears that Fox intends to provide, from its point of view, one-half of the “fair and balanced” equation -- the conservative half. It is doing so, ostensibly, because other media are firmly ensconced in the liberal half.

There is, of course, some symmetry to this. There is no doubt that MSNBC airs a string of liberal commentary in its daily lineup (though there’s much less evidence that the parent network, NBC, is equally left-leaning). The business model on TV and radio “news” is to serve a political niche, and Fox has found a fairly broad one. It’s working.

But why pretend to provide journalism based on any definition of objectivity? Why cling to the “fair and balanced” slogan?

One of the problems with pretending to be a news organization instead of a “counterweight” is that a lot of people apparently buy into the idea that Fox is all they need to watch to get the news. People have every right to get their information from whatever sources they choose, but someone wishing to be well-informed will understand that no single source will do that on its own.

CNN has used “The Most Trusted Name in News,” for awhile now, and it clearly irritates Fox. (Fox has run print ads claiming IT is more trusted than CNN.) Given the self-selection of audience members, trust is probably over-rated.

So, I have a few suggestions for a new, more appropriate slogan for Fox News: “Counterweight to Lying Liberals.”

OK, that’s probably too heavy-handed and too long.

They could just go with “The Counterweight,” but that’s a little vague and some might confuse it with that great song by The Band from the Sixties. That is certainly not the image Fox wants to portray.

MSNBC is experimenting with a slogan that at least hints at its leftward tilt: “Lean Forward.” It’s too cute, but at least they’re trying. No, Fox should not go with “Lean Backward” as the counterweight slogan.

How about this: “We’re Right!” It’s cute, but not too cute; a pun with a message.

No comments:

Post a Comment