Ah, Fox News, how I love thee. OK, Fox News is biased. While this is not such a great thing, I would argue that it’s not the worse thing about Fox News. In fact if they would just own their bias instead of claiming to be “Fair and Balanced”, having a biased news network could provide a valuable service. Such a network could serve as a watchdog to one of the political parties, while also covering news stories of interest to those of a political viewpoint that many Americans hold. But there’s another problem besides the claim of unbiased news coverage. The key to being a valuable source of news, unbiased or not, is the ability (and desire) to get the facts right.
Take this clip from an episode of Fox and Friends this week:
Of course, the hosts couldn’t pass the opportunity to be all “The government is so stoopid!” for buying a bunch a jetpacks. Of course, to be fair, 10,000 jet packs for emergency crews does seem like a whole heck of a lot, especially at $100,000 a pop (that’s $1,000,000,000 folks!). That’s not to mention the safety and effectiveness concerns. So maybe for once, I’m with Fox News on this. But doesn’t that story seem really a little too fantastic? Absurd even? Why on earth would Los Angeles want or need 10,000 jetpacks? Ah, it is because the story is totally bogus. If you watched the video until the end, you know that even Fox figured that out. I guess that when somebody heard the story out loud, it didn’t even sound right to them and decided maybe they should actually check it out.
So where on earth did Fox News come up with such a ridiculous story? The source was: Weekly World News
Yes, THAT Weekly World News. The one you used to see with the other tabloids in the supermarket checkout lines. So somebody at Fox News doesn’t realize that Weekly World News is not only not a credible news source, they also don’t even pretend to be. Not only that, Fox News doesn’t even bother to double-check their source to confirm the story before the run with it. You know, maybe just put in a call to the city of Los Angeles just to make sure. No, just find stuff on the web and go with it. Is that journalism? This is just a story, not something they are trying to spin. So we have every reason to believe they were TRYING to get this right (which is certainly not always a given with Fox News), and failed miserably.
This is not the first time Fox News has reported a completely fabricated story as being factual. This is not ever the first time they have reported a completely fabricated story as being factual that didn’t really even have a political spin. They are a pretty sloppy news organization even when you strip out the bias. This is probably because Fox News is a personality-driven network. This means that instead of spending money on newsgathering resources, Fox News spends most of its money on hosts like Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity and on other personalities like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. CNN spends roughly 57% of its budget on newsgathering, while Fox News only spends roughly 28% of its budget for the same purpose. But I guess getting the news is overrated for a supposed news organization. Analysis from such political wizards as Sarah Palin is much more important!
I really can’t wait until Fox News runs its investigative report on Bat Boy sightings all across the nation, and the possible connection these sightings have with Obamacare! When all you budget for journalism is just enough for an intern to do Google searches for you, there’s all sorts of cool sensational stories you can run!
Of course, Fox News could have chosen to do what Keith Olbermann did. If a story sounds like it might be a myth, call the Mythbusters!