||Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism
2004 - NR - 78 Mins.
|Director: Robert Greenwald|
|Producer: Robert Greenwald|
|Starring: Douglas Cheek, Jeff Cohen, Walter Cronkite, Peter Hart, Bob McChesney, Chellie Pingree, Bill O |
|Review by: James O'Ehley
|Official Site: www.outfoxed.org/|
After taking out a full page advert in the New York Times proclaiming that “the communists had Pravda, the Republicans have Fox”, this cheaply produced documentary exposing the right-wing bias of Aussie émigré Rupert Murdoch’s 24-hour Fox News channel shot to number one in DVD sales at online retailer, Amazon.com. In the process it outsold Mel Gibson’s much over-hyped THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST!
Resistance is futile . . . Resistance is futile . . . Resistance is futile . . .
This is quite a feat considering that OUTFOXED is (a) a documentary, (b) a documentary without Michael Moore and (c) it never had a cinema release and went straight to DVD instead. (It did however, following its straight-to-DVD success, have a limited run in U.S. cinemas afterwards.) By the way, at the time of writing, OUTFOXED is still selling quite well at Amazon.com.
Now, we don’t have Fox News here in South Africa, but our regular channels hosted a direct live continuous Fox news feed briefly in the aftermath of 9/11 and during the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Normally we would have gotten CNN, but this time we got Fox. Within ten minutes of watching it I realised that if you thought CNN was American jingoism in action - then you ain’t seen nothing yet! Fox News would have made Goebbels blush, so blatant were its propaganda aims. This channel was the cheerleader to America’s global Manifest Destiny and it would rah-rah the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, as long as one of those horsemen were George W. Bush . . .
The news and images we got through our regular South African TV channels and newspapers differed so radically from what Fox News was blathering on about that Fox News seemed piped in from another dimension. Fox News never showed any of the images from the Iraqi theatre of war that made the rest of the world vehemently oppose the U.S. invasion. Suddenly it made sense why most average Americans were in favour of invading a country that had neither weapons of mass destruction nor any links to the al-Qaida terrorists that destroyed the World Trade Centre – they were probably relying on Fox on their info!
So is this documentary then a case of stating the obvious for anyone with a brain larger than a walnut? (Besides, as one commentator remarked, Fox’s marketing slogan of ‘fair and balanced’ were probably concocted just to irritate and spite Lefties.) Perhaps. Fox News is an easy target. What about the corporate ownership of the other major U.S. media outlets? NBC for instance is owned by General Electric, a major defence contractor – you can just imagine them being objective about any foreign involvement by the U.S. military, now can’t you? Still, I can imagine some people believing Fox News being “fair and balanced” and this documentary is for them. And it does make one think more critically about the media as such, something people aren’t likely to do.
Also, some interesting info nuggets are to be found in OUTFOXED.
According to this fast-moving documentary consisting mostly of talking heads and clips from the news channel, the true picture (no pun intended) is much worse than it seemed. Some of the internal Fox news desk memos leaked in this documentary are pure Orwell. One such memo instructs reporters to refer to American soldiers in one news story as “sharpshooters” instead of “snipers”, which has a negative connotation. Another requests that the term “suicide bombers” be changed to “homicidal bombers” instead, which is patently absurd: all bombers are homicidal after all! And so on.
Webster’s dictionary defines the Yiddish word “chutzpah” as “unmitigated effrontery or impudence”. I always thought what best illustrated the word was the story about the son who killed his parents and then asked for the court’s mercy because he was an orphan! After watching OUTFOXED I now however believe that chutzpah is best defined by Fox’s claim that it is “fair and balanced” . . .