Those who'd 'shut up' Fox News ignore press freedom


Fang-Face writes "Nat Hentoff, a champion for Cuban independent librarians in the U.S., had a commentary posted on The Washington Times Web site on 13 Sep, and which was reprinted at the First Amendment Center. In it, he defends Fox "News" and criticizes various movements against the channel as being free press violations. An interesting piece of work for any real student of civil liberties."


I think most of the opposition to Fox News is not aimed at silencing Fox, or opposing the free speech rights of anyone at Fox. Rupert Murdoch, (to paraphrase an old saying) owns the press, so he undeniably has freedom of the press. They have the right to hold conservative views and express them.

The issue, rather, is truth in labelling. They call themselves as "fair and balanced", when they're neither. I think most of the criticism of Fox News is aimed at making sure that nobody is fooled by the pronouncement that they are "fair and balanced," and letting the viewers decide.

I doubt that (m)any of the protestors want to infringe on the freedom of the press

Their calling it a "shut-up-athon" is an ironic point that Nat Hentoff apparently did not appreciate. The protestors are merely picking up the shards of Bill O'Reilly's most frequent grenades and lobbing them back into his bunker.

To teaperson's point, the fact is Hentoff is making the arguement that Fox News does over fair and balanced viewpoints and that it is not a moutpiece for the Republican Party. Nat Hentoff is making that arguement. I repete, Nat Hentoff.

To Porch Geese's point, Hentoff also points out that groups like have filed complaints with the FCC against FoxNews in an effort to shut them up.

It was CBS that aired forged documents against expert advice and continues to say that the story is true even though the evidence might not be. It was CBS that called a New Hampsire Senate race the wrong way and never apologized to the Republican that did win. It was CBS that has aired multiple hit pieces on Bush this year and none on Kerry. At this point in time I'm not sure there is a completely fair and balanced resource out there, there probably has never been. In the end its up to you approach the issues in a fair and balanced fashion and make up your own mind.

I don't watch television so I really can't comment on Fox. However, I have been very disappointed in news coverage of the Iraq War and the elections in general.

For whatever reason, reporters are too often taking the easy way out by using "he said-she said-I'm outta here" method of journalism. It seems fair and balanced, but instead the reader is taken for a spin because we have no idea whether anyone is telling the truth. This is just one variation of sloppy journalism.

I say this as a former journalist. I have an overwhelming interest in freedom of the press. Yet, I also have an interest in journalists doing their job and doing it ethically.

As far as bias, a journalist can certainly be biased and still be ethical. The reader-viewer simply must know where the bias lies. Mother Jones is an excellent example. Readers know the magazine is left-of-center, but their work definitely qualifies as hard-nosed journalism.

For those interested in a background look at how the campaign is being covered, check out Campaign Desk from the Columbia Journalism Review. When they give a "tip of the hat" to an article, you can be sure you'll see what a difference "real" journalism can make in one's understanding of the issues.

P.S.-- As a journalist, I've made mistakes as well. Looking back there were a couple of times I should have made another phone call in order to write a better story. They say former smokers are the worst anti-smokers, maybe that goes for former journalists as well :)

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