FOX News Under Fire for Factual Accuracies
Conservative commentators, even some typically loyal to the network, have lashed out at the news team for resorting to a complete picture instead of using half-truths in an effort to paint Democrats as immoral.
“Its a disgrace,” said Ann Coulter. “This is not what we’ve come to expect from FOX, and they’d better get their act together if they want to hold onto their conservative credentials.”
Glenn Beck, a former FOX host, concurred. “Facts are things you get from networks beneath contempt, such as CNN,” he said. “The cause of right-wing conservatism is badly served when the flagship network of the movement resorts to techniques and content unbecoming of its viewership and reputation.” He said the network could reestablish itself as independent of factual accuracy if it made a concerted effort, but only time would tell if it could sustain that effort.
In this case, a FOX reporter mentioned reputable medical statistics on gunshot injuries and deaths, statistics that unmistakably frame gun control as a public health issue worthy of consideration. After angry reactions from the National Rifle Association and from Merle and Lydia Guntherspoon of Texarkana, Arkansas, the network retracted the report.
Other news media organizations have also been accused of factual accuracy, and responded in various ways. Al Jazeera, for example, has found itself trying, often unsuccessfully, to negotiate the boundary between journalistic plausibility and anti-Israel bias.
Some outlets have developed strict policies to forestall such criticism. The British Broadcasting Corporation, though recently mired in an ethics scandal, has only rarely let facts get in the way of its reporting, most notably in the Middle East, thanks to a rigid policy of always portraying one side in a conflict as wrong, facts notwithstanding. It remains unclear whether FOX will tighten its guidelines – or at least the enforcement of existing ones, if any – or will simply let the incident slide and assume the prevailing corporate culture will prevent a recurrence.
“I can see them going either way, really,” said media analyst Leis Daly. “FOX wants to maintain its reputation, so they might work hard to keep the facts from intruding on their work. On the other hand, the demographic that gave rise to FOX’s success, and from which it draws its ethics, embodies a conservatism so powerful that actually doing anything to effect change runs counter to everything it holds dear.”
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