How Fox News Uses Labels To Distort Reality: NRA Edition

It is going on five days now that the NRA has maintained a media silence with regard to the Newtown massacre. Their Facebook and Twitter accounts went dark on Friday and have remained so ever since.

Today, however, Fox News reported that the organization is planning to make a statement soon. They posted this notice on their web site with the headline “NRA TO END SILENCE: Rights Group To Answer Gun-Control Lobby.”

Fox News NRA

That headline is a perfect demonstration of how Fox News deliberately prejudices their reporting to favor groups they support and disparage those they oppose. Fox identifies the NRA as a “rights group” when in fact they are registered lobbyists for the gun industry. Then they call gun control activists “lobbyists,” even though they represent only citizen efforts to reform gun safety legislation. That’s sort of like calling the Tobacco Council a smokers rights group, and the American Cancer Society anti-cancer lobbyists.

Fox News doesn’t seem to care about what the definition of a lobbyist is. So they attach the term, which has deserved negative connotations, to grassroots gun-control advocates in order to cast them in a negative light. And they refrain from properly identifying the NRA as the lobbyists they are in order to promote them more positively. This is an obvious rhetorical tactic to slant the impression they give to their audience. It further indicts Fox for their pro-NRA bias which became clearer yesterday when it was revealed that their program executives instructed their producers to refrain from any discussions of gun control.

And to top it all off, this bit of ironic ad placement was captured on Fox’s web site:

Fox News Bloody Shirt

Putting a woman in a bloody t-shirt adjacent to an article about a mass killing is surely no one’s idea of smart marketing. Of course, this occurred due to an automated ad placement by a third-party agency. However, this unintended and unfortunate juxtaposition tells a story that is consistent with Fox’s editorial philosophy. Twenty-seven people are dead in Connecticut, but according to Fox, so far as gun control is concerned, everything is fine.