The Truth About Fox News And Pravda

Ordinarily the viewpoint of a biased, journalistic extension of state propaganda would hardly seem noteworthy. The tendency of such an enterprise to weight its coverage with rosy scenarios penned by government scribes would render the reporting suspect at best. But enough about Fox News…

In an article analyzing the ratings competition between American cable news networks, it is Pravda that provides the clear-eyed view of American media. Reporting that CNN beat Fox News for the first time in seven years, Pravda opined that “TV viewers preferred the ‘objective’ CNN to Fox News that justifies George Bush’s policy. The article went on to quote the views of Joe Cuthbert, whom they identify as a Columbia University journalism professor:

“Fox News, a part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, engaged in one-sided advocacy of the stance of the current US administration, instead of providing all-round objective reports of election campaigns. Economists proved that George Bush would have never won the 2000 election but for the support from Fox News. The TV channel definitely backs up right-wing Republicans, Cuthbert considers. ‘Fox is rather the advocate of Bush’s government than a news TV channel. Now the political ship is sinking, and so is Fox.'”

This astute analysis from Pravda (which means “truth”), while accurate, needs to be taken with a bucket of salt. The article’s headline reads, “Most Americans do not even think about getting information from alternative news sources.” Few could argue with that, but there is nothing in the article that addresses that point other than the headline. And it’s obvious that the Russian version of Fox News is just as likely to propound views favorable to their political benefactors as Fox would be. In that respect they are comrades.

However, it was interesting to note their reference to economists and the 2000 election. They appear to be referring to a study (pdf), prepared by UC Berkeley and Stockholm University, that showed that Fox News may have had a discernible impact on the election that is rarely reported in the U.S.:

“We find a significant effect of the introduction of Fox News on the vote share in Presidential elections between 1996 and 2000. Republicans gained 0.4 to 0.7 percentage points in the towns which broadcast Fox News.”

In an election as close as the one in 2000, those numbers could easily have altered the outcome.

While Pravda may have hit the mark as regards Fox News and Rupert Murdoch, I would not rush to associate myself with their conclusions. They are still an arm of the political hierarchy that is more interested in manipulating the public than in informing them. Which is exactly why pseudo-journalistic organizations that are really just fronts for government propaganda are so dangerous to free societies. But as I said above, enough about Fox News…


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