From Jim Gilliam's blog archivesFox News Watch transcript
July 19, 2004 12:51 PM
It's great seeing Fox trying to be fair and balanced on this one. Some great quotes.
Neal Gabler: "To say that this network promotes the Republican view, not the conservative view, but the Republican view is like saying that the pope is Catholic. It's self-evident."
Jane Hall: "They're on somewhat solid ground when they talk about -- if you look at some of the talk shows, the conservative hosts are much better at demonizing the Democrats than the liberal hosts of those shows."
Fox News Watch transcript
BURNS: We have to take our first break. When we come back, we will hear some serious charges against this network.
ANNOUNCER: Charge: FOX News Channel is a - quote - "Republican network." Charge: FOX News Channel's claim to be fair and balance is - quote - "ridiculous." Those charges and more in a new documentary when FOX News Watch continues.
BURNS: "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism" is the name of a new documentary that accuses FOX New Channel of right-wing bias. The producer of "Outfoxed" hopes that it will do to the news channel what Michael Moore hopes "Fahrenheit 9/11 (search )" will do the Bush re-election campaign.
Before we discuss it, let me make two points. First, this documentary is unlikely to have the same impact as Michael Moore's because it - at least as of right now, is not going into theaters and will not be on television. It's available on DVD. And we admit right at the start, this is a tough subject for all of us here to discuss. We all take paychecks from this network.
That being said, Jim, let's do the best we can.
PINKERTON: Well, I mean it's - I mean "Fahrenheit 9/11 (search)" was funny and vivid. This is sort of dull and didactic. Look it, it's really three movies. The first part says that the corporate media, including the News Corporation but also all the rest of them, Viacom (search ), ABC and so on, are depending on who's doing the talking, either worse than the Mafia that ran Cuba in the 50's, or worse than the Soviet Union. Those are the two arguments made in the beginning and the end of the movie. Then, there's some funny stuff of O'Reilly blowing a stack and temper tantrums and so on. That's just amusing. That's like a blooper reel for somebody's Christmas party. And then, the third part is a small - for a company that's been around for seven or eight years now, two or three really very disgruntled employees who are willing to go on the record and trash their employer. Look, I've worked in a lot of different places. I could make a movie out of disgruntled employees anywhere I worked.
BURNS: But there are also clips, Neal, which seem to show or which Robert Greenwald, the producer, says show that - what - this is not a conservative network. It is a Republican network.
GABLER: Yes, I mean I think attacking the movie in some ways is a distraction because it's not all that good a movie.
BURNS: And it's not all that fairly put together. There's a lot taken - a lot taken out of context.
GABLER: But let's look at the larger issue that it does raise, and that is, I mean, look, to say that this network promotes the Republican view, not the conservative view, but the Republican view is like saying that the pope is Catholic. It's self-evident.
GABLER: And this is also a network that the overwhelming plurality of viewers are self-identified Republicans. So it programs to that group. And I think this is pretty much undeniable. My question is, so what? What's the big deal about it? I mean, yes, this is a network that has straight news, some not so straight news, many opinion programs.
BURNS: Which are clearly identified as such.
GABLER: Yes. "FOX and Friends," which might be subtitled "FOX and Bush Friends" - but the major players here are Sean Hannity, who's equated liberals with Al Qaeda, Bill O'Reilly, who's a Republican spinmeister largely, not always, but largely, Brit Hume , who's a Republican spinmeister. It's undeniable that this is a Republican-oriented network, and designed for Republicans who watch it.
THOMAS : Here's an example, I'm in this movie or whatever it is briefly. They took a clip from an editorial I do at the beginning of every show in which I said something critical of Kerry as part of their evidence. But what they ignored is the many Democrats I've had on my show, "After Hours," if I can plug it here - Charlie Rangel, Harold Ford. We're doing a whole show just before the Democratic Convention that features Democrats talking about the '64 convention. I try to be fair on my show. I've been trying to get Ted Kennedy (search) on for some time. He said he's going to come on.
I think that the reason this network looks so - quote - "Republican" or conservative is by contrast on what the others do. If you went and did, as the Media Research Center (search) has done, clips of what is said on the broadcast networks, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, you would find an enormous tilt to the left. So by contrast, it looks conservative.
HALL: I think there are a couple of points that I want to add to this. One is I think it was flawed in that it left out - I mean, it's really almost funny. There's [liberal commentator] Ellen Ratner and a conservative talking, and they leave out any evidence to the contrary. I mean, I'm on this network. A lot of people are on this network who criticize...
BURNS: Neal Gabler.
HALL: Neal Gabler, Jeff Cohen, who was one of the people.
GABLER: At least for the time being!
HALL: ...who was co-founder of "FAIR" [Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting] - was on this show for five years. So I think they left out the reporting. That's what I really fault it. They leave out all the people who report. And they also didn't get [FOX News Chairman and CEO] Roger Ailes or anybody else to comment and respond.
But I do have to say it seems to me that they're on somewhat solid ground when they talk about - if you look at some of the talk shows, the conservative hosts are much better at demonizing the Democrats than the liberal hosts of those shows.
PINKERTON: The most insightful commentary on this whole documentary was by Tina Brown (search ) of "The Washington Post" who said, "Look, the real secret to FOX is energy and passion." And I think that she is auditioning for her own job, because she could do a much better job running CNN or MSNBC than the people they've got now.
BURNS: All right. Let's take a break and try to get our energy level back up.
More from the archive in Outfoxed.
Fox News Watch transcript (07.19.2004)