Fox News’ ratings are skyrocketing, in large part due to rightwing opposition to President Barack Obama. In a review of Fox News’ first “100 days” of covering Obama’s administration conducted by Media Matters, the channel has consistently talked about “the extreme left,” “socialism,” “communism,” “fascism,” and touted Obama’s so-called “failures.”
At the same time, Obama’s popularity has remained high. 69% of those living in the United States approve of the job he is doing and “half of Americans now [say] the country’s headed in the right direction.” Rather than presenting the “Fair and Balanced” view of Obama’s administration–which would acknowledge his popularity–Fox News is taking every opportunity to oppose the administration. They are doing this by giving conservative legislatures a prominent voice, having on conservative commentators as guests, and even participating in promoting a series of rightwing anti-tax “tea party” protests.
Fox News has also selectively edited interviews to portray Democrats and progressives–when they appear–in a negative light.
Media Matters recently conducted a study showing that Fox News has consistently done this going back several years. It’s a convenient way to rile up the rightwing base. Recently the channel has selectively cropped comments by Al Gore to make it seem as though he is personally profiting from his work addressing global warming, to make it seem like President Obama supports a healthcare system like “European countries,” and that President Obama want Supreme Court judges that do not look at United States law.
While providing an interesting look at how the rightwing media is attempting to energize its perceived base, Fox News’ selective editing is also an important reminder that progressives and those on the left need to be careful when we use the media. The media in Grand Rapids is certainly willing to distort and selectively edit interviews, making it essential that we carefully prepare for media appearances. We should never assume that they will cover us–or anyone else–fairly. Their number one goal is profit.