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by Leonard Pitts Jr.
A few words on what
The question has, of course, been debated forever. Fox says it is, as the name would suggest, a news network. Its critics say it is actually the propaganda arm of the
As it happens, one of the biggest news stories of the past few weeks has been the phone-hacking scandal that now ensnares media baron Rupert Murdoch. For those who somehow missed it, it involves revelations that reporters at Murdoch's News of the World British tabloid routinely paid police sources for information and hacked into people's cellphones, including that of a murdered 13-year-old girl.
That's led to the shutdown of the 168-year-old newspaper, a spate of resignations and arrests, hearings in Parliament, rumored hearings in
Now, let us be fair and balanced here.
Fox is owned by Murdoch, and the last thing any news organization wants is to be in the awkward position of reporting on itself. To have to air that which might embarrass or damage colleagues or bosses is the definition of a no-win situation, especially since there will always be doubts, from within and without, about your ability to do so fairly. But when professionalism demands, this is what you do.
When Jayson Blair hoodwinked and humiliated the
Fox's failure to report -- and allow viewers to decide -- speaks volumes and offers a definitive answer to the question of what Fox is.
It is the nation's leading manufacturer of false outrage and fake fury -- War on Christmas! War on Christmas! -- the top supplier of bogeymen for those who need to feel terrorized in order to feel alive.
It is America's No. 1 distributor of misinformation -- Hide Nana! The death panels are coming! -- a warehouse of conspiracy theories, junk history and dubious "facts" given credit by virtually no one who does not watch Fox.
It is a noisemaker, a box of cacophony from which reason will seldom emerge unscathed. And it is a bovine excreta machine.
But a news organization? No. That is a designation you have to earn.
Step 1: Report the news.
What Fox News Is Not | Politics
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