Posts Tagged ‘Hypocrisy’

“Some people say”

Posted in Outfoxed on July 12th, 2009 by JT – Be the first to comment

Outfoxed contains a scene claiming to expose a “Fox News technique” of using the phrase “some people say” as a way to “insert unsourced opinion into news briefs.”  To prove this allegation, a montage follows showing with Fox anchors and commentators (though no distinction is made between the two by Outfoxed) using the phrase.


Peter Hart of the left wing media watchdog FAIR, says on screen that “Journalistically it’s a very peculiar technique because the idea behind journalism is that you’re sourcing who you’re referring to. This is just sort of a clever way of inserting political opinion when you know it probably shouldn’t be there.”

The montage however is guilty of using exactly the technique it is expressing outrage over as its lack of context for any of the clips allows Greenwald to “insert unsourced opinion” into a supposedly factual presentation.

Outfoxed provides none of the context for almost all of the examples, and only limited context for others, and provides no evidence or argument beyond the flat statement that this technique is used by


Despite portraying this “Fox News technique” as being a uniquely Fox tactic, the film offers no evidence that Fox News uses “some people say” more than any other news outlet.

Brent Bozell notes that this complaint “might have merit – if [Director] Greenwald would also consider that this device is used by every other single news network as a way of questioning politicians”.

In fact, a simple Google search reveals the use of the phrase across network lines:

NBC – Katie Couric: you know some people say Hollywood folks should stick to acting.”

PBS – Elizabeth Farnsworth: Some people say this is the greatest American play.

PBS – Jim Lehrer: Well, some people say that it doesn’t look like to the innocent observer…

CNN – Elizabeth Cohen: And some people say, look, when you look at the statistics…

CNN – Nic Robertson: Some people saying yes, they’re dead, ashamed that the coalition forces killed them

MSNBC – Joe Scarborough: Well, Dee Dee, some people say that Richard Clarke doesn‘t have a political agenda.

NBC – Matt Lauer: Some people say that’s what you’ve done.

A search of ABC News alone turned up 202 results for “some people say” and an additional 1,756 results for the shorter “some say”.

  • Credit Card Pain: Some Say Goodbye to Fixed Rates
  • Before Approving a Second Stimulus Plan, Some Say Spend the First $787 Billion Properly
  • First Hispanic Justice? Some Say It Was Cardozo
  • Foreclosure Report: Some say the recession is over, but number of homes in foreclosure grows.
  • Money Matters (05.13.09) - Some say the recession is over, but number of homes in foreclosure grows.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s war of words with the CIA may not be fully over as the speaker’s allies seize on comments made by CIA Director Leon Panetta that some say could vindicate her charge
  • Holocaust Shooting Signals Race Turmoil, Some Say
  • Some Say It’s OK for Girls to Go Wild
  • Some Say GM, Chrysler Should Stop Lobbying
  • GMA Gets Answers: Private Medicaid HMOs – Some say they struggle to get care with Medicaid HMOs.
  • Some say it’s unhealthy for girls to indulge in princess fantasies.

Blurring the line of journalism

Posted in Outfoxed on February 13th, 2009 by JT – Be the first to comment


In the section of Outfoxed labeled Fox News Techniques: News commentary and Ad Libs, the film alleges to expose techniques of the news network that deceive the viewer – however the film begins this expose by deceiving the viewer.

James Wolcott, identified on screen as a former staff writer for the New Yorker/Cultural Critic for Vanity Fair creates the following strawman fallacy which is then endorsed by Outfoxed editing to lie about Bill O’Reilly’s role at Fox News:

WOLCOTT: No, they deliberately blur it and, I find it very hard to believe, you know – there’s no separation between Bill O’Reilly the Interviewer and Bill O’Reilly with his Talking Points. I mean, there’s just no separation at all.

FOX NEWS FOOTAGE OF BILL O’REILLY: Jimmy Carter is making yet another mistake and this time, there’s no excuse for it. And that’s the memo. Now for the top story tonight. Another view on this.

The criticism relies on the ignorance of the viewer on how Bill O’Reilly is used at the Fox News Channel. Wolcott falsely implies that O’Reilly has any role beyond that of analyst at Fox. The footage shown immediately following Wolcott’s dubious claim show’s the end of the Talking Points Memo segment where, in Fair & Balanced fashion, O’Reilly introduces a guest who disagrees with him. As the O’Reilly Factor is an opinion and news analysis program, there is never a switch to news delivery. If breaking news develops during the O’Reilly time slot, the show is pre-empted by a news anchor to deliver the news.


Jeff Cohen then appears to add more condemnation on the journalism, or lack thereof, at Fox News. He is identified only as a “former MSNBC/Fox News Contributor”, leaving the viewer to fill in the vague description. In reality, Cohen was a hired by Fox News as a liberal commentator, appearing on air to give left wing analysis mainly on the weekend show Fox News Watch which turns a critical eye on news coverage appearing on other networks and Fox News itself.

It’s very hard on Fox News to separate news from commentary because it all blends together. That’s what makes it so ridiculous, that slogan [GRAPHIC: FOX LOGO YOU DECIDE 2004]“We report you decide”, because there’s no TV news channel in history that’s ever reported less.

Cohen offers no insight, details, data or example to back up his claim about the amount of reporting taking place on Fox News.


David Brock follows Cohen’s statement to offer attacks on Fox’s daily Washington based newscast Special Report with Brit Hume. As with Cohen, no mention is made of Brocks career as a liberal media activist. He is identified only as “President/CEO of Media Matters for America”, with disclosure of the hyper partisan nature of the organization left absent.

DAVID BROCK: For example, a Brit Hume newscast, um, which is presented as a newscast, um, I think you see a lot of attitude and opinion, both from the anchor and the reports.

BRIT HUME: Welcome to Washington. I’m Brit Hume. There was further evidence today that President Bush’s days of absorbing John Kerry’s attacks without counter-attack are over.

This laughable example of alleged “attitude and opinion” is the only evidence given by Outfoxed to support Brocks smear of Special Report and its anchor Brit Hume. No further footage, citation or example even from Brocks memory is given to support his statement. The argument is exists entirely of an Argument From Authority fallacy in the form of: “a liberal activist ‘thinks you see a lot of attitude and opinion, both from the anchors and the reports’ so it must be true”.

CLAIM [by yet another unidentified-liberal media activist]: BRIT HUME IS NOT UNBIASED LIKE… PETER JENNINGS IS

Peter Hart, an anti-Fox News author and activist for the liberal media watch dog group FAIR is next to pile on Hume. As with Brock and Cohen, only his position as an analyst for FAIR is noted on screen with no disclosure of the organizations partisan nature or Harts anti-Fox News and liberal background.

PETER HART: Fox blurs the line between using commentary all over the place [dissolve to] We are to believe that Brit Hume is the anchor of a news outlet, he doesn’t bring strong politics to it, he just happens to anchor the news cast like Peter Jennings. On Sundays, Brit Hume turns into a rather caustic right-wing pundit.

Actually, Jennings not only disagreed with Hart’s false assessment of him, but expressed “concern” at it that same year telling a Missouri affiliate:.

I’m a little concerned about this notion everybody wants us to be objective,” Jennings said.

Jennings said that everyone — even journalists — have points of view through which they filter their perception of the news. It could be race, sex or income. But, he said, reporters are ideally trained to be as objective as possible.

And when we don’t think we can be fully objective, to be fair,” the anchorman said.

Outfoxed doesn’t explain why on Sunday’s, Hume allegedly turns into a right-wing Werewolf. The reference is apparently one to Humes role as an analyst on the Fox News Sunday program hosted by Chris Wallace. Hart fails to provide any basis for his allegation that Hume’s analysis are routinely “caustic” and “right-wing”.

Moody’s Memo’s fail to expose bias

Posted in Outfoxed on February 12th, 2009 by JT – Be the first to comment

Outfoxed displays under sinister music and ominous voice-over, several leaked internal staff memo’s from Fox News VP John Moody directing the coverage of the days news and how the network will approach the issues of the day. Greenwald portrays the act of direction as evidence of bias itself, depriving the viewer of the fact that every television news outlet has these internal memo’s.


The content of these messages are portrayed as outrageous orchestrations of bias despite none of them showing evidence of the kind of slavish right-wing bias and distortion that is the movies thesis.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Moody rejects “the implication that I’m controlling the news coverage,” saying of his 1,200 employees: “People are free to call me or message me and say, ‘I think you’re off base.’ Sometimes I take the advice, sometimes I don’t.”

Michael Dubert, a former Fox News intern disputed the broad claims against Moody’s memo’s, painting them as sinisterly strict direction of how to cover the news, writing in the Daily Pennsylvanian in an article titled Outfoxed not an accurate portrayal :

I read those editorial memos every day for three months, during which time some big stories broke — the death of former President Ronald Reagan, American hostage Paul Johnson Jr.’s beheading, Saddam Hussein on trial, the Democratic National Convention and a fiery political race. And all FOX News shows prepared their rundowns as they saw fit. Editorials were blueprints, not marching orders.


After the release of Outfoxed, Fox’s competitors started touting the memos in the film as credible evidence of the cable network’s bias. However, Fox News publicly challenged these (or any) media organizations to make public their own employee memos, whereupon “FOX News Channel will publish 100 percent of our editorial directions and memos, and let the public decide who is fair.”

None of the networks accepted Fox News’ challenge to reveal their own internal memos to the public.


Larry Johnson, a former part-time Fox commentator who appears in the film, labels the staff memos “talking points instructing us what the themes are supposed to be, and God help you if you stray.” However, Johnson fails to back up this assertion and Outfoxed provides no instances of any employee (even those shrouded in darkness whose voices are changed to protect their identity while giving their testimony’s) ever receiving any negative consequences from voicing any disagreement to Moody about the tone of Fox’s news coverage. In fact, Outfoxed provides no evidence that any of the Fox employee’s made any such comment to Moody in opposition to his memo’s.


The presentation of the memos in Outfoxed does not disclose how many the movie’s producers had obtained so the viewer can discern how representative the ones spotlighted in the film are of daily operation at Fox News.

USA Today revealed that Outfoxed had cherrypicked the memo’s to present a fictionally slanted view that makes no mention of the existence of memo’s obtained but not used by Outfoxed that give sympathetic direction to Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry:

However, Outfoxed does not mention other memos its researchers obtained from Fox News staffers.

Those memos, shown to USA TODAY, remind correspondents to give equal emphasis to speeches by President Bush and his opponent, Sen. John Kerry.

Another memo says, “Let’s not overdo the appearances by Kerry swift boat mate John O’Neill,” a man who raised questions about the senator’s wartime record. “He represents one side of the 30-year recollections of what Kerry did, or didn’t do, in uniform. Other people have different recollections,” the memo says.

Thus the entire segment on the Moody memo’s is an exercise in rank hypocrisy as it attacks a news source for allegedly creating slanted coverage to conform to a partisan agenda, while operating under exactly that model to make the allegation.

Response: the Outfoxed creators released all 33 of the memos that were leaked to them. The consortium shows that director Robert Greenwald did indeed select unrepresentative memos to fit the agenda of his film.

Some highlights below, with assessment in bold by the now defunct CableNewser website:

Some of the statements in the memos are questionable:

6/3/03: “The national forest as pot field story is pure Fox.”

4/4/04: Fallujah: “We will cover this hour by hour today, explaining repeatedly why it is happening. It won’t be long before some people start to decry the use of ‘excessive force.’ We won’t be among that group.”

04/28/04: “Let’s refer to the US marines we see in the foreground as “sharpshooters” not snipers, which carries a negative connotation.”

But the memos also show a news organization committed to ferreting out facts, answering questions for viewers and getting the story straight.

3/18/03: “Resist the urge to make any assumption about the potential Al Zawahiri story. Pakistani reports are often confused, especially when they come to us secondhand. Report only what we know and attribute it.”
04/08/04: “A battle is more than a macabre statistics report.”

04/21/04: “If Michael Jackson is indicted on sex charges, it’s a big story for us, but PLEASE don’t turn it into a nonstop circus.”

04/28/04: “Do not ignore the Oil for Food story, please. Fox News is making steady progress in investigating what could be, without exaggeration, the biggest ripoff of all time.”

And the memos also offer insight into FOX’s operating procedures:

05/03/04: “We are all so used to using the AP wires that their (temporary) absence today provides not just a challenge, but an opportunity. Check websites (including AP) and pay special attention to the urgent queue until AP service is restored. But use the outage to check just how much we rely on one service, and figure out alternatives.”

03/26/04: “We have competing speeches from the candidates for president…We’ll take whichever one starts first, time how long we stay with it, then give the same time to the other.”

03/24/04: “For everyone’s information, the hotel where our Baghdad bureau is housed was hit by some kind of explosive device overnight. ALL FOX PERSONNEL ARE OK…Please offer a prayer of thanks for their safety to whatever God you revere (and let the ACLU stick it where the sun don’t shine).”