fox news

Film Guide (with free films) – Part 1 – Media Documentaries

A few years ago I used to run a biweekly free film showing in the University for anyone who wanted to come along. The films were a mix of documentaries, fiction and  based on true story stuff. I would try to get a guest along to speak too.

Sometimes there would be as much as 60 people but usually there were about 30 and we would get a bit of a discussion going.

The embarrassing thing is that the time I got someone rather famous to come along, only about 3 people turned up and I had to spend the rest of the day apologising.

I thought I would make the list of films available here with links to where you can see them free where possible.

I’ll divide them into rough groups and post them on Mondays.

The first group is media documentaries.

Outfoxed – Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism was often the first film I would show in the series as it provides a bit of an eyeopener and a useful introduction to the subject. You can WATCH IT FREE ONLINE HERE. Although some of the people involved have changed, a lot of them haven’t and the basic idea is every bit as relevant now as it was a few years ago.

Weapons of Mass Deception – This film by Danny Schechter is about the media collusion in the run-up to the Iraq war. We can see much the same thing happening with the sabre-rattling about Iran. You can WATCH IT FREE ONLINE HERE. I met Danny Schechter at one of the G8 Alternatives discussion session too and he is a very likeable guy.

Orwell Rolls In His Grave – Another documentary with excellent contributors and well worth the watch. You can WATCH IT FREE ONLINE HERE and my review of it is here.

So there you have it. There will be more of these next Monday when I will do some of the actual films instead of documentaries.



Hurricane Bawbag (International Reaction)

Guest post today from the talented (so talented that, as he says, you should buy his f*+king books) Philip Challinor, otherwise known as The Curmudgeon.

This came about from an exchange we had about the mirth involved in trying to explain the name Hurricane Bawbag to non-Scots.

Anyway, here goes…


(Pompous fanfare. A logo: FOX NEWS. Beneath, the slogan: The News, Focked. Logo and slogan read out slowly by the off-screen baritone from Police Squad! for the benefit of the Dan Brown literati. Cut to ANCHOR with plenty of teeth)

ANCHOR: And in the rest of the world, the northern English country of Scotland is being battered by hundred-mile winds. Hurricane Blowback, as the English people who live there are calling it, is reported to have closed schools and emptied shelves at local malls. Our rest-of-the-world reporter on the scene Chrystal Hubcap is on the scene in the Scotch capital of Eden-burg. Chrystal, can you hear me?

(Cut to HUBCAP half a dozen yards from the epicentre and getting blown closer by the minute)

HUBCAP: Yes, Orianette, I hear you.

ANCHOR: What’s the weather like where you are?

HUBCAP: Well, Orianette, as you can probably see, it’s pretty windy here. Fortunately the buildings aren’t very tall and many of the cars have been clamped in place or had their wheels stolen, so it’s fairly safe.

ANCHOR: Chrystal, how are the people reacting to this incredibly Michael Bay situation?

HUBCAP: Orianette, I have some quotes here. One Scotch person was quoted as saying, quote, There’s still wee men in bonnets sparking up outside pubs, unquote.

ANCHOR: And what does that mean?

HUBCAP: Our researchers are still working on some of the nuances, but it appears to mean that instances of spontaneous combustion have taken place involving vertically challenged persons. These instances appear to have occurred while they were urinating outside the local version of tapas bars. Someone else has suggested that (wind howls and causes extensive interference and considerable teeth in the studio) serious situation.

ANCHOR: Chrystal, could you repeat that please?

HUBCAP: Oriannette, I said it’s a very serious situation and at least one Scotch person has suggested deforestation might help cut down the noise. We’re still trying to get through to the local government for a reaction to that. Others have claimed that iron boobs and potted noodles will see them through, and at least one person blames it all on a sex scandal.

ANCHOR: Sex scandal?

HUBCAP: Well, Orianette, you might want to cover the children’s ears at home when I say this, but someone said something about somebody blowing a Gail. Also (wind sweeps her   off into the stratosphere and away for ever)

ANCHOR: That was Chrystal Hubcap, our rest-of-the-world reporter reporting from Eden-burg, Scotland, in the rest of the world. And now, speaking of Michael Bay — his new reimagining of Hamlet will be hitting a multiplex near you in one of 2012’s Murdoch-sponsored months…


out“John Kerry has Kim Jong Il on his side”

“North Korea loves John Kerry”

“Only 217 days till George Bush is re-elected”

“A warning to Barbara Streisand and others who see the world as [she does], anyone who hurts this country at a time like this will be spotlighted”

What is all this? Quotes from a meeting of the US intelligence community? No. Is it a closed-doors meeting of the of the Bush cabinet? No.

These are quotes from the most watched news channel in the US – FOX ‘News’. These comments and many more like them are passed off as legitimate broadcasting under the strap lines ‘Fair and Balanced’ and ‘We Report, You Decide’.

I have watched this film several times now and still find it difficult to work out just what is so upsetting about it. Did I know what political content on or in media Rupert Murdoch owns was like? Absolutely. Did I know what Fox ‘News’ itself was like? Yes, I had seen some of it. Did I know how television is used as a propaganda tool? Definitely.

Perhaps the most worthwhile thing about this film is that it deals a blow to the theory that people choose their media (and news) on account of existing opinions rather than the media shaping those opinions. This is where the ‘Fox effect’ becomes significant. This refers to the influence Fox has had on the kinds of pro-Bush, pro-war views and voices being heard across American broadcasting. Fox’s media competitors, who previously aimed at least some form of balance (in the sense of Democrat V Republican), are now stipulating that if there is one anti-war guest featured on a show then there must be two pro-war; one liberal or left-wing view must be matched by two right-wing pundits and so on. This is not new, it is however becoming more pronounced.

As is pointed out in the film “since the corporate structures [do] not allow anyone to counter-program against Fox then in television the inclination is imitation’ (Jeff Cohen). If all stations are imitating each other there is little diversity of opinion or choice left for the viewer.

Director Robert Greenwald says the film was made with the intention of “effecting activism”. It highlights research from several groups including FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting), Media Matters for America and others. The research shows that viewers of Fox ‘News’ were more likely to support the policies of the Bush Whitehouse, and that 67% of Fox viewers believed that a direct link had been found between Saddam and Al-Qaeda (only 16% of PBS-NBC viewers belived this).

Bob McChesney, founder of Free Press/ and author of “The Problem Of the Media” comments “if [journalists] are told – ‘the more people consume your media the less they will know about the subject, and the more they’ll support government policy’ – that’s exactly the worst thing any self-respecting journalist would [or should] want to hear”. There is obviously a real lack of self-respect at Fox ‘News’.

Some of the footage is almost laughable – like the editorial decision of Fox to present the Iraq war not only as a success but as an ongoing success. You have to see this section to believe it – focusing on the ‘Baghdad Equestrian Club’ for example.

Some of it is extremely sinister, such as edicts from top executives to reporters insisting “the so-called 9/11 commission has already been meeting…this is not “what did he know and when did he know it stuff”. Don’t turn this into Watergate”. 23/3/2004.

Unsurprisingly, the Fox CEO is well connected politically. Roger Ailes was formerly a media strategist for Nixon, Reagan and Bush Snr.

Other ‘stories’ shed more light on the political and cultural reach of Fox News: items like “Why is Jesus so popular right now?”, or ‘Jesus F.A.Q.’ and a revealing section on the Republican party and its adjuncts co-ordinating a ‘Message of the Day’, which is then relayed through right-wing radio stations and networks all combine to make this an interesting and provocative documentary.

‘Outfoxed’ features media analysts, former Fox ‘News’ contributors and activists and is available to buy for about £8 including postage at Buy it and show it to as many people as possible.

Also see newshounds a website set up by researchers who worked on the film and felt the need to keep the project going.