Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fair, balanced, and quiet on guns

We try to steer clear of media critiques here at O-pinion; our readers are more than capable of sorting out which news outlets serve them best. But New York Magazine had a fascinating item Monday on an interesting divide between News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch, who has taken to Twitter to call for stricter gun control, and his television network, which apparently was trying its very best not to talk about it.

Says writer Gabriel Sherman:

According to sources, David Clark, the executive producer in charge of Fox’s weekend coverage, gave producers instructions not to talk about gun-control policy on air. "This network is not going there,” Clark wrote one producer on Saturday night, according to a source with knowledge of the exchange. The directive created a rift inside the network.  
A few folks didn't get the memo to shush, including FOX News Sunday host Chris Wallace, who talked about the issue on his program with guests. Murdoch, too, felt compelled to say something. “Terrible news today. When will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons?" he tweeted over the weekend. But at the network, Clark's weekend dictate seemed to have ruled.

The divide shows the raw, powerful impact Newtown initially is having on the gun control debate. It's possible, as Sherman diplomatically speculates, that FOX was trying to keep its coverage focused on the human tragedy until after the victims were buried. (A courtesy the network didn't apply to the September deaths of four U.S. officials in Libya.) It's also possible that FOX honchos, like so many quiet gun advocates right now, preferred not to entertain a debate on guns with passions so hot against them right now. (The NRA has gone "on lockdown," Politico reports.)

But a news organization is obligated to report on the big news of the day, not what its heart thinks the news should be. Each day, media outlets try to sift through all that's happening and make those choices - and each of us sometimes gets it wrong. But willfully denying your viewers coverage of the debate everyone was having? Even the boss knew better.

Update: According to Politico's Dylan Byers, Murdoch's other outlet on the gun issue might be the New York Post, where the editorial board opines today that weapon technology has rendered the Second Amendment "obsolete." 

Peter St. Onge   


Wiley Coyote said...

Good grief...

I guess Pete doesn't watch any cable news..

It took MSNBC - the Microsoft Socialist National Broadcasting Company - all of two seconds to start calling a majority of the country "gun loving zealots" instead of focusing on the victims.

It doesn't mean a damn thing whether Fox has a rift between owner and subordinates about gun control.

But a news organization is obligated to report on the big news of the day, not what its heart thinks the news should be.

So why did you even run this story Pete? If a news organization decides the story of the day is the victims and another decides it's zealous gun owners, why would you only call out Fox?

God what a hypocrite.

Good luck on the pay to read program you're implementing because it's drivel like this that will surely keep people from paying $99 a year to read it.

What's McClatchy trading at today, $3.01?

Overhead Bin Space Lover said...

The only problem with this piece is that Fox is presented as a "news" organization. Fox often discusses items that are in the news, but they do so with a slant to attract a specific audience. They energize their base with the style and topics they cover and they avoid subjects that would make their base less likely to watch. The FOX presentation creates a set of blinders that gives their viewers a prolonged warped perception of the world. Their viewers prefer to live in this narrow corridor without fully understanding the world.

Wiley Coyote said...

Overhead, no different than any other news out there..MSNBC, CNN..etc...no difference.

Tvan said...

I watched Fox on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and last night...same for CNN and MSNBC. I can say that they DID have people on there discussing gun control. However, it wasn't a constant drum beat like it was on MSNBC. In fact, during their live coverage Friday, their hosts were focusing more on the victims, their families and the like rather than gun control.

As a parent, I appreciated the fact that Fox was commenting more on the victims and giving background on these children than what I saw on the other cable networks. I know Fox gets a bad wrap by some, but I thought their coverage the past few days has been quite respectful and appropriate.

Finally, their main political talk show host, Bill O'Reilly, spent the vast majority of his show talking about this subject. In case you missed it, he is FOR additional and tighter gun control, as were most of his guests last night.

Wiley Coyote said...


You saw the same thing I did... too bad Pete did not.

Anonymous said...

So, the NRA deferred to Fox or Fox deferred to the NRA.

Todd Isaacs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Todd Isaacs said...

So you're condemning them for not politicizing the issue rather than doing what they did which was to focus on the Human toll taken away that horrible day? Typical liberal.

Exit 0 said...

You didn't read much of this column, did you?

Exit 0 said...

I don't have much of an opinion about gun control. If people want guns - for whatever use - they will get guns.

I do have problems with the gun lobby, though.

And Politico isn't 100% correct about the NRA being on lockdown. Talking points are beginning to slip out from their media people regarding Adam Lanza's having had Asperger's (or possibly further up-spectrum autism) and are floating some causation spin around that.

As the dad of an autistic son, if that meme takes hold in the wingnut community, my passive attitude toward the NRA will turn very quickly.

Skippy said...

Dear Petey, I seem to remember your almost daily accounts of Fast and Furious, you know the one, the one tht Holder and this coward President authorized that had assualt weapons they illegally walked into Mexico linked to over 300 innocent and now very dead Mexicans including 16 teens in one night in one single house?

Keep up the great work Petey, we need more heros like you.

Sean Cafferty said...

Why do you think this story about the man who confronted the Portland mall shooter isn't receiving more coverage?


Anonymous said...

The comparison of FOX's reaction to Newtown vs Benghazi is not a good one. Benghazi was a terrorist attack, and everyone in the intelligence community knew it within hours. FOR POLITICAL REASONS ONLY, the Obama Administration intentionally lied to the American public by saying it was a spontaneous reaction to some obscure YouTube video. The fact that the Administration so quickly started their campaign of lies for political gain left FOX and every other network no choice but to discuss the political implications of the terrorist attack.

Newtown, on the other hand, was a slaughter mostly of children. It was clearly another case of a mentally ill individual with easy access to weapons going on a rampage, similar to Columbine and Virginia Tech. There were no politics in these massacres, so political discussion was not warranted.

Overhead Bin Space Lover - You speak as if the other networks don't do what you accuse FOX of doing. In case you missed the memo, the executive leaders, news anchors, and reporters at CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC (and all their affiliates) are 90% registered Democrats. They are just as deliberate about promoting liberal ideology as FOX is about promoting conservative ideology. Liberals think of themselves as completely unbiassed, as pure as the driven snow, and anyone that disagrees with them is evil. Sorry to rain on the parade, but ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and all their affiliates are every bit as biassed as FOX is.

Archiguy said...

The thing to remember is FNC is NOT a news organization, they are an entertainment network. Their slogan "fair and balanced" is recognized universally as a kind of sick joke. They used to deny the bias, now their new tack is to say it's just a "counterpoint" to the "liberal media" (that would be any and all other news organizations that don't beat the drum for conservative causes, no matter how nutty). They love to cite MSNBC as an equivalent offender, which is amusing since it has an audience so small it can practically be counted on the fingers of your hands.

Liberals neither want nor need propaganda - they have this strange affinity for proven science, historical precedent, and actual, demonstrable facts to help them make decisions. That's why they tend to rely on major newspapers, like this one, who actually hire professional journalists.

FOX News has an institutional bias that was built into the network's DNA and which has been funneled down from Rupert Murdock to Roger Ailes to the entire network staff. Every "journalist" who signs on knows which subjects are taboo - basically anything that varies from the official GOP platform or which might be seen to be favorable to Democrats. You want to do serious journalism? Go somewhere else.

Along with Clearchannel radio, they have contributed to the appalling proliferation of what is known as "low information voters" that have wrecked the political discourse in this country and caused the gridlock in Washington.

In a recent poll, 60% of regular FNC viewers still think President Obama is neither a U.S. citizen nor a Christian. This kind of breathtaking ignorance doesn't arise out of thin air. You've got to work at creating it. FOX News certainly does its part.

Anyone who doubts any of this needs to watch the 2004 documentary "Outfoxed". No matter how little you may think of Fox News, it's actually worse than you know.

Anonymous said...

As for gun control itself, I obviously disagree with the screams for what amounts to a repeal of the 2nd amendment that always come after one of these tragedies. However, I have always wondered why ordinary citizens think they need machine guns. It only takes 1 bullet per head to stop home invaders, if you had to shoot at all. Many times, if someone is armed and is coming to take your life, simply pulling out your gun is often enough to send the perp running, like the Portland mall shooter as Sean Cafferty notes.

So there is probably a need to revisit what types of guns ordinary citizens can acquire. But the right of every citizen to arm himself must never be removed.

Anonymous said...

Archiguy - If everything you say is true, Alan Colmes and Juan Williams would have run away from FNC screaming years ago. They still work there.

Proven science? Oh, yeah, that's Al Gore's global warming thing again, isn't it? I keep forgetting, every atom of destructive power that exists in the atmosphere was put there by American Republicans, including that Ice Age 14,000 years ago and the sudden warming of the planet after it.

And if liberals really were into actual, demonstrable facts, we wouldn't even be having this gun control discussion, since violent crime has dropped 40% in the last 20 years as gun ownership has increased.

Again, if you want to be a liberal, that's fine, but just drop the "I'm a liberal, therefore I'm always good and right; you're a conservative, therefore you are always evil and wrong" charade already.

Archiguy said...

J - You do realize that NOBODY is advocating "repeal of the Second Amendment", don't you? You do understand that there is a difference in trying to keep lethal weaponry made for military combat out of the hands of the mentally deranged, and the full confiscation by a tyrannical government of your beloved personal firearms, don't you? Don't you...?

If you don't, maybe you're just the kind of guy FOX News is looking for. The easily misled. The easily offended and aggrieved. Someone willing to hear whatever he wants to hear, no matter how logical and persuasive the opposing argument may be. FNC's advertisers pay a pretty penny to reach guys like you.

Exit 0 said...

Thanks for citing "Outfoxed."

Although FNC has quit "hiding" it (in a manner of speaking), that documentary should be required in journalism schools.

Charles said...

In the media's coverage of the shooting, they:

- reported the wrong name of the killer

- used the wrong photo of the killer

- reported that the killer's mother was employed by the school

- reported that the killer's brother was amongst the victims

- incorrectly reported the weapons used in the attack

- reported then denied the presence of a second attacker

But by all means let's condemn FOX for not staging an impromptu debate while the bodies were still warm.

Archiguy said...

J - Now that you mention it, proven science IS at the root of Al Gore's "thing" with global warming. Since then, more of that pesky science has emerged that has made even the more conservative predictions of global warming seem optimistic. It's actually worse than they thought. Probably because we've wasted the last 30 years "debating" what the scientists were trying to tell us.

But proven science or unassailable facts aren't really YOUR thing, are they? As a recent former president said here in town recently, arch conservatives create their own alternate reality and make up their own "facts" to support their preconceived beliefs. And FNC exists to give them something to believe in.

Archiguy said...

Charles - I was following the tragic events of last week on NPR and they did nothing of what you describe. They were, in fact, careful to describe every bit of information they had as preliminary and didn't say anything on the air that they hadn't thoroughly vetted with law enforcement on the scene. Because that's what real professional journalists do.

In the immediate aftermath of an event like this, the "fog of war" is obscuring a lot of detail. Initial impressions and conceptions may be proved wrong later as more information comes to light.

Such was the case with one of FNC's favorite floggings of late, Benghazi. Susan Rice was relaying information she had received from the CIA, the best intelligence they had at the moment. In other words, she was doing her job exactly the way she was supposed to, and has lost her opportunity to be SoS because of it. Thanks FNC! Another triumph.

kantstanzya said...

You have got to be kidding me!

After all the stories the media has covered up or minimized or mislead...Fast and Furious, Benghazi, etc. that we would know almost nothing about had Fox News not covered it.... After all the biased reporting and even doctored evidence on tapes and photos on stories like Trayvon Martin to advance a liberal agenda...after conspiring with their Democratic Party allies on phony stories like George Bush's National Guard service to steal an election... after all that and more they have the gall to claim Fox News is the organization not performing its journalistic obligation.

Now that is true chutzpah!

Archiguy said...

Kastansia - Wow! Thanks for making my point about low-information voters creating alternate realities. Very helpful.

Nckate2012 said...

Murdoch needs to know that automatic weapons WERE outlawed in 1934.

Archiguy said...

Maybe he also knows that a 2 minute video on YouTube can tell you how to turn a semi-automatic like the Bushmaster in question into a fully automatic killing machine.

It's really quite easy. And fun! Imagine all the target-shooting enjoyment if you can squeeze off an entire 30 round clip in less than 2 seconds.

Charles said...


Do a search for "media errors newtown" and the first hit is from HuffPo documenting the name and photo errors.

And do you know which news organizations were FIRST in getting the name of the killer CORRECT?

According to HuffPo, it was The New York Post and Fox News.

Anonymous said...

If CT has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, why isn't anyone asking why they didn't work? Maybe it's because they don't want to discuss the underlying issues of our ignorance about mental illness?

Nckate2012 said...

Maybe Murdoch will call for a conversation about YouTube.

Wiley Coyote said...


CNN Poll: Only 42% Of Americans Believe Obama Is A Citizen...

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted July 16-21, with 1,018 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

That's Americans, not just a sampling of one group or another.

Anything you say about Fox can be said about MSNBC

Archiguy said...

TexGirl - What possbile difference would CT's guns laws have made in this instance? The shooter's mother was a gun "enthusiast" fond of "target shooting" (with an M-16 knockoff, apparently). She owned 5 guns, all legally registered.

The point you're missing is that her son, mentally damaged or not, had easy access to this kind of lethal firepower. If her hobby was gardening instead of gun collecting, maybe her son would have attacked that school armed with a weeding tool instead. And all of those kids would still be alive.

THAT is the discussion we need to have, and that the NRA and all of the Congressmen they've essentially blackmailed into doing their bidding is preventing us from having.

Charles said...


How many of the 200 children Obama has killed with drones can you name?

Charles said...

Peter St. Onge,

Same question to you.

Wiley Coyote said...


You think that the NRA is the only group to "blackmail", your words politicians? Ever heard of unions, pro-abortion groups, etc?
How many babies have been killed by abortions?
I was an NRA member years ago. I plan on rejoining this week.

Europeanexpat said...

Let's see how many of the MSM outlets will report on this story. Or maybe (very likely) it will be buried.


Wiley Coyote said...


Let's put this in perspective..

While I do not question Obama's grief over this tragedy, his comments during his speech about taking action were pathetic and uncalled for.

HIS hometown with HIS buddy Rham as Mayor have some of the toughest gun control laws in the US, yet it is projected 500 people will die in Chicago this year from gun violence. More people than troops killed in Afghanistan.

If this preident's idea of gun control is HIS hometown of Chicago, we're in deep sheet.

There are so many factors surrounding this issue than the NRA and guns, but many people can't see the forest for the trees as to what they are.

The Observer Editorial Board said...


Here's our editorial that was critical of the administration's drone policy:


Here's an O-pinion post detailing a prominent columnist's issue with our country's use of drones:




Unknown said...

Drones are good, efficient clean killing machines, with the work done by US taxpaying solders. The kids in foreign lands who happen to step in front of these missiles are to blamed for their own deaths. We are the kings of the world and if you disagree with us, you die.
Learn it, live it.
Signed, Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Archiguy said...

It's also amusing to note that if a Republican President were the one ordering these drone strikes, he would be praised by the Right for doing what it takes to protect the Homeland, and most importantly, doing it economically!

Just remember how fiercely they defended the Bush administration's condoning of torture to extract information. Now they profess to be sooooo disturbed by targeted drone strikes.

Guess they forgot Dick Cheney talking about collateral damage as "you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette". But hey - nobody does hypocrisy and denial like angry conservatives.

Wiley Coyote said...


What planet is it you say you're from?

You do realize Democrats were against drone strikes under Bush but now support them under Obama?

AND railed about wanting Guantanamo closed under Bush but now want it kept open?

Pogo said...

Perhaps the Observer should just be outfront and rename this column

Your ongoing attempts to be controversial are surprising... or are they just attempts to increase readership at any cost.


John said...

Let's see, when Fox was the only outlet talking about the Libya embassy attack before the election, they were "politicizing a tragedy..." but when they are the only media outlet unwilling to use the dead bodies of 20 children to justify their attack on the 2nd amendment, you complain?

If the attacker had used a machete, would we be having this discussion?

PEOPLE kill, the weapon used isn't the issue.

Wiley Coyote said...


That's how liberals operate...

Attack the person or entity because they can't discuss facts.

That's why there is a concerted effort by left wingers to use race in every argument they can.

Charles said...


I always voted AGAINST Bush and Cheney. All the way back to 1980.

I've never condoned torture and have spoken out against it repeatedly. I think Bradley Manning is a hero and should be freed. I think the persecution of Julian Assange should end immediately. I think Gitmo should be closed and all prisoners be granted open public trials. Those who committed capital crimes should be executed and those for whom there is insufficient evidence to prosecute or convict should be freed. I think the US should avoid involvement in Libya, Syria, Egypt, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Okinawa, Iraq, Iran, and everywhere else where our presence merely foments hatred of Americans by easily-recruited men of little hope. And I think Europe, Israel, Japan, Turkey, and our other so-called "allies" should foot 100% of the bill of their own respective national defense infrastructures.

Got any other straw men you want me to burn?

Archiguy said...

Charles - I pretty much agree with all of those "straw men". So do most liberals, and libertarians for that matter. Wiley's assertion that liberals now favor the drone war - which has been vastly expanded under Obama - is incorrect. Along with most everything else he's said in this column today.

Libs oppose violation of anybody's their civil rights anywhere. That's kinda' their thing. And a lot of innocents are being killed in the drone war. As war goes, it's fairly clean, but that's like saying water is fairly wet.

Pragmatists, however, realize it's a necessary evil to combat the guys that actually DID have something to do with 9/11. Me, I'm a liberal sometimes, a libertarian sometimes, and a pragmatist always.

I used to be a conservative most of the time, but today's Republican Party barely resembles the one from 30 or 40 years back. Conservative values used to mean something vastly different from what they do today.

herdfan429 said...

I guess the observer didn't see that the network wide email went to only 3 people concerning a round table discussion on one show. Nice work observer. Check this out from the Hollywood reporter


Peter St. Onge said...


Thanks for the update. I was going to add a link to that this morning. The New York writer, Sherman, stands by his story, which also includes quotes from Fox personnel, and video evidence seems to back him up.

jimmy jam said...

This network is not going there,” Clark wrote one producer on Saturday night, according to a source with knowledge of the exchange. The directive created a rift inside the network.