Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fair and balanced?

In comments to my earlier post Captain Renault is alive and well , ogre expressed an unwillingness to believe anything from the Fox network unless corroborated. Fair enough- any news story from any source ought to be corroborated. But there's a particular distrust of Fox I've seen throughout the UU blogosphere, so I thought I'd see how the more respectable, objective news desks are covering the "hatemongers at the town halls" meme.

Here's an MSNBC Morning Meeting edition talking about this very thing."...A man at a pro-healthcare reform rally just outside wore a semiautomatic assault rifle on his shoulder, and a pistol on his hip....Yes, there are second amendment rights for sure, but also you have questions of racial overtones, I mean, here you have a man of color in the Presidency, and white people showing up with guns strapped to there waists..." As she speaks, there is video of the man's assault rifle, and the pistol on his hip. The panel goes on to talk about how disturbing this anger and racism is- and it is pretty evocative, take a look:

It's no wonder so many people have been blogging about it. There's just two minor quibbles I have with the story, and two bigger ones. The minor quibbles: 1.The guns were carried as a publicity stunt for a radio show. 2. The stunt was coordinated with the Arizona police beforehand. Now, ordinarily I'd give them the benefit of the doubt in missing this; the only time "journalism" and "MSNBC" have been mentioned in the same sentence was in a Dennis Miller comedy bit. But not this time, because of the two bigger quibbles: 1. Despite what the host implied, the man with the pistol on his hip is not the same man as the one with the rifle under his shoulder; he was in fact the radio personality interviewing the man with the AR15. 2. The footage was edited to conceal the fact that the man with the AR15 is African American. Here's an interview showing this from CNN, shown the day before the MSNBC panel:

And people wonder why I recommend getting your news from foreign newspapers.


John A Arkansawyer said...

Yes, a publicity stunt, by a militia supporter.

Somehow that a guy who defends people who toured federal buildings with an eye toward blowing them up was only pulling a publicity stunt when he brought armed people to a presidential appearance fails to comfort me.

Joel Monka said...

Yeah, he's a kook. And I hate shock-jock stunts under the best of circumstances. Do either of these points excuse MSNBC's behavior?

ogre said...

You skipped the point I made about an additional reason for not trusting anything coming out of FOX.

No, I don't just believe what I read or hear. But with FOX, I actively distrust, because they've willfully, intentionally lied on their "news" program, and then defended their right to present lies as news, in court (successfully). It's their practice. They admitted it. They defended it. It's apparently their legal right.

But only a complete fool would rely on the veracity of such a source.

Every statement, every 'fact' from FOX has to be treated as if it's entirely likely that it's a lie.

That's all.

Only after that does one come to the question of its being a political propaganda outlet.

Joel Monka said...

If true, all it means is that Fox admits it- which puts them one up on all the others. I'm not a Fox fan- I start my news with the online version of the papers, and then to the aggregators, and only see network news stories when they've been linked to... but as far as I can tell, they aren't one bit worse than any of the others.

Chalicechick said...

Given that both stories say that a dozen people showed up with guns, I don't know that we know for certain that MSNBC and CNN were filming the same guy.

The general theme of the MSNBC piece was "one of these guys with guns might shoot the president," so I can see why for defamation suit reasons they wouldn't want the person attached to that charge to be identifiable. I can't say that I wouldn't have edited the clip similarly even if it were a white guy.

The CNN footage makes it clear that at least one of the guys carrying guns was white. So I'm not sure why MSNBC wasn't justified in making the point that it is disturbing to see white guys with guns showing up when a black political leader is going to talk.

Given that every assassination of an American political leader has been committed by a white guy*, I can understand why the story focused on them.


*Ok, excepting Sirhan Shirhan

Joel Monka said...

Both videos show the same model and color of rifle, held in the same way,(muzzle down), by a man with the same build, same color pants, same shirt, standing in front of the same people- I think it's fair to say it's the same man.

Yes, there were more than just that man, but they were all part of the radio show. The reason there's no photos of them is that the stunt interview was filmed, and they left, so the interview footage was used. They were not part of the general proceedings.