Sunday, 9 January 2011

Should we fear the Fox Network?

I had one of those moments today when something seemingly inconsequential you hear from a stranger suddenly rings bells in your head when you watch the news.

If you have read my entries below, you will know that I fear for the objectiveness of the British media in the event of the government allowing Rupert Murdoch to seize control of BSkyB and start up a Fox-News style channel containing little more than veiled political rhetoric.

I attended a NetRoots conference today about the future of social media in the transformation of British politics. Ari Rabin-Havt gave a presentation on the activities of the Fox Network and their insidous anchorman, Glenn Beck.

For those of you who don't know, Ari Rabin-Havt is the vice president of an organisation called Media Matters. The organisation, based in the US and employing eighty full-time staff, is responsible for examining the claims of the ultra-right-wing Conservative media in the US and determining whether they are acting on the basis of genuine information.

The videos he showed of Beck demonstrate him to be an evangelical figure who is both deluded and dangerous. His nonsensical rants deride political opponents as racists and fascists without any evidence of any kind to back up his assertions. If that had been the end of the story, I could laugh off his nonsense and would have cheerfully forgotten him by morning.

The shooting earlier today of US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords may seem to mean little to a British audience but the left-wing American blogosphere has already gone to town, blaming Glenn Beck's explosive rhetoric as being directly responsible for the shooter's actions. Last year, Sarah Palin, infamous member of the right-wing Tea Party organisation in the US, marked Giffords with crosshairs on a map in her campaign to target certain politicians and remove them from power. That image is now being repeatedly reproduced across America and will make uncomfortable viewing for right-wing American politicians over tomorrow morning's breakfast bagels.

What role then, has the Fox Network played in today's tragic deaths? We may believe that the network cannot possibly be held responsible for spontaneous acts of bloodshed by viewers. But be that as it may, this incident shows the need for careful consideration of the images and language used to attack political opponents. The potential consequences of demonising one's enemy are only too apparent from the massacre in Arizona.

No comments:

Post a Comment