Monday, July 19, 2004

Outfoxed: Party and Capsule Movie Review

Tonight, I had the pleasure of being one of about 30,000 people around the country to attend a house party and see "Outfoxed", Robert Greenwald's screed against the (ahem) fair and balenced Fox News Network. The particular house party I attended hosted a few more than 20 people - and interestingly enough, in the heart of a basically Republican county. There was a nice crossection of humanity -- farmers, college students, retired folks, the unemployed, state employees, homemakers, and others.

So, how was Outfoxed? If you liked Fahrenheit 9/11, you'll certainly cheer this documentary. Like F9/11, there wasn't a whole lot of new information for me - but then, I don't think that people such as myself are necessarily the intended audience.

The documentary is comprised primarily of former Fox employees carping on the network, and analysts evaluating (by clip examples) how Fox distills pure Republican propaganda into a facade of "news".

See, I told you there was nothing I didn't already know.

Anyway, like Lila Lipscomb was kind of the centerpiece of F9/11, Jeremy Glick, the son of a WTC victim, was the centerpiece of Outfoxed. Glick's famous interview by Bill O'Reilly, and O'Reilly's subsequent pilloring of Glick, is used to great effect in demonstrating the trademark of all Fox News "hosts" - disagree with them, and they innuendo you to death like a flock of pecking ducks.

Not surprisingly, the documentary features a lot of O'Reilly and Hannity. It also exposes how Fox uses 'liberal' commentators as clownish foils for the rabid right agenda - Alan Colmes being Exhibit A. And (we've already heard this one many times) how Fox management issues "talking points memos" to the Fox talking heads each and every day.

There were a couple of things that really stuck out - Fox apparently has no issues with conflict of interest - hey, you want to work with a right wing political campaign, or have your wife highly placed in a Whinger campaign, and still report on the campaign? No problemo! No ethical issues here for Fox management. Interesting, though, how other networks police just this sort of potential journalistic ethical problem.

The 90 minute documentary covers a lot of territory in a short time, and I'm simply not going to bore you with a scene by scene breakdown. You already get the idea. Fox News is run by people with a very definite and poorly disguised agenda. And there's no news in that.

Like F9/11, Outfoxed has some nitpicking issues, but none so large to deny my giving it an enthusiastic recommendation. Robert Greenwald has done to Fox News (on albeit a smaller scale) what Michael Moore did to the Bush Administration - bellied up to the bar when the rest of the lapdog media that is trying to emulate Fox's success wouldn't touch the subject.

And that alone is worth the price of the DVD. Go forth and buy.

Update, 9:10AM: Via Atrios, a link to a great Tom Tomorrow cartoon covering the same foxy territory...