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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-07-21 - 8:31 p.m.

Outfoxed

Ed and I didn’t go to one of the house parties Sunday night promoting the new documentary, “Outfoxed,” but we did watch it here at home. We, of course, have long thought FOX’s “fair and balanced” tagline something of a joke the few times we have listened to Hannity and Combs or another of that ilk. Even when they “try” to give a balanced approach, it’s a sham. But seeing it in this documentary format with comments from former producers, reporters and commentators, as well as media experts, I must say, shocked and awed us -- no longer a joke!

People who call themselves journalists each day receive daily briefing notes handed down from on high, telling them to accentuate points that might be helpful to the Bush administration and how to report the “news of the day. For instance, one such briefing memo concerned presentation of the latest news from Iraq: “Remember when you’re writing about this, it’s all good. Don’t write about the number dead…Keep it positive. Emphasize all the good we’re doing.”

The first amendment and the most recent FCC regulations, of course, give FOX -TV ownership the right to offer programming that serves the public interest without using foul language or being too risqué. Until the rules were relaxed during the Reagan era, broadcasters had to apply a “fairness doctrine” in their coverage of political issues.

Currently, there has been pressure to change the rules that restrict the number of radio and TV stations a person or company may own in a given area. There have already been mergers and takeovers in many cities. Because the leading newspaper is the only newspaper in a great majority of cities nowadays, the proposed new rules would mean that in all but the very largest of cities, one news organization could dominate, and one of the safeguards regarding political influence would be eliminated. Supporters of the new rule thought that this would mean better programming and would ensure diversity and competition. Opponents argued they would concentrate press power unacceptably, not only at local level, but also nationally. My belief is that just as many newspapers have been forced to abandon printing, e.g. in our own area, Sacramento and San Francisco each have only one major newspaper today, the proposed changes, which happily were not approved this summer, would also permit the formation of larger nationwide chains.

Murdoch, unashamedly admits using journalism for the advancement of his business interests and, I believe, his political interests, as well. Murdoch’s companies now constitute an integrated production and delivery system, including FOX movies (Titanic, There’s Something About Mary, The Full Monty), FOX-TV shows (Ally McBeal, The Simpsons), FOX-controlled sports broadcasts, newspapers and books. Murdoch hopes to become DirecTV’s largest single owner, which would ensure wide distribution for his movies, news, sports and original TV programming. Interestingly, while he is a dangerously obsessed conservative propagandist, in my opinion, he does not seem to be in line with the social agenda of the Republican Party.

Rupert Murdoch, who applied for U.S. citizenship and was naturalized in 1985 in order to satisfy U.S. ownership requirements, has systematically quietly taken business and editorial control of the following:

  • British tabloid News of the World

  • the Sun and Times and Sunday Times of London

  • San Antonio Express and News

  • New York Post

  • New York Magazine

  • 20th Century Fox

  • TV Guide

  • Sky satellite system in Britain

  • Star satellite system Asia

  • in 1990 he outbid CBS for the right to National Football League games to become the dominant broadcast sports network

  • FOX news channel

  • 35 local U.S. TV Stations

  • The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine

  • Harper Collins – publishing house

  • Los Angeles Dodgers

  • various publications in Australia

  • Murdoch is now seeking federal approval to buy a one-third share in DirecTV, the leading satellite Broadcast system in North America

    Murdoch is not the only conglomerate or even the largest involved in media; he just happens to be the only one blatantly using it for his own political agenda in a “fair and balanced” way, pretending its partisan programming is real news coverage. This is what “Outfoxed” producer, MoveOn and many of us object to and are protesting.

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