Monday, March 14, 2005

Outfoxed on "Boston Legal" : Again with the "Liberal Media" Canard. Oy!

I just got done watching the "Boston Legal" episode which featured clips from Robert Greenwald's documentary, Outfoxed. The episode, which focused on a school principle who had put a "Fox blocker" on the TVs in his school being sued by a student for censorship, was edited by the network execs, who forced the writers to take out all mentions of the network's name. How ironic.... The "fox blocker" became a "news blocker," for example. The best line in the episode was Spader's. He turned to his colleague and said that the First Ammendment is edangered, noting that some major networks even edit fictional TV shows for content these days. (oh ho!, so daring, David Kelley.) It has gotten a bit of media coverage, particularly because Greenwald's effort to buy an ad for his doc. during the show was rejected. If you've never watched Fox, you might want to check out this website, or this one.
The episode was pretty weak and not just because no one asked why there were televisions in the school at all. What bothered me most was that during the courtroom scene, judges, lawyers, defendants and everyone kept repeating this idea that Fox represents just one of many widely varying views presented on major television. Some networks have a liberal slant, and some are conservative," actors kept saying, while others nodded. I think that it was the Judge who said to the defendant that one network even "lied about the President's military record." Despite the fact that pretty much every TV show, except Democracy Now! (of deepdish, public access, and internet tv fame) just keeps boosting the prez, announcing the cause-of-the-week for the occupation of Iraq, etc. etc. etc.,no one challenged the notion of a widely varying set of representations on television news.
The script was virtually a mirror of all that is wrong with the effort to present a "balanced" and "unbiased" view when one of the sides of the "debate" is simply bullshit, and the OTHER side just isn't even discussed. Therefore...while some say that the sky is green, there are others who say it is a lighter shade of green. Who can say, Marty, who's right? The only people who could possibly think that the U.S. media has "liberal" bias must either be such Fascist innovators or such Medieval reactionaries that they reject even the Enlightenment liberalism that gave us the First Ammendment and dis-establishment of religion as too liberal.
It's funny to think about this attack on classical liberalism, because I just got done with a lecture in which I insisted (perhaps too strongly) on the continuing influence of Enlightenment values on our current lives (no, that doesn't mean that people actually live up to the values, simply that their ideas of what's good and bad are based on the oppositiona of reason vs. unreason, individuals vs. herds, etc. regardless of how they behave). I may not be able to give that lecture for much longer.

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