Monday, January 19, 2009

OUTFOXED: Blurring Commentary With Fact

After viewing OUTFOXED: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, I realized how accurate its title is. The film sought not only to show the problems with FOX News Channel and its network, but also to prove how effective the format of FOX can be (Image: Video Screen capture) When making documentary films there's a fine line between dramatizing fact and pushing it too far. In spite of my immense disgust with Fox News Channel (FNC) and its affiliates, I can't help but feel somewhat annoyed with the film's approach to the issue.

In an effort to prove its point regarding the power of FNC's format, I believe OUTFOXED took the Fox news format and turned it against Fox. The rapid-fire cuts and overlapping rants from commentators created the confusion and overflow of information that creates the bewildering Fox-effect. There were also obvious moments where the documentary filtered information; one specifically obvious moment was when a narrator was skipping sentences that minimized the effect of the film's argument while reading internal FNC memos.

Beyond the format of the film, the fact that it was sponsored by and The Center for American Progress, two politically involved progressive groups, raises question marks about its legitimacy. While I fully agree with the film's assessment of FNC, OUTFOXED's did nothing for its case by seeking the sponsorships of these groups and mainly interviewing former FOX employees who were potentially motivated by anger.

I am well aware that this film is about Fox and the problems with the network, but I don't think OUTFOXED's target audience, primarily left-wing viewers, would not know Fox's problems already. I believe, especially due to the involvement of FAIR and Media Matters for America, the film should have also spoke of the problems with the left-leaning Fox imitators including MSNBC (which is problematic, as funny as it is).

I don't want to imply that I disagree with the message of the film, but I believe that a film arguing for objectivity in the media should make an effort to appear objective. While it may gain laughs from those such as myself in the short term, it misses an opportunity to raise some serious issues about the media in general.