Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fox News is a propaganda network, not a legitimate news channel

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By Omar Ghabra

Oops, they did it again. Fox News' coverage of President Barack Obama's trip to Asia demonstrated once again why they are not a news organization to be taken seriously.

This past week, numerous pundits on Fox News knowingly perpetuated outrageous and blatantly false claims about Obama's overseas trip.

This is yet another example of the comically self-proclaimed "fair and balanced" news network mounting an attack on the president without bothering to get their facts straight.

In an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN last week, Rep. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann responded to a question Cooper asked her about cutting spending in the federal budget, with the claim President Obama's trip to India and other Asian countries would cost taxpayers $200 million a day.

When Cooper stated that the numbers were "made up" and mentioned the fact that the cost of presidential trips are never disclosed for security reasons, Bachmann asserted "these are the numbers that have been coming out of the press."

Where in the press was Bachmann referring? The preposterous figure wasn't reported by CNN, CBS News, BBC, The Washington Post or any other reputable news source. Bachmann got the numbers after they were repeated by several Fox News talking heads.

"It's 2 million dollars!" Glenn Beck proclaimed on his radio show in reference to the trip's total cost. He also claimed 34 warships would be accompanying the president.

Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and countless others on the right repeated this false claim. According to (a non-partisan organization dedicated to analyzing the truth behind claims made by politicians), the false figure of $200 million per day originated from an unnamed Indian official cited in an Indian newspaper.

The White House denied the claims and the Pentagon dismissed the assertion that 34 warships would be accompanying the president as "absolutely absurd" and "comical."

To put that astronomical $200 million into perspective, consider the fact that the U.S. spends roughly $190 million per day fighting the war in Afghanistan.

It doesn't take much thought to deduce that these numbers simply don't add up. Despite this, Fox News is yet to officially recant any of the debunked claims about Obama's trip.

This myth will undoubtedly live on in the fantasy world of the far right, along with the nonsense about Obama's birth certificate and his secret Muslim faith.

Fox News is the most watched cable news channel in America, so this is very troubling. We have American citizens basing their voting decisions on the false information they get from Fox.

According to a Bloomberg National poll of likely voters conducted shortly before the midterm election, 52 percent believe federal income taxes have gone up in the past two years, as opposed to the 19 percent who believe they did not. Also, likely voters believed, by a margin of two to one, the economy shrunk under Obama and that TARP money will not be restored. The problem with all of this is its inconsistency with the facts.

The Obama administration cut federal taxes, mainly for the middle class, by $240 billion. According to the conservative Wall Street Journal, the economy has grown for the last five quarters.

The Department of the Treasury asserted that most of the TARP money has been returned and when it's all said and done, the government will come away with a $16 billion profit.

Fox News is largely to blame for the false beliefs many voters have about Obama and his accomplishments.

Their continuous mischaracterization of him as a far-left socialist fueled a lot of the anger voters demonstrated in the last election cycle.

This lie about Obama's trip is just the latest example of Fox News playing loosely with the facts when it is consistent with the right wing, anti-Obama narrative they try to convey.

It is threatening to our democracy to allow an ideological organization like Fox News, which has aligned itself so closely with a political party, to wield so much power.

As citizens in a democracy, it is our duty to make informed decisions based on facts. The information we base these decisions on should not be tainted by partisan bias.

In the age of technology, countless sources provide objective information, so there is absolutely no excuse.

We must reverse this troubling trend of manipulation by turning off the television and digging up the facts ourselves before making decisions.

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