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Outfoxed: Fox News and the crisis in contemporary journalism

REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
Fox News Channel debate moderators Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly and Brett Baier.

Fox news is trapped – ensnared not only in the basic contradictions that plague the news industry in general, but also by a business plan that increasingly reveals the impossibility of it serving as a legitimate news service while also pursuing its profit imperatives and its political goals. The first Republican debate and how Fox treated Trump then and afterwards point to the coming crisis this national news service faces.

Back in 2000 I edited a book, “It’s Show Time: Media, Politics, and Popular Culture,” in which I a penned a chapter entitled “The Cultural Contractions of the American Media.” In it I described the four roles or functions that the news media performs in our country. There is first the democratic function; that is the task of informing citizens about public affairs and serving as a watchdog. It is this function that is at the heart of the First Amendment constitutionalizing a free press. 

As the theory goes, a free press that critically reports the news is essential to a functioning democracy. For many, this image of a free press was formed during the middle to second half of the 20th century. It was the era of Walter Cronkite, who told us “That’s the way it is,” of Woodward and Bernstein relentlessly pursuing a story even if it meant that it would bring a president down, or the New York Times publishing the Pentagon Papers. We expected the media to be politically neutral, but critical, and to evaluate all the facts and decide on what is the truth. Truth was not telling one side and then the other; it was oftentimes recognizing that truth might be something different. This is what reporters once learned in journalism school.

But this image of the media is quaint and old-fashioned. For one, it is an image that seldom existed, especially when we remember that the press that the constitutional framers had in mind looked nothing like what it does today. It was first handbills and pamphleteers such as Ben Franklin, and then small partisan-controlled papers that literally were the party organs. But the creation of a national media, the search for audience share, and the large bell-shaped distribution of public opinion made it reasonable for the news to search for the center. But that era ended, with the media pulled by three other functions that compromise its democratic function.

Controlled by a few behemoths

Unlike even a generation ago, the news media is controlled by a small handful of corporate behemoths. Journalism professor Ben Bagdikian once talked of the big-50 media companies in America; it is now the big six, with Rupert Murdoch’s Fox one of them. Fox is also one of the principal drivers making news corporate, and with that structure it is a for-profit business. At one time news was a loss leader for a company; now it is a revenue generator. To make money, maximize market share.

But in an era where now (as opposed to the 1960s in a pre-cable, pre-new media and pre-social media 24/7 news cycle) there are many apparent choices for news, profitability is possible with market segmentation. Fox news figured this out. Develop a product niche, capture that audience, and make a ton of money. Instead of profitability through news neutrality, profitability comes from appealing to a certain audience – be it liberal, conservative, or whatever. Political neutrality and objectivity take a back seat to profitability.

But to maximize profitability and market share, the media has had to become more entertaining. Ben Barber, one of my former professors, talks of a world where we are increasingly distracted by many diversions. We do not just have to watch the news – we can do a hundred other things to entertain us. Thus corporate news is presented increasingly in a format to entertain us. Thus the fine line between Comedy Central and legitimate news. Watch morning “news” shows — they are more about entertainment or hyping other television shows or personalities. This is the world, too, of “politainment” that I have written about.

‘All the news that makes money’

Finally, as corporations they, too, have their own political interests. They lobby the federal government, they support candidates, and they have their ideological and political biases. Taken together, the corporate, for-profit, entertainment-driven aspect of contemporary news often all but makes the democratic function impossible. “All the news that’s fit to make money” is what it is about.

schultz portrait
David Schultz

So how does this apply to Fox national news? They are trapped by these four conflicts, as are the other major news services. But Fox has a special problem: Its business plan was more extreme than others, and it also had a fifth imperative constraining its behavior, specifically serving as a mouthpiece for the Republican Party. Fox has been profitable for years and has been able to hide behind the veneer of being real legitimate journalism, but the Republican debate last week laid bare all the problems it and much of the American media faces.

In going after Trump, Fox stood to make the debate a ratings hit — and it succeeded. It might have also been a way to show it was a legitimate news service while also being a guardian of Republican orthodoxy. Megyn Kelly also may have viewed the debate as a way to show she was a real journalist, not simply the shrill conservative commentator that her nightly show reveals. But now all of this has exploded on Fox and Kelly. Post debate, Trump’s poll numbers are up, Rogers Ailes effectively apologies to Donald Trump, and 20,000+ sign a petition demanding that Fox prevent Kelly from hosting another Republican debate because she is biased and she should question the Democrats instead.

Debate was a debacle, and backlash isn’t over

What is at stake for Fox is its veneer of journalistic legitimacy, which was always critical to its business plan. The debate it hosted was a debacle, and the backlash from it is not over. Nothing here says that Fox will cease to exist or that it will lose money, but what we may conclude is that its product and business plan are forever damaged.

Fox is trapped, and there may be no way out of the contradictions it faces.

David Schultz is a Hamline University professor of political science and the author of “Election Law and Democratic Theory” (Ashgate, 2014) and “American Politics in the Age of Ignorance” (Macmillan, 2013). He blogs at Schultz’s Take, where a version of this piece first appeared. 


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Comments (94)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/14/2015 - 08:36 am.

    “Four conflicts”

    What are the “four conflicts”?

    • Submitted by Marcia Wattson on 08/14/2015 - 10:09 am.

      Four Conflicts

      1. “There is first the democratic function; that is the task of informing citizens about public affairs and serving as a watchdog. We expected the media to be politically neutral, but critical, and to evaluate all the facts and decide on what is the truth. Truth was not telling one side and then the other; it was oftentimes recognizing that truth might be something different.”
      2. “…the news media is controlled by a small handful of corporate behemoths… Fox is also one of the principal drivers making news corporate, and with that structure it is a for-profit business. At one time news was a loss leader for a company; now it is a revenue generator. To make money, maximize market share.”
      3. “But to maximize profitability and market share, the media has had to become more entertaining.”
      4. “Finally, as corporations they, too, have their own political interests. They lobby the federal government, they support candidates, and they have their ideological and political biases. Taken together, the corporate, for-profit, entertainment-driven aspect of contemporary news often all but makes the democratic function impossible.”

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/14/2015 - 10:26 am.

    Let the market decide

    Roger Ailes has said that in creating Fox News his goal was to offer a news outlet that wasn’t a parrot of the agenda of the New York Times and Washington Post. You knew what the stories would be on CBS, ABC and NBC that evening by what was on the front page of those newspapers.

    His idea was to offer a news source for that small niche of viewers known as conservatives – people who felt that the stories they were interested in hearing about weren’t being covered by those outlets. He was pleasantly surprised to learn that the “niche” was half the audience.

    They’ve parlayed that business strategy into a source of news that people have identified as the most trusted national TV news network in a poll released in March of this year.

    Quinnipiac University asked 1,286 registered voters nationwide, “Whose news coverage do you trust the most?” and offered six choices.

    Fox News came out on top with 29 percent.
    CNN was second with 22 percent
    NBC News and CBS News, each at 10 percent
    ABC News with 8 percent.
    MSNBC was last at 7 percent

    All of whom are owned by parent companies who want to make money. Let the market decide.

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/14/2015 - 11:52 am.


      One of the ironies of Fox News is that while it claims to be a news source independent of the main stream media, the fact is, it reports very little news. It’s staff of reporters seems very minimal and doesn’t go beyond the basics of coverage. The actual, in depth news coverage still comes from those mainstream media organizations, and that’s the stuff that is fodder for the commentary which does distinguish them from other news organizations.

    • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 08/14/2015 - 12:35 pm.

      What the numbers really say

      People prefer entertainment over news.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 08/14/2015 - 01:20 pm.

      Let’s be honest, Dennis.

      It’s not about “stories they were interested in hearing about weren’t being covered by those outlets.” Those stories were always covered. It’s about having an ideological belief parroted back at a demographic that isn’t interested in hearing anything that disputes that belief. For years,. network news seemed to fit just fine until the radio airwaves were full of rightie mouth-breathers, demonizing and questioning the patriotism of any voter that doesn’t square with their John Birch view of America. By all means, take comfort in your poll by the NY Post ( yawn), but you should also be aware that when the Fox ratings are extrapolated and compared to other cable offerings, reruns of Sponge Bob Squarepants beats every Fox News offering.

    • Submitted by richard owens on 08/14/2015 - 02:31 pm.

      roger-ailes-secret-nixon-era-blueprint-for-fox-news (Gawker)

      Just to be Fair and Balanced, Dennis has given you a nice slant on FOX success.

      There is the beginning of his interest in TV and propaganda, starting with Richard Nixon. Ailes genius emerged after Nixon looked so awful in TV debates and in his camera-unfriendly handicap.

      Poppy Bush got into a big to-do with Karl Rove when Karl was head of the Campus Young Republicans, and vowed to never work with him again. Enter Roger Ailes Republican influence again at Poppy’s behest.

      You still might wonder what kind of person Roger Ailes really is. The unauthorized bio of Ailes, will tell you so much more about his character from its many anecdotes.

      “The Loudest Voice in the Room”
      “How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News — and Divided a Country”

      by Gabriel Sherman

      Here’s the LA Times review:

      “… Ailes: Once offered a female producer $100 extra a week for sex. Targeted a rival TV executive with an obscene, anti-Semitic slur. Mused that if he ever found himself as commander in chief he would require Navy SEALs to pass a new certification requirement — killing illegal immigrants as they crossed the border.”

      “…The media titan liked to tell the story of himself as a young boy, jumping from a top bunk bed at his father’s urging. The patriarch let his son crash to the floor to deliver this lesson: “Never trust anyone.” Winners succeed by beating others down. While there has been debate over whether the tale is apocryphal, Ailes carried that sensibility into his career as a political consultant, where he devised ads that slimed opponents, sometimes with half truths. A notable Ailes TV spot savaged one U.S. Senate candidate for freeing an inmate from prison. Never mind that the bars were opened on order of the FBI, which needed the prisoner’s testimony for an investigation….”

      “Sherman is at his best writing with sweep about the history of cable news and placing Ailes in context. There are flashes of humor, as when a Fox executive worries that Ailes mustn’t catch him eating raw fish. “Sushi,” the exec explains, “is liberal food.”

      (also in the book- not in the review) Roger Ailes and his wife bought a place upstate NY and within 2 years the whole town was split in two- Ailes’ temperament and ethics are well documented by a former employee who was his #1 at that time. The good part is the small town newspaper became so controversy oriented its subscribers jumped up in number. The bad part is the peaceful town became anything BUT peaceful.

      Please, MINNPOST, don’t sell your journalistic integrity, even though there is supporting evidence: Roger Ailes could triple your readership in less time than it takes to “demand Obama be impeached.”

      Dennis, have you read how this man uses female anatomy to sell old men like us? He knows old men very well.

      Turn FOX off and feel yourself getting cleaner just for that simple act.

  3. Submitted by Sandy Ellis on 08/14/2015 - 11:19 am.

    Most trusted? Sort of.

    Dylan Byers Politico blog March 9, 2015

    “What the survey really reveals is that conservatives have fewer options when it comes to television news, and are therefore more united in their preferences. Yes, more respondents said they trusted Fox News than another network, but the total number — 29 percent — pales in comparison to the combined total of mainstream networks like CNN and the broadcast channels.”

    “Twenty-two percent of respondents said they trusted CNN news the most, while 10 percent sided with CBS News and NBC News, respectively, and 8 percent sided with ABC News. That means that 50 percent of respondents prefer mainstream broadcast and cable news networks, nearly twice the number that prefer Fox News.

  4. Submitted by Mike Davidson on 08/14/2015 - 11:24 am.

    No, The Market Shouldn’t Decide Everything …

    Cable news in general (Fox leading the pack, but CNN and MSNBC are certainly just as guilty) has turned news into a farce. You can’t have unbiased news when profit is key, and thanks to Cable News too many Americans can’t even tell the difference anymore between a pundit and an actual newscaster. Fox has no interest in reporting actual, unbiased news. It has an interest in being an entertainment entity.

    Also, try using a legitimate newspaper to source things, the NYPOST has no more credibility than the National Enquirer or TMZ.

    • Submitted by Dan Berg on 08/17/2015 - 07:06 pm.

      Actually in many way the pure tabloids aren’t so bad if you have a strong filter. TMZ and the National Enquirer are salacious for sure but the dig indiscriminately which makes them about as nonpartison as news gets. The fact that 99% of it is batboy one the Kardashians means a lot of work to separate out the small bit of meaning however.

  5. Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 08/14/2015 - 11:35 am.

    Fox News in my opinion is the flip side of MSNBC.

    The lesson here is to be prudently cautious about accepting national “news” from any source but especially from TV sources.

  6. Submitted by Curt Carlson on 08/14/2015 - 11:54 am.


    Let’s not forget that Fox News does a poor job of informing its viewers. A Fairleigh Dickinson University survey in 2012 found that “someone who watched only Fox News would be expected to answer 1.04 [of 5] domestic questions correctly compared to 1.22 for those who watched no news at all.”

    • Submitted by Dan Berg on 08/17/2015 - 07:11 pm.

      Of course

      Antidotally I would say there are two people that don’t watch any news at all. Those who really don’t care and are completely uninformed and those who really do and get their information from meaningful sources rather than mainstream news. I am not sure your reference shows anything meaningful and the only Fox news I have ever seen is while waiting to board a flight at an airport.

  7. Submitted by John Edwards on 08/14/2015 - 12:03 pm.

    Scary analysis

    What is scary about this analysis is that local media treat Professor Schultz as an impartial observer.

    He clearly does not understand the role of Fox News, as liberals do not. Fox presents news with a different slant than CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC and PBS. Those networks historically have reported news from a left-wing perspective (read Bernard Goldberg’s “Bias,” the 1993 best seller of insider’s account of liberal partisanship in the nation’s newsrooms). Murdoch simply realized that conservatives would like news slanted to their bias, too.

    Liberals have done the same. The Huffington Post is their alternative to the Drudge Report. Air America was the alternative to Rush Limbaugh. Media Matters to the Media Research Center, The reason they have not been as successful as the conservative alternatives is they simply duplicate the mainstream media’s liberal bias, but in a more extreme manner.

    For Prof Schultz and others with doubts, spend a week monitoring the Media Research Center that tracks liberal bias and Media Matters that so for conservative bias. MRC reports bias on numerous networks. Media Matters has essentially one target: Fox News and its commentators.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 08/14/2015 - 04:44 pm.

      Huffington Post isn’t successful?

      That’s news to me. Air America and MSNBC fail because, unlike conservatives, I know very few liberals that live in a perpetual state of outrage. I don’t listen to it or watch it, and no one I know does either. But I have retired relatives in Wisconsin who literally spend all day with the likes of Gallagher, Beck, Limbaugh, Sykes, Hannity and Levin. They are all incapable of discussing any subject ( and I do mean ANY) without somehow attempting to connect it with liberals and Obama. And the funniest thing is that those retired relatives are all ex-union guys who enjoy retirement benefits negotiated by the very same union representation that they now demonize. Bill Maher put it best…”All Limbaugh does is scare old white guys that are getting into their trucks on the way to lunch,”
      Finally, your assertion that all the other networks had a liberal bias based on one book by a disgruntled has been like Bernie Goldberg is frankly ludicrous. By all means, Fox followers are free to enjoy their fact free, ideological pure network, but don’t claim that they’re right and everyone else is wrong. Institutions are filled with people who think that everyone else is against them.

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 08/14/2015 - 10:34 pm.


        Since R. Reagan’s highly effective asylum downsizing policies were enacted (to shrink government to save tax cut money, don’tcha know) far more of those formerly known as institutionalized (and their even MORE paranoid kids) are now hanging out under bridges, in homeless shelters (when they can find them and get in) and trying to explain themselves and things in general to short-staffed, over-stressed criminal justice public servants through county jail cell bars coast-to-coast.

        Please be more careful with your fact checking in the future.


      • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/16/2015 - 12:49 pm.

        Very Few

        ” I know very few liberals that live in a perpetual state of outrage.”

        Oh please… That outrage shows itself here daily regarding a lack of action on global warming, path to citizenship, women’s rights, LGBT rights, Union rights, Minimum wage, free healthcare, higher marginal tax rates, wealth gap, etc.

        Regarding news, my advice is to take turns watching / reading different sources. They are all just looking at the same events from a different perspective and seeing different things based on this. None of them are intentionally lying for ratings. They just see the same events totally differently like us commenters do here.

        Remember: Not all old people are wise. Once you are sure you know the whole truth, you will stop questioning, looking and learning.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/17/2015 - 09:24 am.

          “None of them are intentionally lying for ratings.”

          Because the Drudge Report and Breitbart are SO diligent about their fact-checking and sources. NewsMax and WorldNet Daily–I believe they are used as case studies in journalism schools when they want to show how to get facts right.

          And of course Fox and individual right-wing outlets–Rush Limbaugh springs to mind–break speed records when they correct their occasional misstatements of fact. This is why those rumors about President Obama’s birth, or his religion, were squelched so quickly and so thoroughly.

          And remember: Both sides do it!

        • Submitted by jason myron on 08/17/2015 - 03:29 pm.

          Let’s review…

          So the left is outraged over issues that actually help society, and the right is outraged over things like same sex marriage, flying the confederate flag and whether their president is a secret Muslim usurper who hates America. The flaw in your perspective, is that I don’t see enough spittle fleck rants on the airwaves on the former, and way too many from the latter.I guess your definition of outrage differs quite a bit from mine.

      • Submitted by Dan Berg on 08/17/2015 - 07:14 pm.

        If you don’t..

        I you don’t know many liberals who live in a perpetual state of outrage just go read the comments on the Huffington Post. It seems to be a reflection of the absolute worst sort of pubic discourse imaginable and every bit as bad as Rush or the other most vitriolic right wing forums.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/18/2015 - 11:03 am.

          Worst Sort of Public Discourse Imaginable

          Comments on internet sites are hardly an accurate barometer of any group’s “state of outrage.” If you take the time, you will notice that the same few people make the majority of the comments (as they do here).

          Incidentally, the few times I’ve read Huffington Post or Daily Kos have turned up some “outraged” comments that do go beyond the bounds of civilized discourse. Nothing I have ever read there compares to what I saw yesterday on Fox News’s Facebook page under the story of Julian Bond’s death. Nothing.

  8. Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 08/14/2015 - 01:17 pm.

    Trump Vs Kelly

    I’m reminded of a TIME magazine cover from the ’80s that featured Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern as “Kings of Talk Radio”, which prompted one reader to write in and say that Stern and Limbaugh should be stuffed into a sack, and the sack then roundly beaten with sticks, “knowing that every blow would find a deserving target.”

  9. Submitted by joe smith on 08/14/2015 - 03:15 pm.

    ABC, NBC and CBS are all just bigger MSNBC’s, same exact coverage. Folks trust Fox News more than any other news outlet. That says something about their content. Who can take news outlets seriously when they give Cecil the lion more coverage than Clinton email scandal.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 08/14/2015 - 05:40 pm.

      Maybe because it’s

      a completely made up scandal?

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/17/2015 - 09:26 pm.

        Time will Tell

        The Latest

        • Submitted by jason myron on 08/18/2015 - 12:22 pm.

          You should really drill down a bit

          and actually read about this “scandal.” There isn’t one, but we’ll file it alongside the rest of fake scandals thrown at her by those terrified to run against her.. She’s going to make a fine president anyway…and her inauguration is going to be even sweeter that Obama’s reelection

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/18/2015 - 03:29 pm.

            As I Said

            I don’t know if she is guilty or not, but time will tell. If it had been Jeb Bush who had Hillary’s problem, would you be equally supportive of his innocence after he a had dragged out full disclosure this long? Or would you have been certain he was hiding something?

            By the way, I found a simple way to handle my work and personal email. I have 2 phones, 1 for work and one for personal… I bet she is wishing she had done that.

            • Submitted by jason myron on 08/18/2015 - 04:03 pm.

              Well, John…

              Jeb Bush used a private email account for government business as well as Rick Perry and Scott Walker. Bush also had his own server. Bobby Jindal also uses private email to immediate staff. Condi Rice and Colin Powell used private email accounts. As I stated, this is a made up scandal. Your attempt to equate whatever it is you do with the Secretary of State of the United States is disingenuous and irrelevant.

              • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/18/2015 - 07:45 pm.

                Do you mean she could not have 2 phones?

                I really think the Clintons could afford to pay for her to have a private smart cell phone. And I am pretty sure the State Dept provided her work Blackberry.

                Sounds like Jeb was pretty open about things.

                Do you think he was hiding things by doing this? Just curious.

                • Submitted by jason myron on 08/19/2015 - 12:04 pm.

                  You really don’t have much of a handle on this story

                  There is no issue about phones and she didn’t hide anything, nor did she break any laws. Now, would you like to to talk about the candidate that’s actually BEEN indicted?

                  • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/19/2015 - 05:18 pm.

                    One Phone Preferred

                    What am I missing here? Or is CNN incorrect?

                    • Submitted by jason myron on 08/19/2015 - 09:25 pm.

                      Did you even read this?

                      Seriously, you seem unable or unwilling to do even the most rudimentary study on this.
                      Both Powell and Rice had private email accounts prior to Hillary (Powell actually suggested to Clinton that she use one) Both deleted all of their emails and turned nothing over for safe keeping. Clinton not only turned hers over, but everything else they’ve asked for. her server was being used prior to being SOS. The “investigation” is not being conducted towards Clinton but establishing the security of her server.
                      According to politifact….
                      “we should note that it was only after Clinton left the State Department, that the National Archives issued a recommendation that government employees should avoid conducting official business on personal emails (though they noted there might be extenuating circumstances such as an emergency that require it). Additionally, in 2014, President Barack Obama signed changes to the Federal Records Act that explicitly said federal officials can only use personal email addresses if they also copy or send the emails to their official account.

                      Because these rules weren’t in effect when Clinton was in office, “she was in compliance with the laws and regulations at the time,” said Gary Bass, founder and former director of OMB Watch, a government accountability organization.”

                      In answer to your question, I’d say you’ve missed pretty much all of it.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 08/18/2015 - 03:47 pm.

      The e-dog ate them…

      “FLASHBACK: When Millions Of Lost Bush White House Emails (From Private Accounts) Triggered A Media Shrug

      “Even for a Republican White House that was badly stumbling through George W. Bush’s sixth year in office, the revelation on April 12, 2007 was shocking. Responding to congressional demands for emails in connection with its investigation into the partisan firing of eight U.S. attorneys, the White House announced that as many as five million emails, covering a two-year span, had been lost.

      “The emails had been run through private accounts controlled by the Republican National Committee and were only supposed to be used for dealing with non-administration political campaign work to avoid violating ethics laws. Yet congressional investigators already had evidence private emails had been used for government business, including to discuss the firing of one of the U.S. attorneys. The RNC accounts were used by 22 White House staffers, including then-Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who reportedly used his RNC email for 95 percent of his communications.

      “As the Washington Post reported, “Under federal law, the White House is required to maintain records, including e-mails, involving presidential decision- making and deliberations.” But suddenly millions of the private RNC emails had gone missing; emails that were seen as potentially crucial evidence by Congressional investigators.”

  10. Submitted by Steve Sundberg on 08/14/2015 - 03:28 pm.

    Re: Let the market decide

    “Trust” is a whole different animal than is “truth”.

    “At Fox and Fox News, 10 percent of the claims we’ve rated have been True, 11 percent Mostly True, 18 percent Half True, 21 percent Mostly False, 31 percent False and nine percent Pants on Fire.”

    That is, 61% of what Fox News reported during the survey was mostly, if not entirely, false. Sucks to trust that kind of “truth”.

    • Submitted by joe smith on 08/14/2015 - 05:07 pm.

      Wow, imagine how bad the other networks must be to have Fox News the most trusted when Fox only tells the truth 39% of the time…. Fox News laps the field in viewership, just think how well MSNBC would do if they could manage to tell the truth 40% of the time.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/18/2015 - 10:58 am.


        I’m imagining what it says about all those Fox viewers that they can be lied to 39% of the time and still trust that network.

  11. Submitted by Roy Everson on 08/15/2015 - 01:26 am.

    Some important context

    From the beginning of radio in the 20s through the Watergate Era broadcast News was a non-profit venture. To maintain a License the Commercial stations were required by the FCC to serve the Public — report the News as a supplement to what the wire services and newspaper industry did.

    Those broadcast News operations drew some of the best journalists from print. Newscast quality was a means to enhance the networks’ reputations, not make a profit. It’s why we still remember names such as Murrow and Cronkite. The Public had reason to believe it “owned” the airwaves.

    Then, was it coincidence? A Republican president, Nixon (Ailes former client), is taken Down in part via the democratic function of the News media — and around the same time the FCC relaxes regulations and — voila — the gates are open for TV News to be huge-profit infotainment vehicles!

    This context shows the emptyness of “let the market decide” and “get government off Our backs” (Reagan). Naturally this means nothing to the democracy haters out there — speaking of which, the disdain for democracy by a large chunk of the conservative electorate is another one of those stories Fox News might consider underreported by the MSM.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/16/2015 - 02:42 pm.

      Democracy vs market forces

      It never ceases to amaze me that people don’t realize that market forces are the epitome of democracy, which is nothing more than letting the people decide.

      When capitalists say “let the market decide,” we’re effectively saying “let the people decide.”

      The irony is that those who claim they love democracy so much that they named their political party after the idea are so adamant in their opposition to market forces.

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 08/17/2015 - 12:25 am.

        Amazement all around

        It never ceases to amaze ME that people that believe in the end-all-and-be-all-ness of the Almighty Market always talk and sound as if they actually comprehend “market forces,” know what they are, how they work, and know how to control them.

        But that’s way too long a story for now. This (which would make a perfect bumper sticker if it was a little shorter) caught my eye:

        “Market forces are the epitome of democracy.”

        (Maybe “Market Forces = Democracy” would fit?)

        Really. I suppose it depends on what you mean by epitome, but while I wouldn’t say they’re separate, it’s a stretch and a half to claim they’re synonymous.

        What? A soldier goes off to war and gets killed defending market forces because that’s what he or she was willing to give up their lives for? Market forces are what the people that put together the Constitution and the Bill of Rights really had in mind?

        And when you say capitalists are saying “let the people decide” means the same thing as “let the market decide” are you saying it was the market that decided things like Obamacare and gay marriage should be the law of the land?

        And just out of curiosity, since you seem to be one of those people that understands the market and what it’s saying, what’s it saying about immigration reform that includes a “path to citizenship,” infrastructure spending, alternative energy development, gun show background checks, trying to do something about income inequality, and large scale campaign contribution reform?

        What percentage of the market is for those things, and what percentage of the market is against them?

        • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/17/2015 - 08:36 am.

          It’s not that hard

          “Democracy” is nothing more than the right of the people to choose their own leadership. It’s only a part of living in a free society that includes such freedoms as private property, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc. The word “democracy” doesn’t even appear in the Constitution. You’re confusing the definition of democracy with the definition of living in a constitutional republic, where the role of government is to protect your God-given constitutional rights.

          “Market forces” in a free-market economy means that, again, the PEOPLE get to decide which products and services survive in the marketplace by their choice to buy or not buy the product or service.

          The real power of the free market is consumer choice. That probably won’t fit on a bumper sticker either.

          The antithesis of that would be when the government decides what will appear on the shelves based on some bureaucrats decision on what the people should buy. Kind of like the government deciding you don’t need incandescent light bulbs and so your choice is limited to light bulbs the GOVERNMENT says you can buy.

          In both cases, democracy and in the free-market, the PEOPLE get to decide. Get it?

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/17/2015 - 10:42 am.

            “The real power of the free market is consumer choice.”

            I guess we can just give short shrift to the idea of market manipulation, or demand manipulation, as it is sometimes called. Who do you think decides the “hot, new trends” in fashion, or music, or just about anything else?

            Consumer choice is also circumscribed by the choices made available to us. In our contemporary economy, there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between most of our choices (Walmart? Or Target?).

            • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/17/2015 - 01:26 pm.

              Ask a soviet immigrant

              if the soviet union had anything approaching Walmart or Target in Moscow? Or how long they had to wait to get a new car or refrigerator. The “market forces” there were the bureaucrats in the Kremlin who decided what products would be available that quarter.

              Marx’ failure was in refusing to consider human nature.

              • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/17/2015 - 02:52 pm.

                True, but . . .

                I never mentioned the Soviet Union or, for that matter, Karl Marx.

                I’m not sure what either one has to do with a lack of consumer choice in the United States in 2015. Yes, arguably we have more choice than someone living in the Soviet Union. Those choices are dictated to us by corporate decision makers, not bureaucrats in the Kremlin. There is a distinction, but a pretty fine one. The main difference that I can see is that the lack of choice in the US is presented to us as our free choices, and people believe it. I don’t think anyone in the Soviet Union believed that they wanted to wait years to buy a Lada.

                • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/17/2015 - 04:00 pm.

                  Corporate decision makers

                  If “corporate decision makers” want to make money for their company and their stockholders and/or continue to be employed, their decisions would be consistent with what the customers want.

                  Target’s monumental failure in Canada was due primarily to their inability to react to buyers’ demand which resulted in empty shelves, which resulted in the Target stores losing business and the people affiliated with the Canadian operation to lose their jobs. See how that works?

                  The Canadian customers affected the jobs of thousands of Target employees via “consumer choice” or in this case, lack thereof.

                  • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/17/2015 - 05:28 pm.

                    Up to a Point

                    Yes, there is some room for consumer choice.

                    With news, how far should we tolerate consumer choice (and by “we,” I don’t mean the government. I mean “we consumers”)? Fox News lies 39% of the time–is that what its viewers really want?

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 08/17/2015 - 09:06 pm.

        In the constitution?

        DT, “Free Market” idealism is not enshrined in the constitution, or did we miss it someplace?
        If we let the (so called) free market decide does that mean we can change the government every day of the week? How does that free market work when the “information is not truthful? Seems old Adam Smith had a bit of a moral compass: “By Self-love or self interest Smith does not imply greed or selfishness. He has in mind a concern for our own welfare that is entirely natural and proper indeed, in The theory of Moral Sentiments he calls it “prudence” And he stresses that “justice” – not harming others – is fundamental to a healthy human society.
        PS: How does that free market work in a Oligopoly or Monopoly market?

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/15/2015 - 08:35 am.

    The problem really isn’t Fox news

    The problem is a totally consumerized electorate. The sad fact is that too many “citizens” lack the capacity or interest required to seek out reliable information. Fox is the most unreliable of the major media outlets but you’ll note that fox viewers are remarkably immune to any kind of factual analysis. Even a quick survey of fox defenders in these comments shows us that they’re media analysis is based on stereotypes orbiting around “balance”, and “bias” rather than accuracy and reliability.

    The difference between consumers and citizens is consumers have no responsibility beyond their own gratification whereas citizens are responsible for public policy. The phenomena isn’t limited to Fox viewers but they have taken the consumer mentality to a whole new level. Perhaps the republican/conservative unwavering faith in “market” mentalities predisposes them towards exaggerated forms of consumerism? After all, despite all the bluster about patriotism what is all this nonsense about the Second Amendment beyond extreme product loyalty?

    If listen and look closely Fox viewers are actually telling us, despite their denials, that they don’t actually care about reliable information or credible news sources, they just like have a TV station that says stuff they like to hear. This is why no matter how many times or thoroughly Fox is revealed as unreliable source of information or an extension of the republican party propaganda machine, Fox viewers remain loyal.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/16/2015 - 06:40 pm.

      Please Enlighten Us

      Where do you go for “reliable information or credible news sources”?

      The most neutral I have found over time is CNN or NBC nightly news.

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 08/16/2015 - 11:49 pm.

        Enlighten’s a big word, but…

        Speaking of other big (hard to spell right off the top of my head) words, even though I suppose it’s anathema (nope – got it wrong, had to look it up: “something or someone that one vehemently dislikes”), I’d recommend the PBS Newshour and public radio’s All Things Considered.

        Actually, no matter what source a person uses to get their news, the whole thing these days is relatively amazing compared to say, 1805 or so, when America was brand new.

        I mention that because I heard something yesterday (on the radio) about the way in which the news got communicated throughout the country back when Kentucky was considered “the West,” and Texas (which was still part of Mexico) and New Orleans were about the equivalent distance of the moon from the places most Americans lived.

        Imagine trying to get hold of reliable information on, keep up with, and form an informed opinion about the negotiations going on between the Secretary of State and his counterpart in Persia (or whatever Iran was called back then) over whether or not they should be allowed to develop cannon technology.

        And where, exactly, was Aaron Burr who, after falling out with Thomas Jefferson (who everyone knew Burr, along with several other Revolutionary War veterans and Republicans and more than a few Federalists, considered a shameless weasel), was no longer Jefferson’s vice president, or residing in Washington or New York and was rumored to have designs (and many allies, including Stonewall Jackson) on raising an army to take over Texas and then leading the “Western states” in secession from the Union (which, he claimed, he had no intention of doing – take over Texas yes, but not secession)?

        Anyway, I’d recommend the public broadcasting system. They do the best job of upholding the Public Interest Standard for Broadcasting (related to FCC licenses) which is what Roy (Everson) was talking about above. He made an excellent, though mostly unnoticed point, I think. That standard is incredibly important when it comes to the “pursuit of reliable information and credible news sources” (and, believe it or not, how your question and that standard relates to the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech), and, like them or not (on principle?), PBS really does do the best job of adhering to it while delivering thorough coverage of any story all news organizations are covering.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/17/2015 - 08:09 am.

          I agree that the PBS Newshour and MPR do a good job. Their coverage usually seems pretty aligned with the other 2. Where as Fox, Mother jones, Daily Kos and Rush are always off to the sides.

          Of course people on the Left will see PBS etal as being slanted right, and people on the Right will see them as being slanted left just because of where they are sitting in the theater.

      • Submitted by Colin Brownlow on 08/20/2015 - 04:02 pm.

        Credible news sources

        I don’t use nightly news casts much. Although will occasionally watch the newshour on PBS. I read my local paper daily. I use my Guardian app to read articles on the Guardian, use the BBC app to read and view BBC news coverage, listen to ATC on the drive home and of course read MinnPost. I subscribe to the NYTimes daily news alert and read several scientific and professional journals a month. Point is I don’t limit myself to one or two sources.

  13. Submitted by John Appelen on 08/16/2015 - 01:02 pm.


    I think the quote below is most worrisome to me. I somewhat hope that my news source only reports facts and data. And I am hoping that he means that the newsperson will need to back up the “real truth” with facts and data, not just some enlightened opinion.

    Maybe Fox, Daily Kos, Mother Jones, Rush, etc have decided that we can not draw our own conclusions from the news, and have decided to make up and report their own “real truth”.

    “We expected the media to be politically neutral, but critical, and to evaluate all the facts and decide on what is the truth. Truth was not telling one side and then the other; it was oftentimes recognizing that truth might be something different. This is what reporters once learned in journalism school.”

    An example from my question in the 2 States decide post:
    Proof as to Intent
    Please provide something to back this statement up. “And the winner-take-all rule is nothing they intended and is a complete triumph of partisan advantage-seeking. ”

    When you watch a football game where the win will be determined by the final field goal attempt, do you think to yourself only the kicker matters? And that everything that happened before that and all the other players are immaterial?

  14. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 08/16/2015 - 02:00 pm.

    Hey Stripes! Get Your Eyes Checked Lately?

    Conservatives have been working the referee for 3 or 4 decades now. Faux News is just the height of that. Saying that Big Business networks like NBC or CBS are merely left wing Foxes is a false equivalence of the highest order. Huge corporations are not and have never been bastions of of left wing politics.

    And MSNBC? Please! Ed Schultz was the only personality they had who consistently and clearly bad mouthed the TPP and Fast Track authority, and he got canned for that.
    Chris Hayes and the rest pulled their punches in deference to their corporate bosses.

  15. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/17/2015 - 06:35 am.


    There is always a potential conflict for the news gatherer between self interest, and reporting the news. Every form of media sees it every day, and in every encounter mediates between these factors. Fox News had to choose between asking hard hitting questions of Trump at the risk of being denied access to him in the future. The Star Tribune reporter who was sexually harassed by the University of Minnesota administrator had to decide whether to report the issue, at the risk of being denied access in the future. Could Nick Coleman have reported Calvin Griffith’s Waseca remarks had he been the beat sports reporter who needed daily access to the Twins?

  16. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 08/17/2015 - 02:58 pm.

    I haven’t had cable for a long time

    but when I did, Fox was always telling its viewers that it was the only trustworthy network and that everyone else’s reporting reflected “liberal bias.”

    As anyone who has studied propaganda or PR knows, you can get people to believe almost anything if you say it often enough, keep them away from other sources of information (by telling them that those other sources are wrong or even evil), and create a community of like-minded people. (I see the politicized megachurches as part of this scheme.)

    If Fox has the highest levels of trust among viewers, it’s because they have spent nearly twenty years building upon the foundation laid by the angry rants of the AM radio jocks and telling their viewers not to trust anyone else.

    In fact, the so-called “bias” of the Big Three and CNN is not a bias toward “liberalism,” except possibly on behavioral issues. It’s a bias toward trivia and sensationalism. When I see CNN while traveling, I sometimes feel that I have tuned in to Entertainment Tonight by mistake. Even the PBS News Hour, while liberal on behavioral issues, takes a very Establishment view of economics and international affairs and is interested mostly in what powerful people within a narrow range of center right to center left orientation think.

    Anyone who wants to see what REAL left-wing news programming looks like should tune in to Democracy Now, which is found on public access TV in the Twin Cities or on KFAI Radio. They cover the stories that make the Establishment uncomfortable, and they aren’t anywhere nearly as fond of Democrats as Fox News is of Republicans.

    They are not the equivalent of Fox News. For one thing, their on-air personalities don’t rant while staring into camera with drill-like intensity, as Sean Hannity does, nor do they interrupt or banish their guests, as Bill O’Reilly does.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/17/2015 - 10:28 pm.

      For the Fun of It

      I web searched “conservatives out to ruin america” and it was interesting to see the various Liberal sites that came up. I think RB is correct that both sides play the game.

      • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 08/18/2015 - 10:10 am.

        I’d say there’s more evidence on the left side

        It’s the right wing (in which I include Republicans, Libertarians, and “moderate” Democrats) that wants to keep wages low and workers powerless, cut welfare benefits, make money at all costs, no matter who or what gets hurt; and privatize everything (with no-bid contracts for their friends) in the name of “fiscal responsibility,” all the while eager to provide open-ended funding for unnecessary and risky wars against countries that are no threat to the U.S. or anyone else outside their own borders.

        The left (who are not necessarily Democrats) are the real “conservatives” today. They want to preserve the systems that allowed for upward mobility unprecedented in history and made America a shining example of prosperity and inventiveness admired around the world.

        Thanks to 35 years of Republican and conservative Democratic policies, we are rapidly becoming the type of oligarchy that our ancestors fled.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/18/2015 - 11:25 am.

          My Simpler View

          Individuals who support the Left’s policies want to increase the costs of operating businesses in the USA. (ie More Regulations, More Unions, More Benefits, Higher Min Wages, Higher Business Taxes, More EPA, More OSHA, etc) While maintaining their freedom to save money by buying and hiring low cost high quality services from low cost countries with little of the above.

          And while being against trade agreements for fear of outsourcing jobs to foreign countries, they support pardoning ~11 million low cost illegal workers and keeping them in the USA. Thus permanently displacing ~ 11 million legal American workers and putting downward pressure on wages.

          I’ll never understand how folks keep missing that their goals are so conflicted?

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/18/2015 - 11:54 am.

            Your Simpler View

            It all boils down to “individuals who support the Left’s policies” are out to ruin America. Yet that kind of thing always sounds so much worse when it’s a leftist saying “conservatives are out to ruin America,” doesn’t it?

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/18/2015 - 12:14 pm.


              I don’t think anyone is “out to ruin America”, at least not us who live in America. I think both sides have the best of intentions, unfortunately sometimes those well intentioned policies lead to unfortunate consequences. Now are we willing to discuss and think about the bigger picture, or do we just promote our little part of it? Examples:

              Welfare and Medicaid will help some people however may lead to dependency and generational poverty.

              Low regulatory oversight may be aligned with freedom and lower costs, however it may lead to violations and harm.

              • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/18/2015 - 01:00 pm.


                You have stated the “bigger picture” in a way that is, at least, interesting.

                Do we want to help “some people” at the cost of possibly subjecting them to “dependency and generational poverty?” Or do we do we want “freedom and lower costs,” knowing that there could be “violations and harm?” Not that we need to think about what that harm could be, or if those “lower costs” might not really be lower because of the many externailities traceable to lower regulatory oversight (who ultimately bears the cost of children growing up in a house with lead paint?).

                I agree that no one wants to “ruin” America. I do think that there is a blindness to the likely consequences. That kind of blindness is easier when you frame the issues in the right way.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/18/2015 - 05:27 pm.

                  Rarely if ever have I posted about a topic / policy that was black / white, right / wrong, only good consequences, etc. I find things to be much more gray and complicated. And the more I learn and study, the more I understand how complicated things are. It was easier when I was younger and certain I knew it all.

      • Submitted by jason myron on 08/18/2015 - 12:49 pm.

        Did you search

        “Obama is a Muslim” and compare the numbers? I’d bet even you would be shocked.

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/18/2015 - 09:15 am.

    “neutral” and “unbiased”

    This comes up every so often but one huge problem we have in this country is general intellectual laziness. People want to be told what to think rather than figure it out for themselves, and they don’t bother to cultivate the intellect to figure stuff out for themselves.

    This business about “neutral” or “unbiased” reporting is a perfect example. The fact is that so called “neutral” reporting is simply a style of writing and reporting, not an actual thing. And neutrality has nothing to do with reliability. When people confuse the notion of “bias” with the quality of intellectual integrity, you get FOX news. The problem is never one of eliminating bias, the problem is one of compensating for bias with integrity.

    The idea that one can forego any assessment of actual reliability or accuracy by simply locating a “neutral” or “unbiased” style is intellectually lazy. Such practice let’s people who don’t want to actually pay attention pretend that they are informed and knowledgeable. I remind everyone that the Nazi’s sold eugenics as a “scientifically” neutral fact. That may be the best example of style over substance in human history.

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 08/18/2015 - 10:21 am.

      “Balanced” coverage sometimes means equal time for absurdity

      or pretending that there are only two sides to an issue when there are actually three or four or having the craziest representatives of each side yell at each other, just because it makes for “exciting” television.

      The important question is, “What is the truth?”

      Unfortunately, sometimes the truth is complex, and sad to say, the average American doesn’t want complexity. The knee jerk opposition to the deal with Iran is a current example. So many Americans, including members of Congress, have a simplistic “Iran=bad guys” view of the world, and our news media have done nothing to dispel that notion.

      Treaty opponents don’t know or want to know the history of relations between the U.S. and Iran before 1979, current conditions within that country, or even the fact that Iran is literally surrounded by U.S. military forces on all sides (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Iraq, the Persian Gulf, and even a small airfield in Turkmenistan), which would tend to make them defensive, don’t you think?

      But as I learned while teaching on the college level, most college students think that complexity is “boring.”

      Yet complexity is where the truth often lies.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/18/2015 - 12:16 pm.

      Still Wondering

      Where do you go for “reliable information or credible news sources”?

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 08/18/2015 - 08:29 pm.


        Stay well informed, get information form multiple and divers sources, Ironically non of the major networks news sources listed are on my “reliable or credible news sources”
        Philosophical reasoning/truth/logic fundamentals, the premise is the Socratic method. But you have to believe that the Socratic method etc. actually makes sense. Those economic fundamentals theory as well as practice, “What’s real, what’s logical?” Life experiences, knowledge, and relationships.
        In short: we make the decisions, on what is”reliable information and a credible news source”
        We can choose to accept BS, warped & twisted facts facts or we can choose to question motives, fundamentals and logical conclusions. We choose to look deeper or to passively accept shallowly supported conclusions. Its all about how we think and add disparate parts of the world together to form a wholes tic picture, and yep sometimes those disparate parts become diametrically opposed. And we get to pick what we think are the lesser of the 2 evils. We must also understand ourselves, do we have built in biases, conclusions, fears, can we work through those in search of the real truth or do we fall prey to the easy answers that fit our preconceived notions? After all we are only human, and well some of us anyway, will make mistakes and draw wrong conclusions from time to time. Se-la-vi

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/19/2015 - 08:12 am.

          Excellent Comment

          The challenge I find is that one sees what one is conditioned to see. A conservative reader of mine insisted that his views were rock solid and based on “What’s real, what’s logical?” Bu golly, he was a self made man.

          So I asked if he would still be a Pro-America Conservative Christian ProLaw/order Flat Tax etc etc etc if he had been born in a small Taliban village in Afghanistan. At which time the comment string stopped.

          I simply don’t think enough of us understand how much our past clouds our current and future perceptions and analysis. That is why I try to force myself to look at topics from multiple perception points with input from different “news” sources..

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/19/2015 - 09:38 am.

        You keep asking this question….

        Because you want to argue about what’s “reliable” and what isn’t, as if accuracy and reliability is a point of view… it isn’t. We know how to make reliable observations and communicate them, and we have the intellect to distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources.

        I for one am not going to tell you where to get reliable information, you need figure that our for yourself, but first you need to actually care whether or not the information you get is reliable.

        For me, it’s a question of credibility, if a network or publication demonstrates a lack of credibility or integrity I don’t there for information. This has nothing to do with left or right or liberal or conservative, it’s simply about credibility, you either care about that or you don’t, and it’s not that hard to figure out, you just have to pay attention. Credibility isn’t that hard to assess, someone tells you something and it either turns out to be true or not. So if someone predicts that a war will only last three months, cost $30 million dollars, and be paid for by oil revenue… and that turns out to be totally wrong, they’ve lost their credibility. Or when someone tells you that we’ll never have another big giant worldwide recession because the markets are self regulating and people behave rationally… they’ve lost their credibility.

        By the way, the “Socratic Method” has nothing to with evaluating reliable information. Most people who pretend to be using Socratic Methods are really just playing debate games, confusing the method with skepticism, or presuming they can expose someone else’s ignorance (which course assumes they possess superior knowledge or wisdom). You run into these self appointed “teachers” once and while who think they’re using Socratic Methods, but more often than not they lack a basic understanding of the subject matter and have nothing to “teach” beyond their own opinion, which is typically ill informed.

        Philosophically the Socratic Method, beyond some classroom and psychoanalytic applications is largely defunct, having been replaced by Empirical Methods that are much more productive and reliable.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/19/2015 - 12:44 pm.

          News vs Opinions

          It seems you are confusing news vs opinions / predictions. I am pretty sure we would have no sources of information if we stopped listening to all sources who had hosted a source that predicted incorrectly.

          Anyone who had covered the early predictions of the early CAGW activists would be off the list.

          I agree that the recipient needs to take the sources past and bias into account, but to cross sources off the list because they were wrong before or you disagree with them would leave a pretty small pool to look at.

          So again I will ask, who do you trust? Daily Kos, Mother Jones, Scientific American, others?

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/19/2015 - 11:37 pm.

            You can keep asking…

            Reliable predictions are just one type of credibility. The distortion, misrepresentation, and inaccuracy of information also betray a lack of integrity and credibility. Everyone makes mistakes but not all mistakes are equal, and habitual unreliability is an obvious indication that one needs to look elsewhere. These are all elementary observations.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/20/2015 - 07:20 am.

              Mental Map

              I am guessing you would believe that I use “distortion, misrepresentation, and inaccuracy of information”. Whereas I would say that we are seeing different women in the same drawing. The mind is an amazing thing.


              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/20/2015 - 08:26 am.

                It’s always funny…

                When you conservative “values” guys become the biggest relativists on the planet whenever you’re challenged to defend the credibility or reliability of your sources. Suddenly it’s all about perspective and opinion and “balance” etc. etc. Here’s another elementary component of credibility and integrity: the ability to take responsibility, recognize when you’re wrong, and learn from mistakes.

                The problem with producers of unreliable and poor if not outright misinformation is that they never get tired of being wrong.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/20/2015 - 11:07 am.

                  I Agree

                  The questions are:
                  Assuming good intent, how does one know if they themselves are promoting and distributing good or bad information?

                  How can the commenters here have such different views of good and bad information?

                  Is one group brilliant and other slow? Or are they just seeing the other woman?

                  • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/20/2015 - 12:10 pm.

                    The answer is…

                    Reliable observations can be publicly verified one way or the other. You say it’s cloudless sunny day, I look out the window… done, no big mystery, not much of a question really.

                    It’s not that people have different views of good and bad information, it’s just that some people are more interested in reliability than others. The subject at hand is FOX news, obviously reliability is not their priority, their “news” and “opinion” services a prescribed political ideology. The dilemma they find themselves in, the subject of this article, is that the ideology they service is splintering, and they’ll have to decide which of the splinters they’re going to run with.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/20/2015 - 01:20 pm.

                      In Summary Then

                      The people who watch FOX news are not too bright.
                      The people who read Mother Jones are very bright.

                      It is an interesting perspective.

                    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/20/2015 - 05:25 pm.

                      Nailed It!

                      I knew you would see the light eventually! 😉

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/20/2015 - 08:04 pm.

                      Thank you for being so patient and understanding. You see… It’s hard to admit… I sometimes check out FOX online or when I am somewhere that has cable/Dish. 🙂

                      By the way, when I am talking with Conservatives… I have to apologize for checking out Mother Jones once in awhile… 🙂

                    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/21/2015 - 09:32 am.

                      Not “nailed” actually

                      John says:

                      “The people who watch FOX news are not too bright.
                      The people who read Mother Jones are very bright.”

                      That’s actually not what I’ve been saying. It does however appear to be John’s pre-determined response.

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 08/19/2015 - 08:13 pm.


          So you are choosing to split the hair between the Socratic Method (A questioning technique to arrive at knowledge) and Socratic questioning which is the first derivative of the Socratic Method, the actual questioning techniques, that helps lead one to that knowledge.
          Sir, the hair is yours!
          We run into all types, which comes to the conclusion that because some types cannot do calculus (even though they think they can) does not deduce that calculus is “defunct”
          In retort, is there an empirical method that determines “morality”? Either productive or reliable.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/20/2015 - 08:32 am.

            The difference between Socratic and Empirical methodology…

            Is not a “hair”. The problem with most of the Greek philosophers was their inability to examine or even recognize a reality beyond their own minds. Not that they didn’t do some amazing work, but that limitation persisted for hundreds of years in Western culture. Ironically, among some folks the problem obviously persists even to this day.

  18. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 08/20/2015 - 09:01 pm.


    The discussion was not Empirical vs Socratic: (in this opinion) 2 separate but distinct techniques: both having equal value in their own right. Their have been and always will be the abusers/miss-users of the craft/philosophy: Which appears to be the very point of the article. Neither makes the craft/philosophy/Empirical Methodology irrelevant. Quite the opposite: makes them both all the more relevant that they are applicable to the discussion at hand: Is it the message, or the inability of the message receiver to properly discriminate the propaganda from the grain of truth! The vote is, we allow our selves to be deceived, for all kinds of reasons!

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/21/2015 - 09:42 am.


      The article doesn’t have much to do with either Socratic or Empirical methodology, it’s not a philosophical treatise, it’s a media analysis. YOU’RE the one who brought the Greeks into this.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/21/2015 - 09:45 am.


      Some of us allow ourselves to be deceived, some of us don’t. One of the basic mission of philosophy and empiricism is to reveal deception, not ignore it.

  19. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/21/2015 - 10:00 am.

    My Point?

    I suspect this thread is about to drop off the grid so let me make one last point. Those who are still with this discussion have noticed that I have spent what? Three days trying to explain the elementary concept of: “credibility” to no avail. OK, maybe I’m a lousy “explainer” but the fact is no one should really have to explain this concept to any adult in the first place.

    I’ll admit the design of my comments was to reveal the fact that we have among us educated adults who either will not or cannot grasp such basic concepts in any coherent way. My purpose isn’t to insult or denigrate people, these folks are not necessarily “stupid” although they may not be a smart as they think they are.

    I have two points: 1) The percentage of adults in the US that either do not or will not apply any reliable notion of credibility is significant. This does not bode well for a democratic society that depends on a rational citizenry. 2) What does it say about society, political landscape, culture, and educational system that such basic concepts as credibility can be so dispensable or incomprehensible? This is what I meant way back when I said FOX news isn’t really the problem; FOX news emerges from a society and culture that’s either unwilling or unable to demand integrity or recognize credibility… THAT’S the problem. We’re not going to move the ball forward until we figure out a way to deal with that.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 08/21/2015 - 11:00 am.

      That’s a wrap…

      Paul nailed the crux of the issue eloquently.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/21/2015 - 09:07 pm.

      Stupid or Gullible

      I am not sure what your intent was. However it seems to me that you implied that a bunch of people are stupid and/or gullible, and implied that you are neither. Thankfully I am not burdened with your level of self confidence.

      To the other commenters, I appreciate your opinions, beliefs and comments. I will continue to strive to understand what you see that I am missing. Have a great weekend !!!

  20. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/21/2015 - 12:47 pm.


    I think it’s useful to keep in mind that people who are credible aren’t necessarily truthful. And that people who are truthful aren’t necessarily credible.

  21. Submitted by Matt Haas on 08/22/2015 - 12:03 am.

    Perhaps a better way to define it

    When people honestly believe that the only facts relevant to a discussion are those they choose to believe in, truth becomes irrelevant. Rational debate becomes impossible. Society becomes irrevocably torn asunder. Its rather ironic that those who so vociferously decry moral relativism choose so eagerly to engage in factual relativism instead.

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