Resolute Square

Part 1: The Story of Fox News: The Love of Money Over Everything Else

Brian Daitzman writes of FOX, "The network’s consistent propagation of divisive narratives and misinformation, particularly concerning election integrity and public health guidelines, exemplifies a business model that prioritizes profit margins over accurate reporting and ethical journalism."
Published:April 11, 2024
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By Brian Daitzman

Under Rupert Murdoch's leadership, Fox News has decisively placed profit ahead of journalistic ethics, adopting manipulative broadcasting techniques and spreading misinformation to protect and grow its revenue. This approach significantly undermines the integrity of critical American societal foundations, including national security, public health, and democratic stability. By deliberately misleading its audience for financial gain, Fox News not only jeopardizes public safety and health but also undermines trust in democratic institutions and processes, exacerbating societal divisions.

The network’s consistent propagation of divisive narratives and misinformation, particularly concerning election integrity and public health guidelines, exemplifies a business model that prioritizes profit margins over accurate reporting and ethical journalism. These practices contribute to a polarized public discourse, with misinformation leading to widespread confusion and strife, thus eroding societal cohesion.

Fox News's conduct, particularly highlighted in the context of the Dominion lawsuit, exhibits a stark indifference to the collective well-being of the American public and the fundamental democratic principles of the nation. Rupert Murdoch's stance, revealed during his deposition, revealed financial considerations outweigh ideological ones in editorial decisions at Fox News. His responses to questions about airing Mike Lindell’s advertisements despite Lindell's promotion of unfounded claims laid bare the depth of Fox News's ethical shortcomings. Murdoch's concurrence with the assertion that "It is not red or blue, it is green" when discussing the network’s motivations, especially regarding providing a platform to individuals like Lindell who disseminate baseless theories, exposes the extent of Fox News's profit-driven operations.

Fox News's prioritization of revenue over responsible journalism marks a significant departure from journalistic integrity, highlighting a profound commitment to financial success at the expense of ethical standards and the public good.

The Decisive Impact of Fox News on the 2000 Election and the Course of American History

Fox News's significant influence on the political landscape of the United States, particularly during the pivotal 2000 election, has been well-documented. A study published in 2017 illuminates the network's substantial effect on the election's outcome, highlighting how Fox News's strategic placement on cable systems and its persuasive content contributed to making George W. Bush's presidency a reality. This study revealed that Fox News increased the likelihood of viewers voting Republican by 0.9 points among those who were induced into watching just four additional minutes per week, suggesting that without Fox News, the 2000 election could have seen a different outcome.

The implications of this influence extend far beyond the election itself, suggesting that a Bush presidency might not have been possible without Fox News's backing. This connection is crucial when considering the subsequent events that shaped the United States and the world in the early 21st century, particularly the response to the 9/11 attacks and the decision to go to war in Iraq. The study's findings underscore Fox News's role in both influencing electoral outcomes and shaping the policy directions of the administrations it helped bring into power.

Had Al Gore won the presidency, it is conceivable that the approach to the intelligence warnings leading up to 9/11 would have been markedly different. During the summer of 2001, while President Bush was frequently vacationing and remained largely unengaged with critical intelligence briefings, significant warnings about potential terrorist attacks went unheard. This lack of engagement during crucial periods highlights a missed opportunity for preemptive action that might have been seized under a different administration.

Moreover, the focus on Iraq in the aftermath of 9/11, a country that had historically been antagonistic to Salafist extremist groups like Al-Qaeda, reflects a strategic direction that might not have been pursued under a Gore presidency. Gore's potential focus on addressing the actual networks responsible for the attacks, rather than diverting attention and resources to Iraq, underscores how differently the United States' response to 9/11 could have unfolded.

This analysis not only highlights Fox News's significant impact on shaping political outcomes and policies but also raises profound questions about the role of media in democratic processes. The network's ability to sway public opinion and influence electoral outcomes has had far-reaching consequences, underscoring the need for a critical examination of media influence and the responsibilities of news organizations in ensuring informed and engaged democratic societies.

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Bibliography

  • Breitman, Kendall. "Poll: Republicans Believed in WMDs in Iraq." Politico, January 7, 2015. www.politico.com/story/2015/01/poll-republicans-wmds-iraq-114016.
  • Bump, Philip. "The Unique, Damaging Role Fox News Plays in American Media." Washington Post, April 4, 2022. www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/04/04/unique-damaging-role-fox-news-plays-american-media/.
  • Democracy Now. "Study Finds Fox News Viewers Most Likely to Have Misperceptions About Iraq Invasion." October 8, 2003. www.democracynow.org/2003/10/8/study_finds_fox_news_viewers_most.
  • Drum, Kevin. "Without Fox News, There Would Have Been No Iraq War." Mother Jones, January 5, 2015. Available at: https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/01/without-fox-news-there-would-have-been-no-iraq-war/.
  • Editorial Board. "Fox News and the Marketing of Lies." Financial Times, April 21, 2023. www.ft.com/content/78826749-892b-42b6-9053-ef613016ae93.
  • Froomkin, Dan. “Fox News Isn't News.” NBC News. April 9, 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/fox-news-study-comparing-fox-cnn-highlights-cable-tvs-harm-rcna23620.
  • Graff, Garrett M. "Fox News Is Now a Threat to National Security." Wired, December 11, 2019. www.wired.com/story/fox-news-is-now-a-threat-to-national-security/.
  • Kaplan, Fred. "The Out-of-Towner: While Bush vacationed, 9/11 warnings went unheard." Slate, April 14, 2004. Available at: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2004/04/while-bush-vacationed-9-11-warnings-went-unheard.html.
  • Martin, Gregory J., and Ali Yurukoglu. “Bias in Cable News: Persuasion and Polarization.” The American Economic Review 107, no. 9 (2017): 2565–99. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26527921.
  • McLeod, Douglas M. "Derelict of Duty: The American News Media, Terrorism, and the War in Iraq." Marquette Law Review 93, no. 1 (2010): Article 10. scholarship.law.marquette.edu/mulr/vol93/iss1/10.
  • Robinson, Eugene. "Fox Is Not a News Network but a Propaganda Outlet." The Washington Post, April 3, 2023. www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/04/03/fox-news-dominion-lawsuit-propaganda/.
  • Shapiro, Ari, Gabe O'Connor, and Christopher Intagliata. "Former Australian Prime Minister Blames Fox News for America's Polarized Politics." NPR, August 31, 2022. https://www.npr.org/2022/08/31/1120355466/former-australian-prime-minister-blames-fox-news-for-americas-polarized-politics.
  • Tirman, John. "Bush’s War Totals: The Human Cost of Bush’s War: 1 Million Dead. 4.5 Million Displaced. 1 Million to 2 Million Widows. 5 Million Orphans." The Nation, January 28, 2009. www.thenation.com/article/archive/bushs-war-totals/
  • U.S. Department of Defense. "CASUALTY STATUS as of 10 a.m. EDT April 9, 2024 OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM U.S. CASUALTY STATUS." Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Defense, April 9, 2024. Available at: https://www.defense.gov/casualty.pdf
  • "The Wilson Center. “Timeline: The Rise, Spread, and Fall of the Islamic State.” October 28, 2019. https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/timeline-the-rise-spread-and-fall-the-islamic-state.

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