Thursday, September 9, 2004
When you’re hunting elephants, use an elephant gun. So goes the logic underlying this anti-Fox News broadside directed by Robert Greenwald (Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War) and available at MoveOn.org. According to the site, Outfoxed “exposes Fox for what it is: partisan spin, not news,” a complaint that could, with some justification, be lodged against Outfoxed itself. But in fairness, Fox News Channel has been spoiling for this fight since its inception.
Though Outfoxed features interviews with several former Fox (not always FNC) employees and commentators, there’s not much in the way of smoking guns, apart from the now-infamous memos written by FNC chief John Moody, with references to “the so-called 9/11 commission” and this instruction as US troops prepared to storm Fallujah: “Let’s not get lost in breast-beating about the sadness of the loss of life. They had a chance.”
Outfoxed’s most damning sequences simply play back footage from the channel itself, like Bill O’Reilly’s brutish, contemptible “interview” with Jeremy Glick, who became a spokesman for the antiwar group, Not in Our Name, after his father was killed in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.
The most mind-bending turn comes when Brit Hume announces the latest death toll in Iraq and points out that the death rate for American soldiers is lower than the murder rate in California. (The graphic alone is priceless.) It’s a profoundly revealing moment, not just because it reveals the echo-chamber absurdity of the network’s illogic, but because in the name of supporting the troops, Hume profoundly insults them. Trivializing the combat deaths of American soldiers is hardly the way to shore up support for the war.
Unfortunately, Outfoxed is less interested in restoring
balance than tipping the scales. Like Fahrenheit 9/11, to
which Greenwald’s film is an inferior cousin, Outfoxed
finesses the details to make Fox seem more singular than it
is: Yes, Fox shamelessly parrots Bush administration “talking
points,” but as The Daily Show pointed out in a devastating
segment worth more than all of Outfoxed, they’re hardly alone
in their shoddy, profit-driven pseudo-journalism. The movie’s
weakest section argues that Fox’s brash tactics have all but
forced other networks to follow its example, but that’s no
excuse for their servile imitations. Greenwald and MoveOn want
to make an example out of Fox News, but it’s worth noting that
as bad as they are, their competitors wish they could be
Sam Adams is the movies editor at Philadelphia City Paper.
OUTFOXED ( * * * )
Directed by Robert Greenwald
(Not Rated, 90 min.)