If any broadcaster ever made those old enough to remember the FCC’s enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine — the requirement that TV stations present controversial issues of public importance in a manner that was honest, equitable, and balanced, a practice that was unsurprisingly abandoned in during the regulation-averse Reagan administration — nostalgiac for those more fair and balanced days of news coverage, it is Fox News.
The unbridled partisanship for right-wing ideologies at the cable news network likely stems from the conservative proclivities of its owner, Australian-born Rupert Murdoch, a man so obsessed with creating an influential powerhouse of a reactionary propaganda machine that he became an American citizen just so he could buy media assets that required American ownership.
The devolution of the news media from the reporting of neutral and unvarnished facts to flag-waving, jingoistic, partisan infomercials was perfectly exemplified today by the coverage of last night’s coronavirus superspreader event near Las Vegas, Nevada, a/k/a Donald Trump’s latest mask-eschewing campaign rally.
Fox News‘ morning show Fox & Friends highlighted the transformation of objective news reporting into free virtual campaign advertisements by beginning each hour of their three-hour program block with a brief clip of the president blissfully smiling with ego gratification as the adoring crowd of potential disease carriers chanted “We love you.”
this is the news now pic.twitter.com/zRYfn6IVfS
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) September 14, 2020
A more blatant form of the free donation of valuable promotional airtime — without any accountability to federal campaign finance laws — to a presidential candidate would be difficult to find than this instance.
For all of Donald Trump’s demonization of the media as “fake news,” the man who rose to national prominence as the star of a mediocre-at-best reality TV series relies heavily on the media, and Fox News in particular, for disseminating his divisive message of racist fear and impending socialist takeover to the rabid, if ill-informed, viewers of the opinion and entertainment-based channels that now pass for TV journalism.
A large part of the disunity and social incohesiveness of American society today can be attributed to the lack of an authoritative, reliable, and trusted source for unbiased information in this time of cultural communications bubbles and warring ideas about what exactly constitutes a fact.
It’s time to reinstate the FCC Fairness Doctrine so that no viewer can be exposed to just a single viewpoint on the major issues of our times.
The days when a single news outlet can slant its coverage of a presidential race blatantly in favor of a single candidate and affect the outcome of the race with a heavy hand on the media scale must come to an end if we are ever to see a return to a more civil and informed public political discourse.
For every chant of “We love you,” viewers should be presented with equally vehement footage of supporters chanting the same for the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, or at the very least, footage of protestors shouting “We hate your stinking guts!” at Donald Trump.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.