Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this film contains no obscenity or violence, but it does depict some rude and coarse behavior on the part of journalists and other public figures.
What's the story?
OUTFOXED is a raw but important documentary that could spark great discussions between teens and their parents. Director Robert Greenwald investigates Fox News Channel, its believed relationship with the Republican Party, and the questionable methods he alleges the network employs on behalf of the GOP. David Brock (of Media Matters for America) delivers the main idea of the movie about 1/3 of the way through: "They want all news to be opinion, because opinion can never be proven false." Consisting mostly of footage from Fox News itself, and interviews with critics of Fox, including many former employees, Outfoxed makes a strong case that the channel is far from being fair and balanced, but is instead a propaganda machine uninterested in the truth unless it supports its chosen side.
Is it any good?
Bill O'Reilly comes off worst, caught in several outright lies, but the indictment falls on the entire channel, soup to nuts. An exceptionally damning poll, conducted by PIPA/Knowledge Networks and cited in the movie, shows how regular viewers of Fox News are far more likely to be misled about facts concerning the war in Iraq than other people. The most interesting portion involves the way Fox uses music and graphic cues to telegraph their opinion to views without saying anything, an outgrowth of the more general trend of news serving as entertainment.
Here's the problem: Outfoxed uses some of those same graphic techniques to get its own point across. Swooping, exploding pictures and text sometimes overwhelm the screen, and make the movie feel frantic -- and like propaganda. Because of this, few people will come out of film with their minds changed about anything; those who agree with Mr. Brock will have their beliefs confirmed, those who disagree will simply walk away. Outfoxed is appropriate for anyone interested in politics, but it's probably best suited for teens and up.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how important an independent, skeptical press is in a democracy like ours. What's wrong with mixing opinion and fact in the news? Besides favoring one political party over another, how else does bad reporting harm the public? Can a news organization be liberal or conservative without being biased? Is Outfoxed "good" journalism itself, or is also motivated by partisan politics?