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Friday, April 1, 2011

Smoking The Sammon

Fox News wanted to start a Canadian network to further far-right agendas. The effort was supported by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who attempted to change Section 181 of the Canadian Criminal Code. The Section makes it an indictable offense to knowingly spread false news. To make it short, Mr. Harper and Fox didn't get their wish and there is no Fox Canada or anything close to it.

This is important to note because Americans are continually exposed to false news due to a Florida decision in 2003. Fox News was vindicated in court, permitting them and anyone else to lie on air. While the FCC may frown upon news distortion, there is very little that can actually be done about it aside of telling people to think for themselves. As it stands today, CNN could tell the world that Keith Olbermann wears pink panties under his suit and get away with it. They'd lose their remaining hair of journalistic integrity, but they wouldn't be breaking any laws.

One of Fox's most respected pundits is vice president and DC editor Bill Sammon. Mr. Sammon has been on the air hundreds of times supporting erroneous stories about Barack Obama and others on the Democratic side of the aisle. In various leaked emails Mr. Sammon has inserted his voting preference into topics such as health care and climate change. And the thing is, Bill Sammon often doesn't agree with the opinions he passes off as news, just spouting them so  more people vote Republican.

In one particular series of speeches aboard a luxury cruise for Conservatives, Mr. Sammon not only admits to  distorting facts, but that he doesn't even personally believe what he tells others. On the cruise, he calls his smears mischievous speculation, but it's a means to a political end that benefits those wealthy enough to sail on opulent ships.

Most news networks in our day and age project a bias in op-ed segments, but those at Fox have made careers out of deliberately lying to people in order to further the cause of the rich man. Fox claims that their news segments are different from op-ed, but they've become indistinguishable from one another; a news story about a Muslim nation almost always peppered with divisive hyperbole. The 2003 decision made it 100% legal to lie, conceal, and distort information broadcast over the airwaves, and nobody takes advantage more often than the network that paid for the verdict.

Think about this the next time you hear of a breaking story. Look at an issue from as many angles and sources as possible before automatically trusting that the first report is the correct one. Like it or not, we are in an age where the spotlight has corrupted many, with some journalists preferring fame over facts. Bill Sammon is just one of those who are content to throw viewers into a sea of misinformation in exchange for ratings. He knows that the more people who believe a lie, the closer it comes to resembling the truth. Don't become a casualty of  misinformation and discrimination spread by the greedy.

It's time to jump off of the obfuscation bandwagon. My only promise to you that is if you stop taking Fox seriously, you'll be less confused about our section of the planet and the world at large. You might even learn to say "hello" to your Mexican neighbour or at least stop viewing those different from yourself as evil. By watching less hatred, you may just hate less. And the whole world will be better for it.

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