Stephanie England is an English senior and Mustang Daily political columnist.
Stephanie England is an English senior and Mustang Daily political columnist.

On last Sunday’s news shows, members of the Obama administration defended White House communications director Anita Dunn’s statement that FOX News operates “almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party.”

Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and senior Obama adviser David Axelrod both came out in support of Dunn. On ABC’s “This Week”, Axelrod explained, “The only argument Anita was making is that they’re not really a news station.”

“It’s not just their commentators, but a lot of their news programming. It’s really not news. It’s pushing a point of view,” he continued. Rahm Emanuel echoed that statement on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

It’s a unique battle brewing between the Obama administration and the station that claims to be “fair and balanced,” and it is also much more complicated than either side is willing to admit. This issue is really about journalism ethics and the government attempting to interfere with our free press.

I don’t wonder why the Obama administration denigrates the journalistic practices of FOX News. Media watchdogs such as Media Matters frequently flag FOX programs for lying or misconstruing quotes.

According to Media Matters, Glenn Beck “falsely claimed Anita Dunn ‘worships’ ‘her hero’ Mao Zedong” on his Oct. 15 show. Actually, Media Matters points out, Dunn says that Mao Zedong and Mother Teresa were two of her “favorite philosophers.” She does not refer to either as her hero. In the respectable field of journalism, Beck’s behavior would be

considered highly unethical.

It is not FOX’s conservative bias as a news organization that I find offensive. MSNBC has a fairly clear liberal bias, and as a person who strives for consistency, I would definitely hold MSNBC to the same standard as I do FOX News.

Rather, it is FOX’s clear disregard for the truth that is harmful to society. In the segment of the Beck show that I referenced, it’s clear that he’s doing the story simply because he has found an angle to criticize Dunn. He has no regard for the value of his occupation, nor for the weighty responsibility that comes along with being a member of the press.

The freedom of the press may be the most important freedom granted by our Bill of Rights. The press is the guardian of our freedoms and the educator of society. Without it, our country could not maintain an informed electorate, and our representative democracy would decay into a totalitarian state.

The freedom of press is so important that Thomas Jefferson wrote, “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Obviously, Jefferson understood the gravity of maintaining a free press, with the purpose of keeping Americans informed about the United States, and he saw the importance of free information. But I think inherent in his cherishing of the press is his love for the truth.

And sometimes, the truth stands in opposition to the government’s actions. We saw this demonstrated in the lead up to the Iraq War. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were keen on the connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. It turned out that the truth stood in direct opposition to their statements.

However, this is not the case today. And I think this is the most important argument for the legitimization of the Obama administration’s criticisms of a news organization. The reporting that FOX conducts, as a journalistic organization, is too often based on sensationalism and half-truths.

The real news story — the truth within this issue — is that the government is, out of necessity, stepping into the role of the guardian of truths and the education of society. That’s definitely not what Jefferson intended.

While FOX News is just one irresponsible news organization of many responsible news organizations, I think the amount of misinformation they release hurts America; and while normally I would advocate against the government commenting on the actions and reporting of our press, I think that this is one occasion when the administration is right to do so for the greater good of society.

Stephanie England is an English senior and Mustang Daily political columnist.

Join the Conversation


  1. Your only specific accusations against Fox News for not being news are lobbied against Glenn Beck, who repeatedly states that he is NOT a journalist, but rather a commentator.

    Fox News has both commentary (think Glenn Beck) and news. They are separate. Just because the Mustang Daily has opinion pieces doesn’t mean all of the Mustang Daily isn’t news. I’m not sure why you don’t see the separation.

    1. This has already been said many times in the comments here. Thank you for adding nothing to the discussion.

      Also, please follow the link to the Huffingon Post article that I posted. It provides 10 examples of Fox News’ bias and misrepresentation of facts. Examples that are not commentary.

      1. Sorry man, just realized this is actually the first post. Thanks for bringing up this point in a well thought out manner. Consider my previous post a reply to Sedric.

  2. I usually dont read the political columns because they are TERRIBLE but I decided to read this one. Now I remember why I skipped these in the first place. Everyone knows Fox News is conservative and CNN and MSNBC lean to the left. The clear bias in your article just makes you look ignorant.

    1. “MSNBC has a fairly clear liberal bias, and as a person who strives for consistency, I would definitely hold MSNBC to the same standard as I do FOX News.”

      She clearly pointed out that MSNBC is biased to the left. Did you even read the whole article, Steve?

  3. No one has ever claimed Glen Beck was news, it’s an opinion show on a news channel. “Mustang Daily” is a newspaper and yet you have a blatently biased column printed in it. Do you, as “a person who strives for consistency” hold the “Mustang Daily” to the same standard? If so, might I expect this to be your last column?

    I would also like to take a moment to ask you about the difference between the concept of “hero” and “favorite philosopher.” From Wikipedia: “Mao’s policies and political purges from 1949-1975 are widely believed to have caused the deaths of between 40 to 60 million people.” I am curious; are you honestly telling your readers that you believe that there is a significant distinction between Anita Dunn hero-worshiping Mao as opposed to her just thinking that he has a really good philosophy?

    1. The column that Stephanie writes is purposely biased and is also considered to be commentary just like Glenn Beck. So please don’t hold her to a double standard.

      1. If Stephanie is the “liberal equivalent to Glenn Beck” then according to her own views she is just as “hurtful” to America as she claims FOX news to be (and by associaton Glenn Beck.)

        1. Were you quoting me? Please show me where I said “liberal equivalent of Glenn Beck”? No, well you must be quoting someone else… And who are you quoting “hurtful” from?

  4. So, Glenn Beck was an easy target and not a very good one. For all of those people trying to defend Fox News (I feel your pain, it’s hard, I know) you should check out this website:

    That’s 10 examples of how Fox News (as in the actual news reporting part of it that is supposed to have integrity) spouts half truths, misrepresents facts, and flat out lies. Either these people are mean and hateful, or just ignorant and stupid.

    1. Let me get this straight, you are accusing FoxNews of misreporting (i.e. lying) by referencing the Huffington Post? A far left organization? That doesn’t give your arguments any credibility. Founder of the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, is a frequent guest on MSNBC as a commentator, and she has said her fair share of CRAZY unsubstantiated, pulled out of thin air, pick and choose, loose w/ the facts kind of statements. One thing about Glen Beck though, he backs up his rants – his statements and beliefs – w/ historical references from the writings of Madison, Mason, Jefferson, Adams, et al – one thing the left does not do. They express great affection and quote from the likes of Mao, Marx, Engels, et. al.

  5. Article just makes you look ignorant and not credible.

    The difference is the stories fox news covers, fox news covers them all not just what they want to show. I watch fox news and see liberal stories I dont want to have to listen to, I hear obama speak, they dont censor him.

    Attacking fox news is inciting rebellion and furthering the democrats from the moderates. It hurts the democratic party and makes them seem not credible and it begins to look socialist in the matter of censor or attacking organizations presenting and commenting on current events or a political and non-political nature.

    What’s really interesting is why people are making this claim. Is it because they are jealous that fox news has become the most viewed cable channel from 3-10PM and has the top 9 cable programs? Jealous that everything Glenn Beck touches turns to gold, every book he write is instant #1 bestseller,Or is it because the democrats are scared because they are being attacked with basic American principals that date back to the founding of this country. Arguments the can come up with a counter argument to, other then “fox news is not news” Are they upset they can’t win in a fight against fox news. Or do they just dont like competition, are they scared of having to compete with somebody.
    Are they afraid of a revolution?

    1. So you are saying that because Fox News has high ratings it is credible? This is the only argument backed by facts in your post and it is flimsy at best.

      I see high ratings as meaning only that Fox News is giving people what they want. Unfortunately, what you want isn’t always how the world works. Simply believing something to be true does not make it so. You can keep trying though.

      1. I just HAD to add that yes, in fact, Fox News has misrepresented speeches by Obama. For proof simply follow the link I posted above.

          1. RTFA then tell me it’s not credible. The Huff Post supported this article with links to other sources and many facts. Please, prove anything I’ve said wrong, make any point with SOME substance, and I will take you seriously.

      2. okay you clearly did not understand what i am talking about, here, did you actually read my post? I was asking if you were jealous that fox news is so popular, and is that the reason you are attacking fox news, of does that scare you?

        in fact, i jsut read through it again, i never even talked about the accuracy of fox news or any other news agency, where are you getting this from? what are you talking about.

        you shouldnt reply to my post if you are trying to reply to the article, if this were an essay in class you would get a "0" for not responding to essay question, how embarassing, do you even go to cal poly, or did you take the SAT before there was a essay section?

  6. “The column that Stephanie writes is purposely biased and is also considered to be commentary just like Glenn Beck. So please don’t hold her to a double standard.”

    You’re obviously confused so I will try to explain; Stephanie is setting a standard (or at least parroting the standard set by those with whom she agrees.) She is making the claim that since Glen Beck expresses opinion on his show, and since his show airs on the Fox News Network, that Fox News isn’t a legitimate news source. I made the observation that by her standard, the “Mustang Daily” isn’t a newspaper since she expresses opinion in her column. I didn’t make the original argument. I was just asking if she intended (in her strive for consistency) to quit doing her column in order to maintain the legitimacy of the “Mustang Daily” as a news source. Maybe now you can see that I don’t have a double standard as I didn’t make the argument–I was just taking Stephanie’s to a logical conclusion.

    1. I thought this was what you might be trying to say but felt it was worded poorly in your first post, which is why I replied. This post is very well thought out and clear and I have to agree that she picked a poor target in Glenn Beck. A target that admittedly makes her look kind of contradictory. Also, thank you for continuing the debate in a civil manner, and quoting me correctly.

      If you would like to see some real examples of Fox News misrepresenting facts please follow the link that I posted to the Huffington Post article.

  7. By writing an article like this you are questioning FOX’s free speech/press. You say that they are biased and wrong and lie, but it is their constitutional right to say whatever they want. It would be unconstitutional for the government to censor or regulate FOX news. I would also like echo the fact that Glenn Beck is a COMMENTATOR, and he clearly never acts like he isn’t, because his segments and specials are always predicated on his own opinion. Furthermore, it is every American’s right to choose what tv channel to watch (or believe) whether it’s news or not.

    The thing I hate about “The Liberal Lens” is that it is always finding something for the government to fix, something that is wrong (or against the liberal view) that needs to be corrected by the government. What the liberal population fails to realize is that the more power we give “the administration,” the more liberties we lose.

  8. There are some basic logical fallacies in your article. The biggest is your use of Glen Beck’s show to attempt to demonstrate that Fox News lacks journalistic integrity. Glen Beck is a commentator, not a journalist, thus it is a non sequitur to try to say that his show demonstrates problems with the journalism on the network. If you want to show poor journalism, you need to find some examples from a news show on the network. Bringing up issues of bias or hyperbole on one of the commentary shows that Fox News has when the issue is journalistic integrity is a red herring, they are two separate issues.

  9. I would like to ask why Stephanie never wrote this story about MSNBC and only chooses to attack Fox News. Yes O,Reilly, Hannity, and Beck are commentators, they give their opinion and based on their ratings, a lot of people want to hear what they think. The ‘news’ anchors at Fox News are another matter. They are not biased. I challenge anyone to find a legitimate issue with Fox News, not one from the Huffington Post or some other liberal source and if by some chance you do, I will show you a dozen made by MSNBC or for that matter any other news show. Liberals are the most hypocritical babies I have ever seen. They can deal it but cannot take it. Also, please stop referring to Fox as being pro republican. All of their commentators attack the republican party. Beck constantly attacks the Bush presidency, they even admit that they are conservatives and libertarians, not republicans.

    1. Please, RTFA. The Huffington Post backs their article with credible sources and facts and provides numerous examples of misrepresentation of facts by Fox News.

      Dismissing my argument is not a counter argument. Please try to add something constructive to this discussion.

  10. Also, Fox news says, “We report, you decide” before every story. It is not like they are trying to force it down your throat like some other news organization.

    1. However, they also claim to be fair and balanced. Based upon their reporting and my decision process I can’t help but come to the conclusion that they are not.

  11. Silly liberal. It is sad that someone writing for the mustang daily has no idea what they are talking about. Your next piece should be titled, “The Liberal Lens, Making People Dumber With Every Sentence.” By the way, if your sticking up for someone who said Mao Zedong is someone they “Turn To Most”, your whole world view is sadly distorted.

    1. ABC, CNN, NBC, and CBS are making a smart move here. They probably don’t want a precedent to be set where the White House can limit who gets a story. I totally agree with this viewpoint and totally agree that denying Fox News coverage was a bad move on the administration’s part.

      However, first note that the source of this clip is Fox News. Now there is an obvious bias in news reporting when you report about yourself. Admittedly this is unavoidable, but your argument would have been stronger coming from a third party.

      Finally, for the record CNN does NOT like Fox News and has called them liars in the past:

      PS: I watched the entire video.

  12. What you claim about free speech here is not entirely true according to my knowledge. I’m not going to go out and do a lot of research, but according to my understanding of free speech there are limits. These limits include things like libel and slander, as in promoting falsehoods about other people that defame or hurt their character. I apologize in advance if I have misrepresented libel or slander in any way.

    Please follow the link I posted to the Huffington Post article for examples of how Fox News says things that may be considered slanderous.

    Also, I ask you how many liberties did we lose to the PATRIOT ACT? Feel free to tally them up and respond anytime.

  13. Stephanie, you poor ignorant socialist sheep. You really do not understand. When you are older, you will understand the damage you do to yourself and others.

  14. I just had to point out your misunderstanding of the Bill of Rights. The amendments do not “grant” freedoms as you say – their purpose is to guarantee the pre-existing rights all Americans enjoy. Rights that are granted can be taken away; natural rights are forever. Americans who pick-and-choose which amendments they support are the least ethical of all. Supporting the Tenth Amendment of the Bill of Rights and something like nationalized healthcare at the same time is impossible, for example.

  15. Most of the people who watch Fox News hold a center right view of things. The farthest extreme of those is conservative or republican. While on MSNBC, the opposite is true. The same can be said for CNN.

    Ultimately, ignorance in reporting comes from all of these channels. There is no “true” fair news channel.

    If you looked at the comments on Fox News website about a topic say, green cars, you’ll find most of the people are ignorant and have a lust for HUGE gas guzzlers. Regardless of whether they need them or not. Just because they make them feel “big”. Obviously lacking in other areas? Like brains?

    While on MSNBC, you’ll find the majority of people still bashing Bush for problems caused by the current administration and the need to call terrorists acts “man made disasters”.

    I suggest you all do what I do, find a news story and research it yourselves, THEN come to a conclusion. Don’t make judgments on items without properly researching them first. It doesn’t make you “cool”.

    1. I wish. If people researched things for themselves the world would be a better place…. and then I wouldn’t have to argue with people like William or Jon Bailey (with his “dozen”s of ‘examples’).

  16. so nick you look like an ignorant ass for replying to everyboyds comments with pretty much the same thing, so since i dont really feel like wasting more of my time on you then i already am, ill give you this.

    as i saw of Fox News the other day,

    according to the wall street journal, government healthcare bills such as medicaid, and other smaller ones passed in recent year, have generally come in around 10 times the estimated cost, for example, (my numbers may not be exact but you get the point) medicaid cost 10times the orginal estimate, another 17 times, the original estimate, another, only, ONLY, but one actually did come in lower, ill give you that, about 5% lower, and it was one of the smallest, a few hundred thousand.

    so if you are going to say the huffinton post is more credible than the wall street journal, well, i dont even have to say it. just read the little caption at the bottom, it has the source, and a sampling error, if its a pool.

    here is another one for you, according to a rasmussen poll asking, \"would you vote of your districts republican or democratic congressmem,\" among Voters not affiliated with either party continue to heavily favor Republicans, 41% to 21%. The national telephone survey of 3,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports October 19-25, 2009. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 1 percentage point with a 95% level of confidence.

    PS i didnt feel like wasting time on you checking spelling, grammar or typing

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