The more I hear about FOX News North, or, as it’s being called by Quebecor and Sun Media “a right wing network”, the more I am concerned. I get it though. We Canadians always like to follow the American example, a few years later. They elect a right-winger, so do we. Oh, you have a Reagan? We’ll give you a Mulroney. It’s Clinton now? Here’s our Jean Chretien. For about six weeks, there was a joke that Hillary, and not Bill, actually wore the pants in the family and was the REAL president. So we got Kim Campbell for six weeks. Ah, Bush I see. Well, we have a Harper. Yes, I agree, in most cases we gave the Americans a pretty poor copy of their guy. Or girl. But boy, we tried. You have a tea party? We have a Tea Party lite, this Alberta Rosey McRose Alliance or whatever it is.
Now, ten years later, we’re bringing FOX News to Canada. Oh, I know the arguments – this isn’t FOX, it won’t be a cynical sham of a news organization that functions only as a propaganda branch of the Conservative party and contains very little actual “news”. This will be…well…real news. I guess. But doesn’t the fact that this network is marketing itself AS conservative actually take away from the whole “news” thing? This is supposedly an attempt to combat the perceived left-wing bias of the existing major Canadian media. So…the mainstream Canadian media is totally left-wing, and the only way to balance that out is to run a specifically, branded right-wing media outlet!
Or is it? I will acknowledge that there may be a small lean to the left in our bigger networks, specifically CBC. But what exactly defines that lean? The big offender, if you listen to the hard right, is the CBC. Watch their news and try to figure out where the left-wing bias argument originates. I really don’t see it. And when people complain about the crazy-left CBC, what do they cite? David Suzuki? Debatable as it may be whether Global Warming is a left-wing issue (and I think it’s utterly insane that it has become that), just having David Suzuki makes you left wing? Was it reporting on the abuse of Afghan detainees makes them left wing? Or was that just facts?
I think I might defer to Jon Stewart and the Daily Show on this one. His skewering of FOX News is brilliant – although he acknowledges a modicum of left-wing bias on the part of the mainstream media, he suggests that the FOX News response to that perceived imbalance is WAY out of proportion. This is hilarious:
And that’s the danger I see in FOX News North. I think it will start out as an attempt to “balance” news coverage in Canada. But it’s only right-wingers that actually see that “bias” in the first place. So the only thing this new network will do is add a previously-unheard conservative voice. Which will be fine to begin with. Like FOX News was OK to begin with. They started out as a minor cable “news” network. But now they are the single biggest wedge dividing the American political discourse, polarizing the climate to an unconscionable degree. The longer FOX News runs, the more the debate becomes increasingly polarized. And the crazier and more vicious commentators have to be to cut through the more moderate rhetoric that’s out there – that’s what produces Andrew Breitbart and Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter and Bernie Goldberg and all the other nutters who claim to have some kind of expertise in domestic affairs.
So that’s where we’re headed. But here’s the thing. I don’t think FOX News North should be stopped. I don’t even think it should be protested. All I ask is this – don’t call it “news”. You are obviously going out of your way to produce a television product that plays to a certain demographic base (the same one that listens to all of that right-wing talk radio…quick, name a left-wing talk radio station…) with admittedly slanted and one-sided coverage.
That’s fine. Have your network and run whatever programs you want. I’ll probably even watch! I watch O’Reilly and Glenn Beck and occasionally even that hack Sean Hannity on a regular basis! (I watch because they amuse me, but that’s beside the point.) Just don’t pretend it’s “news”. Calling something “news” implies at least an effort to make coverage balanced and fair and nonpartisan. And your very mission statement is proof enough that this is not, at all, what you intend to do. You intend to present the right-wing side of everything. And truly, as someone who leans far more left than right, I welcome that. But let’s avoid falling into that awful, disgusting polarizing pile of crap that is the American political system at the moment. And the best way to do that is to make sure that you don’t refer to your new television network as “news”.