Your Take: The Fox News defamation case
Earlier this week we asked the following questions of our Bridge Alliance, Coffee Party and Fulcrum communities regarding the recently settled defamation case against Fox News for its previous claims about unsubstantiated reports of fraud in the presidential election:
- How might we better distinguish between news, analysis and opinion to be better informed citizens?
- How can we pivot towards a more thought-provoking approach to news media in developing political discourse?
Days removed from the landmark settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, the conversation surrounding Fox News’ responsibilities as a network rages on. Currently, the network is still entrenched in a pending defamation case with voting tech company Smartmatic; compared to its recently settled counterpart, this particular case could be settled for a much higher price tag. But a major consideration must be made whether or not the news network is directly responsible for defamatory comments made on its airwaves, with current legal shuffling potentially pinning it instead on the network’s hosts.
With all of these complexities considered, your responses indicate a clear need for adjustments (with fair criticism of the potentially overly complex nature of the questions). Many seem to find the fix simple: going back to the previous way of doing business, removing the money, the political posturing, and focusing on the bare bones truth. At least, clearly delineating between what is considered fact and opinion on all sides of the political discourse.
Here is a sample of your thoughts. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
If it offers analysis or opinion, label it as such. Clearly. Basically, do all good things taught traditionally in "objective" journalism before the trade decided its job was subjective "truth" rather than unbiased accuracy. Stop trying to reinvent the wheel. There was a time everybody knew the difference between news and opinion, and a time everybody knew what the standards of objective journalism were that, while rarely perfectly realized, could always be aspired to.- Quin Hillyer
We should return to the fairness doctrine. Media delivery of news is no longer a public service. It has become "info-tainment" with content determined by ratings. The only way to reverse this is to severely limit or prohibit the amount of time devoted to commercials during the delivery of news. - William R. Hunn
News is not supposed to be thought-provoking, news is supposed to be information-sharing backed up by fact checking! This isn't a Sociology class. - Michael Ornce
We should stay conservative and cover more than just the AP headlining stories. There are more than 6-8 important news stories in a day. - Deborah Brown
News used to be a public service by media outlets, it wasn't expected to make a profit, money corrupts everything it touches. - Chris Brimmer
In leading workshops for Truth in Common I've found that showing folks how both the CNN and Fox prime-time lineups are mostly opinion shows, and that you may see the same breaking news topics, but with different commentators, from one show to the other helps them see the overabundance of opinion in cable news programming. That's not to toss out cable news overall; many shows are about fact-based reporting, it's just important for folks to understand when they're taking in opinions vs being left to form their own. Generally speaking, national news outlets can be more polarizing than local ones; they're more vilified by those whose agenda is to discredit quality sources of information and thus become part of how we "choose sides." We need to support quality outlets on the national and local levels, as these are how we know what's going on in our communities and our nation. - Deanna Troust
Just tell the truth. - Elmer Harris
Being most informed I think would make us better able to distinguish between news, analysis and opinion. I myself look for sources that will provide links and footnotes that I can peruse myself to decide on the strength of the argument. So if I read an opinion, I look for that. - Ed Heath
It has become increasingly difficult to find political discourse in the growing amount of tribal violence in politics. Any progress would involve the news media sifting through the character attacks to find the underlying civics issue. - John Ruble
It's not easy to distinguish news and opinion when news is driven by a profit motive. The FOX saga is a shining example of that, but all of the networks are driven by profit. News analysis is a cancer on real news and it dominates. Non-profit news is the only way. - Randy Ricks
In order to best distinguish between news, analysis and opinion you have to get your news from more than one source. When you see several sources reporting roughly the same thing, then there is a reasonable degree of certainty that it is true. - Angela Bridgman
I'm sure there are many informed, respected, and patriotic citizens that have political opinions. That is foundational to America and gives us all perspective. In my opinion, there needs to be a change in the use of the word "News". News is intended to provide facts from reliable sources to allow citizens to make decisions. Any citizen should have the right to obtain political information provided it is not breaking the law or inciting violence. One can have political news, and political opinion, as long as the media is appropriately labeled we are free to consume. - Richard Detrick
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