It was in April 1986, when Geraldo Rivera was able to successfully sell his “Mystery of Al Capone’s Vault” to the masses as legitimate news, when the final nail was pounded into the coffin of television journalism. Today, there are a few brave souls like Mike Wallace who attempt to maintain the highest ethics, but for the most part the talking heads on the idiot box are more concerned with ego and image, a gaggle of chucklenuts who have so blurred the line between news and entertainment, the word infotainment needed to be created. We now live in a world where Will Ferrell is gladly given time on the once-proud Today Show to read the news as his fictional Ron Burgundy in order to promote his movie, full hours of “news magazines” like 20/20 are happily handed over to an A-list star to promote his or her latest screen effort or album, and former sports stars are more likely to have their own news channel show than a reporter who has spent twenty years in the field busting their hump to get ahead. Where is Greenwald’s disgust about these types of attack on journalismr
The director’s concern, at least this time around, is on one man, Rupert Murdoch, and the media empire he has created. Worldwide, Murdoch and his company, News Corp, own 175 newspapers, 100 cable channels, 40 book imprints, 40 television stations, 9 satellite TV networks and one movie studio. On a daily basis, his various enterprises can reach over two hundred and eighty million people in the United States. Those kinds of numbers should scare and outrage you, making you want to call up your FCC representatives and question why they allowed one man to have so much control over the news that is reported, if only FCC Chairman Michael Powell (whose father just happens to be our nation’s Secretary of State) wasn’t trying to rewrite the rules to give people like Murdoch the ability to buy even more television stations.
While “Outfoxed” does present a fairly strong case against Murdoch and the Fox News Channel, so much information is presented so quickly and without much time to let it sink in, that some viewers are likely to feel overwhelmed by the onslaught of facts, figures and testimonials. Originally released on DVD before its release into theatres, home video is the best format for this documentary, as it gives people a chance to pause for a moment and think about what’s just been presented, to reflect on the testimony of former Fox employees and stalwarts of journalistic integrity like Walter Cronkite.
Despite its shortcomings, “Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism” is required viewing not only for media watchdogs and future journalists, but those who are concerned with how news is disseminated.Rating: B