We own the airwaves

By Bill Deiz in Portland, Oregon, a former print and broadcast journalist; now communications director of a statewide non-profit.

FoxnewsI was chatting with a soccer dad the other day as we stood on the sidelines and watched our kids play. And he got me thinking:

It is time we took back our airwaves.

As we watch the degeneration of national broadcast news into PR releases for the extreme right wing, thanks in no small part to the minions at FOX NEWS, we don't have to sit back and take it. We CAN get mad as hell.

As one who grew up during the turbulent 60s, I remember well the power of the boycott. When you hit 'em in their pocketbooks, you get their attention! (Think Selma, Alabama bus boycott). So let's clobber 'em.

Many of us are cable TV subscribers. We are the customers of cable companies. They need our business.

So let's make a simple demand of our local cable TV providers: Let's demand they stop delivering FOX NEWS into our homes! If they don't, let's threaten to cancel our cable service!

(Going without cable TV for a time would be a small price to pay in the interest of our democracy...and it may not get that far.)

If only one or two of us do this it would mean nothing, of course. But if we mobilize through the power of the Internet, starting with tens, then hundreds, then thousands right here in Oregon, and then we multiply that demand by MILLIONS of cable TV subscribers from coast to coast, in a groundswell of frustrated, angry Americans, I guarantee you we'll get their attention-- not only of the local cable TV providers, but of the idiots who run FOX NEWS.

You think they want to risk losing millions of American homes? And risk losing key advertisers who move their business elsewhere?

Right now our silence is deafening comfort that they can keep doing business as usual.

So let's hit 'em in their pocketbooks and really shake things up.

[Editor's note: Today, we debut our first guest column. To contribute your own, look for the green box on the left side.]

  • Pliny (unverified)

    Actually I wouldn't be surprised if all the FOX channels are bundled together via contract like Viacom's stuff. Cable/Satelite companies may not be able to just drop Faux News. Of course, you could always jump on DeLay's bandwagon to change that.

  • John (unverified)

    From the right's perspective, FOX is all they have. The left has its voice in CNN, PBS, CBS, NBC and ABC. They can't see the problem you describe.

    From the left's perspective, PBS was all they had. The rest belongs to the right and corporations.

    Both sides are wrong and blind. The center mostly wishes the right and left would just give it a break. But good luck with the boycott.

  • Anthony (unverified)

    Hating someone else's point of view, for whatever reasons, is one thing; doing your damndest to silence them is quite another.

    Fox is the one station that defines the center to the right of the networks' orientation (never mind PBS and NPR), and the reaction is "It must be stamped out!"

    I don't know what's worse the casual intolerance, or the sheer pitch of the irrationality.

    Get a grip on yourself, for heaven's sake.

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    I'll disagree with the counterpoints above. To me, it's not about left/right, but rather about biased news coverage. Here's an example from today's coverage - easily verifiable here.

    The story is about medical malpractice reform in Texas. The graphic, onscreen for the entire clip, reads, "Texas Lawsuit Limit Sees Drop in Health Care Costs."

    That would be fine, but NOWHERE in the story does the reporter even suggest a drop in health care costs. They mention a drop in lawsuits filed, and they say one single insurer says it will, in January, reduce its charges. But, nowhere, NOT ANYWHERE, does the reporter claim a drop in health care costs.

    And that's on the very first video clip I selected at FoxNews.com. I'm sure an actual research study would plenty more inaccurate or biased coverage of important issues.

    No other news network has a president who was once employed as a political consultant. Roger Ailes - former Nixon, Reagan and Bush media guy - is the President and CEO of Fox News. 'Nuff said.

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    Oh, and Pliny, I agree - that's one rare case when DeLay's got a pretty good idea.

  • john (unverified)

    Kari- You could find that kind of coverage omission and focus on CNN any hour of the day. You don't see it because of your perspective. You don't see it as a left/right thing, you see it as a right/wrong thing. And you're right.

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    Justice Brandeis, easily one of the brightest men to sit on the Court, paraphrased: the answer to bad speech is more speech, not enforced silence. There are plenty of right-leaning and left-leaning alt-media sources, particularly in the age of the internet, digital cable, and satellites. If you don't like Fox, then don't watch Fox. If you want a really fair and balanced view, then get your news from lots of different sources, and make up your own mind about what's credible and what's not. The truth is likely somewhere in between.

  • (Show?)

    Did Fox air the doctored photo of John Kerry next to Jane Fonda? I'm looking for a credible URL (preferably at www.foxnews.com) that shows whether any of the Fox people perpetuated that on the air.

  • john (unverified)

    Chuck - That sounds like a Dan Rather move. You've got an accusation all ready. All you need now is evidence. That's kind of creepy.

  • (Show?)

    I am just trying to find out if the blogs that make the claim are correct. And I am not alone in wondering. The photo went all over the web, and there were media stories about it being a fake. My question: did Fox air it?

    I also agree with Jim Hightower that the media's focus on Rather is a diversion from the real issues in this campaign. Folks sitting around the dinner table don't give too much of a damn about whether Rather screwed up or was set up by Rove - they need health care, stable jobs not threatened with moving overseas, they need affordable housing and they need quality and affordable education from pre-K to college.

  • (Show?)

    I am just trying to find out if the blogs that make the claim are correct. And I am not alone in wondering. The photo went all over the web, and there were media stories about it being a fake. My question: did Fox air it?

    I also agree with Jim Hightower that the media's focus on Rather is a diversion from the real issues in this campaign. Folks sitting around the dinner table don't give too much of a damn about whether Rather screwed up or was set up by Rove - they need health care, stable jobs not threatened with moving overseas, they need affordable housing and they need quality and affordable education from pre-K to college.

  • LC (unverified)


    Q1. Who cares about what Bush did 32 years ago?

    A1. Nobody but the Bush haters.

    Q2. Why is the Rather-memo story so interesting?

    A2. Because CBS treated it like they found "the bloody glove" AND Rather's initial reaction was to deny it.

    Q3. What about FOX airing a fake photo with Kerry & Fonda?

    A3. See the answer to question #1.

    Q4. Why didn't FOX take on water like CBS?

    A4. Because it wasn't very damning to Kerry anyway and FOX acknowledged that they were fooled soon after it was pointed out.

    Get over this and find something new. This sad desire to balance the equation won't sway anyone.

  • john (unverified)

    Chuck - brian.carnell.com?

    "But the only time the fake photo is mentioned on Brit Hume's show that I could find is to dismiss it as a fake. "

    He sounds real disappointed. You both sound real desperate. Is this really the most effective way to spend the day?

  • brett (unverified)

    Unbelievable. I disagree with speech, therefore it must be silenced. Truly disgusting. Especially when the only reason is that they don't parrot your views. Nothing wrong with peddling fake evidence as long as it supports your side, right?

    Nice job on the first guest column. It boggles the mind that people actually think this way.

  • Bill Deiz (unverified)


    I'm afraid you miss the point. The airwaves belong to the people. The FCC used to be the watchdog to keep the airwaves from being abused by those licensed to broadcast over them, but, alas, The FCC has been gutted of much of its enforcement powers. Save for the occasional fine for showing too much "boob".

    As one who spent many years in the trenches trying to report fairly and accurately, it bothers me that an outfit like FOX NEWS can so willfully and flagrantly violate its mission as a news provider. Since the FCC has not the starch to hold them responsible for their outright lies and distortions, I would love to see a boycott of their news product, not as censorship, but as a way to show our displeasure with the twisted product they promote.

    You and I both know this probably won't happen. But it would be nice if news organizations were somehow held accountable for the product they produce.

  • john (unverified)

    Bill- "willfully and flagrantly violate"..."outright lies and distortions". Are we supposed to know what you're upset over? Even your original posting had no examples or evidence of the problems to which you refer.

  • brett (unverified)

    outright lies and distortions

    Um, no. Not in the slightest. That's quite a reasoned, thoughtful argument you've got there.

    But it would be nice if news organizations were somehow held accountable for the product they produce.

    Does the irony of making this argument about Fox in the context of Rathergate completely escape you?

    A "former print and broadcast journalist" argues for censorship. Nice.

    You should try watching Fox for a while. You might be surprised at what you find, if your mind is open in the slightest.

  • Jesse (unverified)

    Reading this report might help:


    It's from an organization who, judging from their foundation sponsors and previous reports, does not seem to warrant any political slant. I can't find much saying otherwise. In addition, their methodology, sample size and margins of error point to a rather reliable study, in my opinion.

    You'll find info, beginning on page 12, that would suggest that Fox News has been quite effective at message distribution. This study finds that any way you slice it, Fox News watchers were far more inclined to carry misconceptions about the (lack of) conncections between Iraq/Hussein and Al Qaeda.

    I'm inclined to think this survey says something about the nature of biased news and its potential political effect.

    I think either way you slice it, every sensational story about the campaign ends up being little more than poltical. Swiftboats, Rathergate, Texans for Truth--every party has predictible responses to each story. Yet all of these stories beg us to examine the larger observation that we just can't seem to get at, the ultimate regression of news.

    I think around 11% of folks read the paper frequently.

    Cable news is little more than 30 second stories with 20 minutes of talking head commentary and 9.5 minutes of commercials. TV political analysts are just kinda smart folks who get to spew their opinion at the audience, get cut off by another pundit, or who have a party agenda to follow.

    TV news is, well, uggh.

    A sad sidenote: My roomate tells me he rode the train next to a fellow who had never registered to vote, didn't know the county he lived in, and had no idea who a democrat or republican were. He was 27.

  • (Show?)

    Yes, I'm a strong believer in free speech. In fact, I'm probably an absolutist on free speech. (One notes that I've never censored a comment or post here at BlueOregon, though I have the power.)

    That said, I also don't believe that I should be forced or coerced into paying for someone else's speech that I disagree with. Right now, I'm paying $41.95 a month to Comcast, and they're using that money to pay a fee to Fox News.

    I'd be happy to stick with Comcast, if they would drop Fox News.

    Interestingly, I discovered an alternative tonight: DishTV offers a 60-channel package for $30/mo that does NOT include Fox News. I still get my ESPN, FoodTV, C-SPAN, CNN, and the networks (including Fox/KPTV) - just not Fox News.

    Now, I just gotta figure out what to do about high-speed internet access - I ain't going back to Qwest.

  • bill deiz (unverified)

    First of all, when the government stifles speech,THAT is censorship. When an individual makes a decision NOT to use a product, THAT is free choice, something we still have a right to in this society. A boycott is a proven way to effect change, in this case NOT because FOX doesn't "parrot my views", but because its product is consistently and willfully misleading.

    I cite the following examples from a lawsuit currently before the FTC...filed by Moveon.org and Common Cause... that demands that FOX stop using "fair and balanced" in its slogan since its news product is anything but fair and balanced:

    "The distorted and misleading nature of the resulting coverage of the Iraq War is demonstrated by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy which showed that substantial numbers of citizens have significant misperceptions about the war, and that these misperceptions were markedly higher among those whose main source of news was FNC.

    "For example: 33% of FNC viewers believe (falsely) that the U.S. has found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, compared to 11% of National Public Radio listeners. Of FNC viewers, 67% believed (falsely) that the U.S. has 'found links between Iraq and Al Qaeda' versus 16% of NPR listeners.

    PIPA's research director, Clay Ramsay, concluded that, "The more closely you followed FOX, the more misperceptions you had...No other news outlet came anywhere near that."

    Our democratic republic has been unique in its development of a news media that also served as a fourth estate, as an independent watchdog to help keep government power in check.

    When members of this watchdog group purposely pass on government-generated public relations materials as "news", it undermines the integrity, not only of the news media, but of our very system of government.

    It is not a question of a right wing or a left wing bias. It is a question of fact. Journalists must often let facts get in the way of a good story. An exaggerated, distorted "story" may make for a better read, but it is not journalism.

    It is too bad that some of you who read this don't understand that journalism is not a question of my side or your side, it is a question of accurate reporting that is intended to INFORM and not to MISLEAD the public!

  • LC (unverified)

    Bill wrote:

    "It is too bad that some of you who read this don't understand that journalism is not a question of my side or your side, it is a question of accurate reporting that is intended to INFORM and not to MISLEAD the public!"

    So you are upset that some peopele sense a bias in your post about bias at FOX?

    Maybe, I'll demonstrate that your opinion is biased by polling Blue Oregon readers to figure out many more of them still believe the central truth of Dan Rather's memo story versus Charles Johnson's readers.

    Correlative studies don't really prove much. Most FOX viewers probably want to believe that there were links between Irag and Al Qaeda and were looking hard to find them. I remember some old report about an Al Qaeda leader meeting with one of Saddam's intelligence operatives before 9/11 (didn't convince me of anything, but maybe some of those polled were thinking about that). The poll apparently didn't ask require the purported Iraq/Al Qaeda links to be convincing or numerous.

    Look, I'll be the first to admit that Fox has an agenda. Will you own up to NPR having an agenda too (just as effective, but more subtle)?

    I wouldn't classify your post as advocating censorship if you were only relying on a boycott to drive your desire to shut down FOX. However, using the courts to threaten a network news agency for not being "fair and balanced" enough is an attempt at censorship through the courts.

    The members of the party of Larry Flynt should shudder at MoveOn.org's lawsuit rather than cite it with approval.

  • bill deiz (unverified)

    Thanks LC for your thoughtful comments.

    Just to clarify: the lawsuit is not an attempt to shut down nor censor Fox News. It asks that fair advertising standards be applied to the claim of being "fair and balanced" which is part of the Fox News slogan. Truth in advertising. Fox News is neither fair nor balanced, in the opinion of those who support the lawsuit. Thus it is engaging in false advertising when it says it is.

    Fox has every right to broadcast whatever it sees fit to broadcast, just as I have a right to boycott its news product if I so choose. Fox does not have a right to call itself something it is not.

    On another point: I am always amazed how some perceive the balanced reporting on NPR as somehow "slanted". Their so-called "agenda" is to try to get the facts and to get the story correct.

    Sometimes in this quest they may be more successful than at other times.

  • raging red (unverified)

    I have to say that as much as I dislike Fox News, I don't think the boycott is a good idea or that it's even necessary. The way Fox conducts the business of news has been exposed, and now everyone can make up their own minds about whether to watch it or not.

    I happen to vehemently disagree with Pat Robertson's agenda, but it's really easy for me to just not watch his network. He has a news segment where he offers is ultra-conservative Christian perspective on the stories of the day, and I have watched bits and pieces of this and heard him give blatant misinformation about particular stories. However, there are people out there who want to watch. I'm not going to boycott my cable company over it.

    I enjoy watching the Bravo network. I know there are many people out there who are vehemently opposed to this station, because it airs shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Boy Meets Boy. I would not like it if a group of anti-gay people boycotted the cable company and was successful in getting them to remove this station, because I like to watch it.

    I realize that comparing Pat Robertson's network and Bravo to Fox News is a bit like apples & oranges, since Fox is supposed to be engaging in journalism, not entertainment. Bill Deiz makes a good point that so many people don't seem to get - journalism isn't about my side/your side, it's about reporting accurate information and getting at the truth. Facts themselves do not have a bias. Of course, the way facts are presented can certainly have a bias.

    As long as people are aware of Fox News' tactics and its bias, I'm not really going to get up in arms about it. TV journalism as a whole has become substandard.

    That was pretty rambling. Sorry.

  • raging red (unverified)

    Oh, I do want to add one of my favorite Fox News moments: when Brit Hume downplayed the number of soldiers' deaths in Iraq by stating the average number of U.S. soldiers dying each day in Iraq was 1.7, while in California, which is the same geographic size as Iraq, there are an average of 6.6 murders per day. So statistically speaking, according to Brit Hume, soldiers had less of a chance of being killed in Iraq than Californians have of being murdered.

    It doesn't take a statistician to figure out why that statement is just completely assinine. (Then there's the issue of, why was he making that statement to begin with?)


  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    Bill Deiz,

    The quacking comment rotriots have wild goose-chased off this thread to go poop on their next attention deficit doodle, so perhaps these items I brought back from the ways of the web can be passed along here for discussion without the drivel.

    The part of your post I disagree with is your condition on taking action in boycott. As in: 'IF they don't shape up, THEN let's start a boycott.' Why wait? Don't wait. Boycott Cable TV NOW.

    Join in. It's already going and slowly slowly gaining gravity. Call you cable company, say "Cancel my subscription (and whatever else you want to add)," and hang up, and breathe that deep breath of freedom and a new healthier happier way of life -- your life, your worth, YOU. Nobody ever said with their dying words 'I wish I'd watched more tv.' Quite to the contrary, many have said in their last breath, 'I wish I had NOT watched so much tv, and loved more, and danced more, and sang more, and LIVED more actively.' Too late, they're dead.

    You and I and a growing Boycott Cable TV are not dead, we are alive. Let's live like it. TV is death, brain death. Simply read up the list of comments to see the dead ducks quacking.

    The problem with cable TV is it only comes in a bundled package. So when you pay the fee, the FOXzis get your money REGARDLESS of whether you watched them, or like them, or agree with them. They don't care, they don't have to -- you already paid them. They can say what they want and you can not do a thing about it.

    Except BOYCOTT CABLE TV. It wouldn't take much to put them out of business. Especially in this dwindling audience era. There are about 100 million cable subscriptions, split fifty/fifty between residential and commercial. Owning a cable channel grosses over one billion dollars per year CASH -- whether anyone watches or not. One billion dollars does not count ad sales revenue, which is less than subscriber payments, and isn't as much leverage against the propaganda channels to chase off their ad sales. In the 50 million homes writing that monthly cable check in reflexive habit, if 1%, say, only 500,000, cancelled out and joined BOYCOTT CABLE TV, the whole house of cards would collapse. If all Boycotts could be coordinated to start in a single two-week period, my estimate is that only 100,000 cancellations could break the system. For a sense of the effect these size crowds can have, see what Howard Dean did to the political system with 600,000 email addresses. Cable TV commerce is smaller than the political system.

    In further notice, with the internet today now is maybe the first opportunity that BOYCOTT CABLE TV could succeed. Just do it. And get your news on the internet. And chide your friends to get them to join the boycott to stop your ridicule of them. Take the money you save -- hundreds of dollars a year -- and travel, take a vacation, bring back photos to show them -- of real life, eat their hearts out. In the information-advantage competition for success, force them to spend themselves into a hole wasting their money on cable TV and its nonsense. The Information Race is replacing the Arms Race. Cable TV addicts are the losers.

    Anyway, as you can see, I support your idea and urge you on. BOYCOTT CABLE TV. It'll squash O'Reilly. Man, it is the reason to get up in the morning. Life is Big Up when O'Reilly is melting down. Here are three pieces rapid fire that I scooped up to share. There's a couple more to gather and I can try to get them back here in the near future. Stay in tune, sing and write.



    October 04, 2004 Hidden Angle It Could Be Worse - You Could Live in a State Where Your Vote Mattered

    [full article deleted. copyright violation. -ed.]

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)
    <h1></h1> <hr/> <h2>http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/04/opinion/04mon4.html?oref=login&pagewanted=print&position=</h2>

    October 4, 2004 EDITORIAL OBSERVER

    The Graduate Students Search for Signs of Intelligent Campaign Life By FRANCIS X. CLINES

    [full article deleted. copyright violation. -ed.]

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)
    <h1></h1> <h2>Posted on Sun, Oct. 03, 2004</h2>

    Election ads bring local windfall


    With Pennsylvania a battleground, spending is heavy for local TV time.

    By Gail Shister Inquirer Television Columnist

    [full article deleted. copyright violation. -ed.]

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    The 'Fear Controls Minds' gang is at it again -- admit it, they had you going with their 9/11 trick, didn't they; you probably thought there were global terrorists everywhere, like Afghanistan, wherever that is: GO get 'em, here's all my money.

    Sounds like they're setting up an October surprise to Fear-Control the voters, simply by the video of it, this is not an actual surprise event.

    It's only a surprise interrupt of your regularly scheduled programming. You ARE keeping up your programming doses, aren't you?

    One thing about information, counterfeit facts work as good as the real thing.




    Conservative TV Group to Air Anti-Kerry Film

    [full article deleted. copyright violation. -ed.]

  • bill deiz (unverified)

    Hi Tenskwatawa:

    Thanks for all the great comments! I especially appreciate your pointing out the Sinclair group's order to its stations to air the anti-Kerry programming. When I watched the news story on TV last night, it truly angered me. Sinclair acts as if the airwaves are their own private property, and not the general public's.

    Maybe we'll have to call for a boycott of Sinclair stations in their cities!

    Now that the FCC has no guts, its amazing how far we have sunk as a free society.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    Bill, others,

    Boycotting one station in the cable TV bundle is like buying the shrink-wrapped variety pack of single-serving breakfast cereals -- you know, the ten-packs? -- and then when you get home, refusing to eat the one you don't like, wheaties, let's say. Hey, they don't care that you don't like them -- you already bought the bundle and they got your dime.

    It's like buying any assortment, and then throwing out the one in it you don't like. Hey, they don't care.

    The ONLY time your dollar matters to any of them is before you buy the package, and then it matters to all of them. So much, that if you refuse to buy the package because one is in it, all of the others in the package will kick out the objectionable one, themselves, so you'll buy the rest. It is called self-policing.

    BOYCOTT Cable TV. Call up and cancel today. You can change the world -- just like that. (Besides, it's probably better for you.)

    You ARE NOT GOING TO BE MISSING a THING!. Cable TV news makes dumbness, surveys show. You can watch single channels on the internet. YOU DON'T MISS ANYTHING!

    I shouldn't shout. I know it's hard to break habits. Sinclair and FOXzis and Murdoch and Bush is counting on EVERYBODY to stay addicted to cable TV. Only 1% escaping the grip, one-in-a-hundred, about 500,000 cable TV homes cancelling their cable -- BECAUSE Sinclair IS IN THE PACKAGE -- is enough to end cable TV bundle monopoly. And the Bush supporters could not but scream 'no-o-o-o-o-o' as the industry collapses. The Cable TV News bubble, like the dot com bubble. Pop.

    Bill, there is some good material at the MediaMatters.org site. There, David Brock posted a letter he wrote to Sinclair CEO. Now Senators are questioning the FCC for legality. (Wrong tree, I think. Question the FEC.) And other developments. The movement against Sinclair, and it probably can stop them, is getting together at MediaMatters.org

    And Sinclair can be stopped this time. But the next time, and the next time, and then it's FOXzis, and then its MSNBC, and the next time -- is never going to stop until the root cause is dealt with: Evil channels are hiding inside the bundled channels which are the only kind of cable TV offered for sale.

    BOYCOTT Cable TV. Burn the bundle.

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