By: Jermel W. Shim
Last week an event happened in Nevada that should have made every law-abiding American stop and wonder about the slippery slope that America is going down. In case you have not been paying attention or blinded by political jingoism, the country has been heading down this slippery slope since the occurrence of a number of unprecedented and undemocratic like political actions in Washington designed to obstruct the policies of President Obama. Anyhow, the event that occurred last week was the Cliven Bundy showdown with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Cliven Bundy is the Nevada cattle rancher who since 1991 has been illegally grazing his cattle on federal protected lands. Despite fines totaling some one million dollars, and not paying these fines, Mr. Bundy has defied federal orders since 1993. When the BLM arrived at the location where his cattle were grazing, armed militiamen who supported Mr. Bundy confronted them. Some of these armed men took up sniper positions along the adjacent highway with their rifles aimed at BLM agents. Their armed presence and the risk of creating a volatile situation forced the BLM and the local sheriff to stand down.
Following Mr. Bundy's defiant stand against the federal government, Fox News covered the story not as an objective or impartial news media but as a supporter of Mr. Bundy's illegal action. This is unfortunate because in so doing, Fox News crossed the boundaries of ethical journalism and of upholding law and order.
If there is anything that the Cliven Bundy's showdown with the BLM and Fox News coverage of the story revealed, it is that hypocrisy, double standard, and white privilege are still part of our society. This is so because had Mr. Bundy being a nonwhite person the BLM would have enforced the law long ago without any interference from Fox News and from armed militiamen. Ed Schultz on his MSNBC Talk Show said, "The garbage that Hannity and Huckabee are throwing out there is anti-American. It circumvents a representative government. Armed insurrection against the government. This is what they are advocating."
Fox News defense Mr. Bundy cannot be justified on any grounds and to defend or support an illegal behavior is setting a dangerous precedent. Based on Fox News biased coverage on politics, there is the suspicion that their support of Mr. Bundy is because of their anti-Obama position. Fox News blame and criticize the president for any incident that is remotely linked to a federal agency under the president's administration - e.g., the so-called Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, and the Benghazi incident. The anti-Obama tone was set from early in the president's first term where many disrespectful behavior, propaganda, and conspiracy theories targeted the president.
In a democratic society, the news media is expected to play an important role in providing information that is objective and fair. That apparently is not the case with Fox News as they have exceeded the principles of good and ethical journalism. This is not the first time Fox News has supported a person who was charged with committing a crime. They did this in 2012 when Sean Hannity defended George Zimmerman following his arrest for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.
Fox News of course is a conservative news organization that has repeatedly attacked all of President Obama's policies and agenda. Instead of reporting objectively and fairly on the president's policies and agenda, they have encouraged and promoted conspiracy theories (Birther, dictator, socialist, etc.), propaganda (cannot be trusted, death panel associated with Obamacare, etc.), and distortions based on their biased political opinions.
Most of the Fox News accusations directed at President Obama have no substance, are devoid of facts, and instead base and speculations. For example, they have condemned Obamacare without giving it a chance to work. They said it would collapse under its weight. When that did not happen and its enrollment exceeded 7 million enrollees, they suggested that the government cooked the books. Without providing any validation of this, Fox News proved itself irresponsible in promoting this kind of unsubstantiated idea.
It is easy to see that Fox News has a jingoistic conservative approach in covering or addressing political issues. They are clearly an echo chamber for the GOP strategy to destroy the legacy of President Obama. Some people – especially conservatives – will say that MSNBC is no different from Fox News in that they support the Democrats or liberal point of view. While that is true, MSNBC does not use a jingoistic approach and they do not promote or support divisiveness, propaganda, or report or discuss things that are unsubstantiated.
The biased and one-sided manner in which Fox News present their political coverage is not good for America. Fox News has clearly gone beyond what mainstream TV stations like ABC, CBS, and NBC do. There is a reason for this though, and it is that large donations from corporate sponsors and political organizations that have specific agendas influence their talk show hosts to promote their agenda. Last week, Al Sharpton on his MSNBC, Politics Nation, talked about how Fox News, Sean Hannity had received over $1.3 million from the Heritage Foundation in 2008. Soon after receiving that large sum, Hannity began doing fund raising for Tea Party Patriots and promoting the Tea Party website on his Fox News show. Should a news media like Fox News allowed to do this? I don't think this is a good practice for any news media as it undermines the democratic process.
America does not need a news media that is to jingoistic on politics. What America needs is a news media that will provide objective and factual coverage of politics on both sides. To continue reporting news otherwise will take America farther down the slippery slope where corrupt political practices prevail over democratic principles.
Jermel W. Shim is the author of Whom God Has Blessed, Let No Man Curse (Infinity Publishing). http://www.jermeshim.com