Friday, July 25, 2008

The Geopolitics of the Fox News Website

On the Fox News website, under the World News heading, you will be taken to a truly terrifying place, a place where logic and reason can find no mooring, a place where the "World" is seemingly ordered by a spastic monkey who was probably involved in the Watergate break-in. No one should be shocked by Fox News anymore (though my compatriot still has fits of shouting at the television whenever I make him watch it), but they manage to set the bar lower and lower each and every day, from their petty, vicious attacks on other media outlets to their conniption-inducing claims of being "fair and balanced," a phrase so preposterous it has come to signify the exact opposite of impartiality. One can waste an entire lifetime railing against what is a patently incompetent network that has totally abrogated its responsibilities to the public good, but these links are so bizarre and inane that they deserve noting.

Let's start at the top - a screen shot is at the right, should they decide to change them if another of America's enemies deserves to move up the rankings. Lest we forget, the pope visited the US back in April, yet this remains at the top of their links - actually, it's on there twice, and both links bring you to the exact same page. I can't really explain this obsession with the pope, though it could simply be that nobody has bothered to update any of this since April.

The network's geopolitics should be painfully obvious from this list, if they weren't already from their coverage - it is essentially a geography of America's awesome wars, present and future. "Iran" warrants its own link, well above any other region of the world beyond Iraq, ranking even higher than Afghanistan. "North Korea" also deserves a special note under Asia. Europe (really, they should be using the great Rumsfeldism "Old Europe" here) ranks below any other world region, narrowly beating out "Princess Diana" (where the most recent story is from October 2007 - did I mention that she died in 1997?) You know, because Europeans are all Nazi sex fiends who hate freedom. "Natural Disasters" just illustrates that the network's editorial sensibilities are about on par with those of a local news station, but rounding out the list (before the second pope link) is the bane of every conservative's existence - no, it's not stem cell research, it's the blue-helmeted, appeasement-loving ninnies at the United Nations. There are 14 stories currently listed under that heading, and every single one is about a scandal at the UN. What a surprise.

For comparison, to the left you can see the news headings for the "Baghdad Broadcasting Company," known to reasonable people as the BBC, where the world is organized by widely-accepted regions, and there is no mention of Princess Diana.

Thankfully, despite its dominant (though slipping) ratings in the cable news business, I don't think very many people rely on Fox News for their web content. If they did, they would be even less informed than they would be from watching it on TV. It is totally unclear what the organizing logic is meant to be here. Incompetence and neglect does have a lot to do with it - under most headings, including those about Iraq, the stories are months old, and they are largely picked up from various Murdoch-owned rags.

I would like to propose some alternative headings for Rupert "the Murder-Dog" Murdoch to add to this site:
  • The Jonbenet Ramsey Murder
  • Jellyfish Attacks
  • Offshore Drilling
  • Barack Obama
    • Madrasahs
    • Flag-snubbing
    • Terrorism

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