Sun of Fox News?

One of the wonderful things about owning a 3G-Capable iPad and a Blackberry is almost complete and continuous connectivity to the internet. One of the truly awful and horrible things about owning a 3G-Capable iPad and a Blackberry is almost complete and continuous connectivity to the internet.

I have an affinity for debating politically. I enjoy it, and consider it to be a celebration of my inalienable right to speak freely, even when what I say upsets people.

But as I have said many, many times, one does not have a right to never be offended. Freedom means freedom for everyone, not just you – or me – one may choose not to read my posts (or tweets), voice a different opinion, etc, but the line gets drawn at trying to silence me, as some have done.

That right also applies to the forthcoming all-news channel, Sun TV, which some have dubbed, “Fox News North.”

Journalism has two aspects to it – news reporting and commentary. News is what is happening. That’s it. Nothing else. “Hurricane Eli hit New Brunswick today. Frederickton experienced torrential rain and a two meter storm surge. There were some reports of flooding, but no reports of deaths.” That’s a quasi-fictional example of a news report. There’s no opinion attached to it. It is simply what happened.

Commentary, on the other hand, is expression of opinion, and that is where people get upset. Fox News is unashamedly conservative in their commentary. That is their right, as a privately run organisation. Critics of Fox News claim that Fox is merely a right wing propoganda arm of the Republican Party. In their editorial content, they may very well be. But when you look at the NEWS reporting – objective journalism – Fox is very good at simply reporting just what happened.

I, like many others, expect Sun TV to be conservative in editorial content. I expect that Sun TV will support conservative principles. in fact, I think Sun TV will make a nice balance to the blatently-Liberal CBC. (Canada’s state-funded broadcaster.)

As the CBC relies on government funding to survive, they know that if they upset the government, they might have their funding cut. They also know and believe, that, historically, the party in power most often in Ottawa is, (unfortunately) the Liberal Party of Canada.

So what does the CBC do? They appease the Liberals. They are known for reporting news favourable to the Liberals, and ignoring stories that are unfavourable to the Liberals. We know is because other news agencies – news agencies with a much larger audience than the CBC – have objectively reported.

One might think that the CBC would simply appease the political party currently in power, but given the CBC was established as a Crown Corportation in 1936 under the Liberal government of Mackenzie King, their source of funding began with a Liberal government in power. Given it was common sense to work to maintain the Liberal government of Mackenzie King, clearly their editorial slant would be favourable towards his government, and away from the Conservatives. Over time, this simply became the culture of the CBC – pro-Liberal and anti-Conservative.

Like anyone, the commentators at the CBC have a right to express their opinion in a public forum. The problem, however, is the CBC is government-funded, and therefore, being pro-Liberal, has evolved into an official State-funded pro-Liberal information source.

There is a glaring difference, however, between the CBC and the forthcoming Sun TV: Sun TV will be a private network that does not receive government funding. The result is they will have to raise their revenue the traditional way – selling advertising and attracting viewers. If one doesn’t like Sun TV, the choice us clear – don’t watch it. Unlike the CBC, which receives a federal subsidy to continue operations, and therefore viewership doesn’t matter to them, if people don’t watch Sun TV, then advertisers won’t buy airtime to advertise – as it would be a waste of money to advertise on a network nobody watches – and Sun TV would end up out of business.

There are also a number of rather odd claims floating around. One involving a lunch meeting in New York between Prime Minister Stephen Harper, News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch, and Head of Fox News, Roger Ailes. The details of this meeting were never made public, however conspiracy theorists are agog with accusations of secret plans between the three to establish some kind of conservative news agency.

Of course, it’s all supposition and innuendo. Nobody knows what was discussed at this meeting. I personally expect it involved a discussion of how Fox News was able to be so successful. Harper’s then-communications director, Kory Tenyke was also at the meeting. Six months later, Tenyke left the PMO to join Quebecor, owner of Sun Media. Tenyke is responsible for launching Sun TV.

Quebecor and News Corp are totally separate companies operating in totally separate countries, so why someone would think there were some secret plans hatched at this meeting between Harper, Tenyke, and Quebecor is beyond me.

Stephen Harper, while involved in politics, is legally prohibited from actively becoming involved in business activities, or influencing the activities of private companies.

The anti-Sun TV crowd also claims that Sun TV will be broadcasting hate speech and far-right propoganda, and cite several commentators on Fox News to back up their claims.

These charges, are being levied against a news channel that has yet to to air, so they’re (a) shrill nonsense, and (b) fear-mongering.

When someone uses fear tactics to influence public behaviour, they are, in fact, using a mild form of terrorism. Clearly the opponents of Sun TV aren’t blowing things up, or flying aircraft into skyscrapers, but the base tactics are similar – frighten people and by doing so, influence their behaviour. In this case, drum up opposition to the licensing of Sun TV.

The accusation that Fox News broadcasts hate speech is also false. Their commentators are certainly unabashed in expressing their opinions, but stop far short of advocating violence towards people of different groups or ideologies.

It was pointed out to me not long ago that not all activities of a hateful nature are violent. I don’t actually agree with that statement. The word, “violent” is based on “violation.” If you accept the axiom that one’s freedom to swing their arm ends where their fist connects with the tip of someone else’s nose, then you can see the logical progression to a violation of someone else’s basic fundamental rights (life, liberty, and property) as being an initiation of force.

Racist graffiti, for example, some would claim to be “non-violent” because it isn’t a form of assault or battery on a person. But if you accept the premise that someone has a right to own and enjoy property, anyone who goes out and damages that property is violating that right, and therefore engaging in an act of violence.

The same person who made that argument also drew a connection to the concept of “tolerance” and said that if “tolerance” means “to put up with” then the aim is pretty low.

But wait a minute here – that’s exactly what the word “tolerance” means. Unfortunately, to some, “tolerance” has come to mean “sanction and approval.” But in doing so, one is then violating the basic rights of freedom of expression and opinion (which are derived from the base right of liberty.) To use an example, my personal religious belief system is one that says homosexual relationships are immoral. I also believe that there are inherent medicsl risks to male-male homosexual activity that make it personally dangerous. I therefore personally do not believe people should enter into homosexual relationships.

(Please note, I have no intention of debating the homosexual issue with anyone, so don’t bother sending comments on homosexuality as they’ll either be rejected or edited.)

My beliefs notwithstanding, there are people in the world who choose to enter into homosexual relationships. I don’t like that they do so. I think they are making a mistake when they do. I am under no obligation to change my mind or recant this opinion.

However, tolerance means I must accept that people make this choice. I have a right to voice my opinion that it is a bad choice to make – and I do – however what I cannot do is anything to physically harm homosexuals, damage their property, or otherwise inhibit their own personal right to live their own lives as they see fit – despite my opinions. On the other hand, people who disagree with me are also under the same obligations. They have every right to express their reasons why they disagree – and many do – but they must never inhibit my right to express my opinion, nor may they ever harm me or damage my property.

So, on the subject of the “hate speech” accusation against Fox News, it is quite simply, rubbish.

Sun TV should receive their license to broadcast. If you don’t like them, don’t watch them, but to actively work to silence them before they have even broadcast anything, is an awful and frightening violation of personal liberty.

About Steven Britton

Steve is a freelance programmer, partial billionaire, dad, Recovering Atheist, Conservative, and occasionally prolific blogger.
  • Sheri

    The last paragraph says it all. I agree completely. The Soros petition proposal was disappointing and those signing should be ashamed of their attempt to manipulate freedom.