Roger Ailes, for whom I have great admiration, wrote a touching letter to his colleagues at his Fox News Channel following the revelation the FBI had seized the phone records of his employees in a fishing expedition over leaks by the federal government.
This followed, of course, the disclosure the Justice Department had done the same with employees of the Associated Press, the largest news-gathering organization in the world.
While I agree wholeheartedly with Ailes that these actions by the federal government represent an attack on the First Amendment and express my solidarity with the AP and Fox News, I need to take issue with him on the closing line of his memo.
Ailes wrote: “As Fox News employees, we sometimes are forced to stand alone, but even then when we know we are reporting what is true and what is right, we stand proud and fearless.”
While it’s true that Fox News is often criticized and demonized by many in the press, it’s also true that Fox News acts like it is the only alternative medium in the U.S. It is far from it. It’s also true that Fox has some of the same institutional problems that plague the euphemistically called “mainstream media” – problems of bias, political correctness and sacred cows.
Fox News has successfully marketed itself as the “fair and balanced” network, but that is hardly the highest calling of the free press.
The free press is a completely American concept, birthed in the colonies only some 250 years ago. Our founders had the wisdom to place checks and balances on government, and they had the insight to realize that it would require an informed and moral citizenry to maintain the system of self-government they created.
The free press was seen by those geniuses as a vital institution because it would serve as a watchdog on government and other powerful institutions. And that’s how the free press in America has failed.
It’s not about “fair and balanced.” It’s about seeking the truth.
The Internet lowered the cost of entry into the news game, and with it came other alternative media – like WND.com, the very first independent news-gathering organization to be formed specifically for the Internet.
We have been fearless seekers of the truth ever since – for more than 17 years. So I think I have more than a little knowledge in this area.
The WND team is a collection of journalistic refugees from the “mainstream media,” which abandoned their watchdog role and their mission to expose corruption, fraud, waste and abuse in government.
Some believe Fox News is the only place to go for news because it does offer alternative points of view.
But there are some places Fox News won’t go. There are some stories Fox won’t cover. There are some things you just can’t say on Fox News – things that need to be said and reported.
While it’s true Fox provides a forum for conservative voices, it is still heavily stacked against them. Think about it. There’s Sean Hannity and Mike Huckabee and Neil Cavuto. But on the other side of the spectrum there’s Greta Van Susteren, Geraldo Rivera, Sheppard Smith, Bill O’Reilly, Chris Wallace, Juan Williams, Lis Wiehl, Kirsten Powers, Jehmu Greene, Mara Liason, Judith Miller, Bob Beckel, Alan Colmes, Arthel Neville, Megyn Kelly, Greg Gutfeld and dozens more who are not – some of whom represent strong liberal points of view.
I’m all for offering a broad spectrum of opinion. We do it at WND, too. But covering the news should be about the pursuit of truth.
Fox News most often falls short of this goal in its coverage of issues involving Islam. And that is, I believe, directly attributable to its ownership, which includes a large and powerful Rupert Murdoch ally – one that keeps him in power – Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire Saudi businessman, a senior member of the Saudi monarchy, the nephew of Saudi dictator King Abdullah and the first cousin of Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. He is also the largest stakeholder in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. outside the Murdoch family.
Again, I say all this not to tell you Fox News is worthless, but because America needs to know it.
There currently is no place Americans can get on TV unbiased news fearlessly delivered without concern over sacred cows. No, not even on Fox News.
Is Fox News better than ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and the others? Yes.
But can you rely on it for all your news? No.
Is Fox News vilified by the establishment press out of jealousy over ratings and because it provides a handful of conservative voices with a platform? Yes.
But is it all America needs to get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? No.
The truth is the American government has never been at war with the free press like it is today. And that is because the American government, under liberals, is moving closer to unconstitutional authoritarianism than perhaps ever before in its history.
Fox News is a victim of this, but so is the entirely government-friendly, establishment-supporting AP.
And so are anti-establishment news agencies like WND. For instance, it was my role as founder and editor of WND and our aggressive pursuit of the truth about this administration that got me targeted for an audit by the Internal Revenue Service for political reasons – a fact that has not been reported on Fox News or any other significant news agency in the country, despite the fact that we have a unique audience of some 8 million.
If America’s news agencies try to fight government attacks like this by only decrying their own victimhood, then these attacks will continue – not only throughout this administration but into the future.
In other words, if we don’t hang together, we will hang separately.
Meanwhile, it is imperative that Americans use all their skills of discernment in searching out truth in the media. I believe that search begins at WND.
Even though I have my quarrels with AP and Fox, I stand firmly behind them in seeking justice and exposing the vicious, unwarranted and unprecedented attacks against them – and any other news agency – by the would-be tyrants in Washington.