Newshounds.us keeps tabs on Fox News

Similar watchdogs good idea for other networks

July 14, 2007

by David Kopel

If you hate Fox News, you will love Newshounds.us, a citizen activist Web site dedicated to criticizing Fox. I learned about the site a few weeks ago, for its coverage of Bill O'Reilly's numerous sensational untruths about Boulder High School. The site's motto is "We watch Fox so you don't have to" - an especially useful service for readers such as myself, who don't have cable television.

Newshounds often posts links to YouTube video of Fox segments, so that readers can analyze the segments themselves. I enjoyed watching replays of some June segments in which O'Reilly brought on Boulder High students as guests - and then got upset when it was pointed out that he was misquoting what a Boulder High panelist had said. O'Reilly was also annoyed by students who quoted O'Reilly's own advice book for children, The O'Reilly Factor for Kids,which has much of the same message for which O'Reilly has been castigating Boulder High: Marijuana is not as harmful as some scaremongers claim, and, "As for me, I'm not going to tell you to avoid sex, because in the end you're going to do what you want anyway."

It was pretty clear that O'Reilly had lost the debate when he called one of his student critics a "pinhead." The insult was edited out of Fox's rebroadcasts, but NewsHounds provided a record of what really happened.

Newshounds is the only media source that has covered every step of O'Reilly's appallingly dishonest assault on Boulder High. Obviously I have a bias here, since Newshounds provided very helpful publicity for my own efforts to address the O'Reilly falsehoods.

Some of the Newshounds write-ups on other Fox topics strike me as too conspiracy-minded or Manichean. I agree with Newshounds that Fox is slanted to the right, but to a lesser degree than CBS, ABC and NBC slant left, as detailed in a 2005 Quarterly Journal of Economicsstudy. Even so, Newhounds plays a helpful role in empowering citizens to check and balance the major media. It would be great if there were comparable citizen activist sites for every one of the major television networks.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has lost touch with reality - or so you would think if you read the July 6 Denver Post.According to thePost,Powell predicted in a speech at Aspen that the Sunnis would regain power in Iraq. This seemed bizarre, since many analysts agree that if the Iraqi coalition government fails, the likely result will be a Shiite-dominated state, with ethnic cleansing or genocide to wipe out what remains of the dwindling Sunni minority.

The Postlater published a small correction: Powell had indeed predicted a Shiite triumph, not a Sunni one. Yet, the Post'sonline version of the article has no correction, and is still headlined "Sunnis likely to prevail in Iraq, Powell predicts."

Alternative media in Colorado have taken a huge step forward thanks to Blognetnews.com/Colorado. The site aggregates the most important articles each day in the Colorado blogosphere (based on how many people link to an article). Blognetnews does not play ideological favorites, and its Colorado section focuses exclusively on the Colorado blogosphere.

The BNN Influence Index ranks the 20 most important of Colorado's weblogs. It's a great starting point for exploring the Colorado blogosphere.

It's not a national ranking of the most influential national blogs which happen to be based in Colorado, such as TalkLeft or VodkaPundit. Rather, the BNN Index is only for blogs which focus mainly on Colorado issues. It's a good starting point to explore the best of Colorado's right-wing and left-wing blogs.

Only once in a while are Colorado political blogs successful in moving a story into the mainstream media. Their influence in Colorado politics is very small compared to the influence of national blogs, such as DailyKos or RedState on national politics. Nevertheless, the local blogs, like their larger national brethren, are often excellent leading indicators of the sentiment of the best-informed citizen activists.

No. 1 on the BNN Influence Index is SquareState, a Democratic blog. Thanks to SquareState, I was pleasantly surprised to find that 34 members of Congress have joined the new "Small Brewers Caucus," including Mark Udall and Ed Perlmutter.

SquareState has also discovered that congressional candidate Jared Polis wrote an issue paper for the Independence Institute in 2001, suggesting that the U.S. Postal Service is an inefficient monopoly which should be privatized. (Disclosure: I was the editor for the paper.) The many comments on the Web site revealed an interesting split: Some commenters praised Polis for innovative ideas and being able to work with different groups, while others were aghast at his free-market ideas and collaboration with the enemy.

Whatever you think of the substance of the USPS issue, SquareState provides a great preview of a likely debate between Polis and his opponent Joan Fitz-Gerald, a traditional and unwavering advocate for union leadership.

 

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Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action. Please send comments to Independence Institute, 727 East 16th Ave., Colorado 80203. Phone 303-279-6536. (email) webmngr @ i2i.org

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