Friday, September 18, 2009

Fox News: Truth in Advertising

I've blogged before about the strange state of advertising here in DC. On the #1 radio station in the area, it's not uncommon to hear ads for major weapons systems. It's a government town, and major corporations buy up lots of ads to hawk their wares to government procurement specialists. There are also political ads, run by interest groups or oppressive regimes, which are intended to fall on the eyes of lawmakers.

Today's Washington Post had an interesting one. It was a full page color ad from Fox News lambasting all of the other networks for "missing" the 9.12 demonstrations. A major news event! And those pinheads in the Main Stream Media missed it! Included in the ad were pictures. One large one showed folks gathered in front of the Capitol. Another was an aerial shot, which showed a moderate crowd extending five or six blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue. I have three reactions to this:

1) Fox News seems to be misrepresenting...intentionally...the coverage of this event. CNN, NBC, ABC, and MSNBC didn't "miss" the event. Missing an event means not covering it. The other networks did cover it. They didn't give it quite the prominence that Fox News did, but there was a rather significant reason for that, and that is...

2) Fox News was responsible for the event. It was the brainchild of one of their more successful infotainment personalities. Other conservative organizations signed on, sure. But this isn't something that occurred, and that was then "covered" by Fox News. It was whole-cloth created by Fox News. This isn't invective. Just reality. Heck, Fox is still pitching the event.

3) Fox News seems to be misrepresenting...intentionally...the size of the event. The two images in the ad are juxtaposed in a way that implies a huge crowd. The largest image is shot from the mall, and shows a densely packed group on the National Mall. It's not a particularly long shot, though. We're not seeing a large expanse of the Mall...just a block or so. There's then that second shot, which shows the demonstration as it moves down Pennsylvania Ave. towards the Capitol. But that street is comparatively narrow...and filling it for six or seven blocks is something that could be done with a moderate crowd..between 65,000 and 70,000. What the images are *intended* to convey is a significantly larger crowd. They are presented to imply that the Mall crowd extended as far as the one on Pennsylvania Avenue, which it did not. There've been immense conservative demonstrations in pro-life event back in the 90s had at least 450,000. This was not one of them.

Honesty is, as I'm recalling, the first of the "Twelve" principles being pitched by Fox. Evidently "irony" is number two.