Media Literacy in America

The Obama Administration has continued to challenge Fox News as a worthy news network and as noted earlier, reaction can concentrate on the content of the White House’s challenge or the form it is made in.


In a sign that much of what we call news is increasingly opinion, the media reporting the Fox News v. White House story are asking whether the challenge is politically advantageous to the Administration, leaving to the side whether the claims being made by the two parties are true or not.

Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald says Fox News is hypocritical for having cozied up to the Bush administration while booing Obama for trying to control the media. True, I suppose, if the White House is trying to control the media, but its criticism has been very transparent. The frightening thing about Nixon’s lists of enemies, which Obama and his media literacy have been likened to, was that they were secret. The names on Nixon’s list were to receive the private, covert muscle of the Executive.

But Greenwald is allowing Fox News to frame the debate—putting attention on the White House’s actions rather than on Fox—and when Fox frames a debate, everything shifts to the right and the conversation starts just where Fox wants it to. The controversy is not about White House influence on the media or the political fallout of the call-out. What is at issue is whether American news sources are reporting facts or hiding from them.

Even the New York Times handles Fox News with kid gloves, for example, saying that Fox covered the anti-tax Tea Party rally without mentioning that it directly inflated the protest’s virility in front of cameras. The Times’ staff article merely reports that there is some back-and-forth between the Administration and Fox News without analyzing claims made on either side. Is the NYT afraid of being a member of the “liberal press”? What else could explain its neutered reporting?

England’s the Guardian, however, reports how Fox News has covered the Obama presidency. Here is a list of things it remembered from Fox broadcasts:

  • Glenn Beck’s patriotic fervor as he wept while introducing Sarah Palin
  • Fox News taking talking points memos from the W. Bush Administration
  • Fox giving its own resources to boost the Tea Party protesters
  • Glenn Beck’s accusations of Obama as a Nazi
  • Fox’s repeated fear-mongering
  • Notice that only the end of the Guardian article considers the political fallout of the White House’s challenge while mostly focusing on whose claims, Fox’s or the White House’s, are supported with evidence. NYT, take a lesson.

    'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

    Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

    Sponsored by Northwell Health
    • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
    • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
    • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
    Keep reading Show less

    Elizabeth Warren's plan to forgive student loan debt could lead to an economic boom

    A plan to forgive almost a trillion dollars in debt would solve the student loan debt crisis, but can it work?

    Photo credit: Drew Angerer / Getty Images
    Politics & Current Affairs
    • Sen. Elizabeth Warren has just proposed a bold education reform plan that would forgive billions in student debt.
    • The plan would forgive the debt held by more than 30 million Americans.
    • The debt forgiveness program is one part of a larger program to make higher education more accessible.
    Keep reading Show less

    Banned books: 10 of the most-challenged books in America

    America isn't immune to attempts to remove books from libraries and schools, here are ten frequent targets and why you ought to go check them out.

    Nazis burn books on a huge bonfire of 'anti-German' literature in the Opernplatz, Berlin. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
    Culture & Religion
    • Even in America, books are frequently challenged and removed from schools and public libraries.
    • Every year, the American Library Association puts on Banned Books Week to draw attention to this fact.
    • Some of the books they include on their list of most frequently challenged are some of the greatest, most beloved, and entertaining books there are.
    Keep reading Show less

    Supreme Court to hear 3 cases on LGBT workplace discrimination

    In most states, LGBTQ Americans have no legal protections against discrimination in the workplace.

    (Photo by Andres Pantoja/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
    Politics & Current Affairs
    • The Supreme Court will decide whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also applies to gay and transgender people.
    • The court, which currently has a probable conservative majority, will likely decide on the cases in 2020.
    • Only 21 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws effectively extending the Civil Rights of 1964 to gay and transgender people.
    Keep reading Show less