Finns and Fox News

Yesterday I showed a clip from Fox News in my financial English class in which there was a debate over the effects of the stimulus package in the United States.  As we began to discuss it one of my Finnish students said, “I hate watching Fox News.  They are so biased toward the Republicans.”

What is it with people and Fox News?  Being associated with Fox is like having a serial killer as a relative in some folks’ eyes.  They are a bane of President Obama and other Democrats, and an object of mockery to comedians like John Stewart of the Daily Show. 

No doubt Fox News brings some of the scorn on themselves.  They do have a couple commentators who are sometimes over the top. (Sean Hannity and Glen Beck come to mind).  And they are mocked for their tendency to hire blondes. I recall a joke at a press club dinner in Washington D.C. last year to the effect you could tell where the Fox News table was because of the blondes there.

Still, they are the most popular cable news network in America.  And even Hillary Clinton admitted they are what they say they are: fair and balanced. But my perception is that a lot of people think you are from the planet Zorg if you watch them.    

When I feel I am considered to be kin to an axe murderer or a new-arriving Neptunian because I watch Fox News, I have to remind myself that I am in Europe.  I once read an article by a conservative American who visited Italy. He said that it was just assumed in Italy that any right-minded person had a liberal world view.  I think the concept that liberalism equals sanity is part of the Finnish mindset as well,  even though Finland is sometimes called the most American country in Europe.

But I also have to remind those who complain about Fox News that CNN is known among conservatives as the “Clinton News Network.”  This is what I did with my Finnish students yesterday.

Frankly, I was surpised the fellow who complained even had watched Fox News.  It’s to his credit that he had.  I think most liberals don’t watch Fox News at all.  I reflected afterwards that I do not watch the liberal networks much either.  I just assume they are corrupt. But this is unfair.  I really don’t know what they broadcast. So I have no right to consider people narrow-minded when they belittle Fox News if I  never watch MSNBC, for example.  To think that way would make me a hypocrite. 

So for the sake of my objectivity (and the European audience in my English classes),  I need to broaden my viewing habits.

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