After seeing Fahrenheit 9/11, a friend said that Moore’s film had a strong impact on her because it made her watch George Bush speak: Normally, she preemptively turns the channel in disgust as soon as his smirking mug appears. Outfoxed, Robert Greenwald’s sharp, skillful exposé of Rupert Murdoch and Fox News, will have a similarly stomach-churning effect upon those who avoid tuning in to the aggressively conservative news channel, or don’t consult television news at all.
Already a top-selling DVD thanks to PR support from moveon.org, numerous media outlets, political blogs, and even Doonesbury, Outfoxed argues that Fox News’s pro-Republican bias is top-down, enacted by fiats from owner Rupert Murdoch and CEO Roger Ailes, former media consultant to Nixon and Reagan. Smoking guns appear as internal memos, interviews with former employees (some anonymous), and a massive collection of clips from daily broadcasts. The latter is edited to amusing but deeply disquieting effect. Barrages of split-second comments by Fox anchors show how right-wing “talking points” become nailed into the mediasphere through endless repetition: John Kerry is a “flip-flopper,” Kerry and Edwards are “out of the mainstream,” and—most bizarrely—Kerry seems “French.”
Undeniably entertaining and eye-opening, Outfoxed shows how Fox works, but not why. While montages of thuggish Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity telling guests to “shut up” certainly prove a point, they do not explain why one-sided, ham-fisted tactics continue to prove so popular with viewers. But through its own no-holds-barred attack, Outfoxed at least gives Fox a taste of its own medicine.