Will Fox News Cause Collateral Damage to News Corp.?

Last Updated Oct 21, 2009 5:34 PM EDT

As is my habit, on the ride home from Manhattan the other day, I bought a copy of News Corp.'s The New York Post, indulging in a guilty pleasure that I make sure to revel in every time I'm in the city. Nothing like a silly, substance-free read to make the commute fly by. But this time, i was feeling guilty for another reason: that I was supporting News Corp., the same entity that owns Fox News, the cable channel that the Obama Administration recently classified as "a political opponent." Though I quickly dismissed that thought as being silly in and of itself, I wonder, as the debate has gotten more partisan, if other people will actually act on those feelings and think twice before contributing to the filling of News Corp.'s coffers.

(Before you declare me in the tank with liberals, or the Obama administration, let me do my best to dissuade you. I am a registered Democrat, but I find the whole idea of partisanship peculiar, as no one I know in real life lines up unfailingly behind a rigid set of beliefs. And yet, that's what politicians and pundits seem to do.)

That said, what's going on with Fox News is pretty alarming. It's one thing to have a point of view; it's entirely another to willfully spread untruths, and some of the personnel at Fox News -- though certainly not all -- seem to be doing that, or, at least, aiding and abetting it, not to mention indulging in a healthy dose of paranoia. MSNBC can certainly be strident, and its steady parade of talking head yes-men can be wearying, but in the truthiness department, it's not in the same league. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what I think; it matters what other people think, and there are a lot of people who thinks Fox News Sucks. (Here's the obligatory link to "MSNBC sucks" to counterbalance that last one.) Thus, just as some advertisers pulled out of "The Glenn Beck Show", It seems only a matter of time before some viewers will follow the dots that connect Fox News to "American Idol" and FX's "Damages" and decide they are more comfortable spending their media consumption time elsewhere. It won't necessarily take the form of an official boycott, though I'm almost surprised that such efforts haven't caught on anywhere yet, though they have been suggested. I also doubt such a movement would have a material effect on News Corp.'s bottom line. However, for some to decide not to support News Corp., does seem like a more damaging possibility than it did even a year ago.

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