Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism is the latest film from director Robert Greenwald, who made last year's anti-war bombshell Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War, a house-party hit. Like Uncovered, Outfoxed isn't a great cinematic work but a call to arms, tying together what you already knew (that you've been lied to) with the damning details about how and why the facts were distorted.
In this case, Greenwald introduces us to Rupert Murdoch's FOX News network and the Republican operatives running it. The biggest new information is the revelation of memos from John Moody, the network's senior vice president for news editorial, which include top-down instructions to all producers and reporters to adhere to the message of the day. The film intersperses these instructions with interviews with former news staffers who say the ramifications for not staying on message were crystal clear. So much for Fair & Balanced.
For narrative and entertainment value, Outfoxed doesn't compare with recent theater-run docs Fahrenheit 9/11 and Control Room. And the didactic analysis from Normon Solomon and the Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting crowd sometimes leaves you thinking, "I know the media is controlled by a handful of corporations. I'm here watching this, aren't I?" But you won't want to miss the interview with Jeremy Glick, who was famously cursed out and kicked off The Factor by Bill O'Reilly in 2003 for insisting that his father, a port authority worker killed in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, opposed the war in Afghanistan and believed Bush's presidency was illegitimate.
Even going out to watch a movie can be an act of political protest these days. But coming to this week's screenings of Outfoxed will also directly benefit alternative journalism, because the $5 suggested donation at the door will go to the Institute for Southern Studies, publisher of Southern Exposure magazine. The Durham-based investigative magazine is like a Mother Jones for the South, uncovering major stories and taking on the country's biggest corporate interests. One week after Southern Exposure published an expose of Citicorp's predatory lending practices, the company announced a $3 billion "affordable mortgage" program for low-income homeowners. The magazine has won five major journalism awards in the past six months. And the Institute's national "Stop the War Profiteers" campaign put pressure on Congress to investigate Halliburton's Iraq contracts. Between now and November, Institute organizers hope to educate 50,000 North Carolina voters on how to make sure every vote is counted at the polls. For more information, check out www.southernstudies.org.
Meanwhile, we're working on continuing our series of political film screenings. Stay tuned.
Showing on Friday, July 30, 8:30 p.m. at Durham Arts Initiative, 122 W. Main St. 956-8525. Free. Showings co-sponsored by the Independent Weekly and the Institute for Southern Studies: Monday, Aug. 2, 5:30 & 7:15 p.m. at Chapel Hill's Varsity; Tuesday, Aug. 3, 7 & 9:15 p.m. at Durham's Carolina Theatre; Wednesday, Aug. 4, 5:30 & 7:15 p.m. at Raleigh's Colony Theatre. $5 suggested donation.