After the Hunt
By Eric Benson for New York Magazine.
Outfoxed director Robert Greenwald, ten years on.
Why did you feel like you needed to make Outfoxed?
In 2004, many observers had already concluded that Fox News wasn’t “fair and balanced.” I remember a lot of people back then, including many liberals, would say, “Yeah, Fox News has one or two biased commentators, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, but as a news station they’re legit.” And what we set out to do was to show that, in fact, the entire Fox News was not a news organization. The goal was not just to change that narrative but to change the impact that Fox News often had on legitimate journalists. Editors and reporters would say, “Well, Fox has done four or five stories about this thing or the other thing; I guess there must be something there.” Our job in showing that they had a political bias was to take away that impact from them.
How have you seen Fox change since then?
It’s gotten blonder. Its graphics have gotten even more colorful and entertaining. But fundamentally it’s doing pretty much the same thing.
Do you think Media Matters is right in focusing less energy on Fox?
Well, I think that there are more important battles to fight, let me put it that way. I wouldn’t ever want to discourage anyone from their outrage at what Fox does, because it is outrageous. But over the years people have said to me, “Why don’t you do another Fox film?” And my position has been, Hey, we did our job, and we’ve got to move on to the Koch brothers and drones and whistle-blowers, etc.
So, mission accomplished?
The people who watch Fox News on a regular basis believe what they’re seeing, and I don’t think whatever we do will change those folks. There’s always going to be a certain number of people that believe that Bigfoot is in the next yard.
Do you buy the perception that the network has tried to be more moderate—with, say, the promotion of Megyn Kelly?
As much as I disagree with him, Roger Ailes is a really, really good entertainer. And I think the most important thing is that he’s great at casting. He’s trying to get people who are younger than 90 to watch on a regular basis, and he’ll always go younger and blonder if he has the opportunity. But have they modulated this, that, and the other thing? I really don’t see that. They’re servicing a core audience.