Nov 072010
Authors: Samuel Lustgarten

Fox News’ dissemination of disinformation is hurting America. The “news” organization is spouting a bilious vomit that epitomizes punditry over due-diligence.

Fact-checking groups have risen to correct the propagation of lies and slander. These groups face a daily task. As the most-watched news channel, Fox has piqued its listeners with continuous contempt of the Obama administration.

On Friday, as the President was gearing up for his trip to India, another rumor was reported as fact. Fox and its compatriots were virulently condemning the $200 million-per-day cost of the trip. Along with the 2,000-plus staffers that would accompany the President, a 34-fleet armada from the U.S. Navy was to protect the commander-in-chief. Promulgated through a little-known Indian site and “unnamed” source, Fox leeched on to the story and attempted to exemplify this over-spending as part of the left-wing, Obama agenda.

Fortunately, none of it was rooted in reality. The lofty accusation stank like the humid, cow excrement filled air from Greeley. This exemplified little more than poor journalism –– a consequence of years of punditry over reporting.

The White House immediately decried the claims. Not only was the number inflated but due to security restraints, these numbers would never be reported. The $200 million-per-day estimate was simply false.

As it devolved into a mere digression, corrections and follow-up didn’t occur. Apologies from the likes of Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Sean Hannity never happened.

But before the story finally died, the frequently fomenting Fox host Glenn Beck did some quick calculating on the 10-day trip. His came to $2 billion. Even I can agree with the absurdity of spending superfluous amounts on a diplomatic getaway.

That brings us back to India. Why did top-notch journalists give credit to one, unnamed Indian source? Because it made for great headline news and was congruent with the rest of their biased coverage. Instead of spending precious hours reporting on the meaning of the trip to India or the foreign policy involved, Fox spewed trendy tabloid-like news.

Later that day, Bill O’Reilly made a guest appearance on “Real Time” with Bill Maher. Maher, who is an unencumbered partisan, questioned the reporting. Like every other time, O’Reilly attempted to excuse away these inaccurate stories. It wasn’t the news hours’ anchors that reported the errant story; instead, the opinion guys.

The 24-hour cycle causes opinion commentary to appear next to actual reporting, and what eventually occurs is the truth tellers –– the news anchors –– become the soothsayers. Birthed as nascent fiction by pundits, the news hours go on to report it as truth –– the ultimate citation circle-jerk.

If the entrusted news source had actually dug into the story, they would’ve found that the most expensive trip waged by any president totaled $42.6 million by Bill Clinton on his 12-day trip to Africa.

Following the footsteps of Beck’s impressive math skills, I calculated it to about $3.6 million a day. That’s costly and hard to imagine, but it’s a mere 1.8 percent per day of the atmospheric claims attached to Obama’s trip.

Rather than direct the spotlight on the protectionist balance within America and subsequent outsourcing of jobs, the claims overshadowed real questions at the heart of the visit. The fervor in which Fox unscrupulously lambasted the Obama administration should’ve been directed at the calamity our middle class faces due to the exportation of our jobs.

With call centers in Bangalore and a variety of highly technical careers popping up in India, competition is going beyond nation-states. A mutually beneficial exchange of vocational talent across regional divides is a pleasant evolution in the globalized economy. But the combination of budget cuts for education and open-border libertarianism is a disastrous combination for America. This is the purpose of Obama’s visit.

Facing further job losses for the United States, too many people turn to Fox as a form of news and education. Distracted by the meaningless, it is easy to forget the real purpose of the trip –– regardless of cost. Fox News can and should do better to respect its viewers’ time and right to truth. Until then, do yourself a favor and turn it off.

Samuel Lustgarten is a senior psychology major. His column appears on Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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