Fox News' Bias Against Gaming is an Insult to Journalism

Fox News or Faux News?

As a journalist, nothing aggravates or infuriates me professionally more than seeing a news media outlet showing blatant bias towards a subject. It goes against everything I was taught in college, as the primary rule of being a journalist is to analyze a story and try to see both sides. To see this cardinal rule of journalism broken by so-called "fair and balanced" or "well respected" news outlets makes me want to punch holes in walls.

It should go without saying that the most recent example of Fox News’ complete bias against the videogame industry, the industry that I love dearly and write about, has infuriated me to no end. So much so that I have dedicated this latest edition of my column to Fox News’ completely ignorant coverage of games and the industry.

This most recent incident occurred on the network’s Fox & Friends program. The show featured Infinity Ward and Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and what they called a game that "let’s you be a terrorist and kill people." The host of the "fair and balanced" debate had an obviously nervous and unprepared Jon Christensen of Slash Gamer defending the game.

The piece was focused on a mission in the game where you play as an undercover CIA operative who has infiltrated a terrorist organization and is forced to take part in an airport massacre in order to get close to the group’s leader. This mission however, is completely optional and the player is warned on several occasions how disturbing the scene may be and offers the player a chance to skip the mission on each occasion. This is a fact that was completely left out of the piece and wasn’t even brought up by Christensen.

The optional mission is all the host of the show brings up about the game and continues to urge that children can get a hold of this game. Christensen then states that the game is rated M for Mature and game retailers have turned away underage consumers looking to buy the game. Despite this fact, the host still says if a game is brought into a house, what is to stop a child from playing it?

It is here where I personally was floored with Fox News’ host’s ignorance. Just to try to drive home to some unintelligent viewer that their kids could be in danger from playing this optional mission, he essentially states that only neglectful parents and/or siblings could be responsible for children being exposed to the content. In which case, he has completely ruined his own argument and yet speaks with a demeanor suggesting he’s just stumped Christensen.

Even the man Fox News had on the program who they believed would bash the game for them, Common Sense media CEO Jim Steyer, admits that the content is only too violent depending on who is playing the game. When that happens, the host has the nerve to cut Steyer off. However, he does allow Steyer later on in the story to continue to make his point.

As disgusting and aggravating as this was, it showed that Fox News hadn’t learned much from the last time they decided to criticize a game with heavy bias. Back in January of 2008, the network decided to run a piece on the controversial sex scene in Mass Effect that could take place towards the end of the game.

In that piece, the game was dubbed by one of the reporters as "Luke Skywalker meets Debbie Does Dallas." Representatives for and against the game were game journalist Geoff Keighley on the defense and author Cooper Lawrence on the attack.

When asked by Keighley, after ranting about how the game portrayed women as "objects of desire," Lawrence admitted that she had never played the game. Later in the story, even the host of the show admitted not having played the game or watched the scene.

The story also stated that there was full-frontal nudity and graphic sex in the scene, when in actuality the scene was not even as bad as a typical romance scene in a PG-13 rated movie. A side-boob and quick butt shot was all the "graphic" nudity in the scene. All after a lengthy romantic relationship had developed during a 30-plus hour game.

Despite Keighley making Lawrence and the host look like complete fools, Lawrence and eventually the rest of the Fox & Friends cast continued to bash the game without having a clue as to what they were ranting about.

The crew went to the same argument of unsupervised kids getting access to these games. This once again just goes to show that they have to blame neglectful parents and/or siblings in order to present any semblance of a valid argument.

Watching the rant just makes you scratch your head in confusion and want to hit something in anger. One woman says she wonders why the game didn’t get an Adults Only rating. The woman obviously made her judgment on hearsay, something a journalist should never do, for if she had watched the scene she would have known the content was nowhere near as serious as her biased network was making it out to be.

A good thing did come out of this piece however, as gamers flooded and down-rated Lawrence’s book due to her ill-informed appearance on the Fox News story. The backlash forced her to issue an apology.

"I recognize that I misspoke," said Lawrence. "I really regret saying that, and now that I’ve seen the game and seen the sex scenes it’s kind of a joke. Before the show I had asked somebody about what they had heard, and they had said it’s like pornography. But it’s not like pornography. I’ve seen episodes of Lost that are more sexually explicit."

These two pieces are an atrocity to journalism and make me angry that these biased, ignorant people call themselves professional journalists as I do myself. They neglected to gather enough information to provide an unbiased story, choosing simply to ignore it. These "reporters" and their "fair and balanced" network have broken two cardinal rules of journalism, remaining unbiased and being well-informed on your story.

All of it just in an attempt to spite the gaming industry. It makes me sick.


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Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

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