Fox News bogus “No Go Zones” story

Abstract: This is an assignment I did for school a few months back. I figured I put it up here.

 

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Fox News is an American news program created in 1996 by Rupert Murdoch. The program airs in Canada on several stations. These stations include Bell TV, Cogeco, Eastlink, Manitoba Telecom services, rogers Cable, SaskTel, Shaw cable, Shaw Direct and TELUS TV. Fox News has faced many controversies in the past over allegations of right wing bias and for fabricating information to better serve their political interests.

One story Fox News aired in January caused another one of these controversies.

On January 7th 2015 a terrible shooting took place in Paris where terrorists attacked the infamous French political satire magazine “Charlie Hebdo” and killed the cartoonists who worked at the magazine. The terrorists claimed to be doing this in the name of Islam since the magazine had depicted numerous cartoons of their prophet Muhammad. Fox News like most news organizations covered the attacks and the aftermath of the attacks for several days. However unlike other news organizations Fox News continued to discuss what they called “No-Go Zones” in France. Fox News claimed these were areas inhabited by young unemployed Muslims who abide by Sharia law instead of French laws. Fox News included a map that highlighted these “No-Go Zones”. During that same time of the “No Go Zones” story Fox news also broadcast a 7min feature of anchor Jeanine Pirrot saying that the best way to stop radical Muslims was to arm other Muslims and have the two fight it out to the death http://www.vox.com/2015/1/12/7533159/fox-news-pirro-rant

 

Fox news continued to talk about the “No-Go zones” for several days It was mentioned by Guest Nolan Peterson (credited as a conflict Journalist & Military Veteran) Sean Hannity (Conservative radio host) Greg Palkot (London correspondent for Fox News) Elizabeth Hasselbeck (Fox News personality) James Rosen (Washington correspondent) Kathleen MacFarland ( National Security analyst) Steve Emerson (National security pundit) Among many others. The phrase “No-Go Zones” was used by Fox News approximately 45 times within a span of 7 days https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfLf6tO7vSA (starts at 5:31).

 

On January 14th the French television show “Le Petit Journal” (a program similar to John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight”/ John Stewart’s “The Daily show”) investigated these “No-Go Zones” by sending reporters to the same areas that were highlighted on Fox News’s map. http://www.canalplus.fr/c-emissions/c-le-petit-journal/pid6515-le-petit-journal.html?vid=1197745

 

ParisNoGo
The “No-Go Zones” in France as Fox News describes them.

The reporters did not find anything like Fox News had mentioned. Instead of young unemployed Muslims promoting terrorism they instead found multi-cultural communities that were accepting of all races/religions. After the section the host of the show Yann Barthes urged his audience to send messages to Fox News via Facebook, twitter and email with the message “Verify your information. You are wrong about the “No-Go Zones” in France.” On Jan 17th Fox News apologized for the maps they referenced. They admitted the maps used were incorrect; the video was eleven seconds long. Then on Jan 20th they made a second video apologizing for their reporting on “No-Go Zones” admitting that their information was not credible, this video was fifty-six seconds long. The videos containing the claims about “No-Go Zones” however are still available for viewing on Fox News’s website.

I contacted one of my cousins who lives in France and asked her about these areas and footage of riots used by Fox. She told me that the broadcast was “all lies the images come from 2005”. The images were taken from a 2005 riot that took place in French suburbs. The riots were sparked by the death of two non-white French teens but the longterm cause was the result of the disconnect felt by non-white French youth in suburban areas and the racial profiling many of them face from police (not very different then the racial profiling that goes on in the U.S.).

 

Canadian Code of Ethics.

        As mentioned above while they are an American broadcaster Fox News still airs on Several Canadian channels and is therefore susceptible to the Canadian broadcasting laws and regulations from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and the Canadian Broadcaster Standards Council (CBSC).

The Fox News broadcast violates article 1 of the RTNDA: Accuracy. Article 1 (accuracy): “Electronic journalists will inform the public in an accurate, comprehensive and fair manner about events and issues of importance.” As mentioned before the French television show “Le Petit Journal” investigated these “No-Go Zones” and found the claims of an impoverished terrorist promoting culture to be false. Fox News later admitted that they were wrong in their broadcasting. They brought on people who hey claimed to be experts but were not and provided fabricated information.

The Fox broadcast also violates Article 2 (Equality) Electronic journalists will report factors such as race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability only when they are relevant. The stories reported by Fox News contain numerous references to people of the Muslim religion and people who come from the Middle East. This would have been fine if the information is relevant to the story. The information would have been relevant if the “No-Go Zones” were true. But as stated before the claims made are false meaning that there is no reason for Fox to make reference to a specific race/religion. The broadcasts are directly targeting Muslims with degrading bogus facts.

The broadcast also breaks the third article in the RTDNA: ARTICLE THREE (Authenticity)
“Electronic journalists will present news and information without distortion. Interviews may be edited provided that the meaning is not changed or misrepresented. Electronic journalists will not present news that is rehearsed or re-enacted without informing the audience. Newsrooms should take steps to ensure the authenticity of all video and audio, including news material acquired from the public, freelancers and other sources before disseminating/broadcasting it. Editorials and commentary will be identified as such.” As my cousin pointed out to me the maps and photos and footage used were not taken from the modern day “No-Go Zones” They are taken from the 2005 French riots which were about the concerns of youth unemployment in poor French communities. This breaks the authenticity of the program as indication is given that the media used is old.

 

The Fox broadcast violates article seven of the RTDNA: ARTICLE SEVEN (Corrections)
“Errors will be quickly acknowledged and publicly corrected on all platforms.” Fox News did apologize on air for the mistakes they made about the “No-Go Zones” and the map of said areas. However, the videos where Fox makes the claims about “No-Go Zones” are still available to watch on Fox News’s website. Fox News should remove all videos that reference the “No Go Zones” from their website.

Finally the broadcast violates ARTICLE FOURTEEN: (Respect and Enforcement) 
“Members of the RTDNA will respect the provisions of this Code and the RTDNA itself will take all reasonable steps to encourage that all electronic journalists in Canada are aware of and observe the Code, even if they are not themselves members of the RTDNA.” From looking at the numerous breaches the Broadcasts have made Fox News clearly made no attempt to follow the RTDNA Standards. Fox News is not a member of the RTDNA but as the article states is still expected to promote good ethical journalism. These broadcasts break the Accuracy, Equality, Authenticity and corrections codes of the RTDNA. It makes no attempts to follow the codes whatsoever.

It is not only the RTDNA, the Fox broadcast also violates several regulations from the CBCS. The broadcast violate clause 6 of the CBCS: Full,Fair and Proper Presentation.

“It is recognized that the full, fair and proper presentation of news, opinion, comment and editorial is the prime and fundamental responsibility of each broadcaster. This principle shall apply to all radio and television programming, whether it relates to news, public affairs, magazine, talk, call-in, interview or other broadcasting formats in which news, opinion, comment or editorial may be expressed by broadcaster employees, their invited guests or callers.”

Fox News’s staff is allowed to voice the concerns they have about a growing Muslim population in western countries. However they must make these opinion pieces separate from the rest of the news broadcast. The degrading statements about Muslims in Western countries are made during Fox News’s regular broadcasting program. No indication is made between the statements based on official facts and those that are opinion based.

The Fox broadcast also violates clause 7: Controversial public issues “Recognizing in a democracy the necessity of presenting all sides of a public issue, it shall be the responsibility of broadcasters to treat fairly all subjects of a controversial nature. Time shall be allotted with due regard to all the other elements of balanced program schedules, and the degree of public interest in the questions presented. Recognizing that healthy controversy is essential to the maintenance of democratic institutions, broadcasters will endeavour to encourage the presentation of news and opinion on any controversy which contains an element of the public interest.”

In broadcasts dealing with controversial issues time shall be given to both sides of the story to express their thoughts. Clearly the Charlie Hebdo shooting was (and still is) a controversial issue so time needs to be given to people on many different sides of the argument to express their thoughts on the issue. Fox interviewed several people while covering the “No-Go Zones”. However, the people interviewed were all people who agreed with what many of news anchors were already saying: The shooting was a result of the growing Muslim population in the west. At no point did Fox invite someone from France or a member of the Islamic community on their program to defend themselves.

The Fox broadcast violates the CRTC code of “Equitable Portrayal” In broadcasting. Fox News breaks several of these conditions.

Part2: Human rights: “Recognizing that every person has the right to the full enjoyment of certain fundamental rights and freedoms, broadcasters shall ensure that their programming contains no abusive or unduly discriminatory material or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, material status or physical or mental disability.” The broadcast by Fox News violates this by making several comments in their broadcasts in regards to race (specifically people from the Middle East) and religion (Muslims).

The broadcasts also breaks the third part of the code about negative portrayal: “In an effort to ensure appropriate depictions of all individuals and groups, broadcasters shall refrain from airing unduly negative portrayals of persons with respect to race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability. Negative portrayal can take many different forms, including (but not limited to) stereotyping, stigmatization and victimization, derision of myths, traditions or practices, degrading material, and exploitation.” Clearly the Fox broadcasts violated this part of the code. Degrading comments are made throughout the broadcasts saying that the Muslims in these areas are “unemployed” and promote “terrorism

The broadcasts violate the fourth part of the code Stereotyping: “ Recognizing that stereotyping is a form of generalization that is frequently simplistic, belittling, hurtful or prejudicial, while being unreflective of the complexity of the group being stereotyped, broadcasters shall ensure that their programming contains no unduly negative stereotypical material or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.” While the broadcasts don’t directly come out and say that Muslims are terrorists you defiantly get that feeling after watching the broadcast several times. They are promoting a negative stereotype of a minority group, Muslims represent 7.5% of Frances population based on a Pew research study. 

 

The Decision

       After looking at the Canadian broadcasting standards we can see that Fox News breaks many of the most vital codes. Specifically they break codes regarding accuracy, protecting minorities, being unbiased, making corrections, and giving representation to both sides of a controversial issue (along with many more). Fox News has apologized for the broadcasts but the news agency should also remove all videos that mention the “No-Go Zones” from their website as all the information they present is false. The News agency made several consistent breaches of the Canadian Broadcasting codes within a short period of time on a very controversial story (Charlie Hebdo shooting aftermath). Unless Fox News makes several changes to its broadcasting ways the broadcaster should be removed from Canadian channels. It is unacceptable to air broadcasts that break so many codes of conduct.

 

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