Recently I was reading an article on Fox News about President Obama and Prime Minster Netanyahu of Israel. The article was a report on President Obama’s rejection to meet and discuss Iran’s nuclear weapon capability with the Prime Minister of Israel. There weren’t any factual issues, but Fox failed to live up to equally important standards of journalism. The most commonly neglected were enterprise and explanation. Without these principles, Fox News doesn’t establish true loyalty to the general public.
Fox News’ biggest problem was explaining the importance of the rejection of Prime Minster Netanyahu’s meeting. This article would lead you to believe that the only impact it could have is on “Iranian nuclear weapon capability.” Fox News doesn’t even touch on the growing possibility that this could affect the upcoming presidential election. After the controversy that rose when the Democrat’s platform did not acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Israeli support has become a big issue in the election. Both Democrats and Republicans are being very careful to show their support for Israel. President Obama turning down a meeting could easily be perceived as democrat lack of support. Republican nominee Mitt Romney has already been quoted on Meet the Press stating that the progress Iran has made is President Obama’s “greatest failure. This event has the potential to effect the election, and the election has the potential to effect the decisions of the Obama Administration. Considering the direct impact the election has on the public, the impact it could have should have been thoroughly discussed.
Prime Minster Netanyahu is pressuring America to set a “red line” for Iran. The red line would define how far Iran could go in terms of nuclear fuel. If Iran was to “cross” this line it would result in military action. While Fox does briefly mention this consequence, they didn’t touch on it nearly as much as they should. In a survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, it was found that 59% of Americans do not want to be involved in potential war between Iran and Israel. With fifty nine percent of America opposed to a war, the possibility that war could result from a proposition of a “red line” should be more than mentioned.
While what actually happened is definitely important- how the rejection of the meeting is being perceived is just as necessary to cover. Fox goes as far as to call the rejection a snub in the title of the article, but there is no other mention of how officials in Israel are taking it. It needs to be noted that the same day President Obama turned down a meeting with Netanyahu; Prime Minister Netanyahu criticized the Obama Administration for not taking action and setting a red line. Netanyahu also said that because of the Obama administration’s refusal to take action- they had forfeited their right to stop Israel from taking military action with Iran. Considering the timing of this event- it is very possible that Israelis are taking this as an insult. Fox doesn’t mention any of this. They treat this event as if it was the first time anything has ever happened between the United States and Israel. They do not connect past events to show the public the big picture.
Fox news missed another major point in their article. While the article was about America and Israel, there is still another key player that was barely mentioned. Iran. Iran, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, has enough fuel to make about five or six nuclear weapons. That’s four or five more than they could when President Obama took office. Iran has also threatened to close a route for oil exports if attacked by the United States or Israel. Without this key information, Fox News doesn’t give the public much information to make an opinion from. The only information they’ve received were details about the meeting, and opinions from politicians, most of which were Republican. Readers get no sense about how urgent or not the nuclear program in Iran is – so they can’t come up with a sound opinion about President Obama turning down Prime Minister Netanyahu’s meeting.
The article is also an excellent display of passive journalism. Fox News acknowledges the White House’s statement claiming there was no offer for a meeting. But Fox News also acknowledges several unnamed sources claiming that President Obama did in fact deny a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. So was there an offer for a meeting or not? Fox News never says. All they do is regurgitate dialogue between politicians and officials. Ted Poe says this, unnamed official says that. Fox News never clears the story up for the public.
Fox also does a poor job at keeping the article neutral. Right off the bat Fox evaluates the White House’s response as a “scramble” to clear up snub claims. As I previously mentioned, Fox doesn’t even know if the decline to meet was a snub. In fact, Fox isn’t even positive there was an offer for a meeting at all. Choosing words like “scramble” imply that the Obama Administration is frantically trying to clean up the mess they caused. The choice of using the word “scrambles” makes the article opinionated and violates the idea that journalism should be fair. Fox News also chooses to say that Israeli Officials confirmed that the offer was “brushed off.” This conveys to the public that the Obama Administration not only declined a meeting, but threw it to the side. To keep this article neutral Fox could replace evaluative words with descriptive ones. Instead of using “scrambles” Fox Could simply say that the White House released a statement dealing with Snub claims. In replace of “brushed off” Fox could say turned down or declined.
Overall, Fox didn’t do a great job covering what happened between President Obama and Prime Minster Netanyahu. There was a lot of information omitted and that contributed to the low quality of the article. One thing Fox could have done is more research. Even though Fox was on a bit of a time crunch, the lack of information made the article very passive. With research and investigating, Fox might have been able to discover if there even was an offer made by Prime Minister Netanyahu to meet. Even if research didn’t provide them with that answer, investigating and researching would have been able to define which story ( if an offer was made or if it wasn’t) made the most sense and had a higher chance of being true. This would help Fox include the principle “Enterprise” in the Seven Yardsticks of Journalism. Fox could have also explained the political impact this event could have had on the election. Explaining this would have made it easier for the public to understand why President Obama turning down the meeting has importance in their lives. This would ensure that Fox met the standard “Explanation” in the seven yardsticks of journalism. Fox also could have included more quotes that were for President Obama turning down Prime Minister’ Netanyahu’s meeting. Fox could have even included more opinions from both Republican and Democratic views concerning the declaring of a red line for Israel. Specifically, they could have included a quote from Michael Oren, the ambassador of Israel. Oren said,” We know that the Iranians see red. We know they can discern the color red. We know that the redder the line the lesser the chance that they will pass it.” On top of that, they could include a quote from an opposing view. A good one to choose would be President Obama’s who said that it would take months or years for the creation of a nuclear weapon. President Obama concluded that this leaves ” time and space” for a solution to the Iran nuclear Program. Including these quotes on the would help ensure that Fox News met the standard “Fairness” in the Seven Yardsticks of Journalism.