Fox News’ Lauren Ashburn Says It’s Not Fair to Blame Fox News for Misinformation

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Lauren_AshburnMove over “You didn’t build that.” It’s time for “Fox News didn’t say that.”

Fox News apparently feels the same way about the quality of their on-air programming as many big corporations do about the quality of their manufactured products. In other words, people have no right to question their ingredients. No matter how substandard or even harmful they may be.

Lauren Ashburn, who, with Howard Kurtz, co-hosts MediaBuzz (Sundays 11AM-12PM/ET) “to discuss the state of the news media and the media’s shaping of current events and their role in politics, culture, business, technology and sports,” said yesterday that, “it’s just not fair” to blame Fox News for misinformation presented on their programming:

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(Speaking of misinformation and media buzz, there have been some questions about Ashburn’s own credentials, though I am certain none of that is the fault of Fox News either. They can hardly be blamed for what they tell you on air.)

That’s right. Fox News is not responsible for its own content. The buck stops…nowhere.

Specifically, Ashburn was whining about fallout from her network’s recent miscue surrounding the capture of Benghazi suspect Ahmet Abu Khattala. You’ll remember that Khattala was inconveniently and suspiciously captured on June 17.

For no reason I can discern other than because Obama is black and it was a Tuesday, Fox News immediately suggested the timing of the capture was almighty convenient for Hilary Clinton, coinciding as it did with the release of her new book, Hard Choices (published June 10) and book tour (which also kicked off June 10 at the Union Square Barnes & Noble store in New York City).

Justin Baragona discussed Fox News’ reaction to Khattala’s capture on June 17:

Over at Fox News, the network both downplayed the news and provided commentary suggesting this was either a distraction or a way to help Hillary Clinton’s book sales. On Fox News’ panel discussion show Outnumbered, contributors Kennedy (of MTV fame) and Peter Hegseth both suggested that Clinton’s book tour and potential 2016 Presidential run provided the impetus for Khattala’s capture and this news being broken now. Fox News anchor Jon Scott also questioned the timing of the capture and wondered if the United States could have brought in Khattala at any time but decided to wait for the most politically advantageous moment.

So even a Fox News anchor isn’t responsible for what he says on-air? Then who is? And don’t forget Limbaugh:

Of course, El Rushbo had to chime in and offer his two cents. Rush Limbaugh not only claimed that the timing was peculiar, but that Obama would make Khattala claim that the anti-Mulsim video that sparked protests across the Middle East was the cause of the Benghazi attacks, therefore ‘vindicating’ the administration.

Ashburn’s defense of Fox News strains credulity almost as much as Fox News itself:

[T]he more outlandish the comments, the more the websites are going to say ‘oh my gosh, Fox News said this, and they made this point,’ and it’s funny because Fox News didn’t say that, those individual contributors said that. It’s just not fair to do that.

Ashburn has some peculiar ideas about fairness. Besides the presentation of her own credentials, there is her disturbing fixation with President Obama shopping habits.

You seriously have to question the acumen of a person who turns President Obama’s purchase of pink sweaters for his daughters into an accusation, saying Obama has “got to learn to take his lumps.”

I do think Ashburn forgot the saying about people living in glass houses.

I absolutely do not think it is Obama who has to learn to take his lumps, but clearly, Fox News (and by extension, Lauren Ashburn), ever so sensitive to criticism of the shoddy quality of its content.

Back in December 2013, Dave Weigel at Slate opined that Ashburn “has almost nothing to say about anything.” He is right that she has nothing meaningful to say, but consider if you will that she works for a network that questions why anyone would bother to tell the truth about anything when it can just as easily make up outrageous lies instead.

And look, it is hardly surprising that a network that prefers lies to facts would shy away from taking responsibility for those lies when, inevitably, they are questioned.

Ashburn’s complaint that her network not be held responsible for the content it airs not only contrasts unfavorably with our president’s willingness to accept personal responsibility, but it is yet another nail in Fox News’ self-made reality bubble, which can more reasonably be thought of as a coffin full of angry old white people eager to embrace irrelevance as the price of doing business.

40 Replies to “Fox News’ Lauren Ashburn Says It’s Not Fair to Blame Fox News for Misinformation”

  1. “Fox News anchor Jon Scott also questioned the timing of the capture and wondered if the United States could have brought in Khattala at any time but decided to wait for the most politically advantageous moment”.

    “All the Federales say
    they could have had him any day,
    they only let him slip away
    out of kindness, I suppose”.
    From “Pancho & Lefty” by Townes Van Zandt

    No-one with internet access and more than 3 or 4 brain cells to rub together watches Fox channel, except for the cartoons – that’s their best offering.

  2. “Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.” – Janet Malcolm

  3. How could Fox ever be held responsible? Especially when they employ people like Hannity, Kilmeade and Doocy. If they worked for me, I wouldn’t ever stick my head out of the burrow

  4. Ashley is correct, they can’t be held responsible for their own stupidity it’s just their personality. But they can be held responsible when they display that stupidity on a daily basis and claim that it’s genius on their part.

  5. When media is affecting a nation and it’s people well being negatively by putting out misinformation, they are responsible an they should be called to account. Plain and simple. We used to consider the media as ‘The Fourth Estate,’ like the fourth branch of government, to protect democracy,well no longer.

  6. If FOXNews is broadcasting, you can assume quite safely that they’re at best distorting the truth and at worst completely making stuff up.

  7. These people would not accept misinformation from their staff then why should they believe it’s ok to spread misinformation to the American public?

  8. I mentioned the exact same thing to my step-dad years ago as he is an avid Fox viewer. He told me it was sour grapes on my end. Is it a wonder why I prefer not to talk with the man? Methinks not.

  9. A country cannot function properly without a free press and a well informed public.Fox does neither.I understand the concept of the first amendment-but since they are using public airwaves there as to be a mechanism available to have an independent source check on the veracity of what they are putting out there.Other network news could use some of the same.As Americans we are ill informed compared to Europeans.We have a cult of celebrity news readers who call themselves reporters,thereby giving reporting a bad name.

  10. Is anyone really surprised that those on the FOX News Network payroll routinely distort the facts in order to promote a politically-motivated point of view?

    Roger Ailes probably has a framed poster of Tokyo Rose hanging in his office.

  11. What happened to the Higher Standards of America exceptionalism??? Oh! Right Fox noise has turned it into a FAIRY-TALE of pure fiction for there viewers to understand.

  12. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, is more like it. Faux News may as well be reading verbatim from his playbook.

  13. SMH… It’s just not worth saying anything anymore about FAUX… any intelligent person knows they are a joke, and just a front for right wing propaganda. :/

  14. You anti fox news folks are nuts as is the author of this article. Fox is ultimately irrelevant with a very small viewing base as compared to the MSM. Liberals seem to be fine with or in denial of the lefty slant or outright liberal viewpoint support of the msm but are offended by the righty slant of fox. So it isn’t bias you nuts are offended by but slant that you don’t like? I find it extremely odd. You people yes YOU PEOPLE should like fox. Since the Msm is a propaganda mouthpiece for the administration you should want a counter voice, warts and all. You lib nuts make me shake my head but def make me feel better about myself.

  15. First of all, out and out lies is not a “counter voice,” or a “slant”. It’s pure propaganda fed to uninformed followers, just like it was done in 1930’s Germany. As far as I’m concerned Fox should be taken off the air, for the harm and disservice they do in reporting their kind of news!

  16. Only by exploiting the 1st Amendment is Fox able to broadcast their lies & distortions. When they tried to get a license to broadcast in Canada they were denied because of Canadian regulations that forbid the intentional broadcast of lies & misinformation.

  17. Ah yes, the infamous “liberal media” argument that flies in the face of reality.
    Why am I not surprised that a fox defender would use this strawman rebuttal, that’s one of Fox’s prime b.s platforms you’ve swallowed and regurgitated here.
    Using lies to defend using lies, I would of expected nothing less from a Foxbot.

  18. Constitutionally we can’t do anything to perevent Fox News from making complete jerks of themselves. But we can make them pay the consequences for their fraudulent news reporting. Don’t watch Fox News, and don’t patronize any of their advertisers.

  19. It’s a bit more than that. I work in media in Canada and Fox wasn’t allowed on the air for that reason and another. First, the Broadcast Act states that any “misleading or untruthful” information can’t be broadcast. Second, we have laws for bias and balance, meaning that a news outlet can’t broadcast only one side of an argument and must seek to broadcast varying sides of a story. The US had it’s bias and balance laws repealed under Bush, so consider that when you watch any news outlet in the States, left or right leanding. Canada does have it’s own version of Fox, called Sun TV, and it’s relegated to the upper channels in cable and not carried universally. It’s about as relevant and fact-based as Fox News, and it’s been repeatedly denied full cable carriage.

  20. FOX Pretend News is an abomination. They drove away a good percentage of their 18-24 year-old audience, the audience most coveted by advertisers, with their 24/7, outrageous Benghazi conspiracy theories. That leaves them with basically a very old audience. They’re dying off and if they can’t replace them, they have no future. Rupert Murdoch is not a complete idiot. When he starts losing enough money, which is his only reason for existence, perhaps he’ll do something about his horrible, lying, ridiculous pretend news station.

  21. Well, the fairy tale comparison might not be correct. Usually the fairy tales have some kind of moral and happy ending (even the Shrek movie franchise!). Don’t see anything like that at FOX, but then I never bothered to look.

  22. The way you think is exactly how Roger Ailes and his talking heads want you to think. It’s the reason Fox viewers were caught flat-footed when Pres. Obama was reelected in 2012. Fox told you Romney would be sworn in in January 2013, and you believed it. Among the sane, this misinformation about the presidential election by Fox would have made them stop trusting the network. If you like lies, conspiracy theories, and propaganda, Fox is your network.

  23. The Supreme Court has already ruled that Fox News may lie to the public. They cannot be held accountable for what untruths they air.

  24. Odd quote for a journalist…
    . “Despite all of her meta narratives about the artifice of journalism, she has managed to say true things about the world that her readers either haven’t experienced or haven’t thought critically about. This is her job description, and she fulfills it.” – Alice Gregory

    Most journalists seek to meet that goal and to paint them all with a simplistic negative brush achieves nothing.

  25. I have to disagree. If the readers cant think critically then why twist facts or in most cases lie to report the news. For example take the prisoner swap. When the story first broke the media and not just fox said that the men were hardcore terrorist who eat babies. Which was not true. They said the Sgt was a deserter which they do not know since he hasn’t been tried as of yet and as the story developed there is a lot there that would suggest otherwise. They said his father was a terrorist sympathizer because he had a beard while they were calling for cluck dynasty star to run for President and so on.

    From Benghazi to the IRS and the ACA nothing but lies and mistruths. That’s why I don’t watch them and I challenge anyone to repeat what fox has “reported” as political scandal and I would show them how they were lied too. That’s why I don’t watch none of them. Not a single one. I like to get my info by reading.

  26. As long as Ashburn admits that Faux News spreads disinformation, that is good enough for me.

    Yup…why sure, you bet’cha.

  27. There’s a new drinking game on college campuses. Students tune into Fox News. Every time they hear the word “Benghazi” they have to take a drink.

    College infirmaries are reported a surge in binge drinking……

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