dir. Greenwald
Opens Fri Aug 20
Clinton Street Theater

President Ronald Reagan's gift to American culture was spurring on legions of angry punk bands. Likewise, George W. Bush has served as a wicked anti-muse for independent documentary filmmakers. Of course there's Michael Moore, but there's also a rowdy group of filmmakers who have struck gold with Bush-centric issues. The most recent among them is director Robert Greenwald, whose documentary Outfoxed dissects media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the far-reaching influence of his Fox News Network.

Outfoxed doesn't focus specifically on Bush, but the president looms throughout, always serving as the prime beneficiary of Fox's biased reporting, be it from the 2000 election to public opinion about the Iraq war. In the film's first 10 minutes, Greenwald briskly establishes Murdoch's adulation for far right ideals and pervasive market saturation, noting that Murdoch's 100-plus cable stations reach three quarters of the world population. The film then shifts gears to Murdoch's Fox News, reiterating the fact that the network proclaims itself to be "fair and balanced" before demonstrating that it most definitely isn't.

Like Moore's films, Outfoxed uses sarcasm and comic setups to keep the heady material punchy and engaging. In one segment, a media watchdog explains how Fox anchors have cleverly co-opted the age-old concept of referencing unnamed sources. But instead of referencing true experts or viable sources wishing to remain anonymous, Fox anchors use the all-too-easy "Some people say," a tactic which is about as journalistically sound as saying "Well, my buddy Bob thinks...." Greenwald follows this analysis with a rapid montage of clips showing Fox's anchors prefacing asinine claims and opinions with "Some people say"; the result is something approaching high-minded slapstick.

Casting the film against the upcoming elections, Greenwald infuses Outfoxed with a sense of urgency. And it's all the more reason to see this film sooner rather than later.

[See the Mercury's interview with director Robert Greenwald, page 10.]