Did Fox News hit a new low with its coverage of Bulletstorm this week? That’s a very difficult question to answer. We’ve come to expect absurd opinions and coverage laden with agenda from a network that chooses to promote itself via Bill O’Reilly, a man whose head is shoved so far up his overpaid, Republican ass to even take a passing glance at a My First Science Book. But to call the M-rated Bulletstorm the worst video game in the world because its profane language might reach the hands of kids, to imply that it might in some way be responsible for an increase in rape rates, surely nothing Fox News has done can top that? Well, the studio does have a lot of history.
Make up your own mind – I’ll report, you decide. Here are some of Fox News’ greatest gaming hits.
10. Six Days in Fallujah on Fox & Friends
Fox News can provide fair discussion on a difficult topic. It may not mean to but it can, and that’s apparently what happened in this segment on the controversial game Six Days based on a battle in the Iraq war. Fox News stayed clear of the initial debate in April 2009, maybe because UK newspaper The Daily Mail presented enough sensationalist outrage to get the game dropped by Konami. This live Fox & Friends segment aired a few months later and is fairly intelligent, although host Gretchen Carlson can’t resist a snide closing dig at Atomic Games president Peter Tamte: “Obviously you knew you might get some blowback on it because, eh, some people lost their children in that battle.”
9. Look out, it’s Kinect Porn!
The KFox14 article in question may now be offline, but the reaction to the scaremongering perpetuated by El Paso branch of Fox News is still very visible. Obscure “tech demo” XXXLab requires a modified Xbox and won’t be found at your high street store, but KFox14 went right ahead anyway and quoted a concerned mother who feared advertisements for the adult game might end up on the Disney Channel. Yeah, kids totally use their Xbox 360s to find porn…
8. Manhunt 2 – You “Play” the Game
In the wake of Manhunt 2’s ban-hunt back in 2007, Fox News spewed out buckets of coverage on the controversial game like it was going out of fashion – which it was. If the video above doesn’t make you cringe enough – “what would you say, show more blood and guts?” – check out O’Reilly-a-like Megyn Kelly’s manufacturer knowledge, stabby-stabby motions, and patronising air quotes.
7. Is NBA Jam Bipartisan?
Here’s a classic example of Poe’s Law in action. In a fluff segment on the introduction of President Obama and Sarah Palin to NBA Jam, Fox News co-host Jenna Lee asks the burning question to EA Sports boss Peter Moore: “is this a bipartisan game though, Peter?” It seems like a harmless little joke given how Lee laughs it off afterwards, but can you really tell? Is this investigative Fox News journalism uncovering liberal agenda in a seemingly innocuous Wii game? Fox News is that far gone.
6. Play Games A Lot? You Have a Mental Disorder
In a stunning piece of unbalanced, predisposed journalism which surely served as inspiration for the BBC, in 2009 Tuan C. Nyugen and Lucas Siegel wrote that once you’re a gamer you get hooked for life. Oh, and you might become mentally ill because of it. The piece cites a study that say 1 in 10 kids who play games behave in ways similar to other addictive disorders like compulsive gambling. It then clarifies that these ways include skipping chores and lying to parents. Well, jeez, I’ve never heard of kids doing that before. Finally, it veers into tinfoil hat territory by talking about a psychiatrist’s lobby for “pathological gaming” to be classified as a mental disorder. Of course it’s true that games addiction can be a problem, but why is it always games at fault and never the parents?
5. World War 2 Vets aren’t Real People!
The issue of playing as the Taliban in Medal of Honor multiplayer is a thorny one for sure – Fox News did a pretty good job in its brief coverage on the similar subject of Six Days of Fallujah, above – which is why outspoken gold-star mom Karen Meredith’s comment that World War II games are not based on “real people” ruins the debate. Sure, the Fox News anchor actually comes off as balanced here, but to let his guest off the hook for a comment that demeans all the men and women who served back then? It might have been a mere slip of the tongue, but one wonders what furore would have unfurled had the comment been made by an EA representative. On a side note, why is it always about people’s children serving in wars and not the people actually serving?
4. Playing “as a Terrorist” in No Russian
A classic Fox News tactic is to invite those unused to being part of a broadcast watched by millions and revel as they wilt in front of the camera. Slashgamers’ Jon Christensen recovered well from his stumble in this Fox & Friends clip, but I’m sure someone more accustomed to being on a news show would have ripped apart Jim Steyer’s insistence that video games have been demonstrably linked to violence – the song on the broken record that is Fox News games coverage.
3. Jack Thompson: The Glory Years
I was almost tempted to leave out Mr. Thompson and his ridiculous and incendiary conclusions because the man doesn’t deserve any more airtime, but that would be like talking about American obesity and not mentioning McDonald’s. The disbarred attorney fervently found completely unconnected games at blame for everything from school shootouts to operant behaviour. Fox News regularly gave him the platform to air his propaganda, but now he’s been shown to be too much of a liar and a joke for even the controversial news station to invite him back on. Good riddance.
2. Mass Effect on the Sex Box
I don’t think I need to do much more than share quotes from this infamous alleged debate on Mass Effect back in 2008: “You’ll see full digital nudity, imagine!” “The person who’s playing the game gets to decide what’s exactly happening between the two people, if you know what I mean.” “Pandora’s box is open.” “They don’t show women as being value for anything but their sexuality.”
GameTrailers host Geoff Keighley asked author Cooper Lawrence, “Have you played Mass Effect?” She laughed, “No!” Enough said. Funny how Fox News stayed the hell away from Mass Effect 2…
1. Weazel News!
I’ve watched too many Fox News clips making this piece. Of course the major brunt of the station’s attacks have been on the ever-controversial Grand Theft Auto series, but even with that all history to go into I’d much rather close this piece with a Weazel News bulletin than any more of the absurd melodrama that is “the most powerful name in news”.