New York (CNSNews.com) - About a thousand protesters descended on Fox News Channel's headquarters in New York City on Tuesday afternoon and blasted the network as a fascist arm of the Republican Party.
The crowd chanted slogans such as "Fox News lies," "Fox News, get off the air," "Fair and balanced is a lie," "Shut the Fox up," and "Anti-peace, Anti-Gay, Rupert Murdoch, Go Away." The protesters billed the event as a "Fox News Shut-Up-A-Thon."
Protester Cameron Peterson told CNSNews.com that people who listen to Fox News "have a twisted view of the world."
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the activist group Code Pink, is arrested as she begins to stage a protest outside Fox News headquarters in New York, Tuesday Aug. 31, 2004. The protested Fox News and its personalities, shouting 'Fox news lies' and 'Murdock shutup.' (Newsday Photo / Moises Saman)
"[Fox News viewers] think we found the weapons of mass destruction, think we found many things that they would like us to believe they haven't found," Peterson said.
Asked to explain why Fox News Channel is the highest rated cable news network, Peterson responded, "I think it's their scandalization of everything. If you make everything seem like a scandal, a huge deal when it is not, then you frighten people into listening to you."
Protesters held signs reading "Boycott Fox News - Time to flush Fox News extreme right wing-nuts," "Fox News lies," Faux News: We decide you lose," and "ABC Sucks, CBS Sucks, CNN Sucks, NBC Sucks, Fox really sucks."
Protester Beth Bernardo said Fox News is "so pro-Bush that it is disgusting." She said she thinks CNN is "more honest, they are more unbiased."
Another protester, Debbie Riga, criticized the corporate ownership of the media and said she believes that the Fox News' ratings dominance has resulted in making Americans "ignorant."
"I think [Fox News] keeps a lot of people ignorant. [Its high ratings] mean we are ignorant. We are an ignorant country," Riga told CNSNews.com.
Riga said she has found a way to get unbiased news by bypassing the American media. "I listen to the international media now. I no longer listen to any news local news," Riga said.
A protester who identified himself as Robert said, "People are fed up with the lies and deception that are going on throughout our media and throughout our government. Without an active, questioning, resilient news media, our country is really lost."
A protester who called himself Carlton carried a poster with the Fox News anchors all sporting fake, Hitler-style mustaches.
CNSNews.com asked Carlton if the stubby mustaches painted on everyone from Greta Van Susteren to Sean Hannity to Bill O'Reilly was his way of implying that the network had fascist tendencies.
"I am a big Charlie Chaplin fan, and I think everyone should have a Charlie Chaplin mustache. So that is kind of the message behind [the poster]. You can make whatever implications you want out of it," Carlton responded.
When asked specifically if the mustaches were meant to conjure up images of the former Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler, Carlton replied, "Who is he?"
Other protesters were not as demure. One woman was selling stickers that read, "CIA Approved Fox News Channel," and a "Vote Republican" sticker with a swastika emblazoned across it. Another sign showed a hooded KKK member with the phrase "compassionate conservatism?"
Many of the protesters also singled out the Australian-born owner of Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, with signs saying, "Deport Rupert Murdoch" and "Stop Murdoch's war on journalism."
'Bill O'Reilly, shut up'
Most of the participants focused their hostility on Bill O'Reilly, host of "The O'Reilly Factor," the highest rated cable news program in America.
One sign read, "Bill O'Reilly is a [expletive] chump, and one t-shirt read "Bill O'Reilly is full of s***." The crowd of activists also chanted, "Bill O'Reilly, shut up!""
Protester Cameron Peterson told CNSNews.com that Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity (the latter a conservative radio talk show host and co-host of the cable TV program Hannity and Colmes) are probably the biggest figures of my dislike."
Peterson mocked the Fox News slogan "fair and balanced," calling the network "unfair and imbalanced." He said Fox News creates "fear through lies and deceit" and tries to "give people their own perception of news, rather than objective news."
Protester Debbie Riga said, "There is no deep analysis of any news anymore. It is not balanced, there is no debate. Bill O'Reilly tells everyone to shut up. How is there a debate if he is telling his guests, people he invited to his show, to shut up?"
'America loves Fox News'
Counter-protesters from the conservative website FreeRepublic.com carried signs praising Fox News Channel.
One sign read, "Americans prefer their news fair and balanced. Thanks, Fox" and "America loves Fox News."
A Free Republic counter-protester, who identified himself as Joe, told CNSNews.com that Fox "is fair and balanced."
Joe mocked the notion that many of the protesters at CNN and the three network newscasts are more balanced than Fox News.
"CNN? The Clinton News Network? Oh, okay, you mean [CBS News's] Dan Rather, [ABC News's] Peter Jennings, and [NBC News's] Tom Brokaw, are not biased?" Taylor asked.
The international media is no better, according to another FreeRepublic.com counter-protester Kristin Taylor.
"Americans living overseas are appalled at the international news media. They believe it is deliberately misrepresenting what America is doing in the world," he said.
Marc Morano is Senior Staff Writer for CNSNews.com and is previously known as Rush Limbaugh's "Man in Washington," as reporter and producer for the Rush Limbaugh Television Show.
© 2004 CNSNews.com