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Sunday, November 06, 2005 

FOX: Underage Drinking

(Cross-posted on Knowledge)

I'll be honest - I have perhaps never been as disgusted/angry with the media as I am tonight. I just got done watching a heavily promoted lead story on the KMSP (FOX 9) News at 9. The story? Underage Gopher hockey players drinking alcohol! Oh my God, of all the things they could do, those stupid athletes picked perhaps the most heinous thing in the world!

I am, of course, young and naive - so much so that I believe the media has an important, irreplaceable, and responsible place in this country. That’s why I’m so pissed off tonight – of all the things KMSP could have covered as their top story tonight, they chose some legal adults (if minors in the alcohol sense) drinking, responsibly, in a bar. Not only that, but they spent six weeks working on the story. Six weeks that they could have been uncovering (Republican) scandals, (Republican) cronyism, (Republican) corruption, corporate sleaze, fraud, anything. I guess this is technically investigative journalism (they used a hidden camera!) but this is not real investigative journalism. Hey, folks, college athletes drink. I could have told you that.

As a matter of public policy, I have never understood the 21 drinking age. It does nothing to prevent underage drinking. Huge percentages of high school students and college underclassmen drink despite (because of?) the law. Many European countries give parents wide discretion about their kids’ drinking (Switzerland, for example, has no minimum drinking age), and things seem to work out okay there. The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, which forced states to change the drinking age to 21, showed that the drinking age is arbitrary – it could be 10, 18, 21, or 35 – and when you think about it, it does seem pretty unfair that one can be drafted and die in the military without legally having a drink. Combining those two arguments, Wisconsin now wants to let 19 year-old service members drink legally. I understand the argument for the 21 drinking age, which is basically that older adults are less likely to drive drunk, and there’s some merit to that, but I think there’s a lot more merit in letting parents teach their kids what alcohol is and how to drink before they get a chance to go out and abuse the stuff.

In short, this story sucks. It busts a local team for doing something that, lets face it, practically every college student does. It will probably end up pissing off a lot of Gopher fans, which will be bad for FOX. It’s bad for the public because KMSP has wasted its time on a useless non-story while it could have been doing real journalism. Then again, I’m not surprised. Local or not, it’s still FOX news.

UPDATE: You know you've done something stupid when it makes fark.com.

Yeah, I missed the story, but REW was pretty upset about it too. Both because it was such a non-story and also because Fox probably just cost all those kids their scholarships for a little boost in their ratings. I guess the Fox News ethic of "pandering to whoever will watch us" isn't just confined to the Fox News Channel.

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