Fox News Smears Mass Effect

January 22, 2008 -
Like a bad penny, allegations that highly-regarded Xbox 360 title Mass Effect is porn disguised as a video game keep turning up.

The smear campaign crossed over to the mainstream yesterday with a Fox News report which aired on the network's Live Desk program.

Talking head Martha MacCallum hosted the segment, which featured a brief, tense debate between talk show host/author Cooper Lawrence and Spike TV game guy Geoff Keighley. While Keighley did a commendable job defending the game, right from the start it was clear that Mass Effect was in for a beat-down. As the segment opened, a Fox News graphic read:
"Se"Xbox? New Video Game Shows Full Digital Nudity and Sex

MacCallum: ...a new role-playing video game that is leaving NOTHING to the imagination... in some parts of this, you'll see full digital nudity. Imagine! And the ability for the players to engage in graphic sex and the person who's playing the game gets to decide exactly what's going to happen between the two people, if you know what I mean... Basically, Pandora's Box is open. I mean, kids have access to these things... How damaging is it, really?

Lawrence: ...the damage is this. We know that all the research shows that violence has a desensitizing effect. Well, sexuality does too... Here's how they're seeing women. They're seeing them as these objects of desire, as these hot bodies. They don't show women as being valued for anything other than their sexuality. And it's a man in this game deciding how many women he wants to be with.

Keighley: That's completely incorrect... first of all you can actually play as a man or a woman in the game. Cooper, have you ever played Mass Effect?

Lawrence: (giggling) No...

Keighley: mentioned it has full graphical nudity, that's completely incorrect. There's no full nudity... there's the side of an alien boob... it's a small sexual situation in this game which is about two minutes out of a thirty-plus hour experience... you can actually play through this game without the sexual situation ever happening -

Lawrence: (interrupting) Right, and a young boy's going to be choosing not to have sex. That'll be what they choose. I mean, let's be realistic here -

Keighley: Cooper, it's not a simple choice. You don't turn on the game and it says, "would you like to have sex or not?" It's through the evolution of a relationship with characters and the fact that this game has incredible artificial intelligence. You can actually fall in love in this game. It's just like modeling your life...

Lawrence: (interrupting) Darling, I gotta go with the research. And the research says there's a new study out of the University of Maryland right now that says that boys that play video games cannot tell the difference between what they're seeing in the video game and the real world...

Keighley: You're completely misrepresenting the game...

Lawrence: Let me at him, Martha...

Keighley: It's a fantastic game and sex is a small, little part of it.

MacCallum: You know when you buy video games... you have to pick up the box and look at the back for the rating and you have to be involved in what your kids are looking at...

Male Panelist: Who can argue, possibly, that Luke Skywalker meets Debbie Does Dallas is a good thing? It's not. And I'm definitely not going to let Mass Effect in my house...

Female Panelist: I'm not sure why it didn't get an Adults Only rating. That's the highest rating it can have. So, first of all, this board that rates them needs to have their head examined...

2nd Male Panelist: I would argue that the government can not and should not censor everything coming across the web and in video games. At the end of the day... it's up to parents to control what their kids are seeing.

GP: Another disgraceful game bashing from Fox...

GamePolitics has previously demonstrated how shoddily some of these reports are thrown together (see: How Fox Morning Show Sensationalized the Halo-in-Church Issue). Nor are gamers likely to forget Fox's allowing Jack Thompson air time to bash video games while the Virginia Tech massacre was unfolding.

As for Cooper Lawrence's expertise with video game issues? It's apparently nonexistent. She is the author of several books - on dating: The Cult of Perfection: Making Peace with Your Inner Overachiever; Been There, Done That, Kept the Jewelry; The Fixer-upper Man: Turn Mr. Maybe into Mr. Right in 5 Easy Steps; and the unforgettable Cosmo Girl's Quiz Book: All About Guys.


And let's not forget that it was HER who labeled the female characters as nothing more than sex objects, even though each character, male AND female, each have very specific details, beliefs, skills, abilities, thoughts, that are shown throughout the overall story.

Apparently, Ms. Lawrence is, in fact, the one incapable of seeing the complexity of individuals and only able to see the physical aspect of what is presented to her. Actual players learn far more about each of the characters involved. She, on the other hand, is too incompetant to bother learning about the characters. Her claim is that males only see women as sex objects, yet it is HER who has limited the view of these characters as nothing more than sex objects.

Too bad her doctorate can't be revoked. Evidence such as this should be the kind of thing that proves she did not earn it ethically.

NW2K Software
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as

Wow, Lawrence is awful. I know it's Fox News, but when I see a talking head that condescending and irrational it never fails to leave me quite speechless.

Didn't you know? Calling yourself an expert excuses you from knowing what you're talking about. Why? Cause I'm a god damned expert. Who are you to question that? You...lesser people you, who are not on the prestigious and respected Faux... I mean Fox News Network.

"Male Panelist: Who can argue, possibly, that Luke Skywalker meets Debbie Does Dallas is a good thing. It’s not. And I’m definitely not going to let Mass Effect in my house…"

I can argue that. Watch: It's a good thing. So there? Oh, that's not convincing? Neither are you.

"Female Panelist: I’m not sure why it didn’t get an Adults Only rating. That’s the highest rating in can have. So, first of all, this board that rates them needs to have their head examined…"

If you're not sure then why are you commenting on it? I thought pleading ignorance NEGATED any input you could possibly have. But since you're on Faux News that's not an issue, of course.

"2nd Male Panelist: I would argue that the governement cannot and should not censor everything coming across the web and in video games. At the end of the day… it’s up to parents to control what their kids are seeing."

The first, informed, sensible thing to come out of anyone's mouth here besides Keighley.

The rest of them are a disgrace to journalism and service to society, and in the usual style of Faux News are using fear-mongering and misinformation. I cannot abide this level egregious misuse of the airwaves.

I guess the Writer's Strike is over if Fox News is running.

You have to ask yourself, do they find these 'experts' on the streets and under the motorways?


That implies that somebody over there thinks enough to write this down.


I think they come from a pit somewhere.

I better get this game before the ESRB is forced to rerate it AO due to the media.

I used to watch Fox News because it was funny but this is a bridge too far ...


While I do detect your sarcasm, it won't happen. This is no Hot Coffee. This is the Reactionary Bandwagon, rolling on all its own. The ESRB has nothing by which to be pressured.


I'm with on this one.

I also find it more than a little hypocritical of her to talk about the objectification of women in videogames when she wrote a book for Cosmo of all things.

Of course there's also her book about changing a man because he's not good enough. There's no objectification there at all.

What the hell? Where was all this bitching when Melrose Place was on television?

I saw a lot worst on that show when I was a kid than in ANY videogame.

You know, this whole objectification thing reminds me of the Resident Evil African fiasco. I didn't think of it taking place in Africa as being racist, but the people who are on a constant vigil for racism created racism where there was none. Similarly, we now have sex where there is none.

[...] Yesterday, FoxNews continued the overblown Mass Effect controversy. They invited some random psychologist and a guy from SpikeTV to debate the issue. [...]


HAHAHA! So funny and original!

funny thing is they completely missed The Witcher
where at least they would have had a point in objectifying women
as you collect sex card of the women te main character has sex with...
but I guess since it's based on a novel they would have had to open another can of worms that might not be considered an easy target.

not sex cards, sexy cards...


Well hopefully the bandwagon has brittle axles because I don't know how many more passengers it can handle!

First, I'm still getting over the "Sexbox" pun, because it reminds me of Family Guy :p

Next, I would agree with the theory here that most of them gathered most their "research" from the McCollough blog and it's part of the newest wave of "a little birdie told me" type of journalism where speculation is more important than facts. Leave that crap to the tabloids.

There are a lot of things you can pick at these short 6 minutes. Possibly even more than a Jack Thompson interview because that's just cracking down one person instead of several more like here. I liked it when Lawrence actually laughed with her "no" response. It's like she doesn't care that she admits to not trying 1st hand impressions of the game. And "whatever happened to Pac-Man?" Pac-Man would be sitting alongside Custard's Revenge and Leisure Suit Larry in the 80's.

I didn't like the banter between them at the end of the segment either, particularly with the woman who complains about parenting becoming more difficult in keeping track of your kid's hobbies. If being a parent was a job listing on Craigslist, it would look something like this: "MUST ENJOY FAST-PACED ENVIRONMENT WHERE YOU HAVE TO THINK ON YOUR TOES." The world changes at the blink of an eye and if you're not ready to adapt to new parenting practices, you might as well have an attitude of an unmotivated worker who complains every time your boss throws new challenges at you.

The male panelist is the least offensive of the bunch, but of course you're not gonna let Mass Effect in your home. You have a six year old, give her something like Super Mario Galaxy instead.

You know what?

I mean look at these jerks! those idiots!

I for one played and beat Mass Effect the game they are full of it. Ask me anything you want about it..
I'll be damn honest and not sugarcoat any of the bullshit they are trying to pull.
I mean who they kidding?

(Below are comments made in this clip from TV) That I felt I should clarify in my own words ;)

At 13 years old I had seen enough action movies most kids my age could only dream of. I didn't turn out fucked up and with the world today how the hell could anyone not know what sex is? Or let alone War?

The concept of war is pretty much the same as it's been for ages. Sex, is well sex and most kids who don't know about it at 13 should get a quick lesson about the birds and the bees from mom and dad or else you can have a Juno on your hands! Of course she's what 17 in the movie? Ok, Ok let me give a better example Britney spear's sister Jamie Lynn. Plus all the damn diseases out there people should be made aware of the fact. What age? Maybe 13 seems like a start.

All I'm saying is these people who talk like they know something need to get there head out of there ass.

Shit like this makes me mad. I mean what happen to Atari and Pac Man? That Generation grew the fuck up. Like it or not we as people who are 21, and so on and even 18 years old and up we demand more games to are taste. I for one like first person shooters. That's me and I enjoy them. With time all things change.
I mean who the hell at 13 years old like a girl watching a soap opera with her mom doesn't see a couple engage in some short of sex at?

Mass Effect shouldn't ever even been looked at for Adult rating like the one lady said.
There is nothing more than a game suited for people who are mature.

That's another thing doesn't "mature" state 17 and above right? Well, last I checked to be able to see "R" rated movies you had to be 17..... So it makes me wonder why another rating called adult? In truth I long for more games that are adult rated even though there is no point in such a rating when I thought mature was pretty much the one that covered the area on such games that we play.

Then you got the Hillary's and Jack Thompson's as well, as Obama's attacking one of my most favorite and looked forward to past times.

What people won't go to great lengths or to make them self known to make a point a pitiful point as a 13 year old boy looking at playboy. Well, last I knew what kid wouldn't have seen it by one of there friends?

Some people just need to grow up and face the music of the real world and understand you can't control everything let alone the fact you at some point young or old has known a lot of things they are trying to pawn off as bad on to someone else or saying it's bad.

To me if people are going to attack video games why not rap music? I remember a time when rap music was actually good with no name calling and such... of course that time has come and gone very quickly before it was changed into what people call rap nowadays.

Oh well, what's the point of saying any of this when the younger vote is going to put Hillary and Obama in office?

In the end maybe none of it matters... As the saying goes it don't mean nothing.

To me it does because attacking something you know nothing about just makes you look even more stupid! and I hate it when people deny the fact the world is a cruel and nasty place and yet the only way to make yourself feel good is to believe otherwise about fairy tales. When in fact what they are attacking is something that deep down makes them feel good about attacking something they no nothing about and take other people's words over. I mean something people use to enjoy the world in the world we live in today you think would be more supportive.

I mean a university and all it's great wisdom usually throws shit out there about what they know and don't know just to make a point right or wrong.

I say don't judge a cover of a book unless you know what the fuck it's about in the first place.


They aren't judging a book by its cover. Their judging the book by somebody else's IMPRESSIONS of a cover.


Can't rick him informing the public.

Wasn't Cooper Lawrence the same "expert" that trashed video games last time? I tried looking her up on archive, but I couldn't find anything.

Either way, she's looking for a pinata, and Mass Effect is that pinata. Geoff did a respectable job defending the game, but what is up with the panelists? Adults only? Did she not pay any attention to Geoff's response? She obviously did not know a damn thing about the ESRB or ratings in general.

I know it's not the answer but Bioware does have an in if they want to sue FOX News since they obviously misrepresented the game in a negative light (and after Geoff's rebuttal, intentionally so).

I'd be more apt to question Coop's "expertise" in the area since she can't even relegate some time to play the game she is blasting, but that seems to be the all the rage these days.

The things that Fox's conservative pundits like Ann "brainless" Coulter and Bill "falafel" O'Reilly say make them far worse than Matthews or Olbermann.

If you need proof, type in the following on YouTube search:
Olbermann - worst person in the world.

You know, looking at that clip, I've got a few things to point out.
1. Laughing at parental controls
2. Laughing at the thought of knowing what your talking about
3. One of them said that there is an "Ma" on the box.
4. A good chunk of this was about the evils of teh internetz

Oh yeah, forgot
5. A woman talking about women being objectified who then turned around and laughed at the thought that a boy would choose not to have sex. Sexism is only bad when its aimed at women right? Just like how racism is only considered bad when its aimed at non-whites.

and I promised myself I wasn't going to get angry today.....

I worked for Hard Copy as an intern for about a month. This is how the researched their stories....

Get an intern and sit him at a folding table with every newspaper in the country. Have him find a story that's already been reported that fits within certain guidelines (odd, weightloss, tragedy). I think Fox News is following the same idea, but surfing the blogosphere. No doubt someone at Fox came across "a$$-hat's" story and they ran with it.

ugh, Cooper is almost as bad as Nancy Grace *shivers*

Cooper Lawerence is NOT a feminist. Feminists do NOT go on FIXED News, do NOT put the New York Post on their websites as their claims to fame.

My personal favorite from this two-bit tabloid circus...

"…the damage is this. We know that all the research shows that violence has a desensitizing effect. Well, sexuality does too… Here’s how they’re seeing women. They’re seeing them as these objects of desire, as these hot bodies. They don’t show women as being valued for anything other than their sexuality. And it’s a man in this game deciding how many women he wants to be with."

Because it would be horrible if young adults (teens about 13) began confronting issues regarding sexuality.

Then again-gamers seem to be the ultimate perverters of all things decent, wholesome and innocent-what do I know?

Very typical of the news to overstate things to the point of being false, and being totally cool with it.

"Shit like this is why i don’t watch Fox anymore"

If I watch a news channel, it's an attempt to get an up-to-the-minute headline of a major event. If a dam bursts and it's happening live, the news channels are the place to go because it's really hard to inject politics into, "The dam burst, EVERYBODY PANIC!" Once they run out of stuff to talk about, I move on and maybe I'll check back for new developments later in the day.

What I avoid at all costs is the political/current event discussion shows on ANY of the news channels. They're all equally bad. (And if you're saying CNN is any better than Fox News, you're just as biased.)

Poor Keigh...

Getting mauled by brain-damaged newshounds.

Heh, oh my god. I found this after searching "fox news mass effect".,2933,314541,00.html Says: 'Mass Effect' One of Best Sci-Fi Games Ever

Way to go, Fox.

Technically it's the AP, but it's posted on, so you'd think they'd have checked themselves as sources.

i guess parenting is tough..

I mean all that hard work of actually paying attention to your rug rats you've spawned.

I mean actually having reading involved with parenting is mind boggling..

Those poor poor parents..

Infact do these twits even have kids?

Someone call Bioware or Microsoft's lawyers.

I can see why the democratic presidential candidates pulled out of a debate that Fox sponsored.

I do hope that one day the game industry locates its testicles. Rockstar should release a press release to the effect of. "Foxnews is lying and are talking out of their ass. There is no full frontal nudity anywhere in the game. They are just trying to scare you peons to make money."

"please forget please forget the indefiniteness of this world and give your body to me" (not orginal language) those song lyrics pop into my head everytime I see something like this. You know if this actually effect ME's sales or causes a public backlash I'm emailing Bioware and telling them to stand up for the truth and sue for libel they had the truth right there but as per usal the truth got in two comments and then was polietly told to "shut up and let me talk cause I know more than you" I mean in a mediated debate you shouldn't be taking sides or talking over someone Ms(Mrs?)MacCallum. I swear I should write an amzing post about the evils of family guy after all it promotes beastility (Brian and the blonde chick...and Meg that one time) and then just go off on a rant about how it shows full Human on dog interactions and watch the mainstream media just for fun to see if they run it and then time how long before public backlash hits them and they, the news company, is sued for libel. Yes its taking something little and making it huge but hey if they're really worried about kids they should fight it in any media espically the evil evil TV which allows us to SEE those vile videogames.

"What I avoid at all costs is the political/current event discussion shows on ANY of the news channels. They’re all equally bad. (And if you’re saying CNN is any better than Fox News, you’re just as biased.)"

I don't remember CNN winning a court case stating that they have the legal right to lie to their viewers. That was Foxnews.

Mass Effect; Rated M; Shows bare ass and the side of a boob...

Titanic; Rated PG-13; Shows nipple!

It'd be nice if just one critic actually watched the scene or played the game. Seriously, actually take 2 minutes before formulating an opinion. Guess they're too busy.

"I don’t remember CNN winning a court case stating that they have the legal right to lie to their viewers. That was Foxnews. "

Seriously? Wow, I didn't know that. Do you have a link to an article about it?

“What I avoid at all costs is the political/current event discussion shows on ANY of the news channels. They’re all equally bad. (And if you’re saying CNN is any better than Fox News, you’re just as biased.)”

I don’t remember CNN winning a court case stating that they have the legal right to lie to their viewers. That was Foxnews.

@Eric: I'll second that... except, I don't know what court case you refer too...

Especially since we have a law known as libel and slander. Considering this is spoken, it would fall under the latter part. Microsoft, you know all about libel and slander... this is your game. Defend the bloody thing.

Papa Midnight

I think Keith Olberman says it best: Fixed Noise gets it wrong again.

And I love it when they quote these studies. Mark Twain once said "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics." They can "prove" anything they want if they try hard enough. If you had a study about cigarettes and cancer, you could "prove" they don't increase the risk, as long as you got enough people who have other major risk factors.

Not to mention, how many times have we seen people exaggerate, twist, or misinterpret information from these supposed studies?

-Mike Schwinger


You might have a case of libel and slander with Bioware, but winning it is not so easy. IIRC, you have to prove that the the person/group you're suing knowingly and maliciously put forth false information about something. Deliberate fact-twisting, but not merely being ignorant.

I have here a study that prove that every person who have commited a crime ever consumed Dihydrogen Monoxide in one form or another prior to that crime. Think of the children say no to Dihydrogen Monoxide.

you can prove anything with statistics. and the way you present it.
Or the question asked.

*sigh* you know, it is just embarrassing and insulting how misinformed they are about this, and what's worse is that they don't care. I mean, they are basing this story on some crackpot who never played the game and made the whole damn thing up. I really think they should have given keighley talk more, but Lawrence or whatever her name is kept interrupting him every chance she got. Aparently, professional journalism no longer exists. I mean honeslty, did they even bother to check if any of this crap was true before they went through with the story?


You can find out about Fox News' "right to lie" court case here:

The case is aNew World Communs. of Tampa, Inc. v. Akre.

In a nutshell, Jane Akre was a Tampa City anchorwoman, who was ordered by her superiors to report a story she knew was false. (The story covered a pharmaceutical drug to make cows produce more milk, and distorted the drug's side effects -- specifically, it caused udder infections.) When she refused to report the story, Akre was fired.

She sued for wrongful termination, citing whistleblower laws that prevent the firing of an employee who points out her employers' illegal activities. Initially, she won, but Fox won on appeal, arguing that, yes, they lie on the air, but it isn't technically illegal. (There are FCC regulations against distorting the news, but Fox successfully argued that those regulations were only guidelines.)
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