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Fair and Balanced?

Media Media Bias

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#1 Kevin Street

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 05:13 AM

(Shamelessly stolen from Metafilter.)

Is there such a thing as right-wing bias in the media? According to Charlie Reina the answer is "yes," at least where Fox News is concerned. He worked for Fox for six years, and recently posted a letter on a popular blog that claims to detail the way stories are slanted on FNC. It's true that he's a genuine disgruntled employee, but why would he shoot his own career in the foot by making all this up?

Here's the original blog posting.

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Editorially, the FNC newsroom is under the constant control and vigilance of management. The pressure ranges from subtle to direct.  First of all, it's a news network run by one of the most high-profile political operatives of recent times. Everyone there understands that FNC is, to a large extent, "Roger's Revenge" - against what he considers a liberal, pro-Democrat media establishment that has shunned him for decades. For the staffers, many of whom are too young to have come up through the ranks of objective journalism, and all of whom are non-union, with no protections regarding what they can be made to do, there is undue motivation to please the big boss.

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But the roots of FNC's day-to-day on-air bias are actual and direct. They come in the form of an executive memo distributed electronically each morning, addressing what stories will be covered and, often, suggesting how they should be covered. To the newsroom personnel responsible for the channel's daytime programming, The Memo is the bible. If, on any given day, you notice that the Fox anchors seem to be trying to drive a particular point home, you can bet The Memo is behind it.

And here's a more detailed article on Salon.com that expands and illustrates his points:

Fox News: The inside story <-- But be warned, you need to watch a brief advertisement before you can read the whole interview.

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By Tim Grieve

Oct. 31, 2003  |  When veteran television journalist Chris Wallace announced this week that he was leaving ABC for Fox News, reporters asked him whether he was concerned about trading in his objectivity for Fox's rightward slant. "I had the same conception a lot of people did about Fox News, that they have a right-wing agenda," Wallace told The Washington Post. But after watching Fox closely, Wallace said, he had decided that the network suffered from an "unfair rap," and that its reporting is, in fact, "serious, thoughtful and even-handed."

It was all too much for Charlie Reina to take. Reina, 55, spent six years at Fox as a producer, copy editor and writer, working both on hard news stories and on feature programs like "News Watch" and "After Hours." He quit in April, he says, in a fit of frustration over salary, job assignments and respect. Since that time, he has watched the debate over whether Fox is really "fair and balanced." He held his fire, bit his tongue. But then he heard Chris Wallace -- an outsider to Fox, for now -- proclaim the network fair. Reina couldn't remain silent any longer, and so he fired off a long post to Jim Romanesko's message board at the Poynter Institute. In his view, he was setting the Fox record straight. 

"The fact is," Reina wrote, "daily life at FNC is all about management politics." Reina said that Fox's daily news coverage -- and its daily news bias -- is driven by an "editorial note" sent to the newsroom every morning by John Moody, a Fox senior vice president. The editorial note -- a memo posted on Fox's computer system -- tells the staff which correspondents are working on which stories. But frequently, Reina says, it also contains hints, suggestions and directives on how to slant the day's news -- invariably, he says, in a way that's consistent with the politics and desires of the Bush administration.

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#2 Christopher

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 09:25 AM

When I was a kid, TV news shows were serious, respectable, trustworthy and fair.  Now it's all sensationalism and bias and rumormongering.  Fox News has its agenda to boost the right, CNN has its agenda to boost Wolf Blitzer's ego.  And it's all ultimately about boosting ratings.  And let's not even get into local "news."

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#3 Rov Judicata

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 10:48 AM

Clearly, the Fox News channel is filling a market gap; its extremely high ratings are proof that it's sending a message that people want to hear.

Is it right wing? I think so, just like PBS, CNN, NPR, etc. are left wing.

Is that a bad thing? Not really (aside from those organizations that leech off our tax dollars)

I think a lot of the criticism of Fox is simple novelty; it's usually a network filled with liberals and a few conservatives sprinkled in. Fox is the opposite, and most of the media can't stand it.

Let's put it all out in the free marketplace of ideas and see what happens.
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#4 MuseZack

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 12:46 PM

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Clearly, the Fox News channel is filling a market gap; its extremely high ratings are proof that it's sending a message that people want to hear.

True enough.  But do you really want an American media scene that's the equivalent to the British newspaper world, where people seek out sources of information that essentially confirm their preexisting prejudices?  Because that seems to be the niche Fox News has found for itself.

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Is it right wing? I think so, just like PBS, CNN, NPR, etc. are left wing.

This is both a nonsensical comparison and a dodge of the real issue raised by the article.  The whole "conservatives have Fox News and liberals have everything else" seriously misrepresents the ideological spectrum involved.   To find a news outlet that tilts as unabashedly to the left as Fox does to the right, you have to go to the tiny Pacifica Radio Network with its endless diet of Chomsky, Pilger, and all Mumia all the time.  

And nobody has accused the other major news outlets of doing what Fox News does, which is to have management interfere in the sourcing and creation of news stories on a daily and ongoing basis.   You simply can't equate a news outlet that has an ideal of fairness and objectivity that it sometimes fails to live up to with a news outlet that very systematically puts all of its news through an ideological sifter.

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I think a lot of the criticism of Fox is simple novelty; it's usually a network filled with liberals and a few conservatives sprinkled in. Fox is the opposite, and most of the media can't stand it.
You mean like liberal PBS, filled as it is with flaming liberals like John McLaughlin, William Buckley Jr., and William Bennett?  With those commies around, it's amazing that conservatives can get a word in edgewise.  

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Let's put it all out in the free marketplace of ideas and see what happens.

With this I agree completely.  Fox has every right to compete in the free marketplace of ideas and find an audience of likeminded viewers.  Just as its critics have a right to point out that as a source of information, it's only slightly more reliable than, say, The Weekly World News, and that it often seems less interested in covering the news than pursuing legal action against its critics-- even Fox stablemate The Simpsons!
http://www.icv2.com/.../news/3745.html

Edited by MuseZack, 31 October 2003 - 12:47 PM.

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#5 Bad Wolf

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 12:52 PM

CNN is "left wing"???

:wacko:

I guess that's the new definition of "left of center" in this world.

:blink:
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#6 G1223

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 01:04 PM

Yes Zack PBS  CNN  NPR CBS NBC and ABC  are all upfront honest bastins of integerty. They have no agenda.  

If you beleieve that I have some beachfront Property in Central Arizona  which I can hold for you but need a non refundable retainer.

I am not saying that every person in these agencies have these agenda but when on NPR we have a commentator like Al" Mail Fruad" Frankin getting soft ball questions during an interview and a conservative getting nailed does leave one with the illusion that there is a bias.
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#7 Bad Wolf

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 01:14 PM

Zack wasn't claiming that they were bastions of integrity, he was questioning the characterization of them as counterparts to Foxnews in terms of where they lie on the political spectrum.

Also, even if they aren't perfect (and they aren't) they are nothing compared to Fox. I can't even watch Fox News.  It's like trying to watch a televised version of the National Enquirer only worse because they pass themselves off as serious newscasters reporting on real issues.

At least the Enquirer makes no pretense.

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#8 G1223

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 01:21 PM

Welcome to my experince with Network News and CNN at times with Peter"I hate America" Arnett.
If you encounter any Trolls. You really must not forget them.
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#9 Kevin Street

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 01:57 PM

Nobody does news like the Weekly World News.

Go Bat Boy! :ninja:

Edited by Kevin Street, 31 October 2003 - 07:58 PM.

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#10 Drew

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 05:40 PM

Gotta run, but I offer you this quick link: We're Not Losing the Culture Wars
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#11 Rov Judicata

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 07:10 PM

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True enough. But do you really want an American media scene that's the equivalent to the British newspaper world, where people seek out sources of information that essentially confirm their preexisting prejudices? Because that seems to be the niche Fox News has found for itself.

I want a media that's directly accountable to us, which is more or less what we have now. I don't really like Fox News; I just don't think it's the anti-christ.

Given that we have hundreds of newspapers, three channels devoted to the news, two government funded news sources, local news sources, blogs and periodicals, you can get whatever kind of news coverage you want. I don't begrudge Fox for their business model. If people want to buy their product, more power to 'em.

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This is both a nonsensical comparison and a dodge of the real issue raised by the article. The whole "conservatives have Fox News and liberals have everything else" seriously misrepresents the ideological spectrum involved. To find a news outlet that tilts as unabashedly to the left as Fox does to the right, you have to go to the tiny Pacifica Radio Network with its endless diet of Chomsky, Pilger, and all Mumia all the time.

I disagree. I don't think Fox News's hard news coverage is that bad.

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And nobody has accused the other major news outlets of doing what Fox News does, which is to have management interfere in the sourcing and creation of news stories on a daily and ongoing basis.

I'd have to dig up the story, but ABC news has been accused of exactly the same thing by one of its former disgruntled employees. The key words on both is 'accusation'. Even if the stories are true, news sources are allowed to have editorial positions.

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You simply can't equate a news outlet that has an ideal of fairness and objectivity that it sometimes fails to live up to with a news outlet that very systematically puts all of its news through an ideological sifter.

I'm skeptical that any of the networks have an ideal of fairness and objectivity. Ignoring the left right spectrum, they all have a corporate bias (the best example is the abysmal coverage of the FCC regulations). I see them all in it to make money.

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You mean like liberal PBS, filled as it is with flaming liberals like John McLaughlin, William Buckley Jr., and William Bennett? With those commies around, it's amazing that conservatives can get a word in edgewise.

You mean like conservative Fox, filled with hard-line conservatives like Allen Colmes, Geraldo and Gretta Van Schuster?

<Between those three people, btw, they have two and a half hours every night.>

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With this I agree completely. Fox has every right to compete in the free marketplace of ideas and find an audience of likeminded viewers.

You know, it's not just likeminded viewers. I was going to look for the numbers, but luckily they're in Drew's article:

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Not only conservatives like what they see. A new Pew Research Center survey shows that, of the 22 percent of Americans who now get most of their news from Fox (compared with a combined 32 percent for the networks), only 46 percent call themselves “conservative,” only slightly higher than the 40 percent of CNN fans who do so. Fox is thus exposing many centrists (32 percent of Fox’s regular viewers) and liberals (18 percent)

Let's generously assume that half the centrists are closet conservatives. That's still 48% non-conservative audience. If Fox News is just a right wing source, why do so many of those not on the right-wing watch it?

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Just as its critics have a right to point out that as a source of information, it's only slightly more reliable than, say, The Weekly World News,

Question: If Fox News is so much worse than all the other cable news services, why does it do so well in the ratings? Can there really be that many people who care enough to tune in to the news every day, but want to be fed their ideology from the TV? Or is it more likely that Fox is just doing a better job in presenting engaging material? I don't like any of the three networks, but from where I'm sitting, Fox does the best job of presenting the events between the three.

The Beeb, of course, blows all three out of the water.

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CNN is "left wing"???

In my opinion, it is. YMMV, as always.

From drew's article:

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The numbers make clear just how stunning Fox’s rise has been. Starting with access to only 17 million homes (compared with CNN’s 70 million) in 1996, Fox could reach 65 million homes by 2001 and had already started to turn a profit. A year later, profits hit $70 million and are expected to double in 2003. Though CNN founder Ted Turner once boasted he’d “squish Murdoch like a bug,” Fox News has outpaced its chief cable news rival in the ratings since September 11 and now runs laps around it. This past June, Fox won a whopping 51 percent of the prime-time cable news audience—more than CNN, CNN Headline News, and MSNBC combined. The station’s powerhouse, The O’Reilly Factor, averages around 3 million viewers every night, and during Operation Iraqi Freedom the “No Spin Zone” drew as many as 7 million on a given night; CNN’s Larry King, once the king of cable, has slipped to 1.3 million nightly viewers.


Quote

Fox enjoys especially high numbers among advertiser-coveted 25- to 54-year-old viewers, and it is attracting even younger news junkies. As one CNN producer admits, Fox is “more in touch with the younger age group, not just the 25–54 demo, but probably the 18-year-olds.” Even more attractive to advertisers, Fox viewers watch 20 to 25 minutes before clicking away; CNN watchers stay only ten minutes. Fox’s typical viewer also makes more money on average—nearly $60,000 a year—than those of its main cable rivals.

Ultimately, everything we say here is pointless. Fox is the indisputable winner in the one area that matters most to all non-government networks. Vote with your clicker.
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~~ Josh, winning the argument.

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#12 Kosh

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 07:18 PM

Christopher, on Oct 31 2003, 10:25 AM, said:

When I was a kid, TV news shows were serious, respectable, trustworthy and fair.  Now it's all sensationalism and bias and rumormongering.  Fox News has its agenda to boost the right, CNN has its agenda to boost Wolf Blitzer's ego.  And it's all ultimately about boosting ratings.  And let's not even get into local "news."

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#13 MuseZack

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 07:27 PM

Quote

I'm skeptical that any of the networks have an ideal of fairness and objectivity. Ignoring the left right spectrum, they all have a corporate bias (the best example is the abysmal coverage of the FCC regulations). I see them all in it to make money.

See, I actually agree with you on this.  Media bias in the mainstream news networks and papers certainly does exist, but it's a lot more complex than being reflexively liberal (or conservative, for that matter.)  It's partly to do with corporate ownership, to be sure (and you're right, the noncoverage of FCC deregulation has been downright shameful), but also has to do with the ingrained cultural biases of the mostly white, upper middle class Northeasterners who constitute most of the elite media.  This results in a mainstream media that tends to skew left on issues like gun control and immigration (using the friendly sounding "undocumented immigrant" instead of the more accurate "illegal alien" and right on issues like labor unions, free trade, and foreign policy.

And in the Washington D.C. political media, there's the even more insidious problem of clubbiness that leads media people to kow-tow to the people in power for fear of getting their access cut off.  There's also the problem of laziness and herd instincts that lead media people to arrive on a script-- "Bush is nice but stupid," "Gore is smart but a liar"-- and stick to it no matter what.  One wag called these reporters the "Beltway Heathers," and it's an apt term.

Finally, the media has a tendency to go for the "on the one hand, on the other hand" two sides to every issue approach, which is sometimes admirable, but in other cases doesn't serve the truth well when one side is egregiously lying.  The Bush Administration has been a particular beneficiary of this.  As columnist and Princeton economist Paul Krugman likes to observe, if the Bush Administration declared that the Earth was flat, Fox would run a story that the Earth is flat and anyone who disagrees hates America, while the New York Times would run a story with the headline "Shape of the Earth: Views Differ."  

Giving both sides of the story play is nice, but weighting them equally when one has the facts on its side and the other doesn't isn't doing anyone any favors.

Zack
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#14 Kevin Street

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 08:21 PM

Javert Rovinski, on Oct 31 2003, 06:10 PM, said:

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Zack:
And nobody has accused the other major news outlets of doing what Fox News does, which is to have management interfere in the sourcing and creation of news stories on a daily and ongoing basis.

I'd have to dig up the story, but ABC news has been accused of exactly the same thing by one of its former disgruntled employees. The key words on both is 'accusation'. Even if the stories are true, news sources are allowed to have editorial positions.
I think I found what you're talking about:

Pro-Marxist Slant Pushed at ABC, Retired Correspondent Claims

Quote

By Marc Morano
CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer
May 01, 2003

(CNSNews.com) - Having kept quiet for 14 years, a former ABC News correspondent has gone public for the first time with allegations that network anchorman Peter Jennings manipulated news scripts during the 1980s in order to praise the Marxist-backed Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

Peter Collins, a newsman with over 30 years experience, including stints with Voice of America, the BBC, CBS News and CNN, recently walked away from the news industry and has "no compunction about telling [my story] now."

In an exclusive interview with CNSNews.com, Collins alleged that Jennings personally dictated changes in a Collins television script in order to praise the Sandinista government for its "new, unselfish society," for successfully reducing illiteracy and "launch[ing] the biggest land reform in Central America."

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During his days at ABC News, Collins claimed he and Jennings had recurring conflicts.

"I had dozens of run-ins with [Jennings] directly -- several with him being the 800-pound gorilla on the ABC News editorial staff," Collins said. "My resistance to him personally cost me my job at ABC eventually."

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Collins, who served as a CNN correspondent in Baghdad in 1993, also criticized CNN's chief news executive Eason Jordan following Jordan's confession that he had withheld from viewers numerous details of Saddam Hussein's atrocities over the last ten years in order to protect news sources and maintain access in Iraq.

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Collins believes CNN's recent admission and his own experiences in Central America are merely "scratching at the surface" of what Collins regards as a long standing failure of the media to report accurately about despotic governments, particularly left-of-center authoritarian regimes.

"We can go as far back as Walter Duranty in (1930s) Moscow for the New York Times, Herbert Matthews in (1950s) Cuba for the New York Times - [how] those two writers tilted their coverage in ways when compared with the historical record was outrageous," Collins said.

But he credits a few key individuals and organizations with breaking the monopoly of the establishment news media.

"If it were not for for Rush Limbaugh, the Washington Times,and Fox News -- those organizations, entities, have finally managed to break the dam," Collins said. "Ph.D. pieces could be written about this subject, dozens of them."

Peter Jennings Accused of Liberal Bias by Another Former Reporter

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By Marc Morano
CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer
May 12, 2003

(Editor's Note: Clarifies language in lead paragraph.)

(CNSNews.com) -A former ABC News reporter has confirmed fellow former ABC News correspondent Peter Collins' contention that anchor Peter Jennings routinely attempted to insert his left of center editorial slant into correspondents’ news copy.

The charges leveled by Bob Zelnick, who spent 21 years at ABC News, follow revelations from former network correspondent Peter Collins that Jennings manipulated news scripts during the 1980s in order to praise the Marxist-backed Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

Zelnick, now the chairman of the journalism department at Boston University, left ABC News in 1998 after executives refused to renew his contract because they feared Zelnick's work on a political biography critical of then-Vice President Al Gore might compromise his objectivity.

Zelnick could not corroborate Collins' assertions, the focus of an earlier CNSNews.com article, but did recount his own experiences with Jennings' editorial influence at ABC News.

"It was very common for correspondents, both domestic and foreign to run into a World News Tonight [staff] that was influenced by Peter [Jennings] who had a different interpretation of a story," Zelnick told CNSNews.com.

"The correspondent who knows that he is going to be doing a piece on World News Tonight girds himself for battle when the phone rings and the editors or sometimes Peter [Jennings] gets on the phone," Zelnick explained.

And there was usually no doubt about which ideological direction Jennings would attempt to lead correspondents.

"In terms of the direction that Peter Collins recalls Peter Jennings pushing in - and that was to the left of where the correspondent is - that's consistent with my experiences and I think most [ABC News correspondents'] experience," Zelnick explained.

Zelnick referred to what he called the "Peter [Jennings] Factor."

"I have never condemned Peter Jennings for trying to bring others around to his point of view ... but there was the Peter Factor," Zelnick said.

World News Tonight, unlike some organizations, has a tradition of changing the scripts of correspondents, often for stylistic reasons, often for editorial reasons," Zelnick added.

In this case, it sounds like Peter Jennings is the one who is being accused of influencing the news, but in the case of FNC, the accusation is that the entire corporation, from the owner on down, is set up to intepret events in a certain way.

#15 Delvo

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 08:30 PM

Time to expose what a pitiful, desperate lie it is to call this network "right-wing", in detail. You wanna spout stuff like that, bring on some facts, not just "is too... is not... is too... is not... is too... is too... is too... is too... is too...".

Some notes from the beginning of an evening with the Fox News Channel follow. Every segment done in this time period (Eastern time) is recorded below, with the presentation's left/right nature for scoring in the liberal and conservative columns on page 51 of your workbooks.

NEIL CAVUTO'S BUSINESS SHOW
1647 (when I started watching) A report on how the scary movies (and parodies thereof) are doing right now, with some brief critical reviews by Bill McCuddy. No left/right issue there.

1650 Halloween sales retail review, compared to this time last year; good news; Is admiting that the economy is doing well conservative when the President is a Republican and the Liberocrats want things to go badly? Let's be generous to the network's liberal accusers and put a checkmark in the conservative column.

1656 Neil Cavuto's unsurprising admission that tax cuts let consumers have more money and thus improve the economy; email arguments and some Cavuto rebuttals, but Neil actually let some of them get away with big whoppers (reading them so the audience would hear them but not responding), thus giving liberals the last word on two or three subjects. One conservative point on Fox's scoreboard, one or two liberal points (less than the number of such liberal opinions that he gave exposure to, since those email messages that didn't get responded to were quick).

1658 Neil's "stupidity" commentary, about big, rich people brought down by their own mistakes: "We should never get so big that we forget we started out so small". Most of the featured idiots were big business tycoons. Is this liberal, when he called them stupid instead of evil?

THE BIG STORY WITH JOHN GIBSON
1700 Breaking news about that guy incompetently shooting another guy at less than one yard, then being caught while sauntering away. No left/right issue, so I'll skip the returns to it.

1705 Report on recent attacks in Iraq and an American crackdown on Hussein's home town. Goes along with liberals' general portrayal of Iraqi situation. Big fat checkmark in the liberal score column.

1711 Anchor John Gibson challenges a claim that the baathists were tied to Al Qaeda with a demand for detailed, specifc facts to back it up; a liberal challenge to make, if anything. The fact that he, unlike a liberal news source, actually let the man answer and supply the demanded facts, doesn't qualify as liberal or conservative, but just truly journalistic.

1720 A bit on the Peterson trial and the question of whether there's sufficient quantity and quality of evidence for effective prosecution; frequent guest legal analyst, Judge Napolitano, says no there doesn't seem to be. I've heard of no left/right association on this news story; no score.

1731 Google being sold? Very brief, no commentary, no sides.

1732 Good economic news for the quarter, but emphasis is on not the news itself but the Dems saying Bush isn't responsible. Put a checkmark in the liberal column. Reisch is the only commentator interviewed; no conservative is. Another check in the liberal column. Reisch is allowed to get away with claiming that job growth was good when Bush started (a Clinton-protecting lie; the recession began almost a year before that) and isn't there now (a Bush-bashing lie; unemployment has gone down for months now). Two more big liberal checks. John Gibson asks open-endedly for comment on Dems' claim that it's only the rebates, not the tax cuts or anything else, and thus a one-shot gimmick; Reisch says it's all from "one-time things" so it's not real growth because the finite money people got won't go far. John lets him get away with that (which is a lie, because the tax rate isn't going back up next year), another liberal checkmark, and moves on to ask how jobs that have already moved to other countries (largely a liberal complaint against conservative economics; one more check in that column) can be replaced. My typing drowned out Reisch's answer.

1737 Europe's contemplation of uniting under one constitution (which would mean a shared military, not just the economic deal that is the current EU): Some are said to think it's basicly anti-American, a bid to become the other superpower. But that's not a conservative mark, which I thought it was at first myself, because the anchor and a correspondent spent the rest of the segment shooting the notion down, having apparently only brought it up to do so: American politicians split on the matter... USA & EU need each other too much to become enemies... low European rate of investment in military makes real threat unlikely... European preference for diplomacy over violence means they won't try anything scary. Multiple liberal comments there (valid ones according to conservative me). They also point out twice that the EU economy is already giant like the USA's; no left/right on that one.

1745 Iraqi lawyer who told Americans in Iraq that Lynch was alive is interviewed; says she was abused in captivity, and hospital was close to (but not quite) empty of Iraqi soldiers who were fighting elsewhere during the rescue. His comments ran a bit on both sides of the debates. Also, I recall teasers criticizing Lynch's treatment of this Iraqi lawyer who helped her, but got no details of what she said or did; I think I missed it due to typing. Which side would be more prone to criticize Lynch? Not the conservatives who are supposed to be running the show.

1751 Nothing wrong with cloned animal food, according to FDA. One person is interviewed; she's from a leftist group opposed to biotechnology and agri-science and such. She is allowed to get away with claiming without support that there are health risks in clone food that the FDA doesn't know about, and is vague and evasive when asked what "worst case" scenario she has in mind that she's trying to avoid by fighting this, but isn't pressed on that point. One or two points in the liberal column.

1558 Gibson's "My Word" segment about the shooting: He's amazed and impressed by the shooting victim. No left/right.

SPECIAL REPORT WITH BRIT HUME (Tony Snow guest substitute)
1801 Faluja & Baghdad violence report. Iraqi police taking over more responsibility. Soldier says it's gotten more dangerous in his neighborhood, which is something liberals like to tell us about soldiers saying. Tank/HMMWV patrols said to vary routes & timings now to catch attackers off guard because of new wave of attacks. Another soldier says Muslim cleric is going too far and will force showdown; again, a negative, liberal presentation of the Iraqi situation on multiple points, so multiple points on that side of our scorecard.

1804 Sealing off Hussein's home town & requiring registration & ID in response to rise in violence; suggestions that Hussein's behind it outweigh mention of official word that there's no real evidence thereof. Not the conservative angle.

1810 Coverage of the Administration's, Pentagon's, & CIA's apparent unwillingness to hand over investigation documents; they insist they ARE cooperating; coverage flips sides several times and quotes others in their own words without adding to it. Final word quotes Dem Sen who says White House missed deadline for cooperation today. Despite flipping between sides several times in this segment, they did lead in, begin, and end it with the left's side. One liberal point for the coverage of the whole issue.

1813 Major Russian oil company's shares frozen by Putin; some suspect politics, not legal justice, motivated this hit on alleged white-collar criminal. Russian & American investors disturbed in general by the turmoil. Bush Administration says it's "not yet convinced" that it's all OK. Just reports on what happened and who said what; no commentary or opinions given. No left/right issue apparent here yet.

1816 UN nuke group says it's too early to tell if Iran's complying. No commentary or argreement or rebuttal; just "This is what they said".

1820 Conversation about various southeastern elections coming up; no commentary or opinions given on people or issues, just the facts of what issues are predominantly being talked about and what participants have said. Only personal infusions were predictions of election outcomes, which ran both ways.

1831 European survey on USA & Iraq; mix of bad and good stuff, but shows more bad opinions of USA and unwillingness to cooperate than good ones and cooperativeness... but still maybe not as much so as other networks would show. Maybe a liberal checkmark or a conservative one to some people, but I think no checks at all here.

1831 Report that NYT says DOJ report on diversity in the department was edited to hide crucial info; Fox analyst counters by pointing out that DOJ lawyer diversity is still higher than among lawyers nationwide. Conservative check.

1832 I missed something about the BBC saying some decision "had nothing to do with the woman's accent". No left/right points.

1833 Kerry speech favoring strong Federal gun laws imposed on states, like Dean says he does now, is shown, including attacks on Dean for having once said it's up to the states; Dean tries to wiggle out saying he won't respond to "silly Washington talk". No commentary on the gun issue itself, just showing what these Democrats said to and about each other.  Big bunch of free unrebutted air time for them. Another liberal checkmark.

1835 Committee on Israeli hate speech and Israel/Palastine problem makes no progress; multiple statements shown by both sides, no commentary from anchors. No points on either side.

1837 Medical study about stress used as lead-in for story on Denver law proposed to support stress-reduction technologies and programs (group meditation, sitar music, candles... even in rooms with no occupants, to improve the room's energy before occupants arrive). Objected to on conservative-sounding grounds by local councilman, but not at length, and no costs are mentioned in the edit that aired; liberal proposal got enough of a pass to make this segment equal at most.

1842 Discussing Kerry & Dean on gun control: Only the Dem primary strategies & consequences and the candidates' own words are mentioned, not the merits or shortcomings of either side of the gun control issue. Emphasis is on how Dems (including others like Sharpton) are going after top-dog Dean. Just the facts; no liberal/conservative points to score. (No accusations of playing dirty.)

1851 Rice's speech is said by NYT to be attacking all administrations since 1980 for ignoring terrorism; Fox analyst says she wasn't. From what I heard, Rice's comments, and also the NYT comment on them, could be taken as left or right, whether she meant it either way or not, and thus so could this Fox analyst's reaction... but let's give him a conservative point for arguing with the NYT, because I probably missed a detail due to typing which would have revealed that to be the case. (Because he IS a conservative, and NYT IS liberal.)

1853 Debate on Senate investigation of CIA, White House, Pentagon, DOJ: Parts of Executive Branch said to be blaming each other, playing politics. (Liberal) One analyst says WH won't give the stuff up to this "fishing expedition" and shouldn't. (Conservative) Another says the Senate's just trying to get to the bottom of it, and answers are owed by the Administration and those who answer to it. (Liberal) Another says this WH is the most secretive ever. (Liberal)

1858 Replay of Letterman's fake Al Qaeda tape of UBL and an assistant next to a Jack-o-lantern wishing everyone a spooky but safe Halloween. No liberal/conservative points.

If anything, that's a leftward bias as revealed by what the coverage actually consisted of here. It's just not adequately left-wing for left-wing-tippers.

I had to skip the next show, hosted by Sheppard Smith, which runs too fast for this stuff anyway; at first I tried, but it was the same with every story: nothing but the fast facts, and then moving on to the next.

O'Reilly's show was next. I've been busy, so all I noticed was that his substitute's segment on the California wildfires contained some debate on whether they got so bad due to failures to stop them early on. Not a political, sided issue. There was opportunity there to debate whether the fires are this bad because of past environmentalist-driven policies, but they haven't done it.

(edited for clarity and typos)

Edited by Delvo, 31 October 2003 - 11:45 PM.


#16 Delvo

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 08:42 PM

OK, right now O'Reilly's substitute is doing a segment on that CBS attack-movie about some character they're calling reagan. And it's from the viewpoint of defending against it. Throw a conservative point on the barbie. (I wonder if there'd be any point to doing this with Hannity & Colmes...:D)

#17 MuseZack

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 08:53 PM

From CHARLIE REINA: So Chris Wallace says Fox News Channel really is fair and balanced. Well, I guess that settles it. We can all go home now. I mean, so what if Wallace's salary as Fox's newest big-name anchor ends with a whole lot of zeroes? So what if he hasn't spent a day in the FNC newsroom yet?

My advice to the pundits: If you really want to know about bias at Fox, talk to the grunts who work there - the desk assistants, tape editors, writers, researchers and assorted producers who have to deal with it every day. Ask enough of them what goes on, promise them anonymity, and you'll get the real story.

The fact is, daily life at FNC is all about management politics. I say this having served six years there - as producer of the media criticism show, News Watch, as a writer/producer of specials and (for the last year of my stay) as a newsroom copy editor. Not once in the 20+ years I had worked in broadcast journalism prior to Fox - including lengthy stays at The Associated Press, CBS Radio and ABC/Good Morning America - did I feel any pressure to toe a management line. But at Fox, if my boss wasn't warning me to "be careful" how I handled the writing of a special about Ronald Reagan ("You know how Roger [Fox News Chairman Ailes] feels about him."), he was telling me how the environmental special I was to produce should lean ("You can give both sides, but make sure the pro-environmentalists don't get the last word.")

Editorially, the FNC newsroom is under the constant control and vigilance of management. The pressure ranges from subtle to direct.  First of all, it's a news network run by one of the most high-profile political operatives of recent times. Everyone there understands that FNC is, to a large extent, "Roger's Revenge" - against what he considers a liberal, pro-Democrat media establishment that has shunned him for decades. For the staffers, many of whom are too young to have come up through the ranks of objective journalism, and all of whom are non-union, with no protections regarding what they can be made to do, there is undue motivation to please the big boss.

Sometimes, this eagerness to serve Fox's ideological interests goes even beyond what management expects. For example, in June of last year, when a California judge ruled the Pledge of Allegiance's "Under God" wording unconstitutional, FNC's newsroom chief ordered the judge's mailing address and phone number put on the screen. The anchor, reading from the Teleprompter, found himself explaining that Fox was taking this unusual step so viewers could go directly to the judge and get "as much information as possible" about his decision. To their credit, the big bosses recognized that their underling's transparent attempt to serve their political interests might well threaten the judge's physical safety and ordered the offending information removed from the screen as soon as they saw it. A few months later, this same eager-to-please newsroom chief ordered the removal of a graphic quoting UN weapons inspector Hans Blix as saying his team had not yet found WMDs in Iraq. Fortunately, the electronic equipment was quicker on the uptake (and less susceptible to office politics) than the toady and displayed the graphic before his order could be obeyed.          

But the roots of FNC's day-to-day on-air bias are actual and direct. They come in the form of an executive memo distributed electronically each morning, addressing what stories will be covered and, often, suggesting how they should be covered. To the newsroom personnel responsible for the channel's daytime programming, The Memo is the bible. If, on any given day, you notice that the Fox anchors seem to be trying to drive a particular point home, you can bet The Memo is behind it.

The Memo was born with the Bush administration, early in 2001, and, intentionally or not, has ensured that the administration's point of view consistently comes across on FNC. This year, of course, the war in Iraq became a constant subject of The Memo. But along with the obvious - information on who is where and what they'll be covering - there have been subtle hints as to the tone of the anchors' copy. For instance, from the March 20th memo: "There is something utterly incomprehensible about Kofi Annan's remarks in which he allows that his thoughts are 'with the Iraqi people.' One could ask where those thoughts were during the 23 years Saddam Hussein was brutalizing those same Iraqis. Food for thought." Can there be any doubt that the memo was offering not only "food for thought," but a direction for the FNC writers and anchors to go?  Especially after describing the U.N. Secretary General's remarks as "utterly incomprehensible"?

The sad truth is, such subtlety is often all it takes to send Fox's newsroom personnel into action - or inaction, as the case may be. One day this past spring, just after the U.S. invaded Iraq, The Memo warned us that anti-war protesters would be "whining" about U.S. bombs killing Iraqi civilians, and suggested they could tell that to the families of American soldiers dying there. Editing copy that morning, I was not surprised when an eager young producer killed a correspondent's report on the day's fighting - simply because it included a brief shot of children in an Iraqi hospital.

These are not isolated incidents at Fox News Channel, where virtually no one of authority in the newsroom makes a move unmeasured against management's politics, actual or perceived. At the Fair and Balanced network, everyone knows management's point of view, and, in case they're not sure how to get it on air, The Memo is there to remind them.

"Some day, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the tides, and gravity,
We shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world,
we will have discovered fire."
--Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

#18 Kevin Street

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 09:12 PM

Er, why are you quoting the whole Blog post, Zack?

#19 Delvo

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 09:16 PM

MuseZack, on Oct 31 2003, 07:53 PM, said:

If you really want to know about bias at Fox, talk to the grunts who work there
Not a valid method. Anyone can claim any backroom shenanigans, and can claim anything about how common they were. But if the claims don't match the results, it's time to pull out the old "Actions speak louder than words". It's like determining canon in fiction shows; only what's on the air counts. I've also heard plenty of stories like the one posted here about the other networks and newspapers, more numerous, and some more severe, but my case that so many other such sources are leftist doesn't rely on such claims, because, like I said, that's just not valid. I say these other outlets are leftist only because the products they produce are leftist.

Quote

Not once in the 20, years I had worked in broadcast journalism prior to Fox... did I feel any pressure to toe a management line.
This reminds me of something I almost said in here earlier, before I decided to just write down what's actually on the air. From the left, the left appears to be the middle, the middle is to the right, and all of the right, extreme or not, can be called extreme. (You could also flip this around.) The interesting thing about the leftistness of most of the press is that it's not conspiratorial, it's subconscious and accidental. They think they're being unbiased and moderate, but all they ever hang out with is leftists, so the left wing is what they come to think of as normal. In that environment, a liberal doesn't need to feel pressure from his/her fellow liberals to toe the line; (s)he'll do it anyway, because they're all one big happy family just being sensible, unlike those evil nasty Republicans, as far as they can tell. But put your standard journalist or journalism graduate into an environment that merely stifles the innate liberal bias, and guess what (s)he'll feel compared to the usual liberal training and encouragement (s)he's always been immersed in until then: They'll claim they're being forced to toe the company line, because they really don't understand that they're so far to the left that they have to be pulled rightward just to come near neutral.

Quote

it's a news network run by one of the most high-profile political operatives of recent times.
Now this is just a lie, and a rather shabby one at that; low odds of really fooling anyone. An "operative" isn't the same thing as a person with a motivation of a particular type.

Quote

FNC is, to a large extent, "Roger's Revenge" - against what he considers a liberal, pro-Democrat media establishment that has shunned him for decades.
Yes, it is. And it should be. But that doesn't make it conservative. Neutrality will do for this function... arguably better than real conservatism would have... but we probably won't ever know since that's not what they've tried.

Edited by Delvo, 31 October 2003 - 09:23 PM.


#20 MuseZack

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 09:18 PM

Greta van whatsername I'll give you.  But Geraldo's war coverage set new lows in chest thumping.  And Allen Colmes?  Come on, man.  He's the liberal equivalent of the Washington Generals-- the designated loser.
"Some day, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the tides, and gravity,
We shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world,
we will have discovered fire."
--Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin



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