FOX News and the mainstream media

As I begin this post, let me point out one small detail. I do not have a television, so all of my newsFOX News either comes from the radio (I happen to like NPR, even though I don’t agree with them all the time) or the Internet and the different news websites. I visit FOX News regularly, but I also visit CNN. That being said, I think it is safe to say I try to get both sides of the story, ie. viewpoints from both the right and the left. That doesn’t mean I am trying to decide if I am left, right, or a moderate, I just like to hear what everyone is saying on the issues. Nothing wrong with that, in my opinion.

I hope no one thinks I am just trying to stir the pot with this post, but I have been thinking about it since I read the interview of President Obama in Rolling Stone. It was brought fresh to my mind yesterday, after a comment by Mike on the McDonald’s story and after watching the video below, which I found at The Current. It is of CNN’s John King and I think it is very telling. I know a lot of people that frequent Political Realities may not care for CNN all that much, but this gives me a grudging respect for John King, at least. It’s not often you hear something like this coming from what some of us call the main stream media, or MSM. That media would include MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NPR, etc. First, watch the video and we will continue below the fold.

In a perfect world, it would be wonderful to have a media that is completely unbiased, but I don’t see that happening. We are all humans, after all, and it is only natural that we will have an opinion on whatever story we decide to report on. I don’t have a problem with that, as long as those who have those opinions are not trying to pass them on to you and me as facts and/or news. I think that is an important distinction to make.

Since shortly after George W. Bush took office in January of 2001, we have seen that bias flare up and blossom into a full-fledged attack from the left. Anyone with an ounce of objectivity can look back and see that the media was very unfair to the man. It’s not that he didn’t deserve some of the criticism, as he did make a lot of mistakes, but I do not believe anyone deserves the treatment he received. They showed him zero respect as the President of the United States.

Mainstream MediaFast forward to 2008 and we see Barack Obama running for the Democratic nomination for President. It can not be disputed that he was a media darling for the MSM. They asked him no hard questions, even when when it was revealed that the pastor he had sat under for years was more than just a little radical. He threw him under the bus and the MSM asked no questions. By now, we are all getting used to the fact that the media loves Barack Obama. All of the media except FOX News, that is. As my brother was telling me this morning, FOX seems to be in the habit of getting all over the President if he has the wrong tie on. He thinks it’s funny, given the amount of grief the MSM gave President Bush. Tit for tat, if you will.

In one of yesterday’s posts, I wrote about McDonald’s and the possibility that they were going to drop the health care plan they offer their hourly employees. In the comments on that article, Mike had this to say. I do want to be clear about this, I am not trying to castigate Mike for his comment. He has been the main coauthor on Political Realities for over a year and I respect his writing and his opinions.

Quoting FoxNews again? You should know better.

Let me include now the entire question and answer from the Rolling Stone interview. Read closely what the President had to say.

What do you think of Fox News? Do you think it’s a good institution for America and for democracy?
[Laughs] Look, as president, I swore to uphold the Constitution, and part of that Constitution is a free press. We’ve got a tradition in this country of a press that oftentimes is opinionated. The golden age of an objective press was a pretty narrow span of time in our history. Before that, you had folks like Hearst who used their newspapers very intentionally to promote their viewpoints. I think Fox is part of that tradition — it is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view. It’s a point of view that I disagree with. It’s a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world. But as an economic enterprise, it’s been wildly successful. And I suspect that if you ask Mr. Murdoch what his number-one concern is, it’s that Fox is very successful.

One more quote, this time from White House Deputy Press Secretary, Bill Burton.

“If you’re on the left, if you’re somebody like Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow or one of the folks who helps to keep our government honest and pushes and prods to make sure that folks are true to progressive values, then [the president] thinks that those folks provide an invaluable service,” Burton told reporters.

This is what John King had so much trouble with and he pointed it out in the video. A lot of people watch FOX News, by all accounts more than watch the MSM. This would lead one to believe that those people share their point of view, at least partially. Does that mean the point of view of all those viewers is destructive to our country? I could not disagree more and I find it highly offensive to read those words coming from our President.

There is no doubt that FOX News leans heavily to the right. They do not try to keep it a secret. However, there is a clear difference between their news programs and their opinions. Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly, etc., are all opinion shows, but FOX also has programs that are strictly news reports. Does that mean their programming is slanted more to the right? Most certainly, but no more so than media outlets such as MSNBC is slanted to the left.

Did you read what Bill Burton said about Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow? They are one of the folks who are helping keep our government honest, after hearing what they say about average Americans who dislike the direction our government is headed? Give me a break and an aspirin. Does he really think we are buying that? Sorry Mr. Burton, but the majority of America people are not quite so naive.

No, our media is not unbiased, no matter if you are talking about FOX News or MSNBC, etc. What I am getting tired of hearing is FOX being accused of that bias, while allowing the other media outlets a pass. I pride myself on trying to be fair in my assessment of the issues and that includes this issue. Just because FOX News is the one reporting the story, should not disqualify it as serious news and it is unfair to reject it outright. The same goes for the rest of the media, which is why I mainly listen to NPR, even though I disagree with a lot of their opinions. (Yes, they have them too.)

About LD Jackson

LD Jackson has written 2031 posts in this blog.

Founder and author of the political and news commentary blog Political Realities. I have always loved to write, but never have I felt my writing was more important than in this present day. If I have changed one mind or impressed one American about the direction our country is headed, then I will consider my endeavors a success. I take the tag line on this blog very seriously. Above all else, in search of the truth.

13 comments to FOX News and the mainstream media

  • Mike

    No offense taken Larry. I think you know that I’d throw Beck, Rush, Hannity, Olbermann, Maddow, Dowd, and others on both sides of the political commentary aisle under the same bus. They deliberately and dangerously distort stories to suit their political view and there are many viewers who listen to that as gospel. I think it’s relevant to throw in that the audience for the FoxNews commentators and Rush is many times greater and therefore much more influential. I did not do my complete homework when I commented on your story and my comment about FoxNews was very much tongue-in-cheek; however, I would definitely urge caution in using FoxNews as a source as I would using MSNBC. NPR is terrific for news. So is CNN, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and many more legitimate news sources. They may have editorial pages with a distinctive slant but their news sources are impeccable and the reporting is fair and balanced unlike some others that I must consider suspect without confirmation.

  • Laurie

    I think the entire notion of the “mainstream media” has been somewhat distorted by a very good decades long campaign by the right. The message became extremely concentrated in the early 90’s- the mainstream media is biased. We need fair reporting. What did that actually mean, and what did we actually get in response?

    Talk radio-highly subjective, entirely based in perspective and mostly from the “conservative” perspective became extremely strong. Over 45 million Americans tune into these programs each week. Take a day a listen to an AM station. You’ll hear basically the same perspective from both local talkers and the national hosts. I think it’s hilarious for these people, who have a coordinated message, to scream about a biased media. Yep, talk radio is clear about not being “news”. But the same hosts who tell you they’re not journalists (and therefore not subject to the same rules), they skillfully convince their audiences that what they have to say is “the truth”. Not enough time in a post, but it’s worth noting: I worked in this environment(national, syndicated and with several of the top rated hosts) in increasingly high levels of involvment for almost 5 years. I’ll leave it at this: In talk radio, it’s not what you know that matters. It’s what you can sell. It’s also worth noting that 20% of these 45 million people have consistently polled over the last decade: They get their “news” nowhere else.

    We also saw the rise of Fox News. The mission statement of Fox News is to give people “conservative” perspective. Hmmm… A stated slant from one side, yet the audience still buys the slogan “Fair and Balanced”? Even though I think it’s curious that Obama continues to poke their cage, he’s dead right about this being a very successful business model.

    I urge you, Larry, to try to tune into what passes for “news” people at Fox. Megyn Kelly- a Fox “news anchor” regularly snarls, snipes and crosses the commentary line. Carl Cameron, at one point Fox’s senior news reporter and White House correspondent, refused to report stories from sources inside Sarah Palin’s campaign that were about her ignorance on a wide range of issues. He refused, that is, until the day after the election. That’s clearly a bias and it came directly from the news department. Again worth noting: I worked quite a bit with this organization, and to a lesser extent, CNN. One network was very open to airing our perspective hosts; the other had a news executive who at one time banned it all, saying that this sort of entertainment added nothing to the conversation besides partisan infighting. Guess which was which?

    • Laurie

      An aside, for anybody who wants a really well researched and written book about the rise of journalism in early America:

      “Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism”

      Written by Eric Burns, the former Fox News host and Emmy-award winning media critic- not to be confused with Eric Burns of Media Matters

    • Laurie,

      I am under no illusions about talk radio. I know full well that it is entertainment and for the record, I listen to very little of it. Even though I may agree with a portion of what Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity say, I do not care for their style of delivery and the mania that seems to come with it. Therefore, when I am driving, my radio is usually tuned to NPR or a Christian music station.

      I did not say FOX News was unbiased. I only conted that they are no more biased to the right than the mainstream media is biased to the left. Did FOX reporters such as Carl Cameron fail to report stories that could have been damaging to the McCain campaign? I am sure that is true, but no more true than the fact that the MSM failed to report a lot of things about Barack Obama during the campaign. We need to realize that this knife cuts both ways.

  • I think it helps to remember that we’ve probably NEVER had an objective media. That being said, I still think that people should actually try to be unbiased, especially from the MSM, who state that they ARE legitimate and unbiased.

    Talk radio is what it is. It is opinion, and it doesn’t pretend to be otherwise. The reason that it is so successful is that people CHOOSE to listen. The left had Air America, and it failed. It went out of business because people CHOSE NOT to listen. The message was not what the audience wanted to hear, and folk hit the scan button. This is also reflected in how FOX has more than twice the audience of both MSNBC and CNN COMBINED.

    It also has to be considered that the MSM have lost millions in audience, and that loss accelerated when they started calling millions of Americans, “racist, homophobic, ignorant, redneck, teabaggers.” I think the lesson there is if you insult millions of Americans, don’t expect them to consume your product.

    This brings me to another point. FOX, talk radio, and bloggers discuss things that the MSM avoids. How many people would know about ACORN, voter fraud, what is actually in ObamaCare (and what is happening now), and that an employee of the SEIU just got caught submitting nearly 24,000 fake voter registrations in ONE Texas county? Who would know about Kevin Jennings and his pedophilia glorifying reading list for kids? Who would know about Van Jones, Anita Dunn, Mark Lloyd, ClimateGate, mmm-mmm-mmm, and a host of others. If we relied on the MSM solely for information, we’d know about NONE of these.

    I was impressed with that CNN report. They actually covered both sides, and they have Erick Erickson on their network.

    • Sorry it has taken so long for me to respond, Matt. I was very busy yesterday with a new past time I had forgotten I enjoyed. At daylight, I was at my Dad’s pond with two of my brothers and my son-in-law. It’s amazing how relaxing that is, at least to me. :)

      Anyway, to your comment. You are right on target with all of it, but especially with the part about what FOX is willing to cover, as apposed to the MSM. There truly is a lot of news that has received little to no coverage outside of FOX and bloggers. For a media that claims to be unbiased, their record on such things is amazingly clear.

  • First off Larry I want to thank you for the link. I will try to keep this brief. We live in a country that has become extremely polarized. The left points their finger at the right and calls them racists and extremist while the right points their finger at the left and calls them radicals and Marxists. Each day the deep divisions in this country grow more pronounced and more vocal as each side digs in. Each has their own slanted media throwing fuel on the fire and making money doing it. Fox News is catering to a specific audience (conservative) while MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC is catering to their audience (liberal). It’s natural for the President to say Fox News in destructive because in his mind they are because they represent the conservative viewpoint. He sees MSNBC as invaluable because they represent the liberal or progressive view and he feels at home with that.

    Each side can make sound arguments against the other but the fact is each side is being manipulated by the politicians and the media. Each side is being nudged in a certain direction. We lose objectivity and entrench ourselves firmer in our ideological safe place whether it’s liberal of conservative. As a conservative I feel that those who embrace a liberal or progressive ideology are willing to destroy the republic in order to advance their agenda. Naturally I look for news outlets or radio shows that support my viewpoint. The same can be said for the left. Until I find a good enough reason to move from my position I will continue to find those outlets that support my viewpoint and ridicule those that don’t. Perhaps that is shallow, but it is exactly what is happening in America right now Larry and both sides are guilty of it. Great post my friend.

    • You are quite welcome for the link, John.

      I think it is completely normal for each side to seek out news and opinions that mirror or encourage our own beliefs. That is simply human nature and you are right. Both sides are guilty.

  • Bias in the media is to be expected.

    I balk when the media try to claim they are not biased.

    I think that most of us tend to gravitate to the media whose views are similar to our own. But we should listen to the voices with views the same as our own all the time.

    The problem with getting all our news via TV or radio is that (1) news and bias are often completely interlaced and (2) news stories are not explored in enough depth. For the latter, I turn to print media or “print media on the web.”

    • Thanks for the comment, AOW. I find myself following your example and doing a lot of reading of the print media, both on and off the web. I think it is safe to say those articles are usually more in depth.

  • Doomed

    From what I have heard Shep Smith is a democrat and he has the prime time slot for news on the Fox network. When you see Fox news bring in paid staffers there are many, many of them that are Democrats.

    When Katrina hit I remember Shep Smith standing on the bridge near the Superdome just Lamblasting the President and the Bush Administration to such an extent that I was sure he would lose his job over that.

    He did not.

    With Fox you get this giant captioned Box underneath the Person speaking…..Kirsten Powers DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST…etc…etc…etc.

    You know what you get with Fox. Everyone does. Its why they are so successful.

    • Thanks for your comment, Doomed. I did not know that about Shep Smith or the paid staffers.

      Concerning his lambasting of President Bush, I didn’t see that, but I do know I have seen him get all over both political parties. He seems to give everyone a fair shake or shakedown, as the occasion calls for. I don’t have a problem with that.

  • Doomed

    “Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas.”

    I have to scoff at anyone who begrudes the right of their ideas. No less so do I scoff at the right if they begrude the left their ideas put forth by MSNBC.

    To suppress ideas is even more dangerous then having too many ideas floating around. Even if most of the ideas floating around are all wrong.


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