Fox News is a political movement

Those of us who cover politics have been struggling for years with the shifting identity of Fox News, the media organization owned by conservative billionaire Rupert Murdoch and managed by long-time Republican operative Roger Ailes.

It seems sort of self-evident on the face of it.

When a media operation is managed by a guy who worked as a media consultant for presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, the first George Bush, and Rudy Giuliani, you have to assume that there’s an agenda.

But the truth is that there has always been a revolving door between the media and politics.

So journalists like myself held fire, trying to discern some method to Fox’s madness that transcend conservative activism.

On the day when one of Fox’s most popular personalities, Glenn Beck, is making a bid to eclipse (redefine?  reinterpret) Martin Luther King, it’s time to stop pussy-footing around.

If it ever was a legitimate news organization, Fox no longer is.

Yes, Fox employ a handful of actual journalists.

But so has every media organization — from Madison Avenue to Pravda — that worked to manipulate public opinion.

The larger reality of Fox is that its major personalities and pundits now include the full pantheon of conservative activists, from Karl Rove and Sarah Palin to Glenn Beck and Mike Huckabee.

It’s astonishing to realize that the only major Republican contender in the 2012 presidential race who is not on Fox’s payroll is Mitt Romney.

Still, the real proof that Fox is a political entity — and not a journalistic one — doesn’t lie in its personalities, or even in what they say.

No, the smoking gun lies in the people not included in the conversation, and in the things that go unsaid.

Last week, former Republican chairman Ken Mehlman admitted that he is a homosexual.

A man who helped to engineer the political fight against gay rights and same-sex marriage — an architect of the Bush White House — acknowledged that he had deceived America.

He reversed his own position, endorsing same-marriage — and urged the GOP to do the same.

It was, by any measure, an important story, offering fresh insight into the internal divisions and debates over culture-war issues within the conservative movement.

Fox News never mentioned it.

According to Politico, there were exactly zero reports of Mehlman’s story on Fox’s broadcasts, a fact which the organization has now acknowledged.

(Fox executives argue that the story was covered on their website.)

The point I’m making here is simply caveat emptor, buyer beware.

Other news organizations — including our own — make mistakes.  And yes, we occasionally allow our biases to slip into stories.

But Fox simply isn’t a news organization.

It is one political organ of the conservative movement — and viewed in that context, is a very good and effective one.  And not even particularly unethical.

Their deliberate deceptions, shadings, and omissions are no more grievous or flagrant than, say, the press releases and spin put out by the Democratic National Committee, or the White House.

In the best of all worlds, Fox would simply acknowledge this fact, fessing up to its true role and purpose.

That would be far more honest.  And I’m guessing that their ratings and influence wouldn’t suffer a bit.

48 Comments on “Fox News is a political movement”

  1. Bret4207 says:

    Be fair Brian. If you’re going to say that about Fox then you’d better say the same thing about most of the other networks. Chris Mathews, George Stephanopolis, Tim Russert and a who bunch of other people worked for Democrats or in the Democrat party prior to becoming “journalists”. A survey of American journalists showed something like 90% identified themselves as Democrats or Liberal Democrats. There is simply no way to reasonably separate politics from any of our news organizations. Your own station manager has played the political game.

    I see no difference between Fox and NPR/MSNBC/CBS/NYT etc. All have an agenda. It’s up to the individual to determine where the spin is and to discount it.

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  2. betty says:

    So, Bret, if you see no difference between Fox news and all the others, then who corresponds to Glen Beck? Keith O? No. If you want to compare Hannity to Olberman fine. Now consider Scott Simon , who exactly is his equal on Fox news?

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  3. Brian says:

    Brian M, of course the right wing response is going to be that the rest of the mainstream media is a bunch of flaming liberals but won’t admit it and that Fox News (sic) deserves praise for at least being honest about their ideology (even though their motto is the falsehood “We report. You decide”).

    But even fair-minded conservatives recognize the difference between a media organization that tries to be objective but is maybe imperfect in that execution (NPR, WSJ) and one that blatantly and unashamedly carries the water for one side (FNC, NY Post, MSNBC).

    It’s easy to fall back on some lame moral equivalency like “They’re all imperfect” but it’s not particularly reasonable.

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  4. Brian says:

    “A survey of American journalists showed something like 90% identified themselves as Democrats or Liberal Democrats. ”

    I hear that canard all the time but I’ve never seen any evidence. Bret, please link directly to the survey in question.

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  5. Brian Mann says:

    The problem with Fox isn’t that it’s a ‘conservative’ news organization, in the way that Bret thinks that other news outlets are ‘liberal.’

    The problem is that Fox isn’t a news organization.

    Whatever you think of the New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC, NBC, etc., they all present largely complex and fact-driven narratives about the world.

    From day to day, you will find a sometimes baffling lack of consistency and clarity — one day the Obama administration is doing okay, the next day they’re failing.

    This is because the world is a complex, baffling place. And journalists never have the big picture.

    Fox doesn’t work this way.

    Its hosts and editors work outward from a pre-existing narrative, supporting that narrative with carefully chosen (and carefully avoided) programming.

    That’s not a ‘conservative’ approach to journalism. It’s not journalism. It is political activism.

    Which is fine, so long as you don’t call it journalism…

    –Brian, NCPR

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  6. PNElba says:

    We have to stop dissing Glenn Beck. I hear he is a vessel of god.

    I think the data shows that a majority of journalist hold liberal views, but not anywhere near 90%. The question that has never been polled however, is “how do your liberal views affect your journalism?”

    I don’t listen to television news anymore and haven’t for years. But I yearn for the years of Walter Cronkite.

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  7. Bret4207 says:

    Well Brian, stupid me reported facts from memory. Sorry. It’s only 70-75%.

    http://www.mediaresearch.org/biasbasics/biasbasics.asp#The%20American%20Journalist

    I found this article particularly eye opening, especially this line about the polls finding- “It found that a majority of American journalists say they are liberals. Not surprisingly this has been grist for conservatives because it confirms the impression that journalists are overwhelmingly liberal compared to the public in general.”

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1919999

    I’d think if a clown like me can find this stuff anyone else interested should be able to do it too.

    Just to be clear, I don’t watch TV news very much. Once in a while I’ll catch Fox or Headline News, but mostly I’m a radio and internet guy. My irritation with the whining about Fox is that it’s just that- whining. Back when there was no Fox News there was one basic story given and that was it. Now Fox is there and gives a different view and not only that, people seem to overwhelmingly prefer that view to Foxs competition.

    It always sounds like sour grapes to me.

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  8. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Brian M.: Well put but your argument doesn’t go far enough. It isn’t just FoxNews, it is the NY Post and the Wall Street Journal and all the other parts of the Murdoch Empire. I’m not saying the WSJ is as bad as FoxNews is (yet) but it is frightening how much control one man has over the information available to the American public.

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  9. John says:

    It’s one thing to have a bias in how you report events and comment on them. It’s quite a different thing to have a pre-determined agenda in your reporting and commentary. Conclusions should always come at the end of the process, not the beginning. If we strive toward this, we will never easily become part of someone’s agenda. Of course, if we all did this, FOX would not have an audience.

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  10. JDM says:

    Brian:

    You are leveling the accusations at the right that they level at CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and the like as being left-leaning.

    Your proofs are no more convincing that that of the other side.

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  11. scratchy says:

    Who cares? If you don’t like Fox News, then do what I do and don’t watch it.

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  12. Bret4207 says:

    Lets talk about “agendas” for a second. Several years back I was listening to NCPR’s morning broadcast. During the local segment the newsreader used the term “…President Bushs war on terror…”. I called up and asked why that term was chosen since 9/11 had affected us all. I was told that “…we’re not in favor of the war, what he’s doing is wrong…”. So the NCPR staff’s agenda was clearly laid out- Bush is bad, we’ll use our chances to undercut him if we can”.

    With that in mind, shouldn’t NCPR just “simply acknowledge this fact, fessing up to its true role and purpose.

    That would be far more honest. And I’m guessing that their ratings and influence wouldn’t suffer a bit.”

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  13. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Bret, it was President Bush’s “War on Terror.”

    Another president might have chosen to pursue the criminals who perpetrated the 9/11 attack through very different means. Bush chose to put us into a “war” against an enemy that was nearly impossible to clearly define, with objectives that were vague, and with an end that would never happen.

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  14. Bret4207 says:

    Only in your view Knuck, or rather the view of those buying your political outlook. In the liberal democrat agenda that’s how it’s played out. That makes that viewpoint political and using that viewpoint as your fulcrum makes your judgment biased in that direction, whether it’s correct or incorrect. Look at some other examples- Clintons selling defense tech to the Chinese in exchange for campaign contributions- a non story to the left, treason to the right. His lying under oath- a non story to the left, perjury to the right. Go back further- JFKs debacle at the Bay of Pigs- a heroic attempt by a veritable god to the left, a massive cluster that never should have happened to the right.

    It’s all in your perspective and I see little real difference between the right and left in the end. But to my way of thinking it’s just dishonest to call one side “partisan” or “biased” while ignoring the other sides guilt in the same area.

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  15. dave says:

    I must have missed it when CNN donated a million dollars to the Democratic Governor’s Association or when Anderson Cooper led a liberal rally at the Lincoln Memorial.

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  16. mervel says:

    Certainly Fox is out there on the conservative side. But I have to say CNN does the same thing with more subtly. They choose not to run stories based on more liberal views. I think they are less crude about it than Fox. NPR is more balanced than all of them but then they don’t have to sell things in the same way that the other media outlets do.

    Of course all of the Fox commentators with the exception of Juan Williams are very conservative and are not journalists I totally agree, I would see them more as entertainment. Glen Beck I hope does not call himself a journalist does he? But on the other side I like some of the Fox reporting particularly business reporting.

    But really it becomes a broader debate about what exactly journalism is today.

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  17. Dale Hobson says:

    Bret said:
    Lets talk about “agendas” for a second. Several years back I was listening to NCPR’s morning broadcast. During the local segment the newsreader used the term “…President Bushs war on terror…”. I called up and asked why that term was chosen since 9/11 had affected us all. I was told that “…we’re not in favor of the war, what he’s doing is wrong…”. So the NCPR staff’s agenda was clearly laid out- Bush is bad, we’ll use our chances to undercut him if we can”.

    If true, this would be a pretty damning anecdote. I would like to know the particulars. Bret says the”staff’s” agenda–though the context indicates he was talking to one unidentified person.

    Let me speak for myself for a moment. I have my own political opinions, but I also have professional standards and a sense of mission that relates more to those standards than to my opinions on this or that issue. To be specific, if anyone at work ever told me that “such and such” is NCPR’s political perspective– I would say “shove it”–whether I agreed with the position or not. If anyone told me that I should use my position to advance any particular political agenda–whether I agreed with it or not–I would quit.

    Bret’s opinion notwithstanding–NCPR is not that kind of organization. If it ever becomes that kind of organization, I will not be employed by it.

    Dale Hobson
    NCPR Online

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  18. PNElba says:

    It may not be fair to call it “Bush’s War on Terror”. But Bush did brag on more than one occasion that he was a “war” president.

    Bush: “I’m a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign-policy matters with war on my mind. Again, I wish it wasn’t true, but it is true. And the American people need to know they got a president who sees the world the way it is. And I see dangers that exist, and it’s important for us to deal with them.”

    Explaining his choice to invade Iraq Bush said “I’m a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind….” and “I see dangers that exist and it’s important for us to deal with them.”

    Then we have the infamous carrier landing with Bush decked out in a flight suit declaring victory in Iraq.

    We even have accusations that Bush claimed that god told him to fight the terrorists. Seems that god speaks to conservatives much more frequently than he does liberals.

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  19. oa says:

    I think Bret’s agenda is to throw out whatever bomb-throwing dogma that comes to mind and force anyone who cares about facts to write corrections, thus wasting their time and keeping them from doing their jobs, eventually leading to the collapse of society into the Road Warrior scenario that he so often predicts.
    I admit, it’s working on me.

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  20. JDM says:

    Dale:

    I understand what you’re trying to say. However, all one has to do to get around the “political” issue is to call it something else.

    For example, man-made global warming is a political issue. You can disagree and say, “no, it is proven science” and get around the issue.

    Then, there is no need to investigate the other side of the “political” discussion on man-made global warming because you have already decided it is science, not politics.

    This is one example. I don’t know where you stand on this particular issue. My point is that by calling something non-political doesn’t get around the fact that there may be two sides to an issue, and you choose not to acknowledge the other side.

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  21. JDM says:

    amend my last comment….

    The earth is getting warmer, and cooler, and so forth. That is science.

    Whether or not the cause is man-made is still up for grabs.

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  22. TomL says:

    No JDM, there are some recent dramatic changes in global climate, and human-caused stressors have been the primary cause. That is the scientific consensus, not politics.

    What to do (if anything) to reduce those stressors and reduce the magnitude of human-caused global climate change is a political issue (as well as a scientific issue).

    That the right, lead by Fox News, have been so effective at misrepresenting science, and convincing the public that it is all politics, has been one of the worse developments of the last two decades. We are at the point that is is a left / right issue as to whether sulfur-dioxide causes acid rain, or whether mercury in fish is bad for human health.

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  23. PNElba says:

    Whether man is responsible for climate change is also science and can be investigated. And the scientific evidence is available for anyone interested in learning whether climate change has a man-made component. There is no such thing as “proven science”. A proof is a mathmatical concept. Science provides evidence not proof. There is no “proof” that climate change has a man-made component. But there sure is a hell of a lot of evidence.

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  24. Bret4207 says:

    Dale, as I’ve noted before on other occasions, I didn’t have the clairvoyance to realize I’d one day be relaying this conversation in this type of forum. I have no clue who I spoke to other than it was a young sounding female and it would have been sometime between 2001 and maybe 2005-6? Give or take, I really can’t say. But it happened as I relayed it, you have my word on that. At the time I didn’t think much of it.

    Another example would be Ellens wading into the fray over the gay/lesbian/transgender posters at the St Lawrence County building. I called on that one too and registered my belief that her actions were incorrect for a publicly funded “news” organization that was supposed to remain unbiased. It certainly wasn’t the first time Ellen had made her political views known on the air. It really isn’t a problem until you make claims there are no politics in play at NCPR. That’s just not true, it may not be a conscious action, but it occurs never the less.

    So, I see little difference between Fox News and you at NCPR for example. The biggest difference is that people like Beck don’t claim to be journalists while other people at other outlets do. So whether it’s Glenn Beck, Steve Mahr, Paul Begala (sp?) or Chris Mathews I see little real difference in the end result. Both sides express their views and opinion. Both sides claim to be “fair”. You decide based on your perspective.

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  25. Bret4207 says:

    Dave- GE donated a good chuck to the DGA and who does GE own? NBC!

    http://www.allyourtv.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1567%3Age-atat-lead-list-of-media-company-donations-to-democratic-governors-association&catid=1%3Alatest-news&Itemid=48

    OA- sorry. The only other folks I have to talk with are sheep. You guys are lots smarter than sheep and have far better senses of humor. The curse of being a shepherd…

    Merval, doesn’t Maura Liason (sp) also work on Fox and NPR? Here’s a very slow loading list of 143 journalists that made political donations. Guy Raz and some other NPR journalists are here. Be patient and be prepared for surprises like Fox workers contributing to Democrats and the vast majority of donations being to….Democrats.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19113455/#

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  26. dave says:

    It is interesting that conservatives (for the most part) are no longer defending Fox’s integrity when it comes to bias. For a long time they did. They claimed that Fox really WAS the only unbiased source of news.

    Now, their strategy is to claim that Fox is no more or less biased than any other news source. The logic seems to go something like this: No journalist is completely unbiased, therefore, all journalists are equally unbiased.

    Most people, I think, can see that for the weak argument it is… but what it does is it allows them to make claims like Bret is. That a news agency that makes any type of mistake, or that has a journalist that allows any sort of individual bias to slip into a report, is somehow just like FOX.

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  27. oa says:

    Cool. So, reality, is like, not real, man. It’s whatever you, like, think it is.
    Right on!
    And I thought it was the lefties who ate all the brown acid at Woodstock.

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  28. Paul says:

    Brian M., I just don’t see the proof for your hypothesis.

    I think you need to separate reporting from commentary. Fox has a lot of commentary, no doubt.

    But that isn’t the news. I don’t watch the network much, but the news usually has the “bias” that you describe but generally is reporting the same story as NPR. But the other networks (like you say) also have a similar, albeit perhaps different bias.

    Let the viewers/readers sort it out rather than dismiss it outright.

    Watch and listen to Fox and NPR/NCPR and sort it out for yourselves.

    Some folks are drawing the wrong conclusions in my opinion, and probably you feel the same way and that is what sparked this blog, but that is the whole point of freedom of the press. “Reader” beware! I get to decide what is accurate and what is not, not someone else.

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  29. Brian says:

    Bret: The survey you cited was on the website of an organization which has its own, quite overt agenda so I’m sure if I’m a tad skeptical. But even giving it the benefit of the doubt, the 75% number you cite is from 1981. The profession of journalism has changed quite a bit in the last 30 years.

    The Pew survey you cite (a much more respected organization) says only that a ‘majority’ of journalists identify themselves as liberal… which could be anywhere from 51-99%.

    One thing that’s not in dispute is that most media outlets now are owned by big corporations, which are tempermentally (if not politically) conservative. That affects the coverage far more than the individual reporters. Because it’s not the ordinary reporter who picks the stories and the angles, it’s the editors… editors who report up the corporate structure.

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  30. Brian says:

    For all its alleged “liberal” bias, the mainstream media has given infinitely more free coverage to right-wingers like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and the Tea Party minority than it has to left-wingers like Dennis Kucinich or Ralph Nader. If the MSM is driven by its supposed leftist ideology, how does one explain this disparity?

    As I see it, most MSM outlets try to be objective as they see it. Most fail miserably in covering smaller party and independent candidates. Most fail miserably in offering a true diversity of viewpoints (opting for the tried and true recipie of the standard slightly-left-of-center POV and slightly-right-of-center POV for every story). Most fail to understand the difference between objectivity and neutrality… though that’s probably due to shell shock from being hammered anytime an objective story reveals the truth that one side was more culpable. But this is more an indictment of the corporate media’s real blind spot, its real bias: an unwillingness to take chances, to ruffle feathers, to do anything that might compromise its vaunted ‘access’ to figures in power.

    NCPR is one of the few outlets that isn’t afraid to scratch beneath the simplistic, politically correct surface which is why I listen to it and support it.

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  31. Brian says:

    The thing about objectivity is that it’s… well.. subjective. Bret objects to the alleged use of the phrase “Pres. Bush’s war on terror” as a value judgment. But did he object to the use by some media outlets of the phrase “Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein”? That was also a value judgment. Some media outlets, such as the BBC, pointedly referred to him as Iraqi president Saddam Hussein because the alternative was a value judgment. Ditto something like “the unfortunate loss of 10 American soldiers in a road side bombing.”

    The truth is that in some reporting, we want judgmentalism. Of course we impose our values on the sort of journalism we want. We don’t want a US soldier and the homicide bomber who killed him portrayed in the same way. We don’t want read of pedophiles and their victims being treated in the same way. We wouldn’t expect NCPR to give a massacre in the DR Congo the same amount of attention as a massacre in Saranac Lake, even though all the victims in both cases would be innocent human beings. Journalism devoid of values isn’t journalism, it’s transcription. If you want that, watch CSPAN.

    Any time there’s a filter, it’s going to be imperfect. That’s why you should never rely on a single source of information, whether it tries to be fair like NPR or whether it has an overt agenda like Fox News (sic). Other than this, what’s the solution to the alleged problem of too many alleged liberals in journalism? Quotas?

    The US is a temprementally conservative country. The media is a capitalistic enterprise. If the media were anywhere near as overwhelmingly leftist as critics claim, media outlets would be going out of business left and right (pardon the pun)… because the general audience is NOT overwhelmingly leftist. Newspapers are certainly in trouble, but that seems to be the case regardless of what their editorial line is. If the media were completely out of touch with its audience, the market would take care of it. And that’s why I don’t buy the ‘media is liberal’ line.

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  32. Brian says:

    Sorry for the avalanche of notes but I forgot to add that the drumbeat about the ‘liberal’ media is at least as much a political tactic as an actual belief. It’s designed to intimidate the media into being more conservative in order to avoid the criticisms (which of course the MSM will never completely eradicate precisely because they are tactical in nature). It took years but now liberals are doing the same thing. I feel bad for honest reporters because they’re going to get slammed for ‘bias’ no matter what they do and even if it’s untrue just because they’re a pawn in a game that’s much bigger than them.

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  33. JDM says:

    It’s politics when the government (left, right, Dem, Rep, whoever) says, “The Sun goes down. It’s man’s fault. It’s primarily the United States fault because you have the most telescopes looking at the sun. Therefore, we are going to tax the bejeebers out of you to stop the Sun from going down.”

    That’s what makes it political.

    Leave my taxes out of it, and it’s science.

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  34. anon says:

    We can’t change the climate anymore than we can stop the sun from going down.

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  35. Bret4207 says:

    Brian, re- your 7:37 post. For 30 some years I’ve seen and heard the same leftists, Nader, Jackson, Sharpton, Kennedy, Daschle, etc. on the news. IMO your perception that the MSM is giving more free time to righties is just that- your perception. You and I and everyone else has the same issue, our perception of things is based on our viewpoint. Accepting that is a hard thing for some folks.

    Dave, as I said, I’m not a Fox viewer. But, when we have 40 years of nothing but Fox and Fox lookalikes on TV and a new face appears in the crowd then they will be the breath of fresh air that gets the ratings.

    Lets also remember that a lot of what all of us refer to as “news” is commentary. I’m lumping them in together too. Beck and Mathews for example are commentators. Beck does not refer to himself as a journalist. I’m not sure if Mathews does or not. Commentary from both sides is equally as biased as the other. The difference to me is there’;s only Fox on the right versus ABC/NBC/MSNBC/CBS/CNN/CNNHL/PBS/NPR/etc. on the left.

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  36. Pete Klein says:

    This is supposed to be a free country. If you don’t like Fox News, feel free not to tune in.

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  37. Ellen Rocco says:

    Dear Bret 4207 and all,
    I am an independent. No party affiliation. My political beliefs run across the spectrum–and I have voted at least 1/3 of the time for Republican candidates…probably more at the very local level. The only time I refuse to vote in a contest is when the candidate is unopposed.

    On the air and in print spaces managed by this station I have certainly made “editorial” statements. Commentaries I’ve written over the years have, occasionally, had a clear political bias. But these were editorials. Editorials are a long-standing feature of most bona fide news operations. Specifically, I have taken a stand on diplomacy over armed conflict (and will do that forever) and on equal rights for all, including and especially these days for people who are gay.

    On the other hand, I have ferociously protected the independence of our news department–against assaults from people representing a variety of political positions, people who have demanded that we tell the political story from their point of view, right or left.

    This is a commitment I take more seriously than any other when it comes to my role at the station. We are far from perfect but we work very hard to be better and better at giving our listeners and audiences as much accurate and complete information as we possibly can. That is our job. Why? Because it is NOT our job to shape opinion. It is our job to inform the public so that the public can make the best possible decisions to sustain our political democracy.

    To my mind, it is deeply disrespectful for news organizations to “tell” people how to “think” about the news–whether through sloppy language or downright agenda-pushing. Either way, it implies that the news organization thinks it is smarter than its audience and that the public does not have a meaningful role in our democracy. That we are sheep. This is what infuriates me when “colleagues” at other news entities speak down to me, to us.

    One of the first rules we give to new announcers at NCPR is to be themselves and to assume their listeners are smarter than they are…which they probably are; that we are announcers and “they” are doctors, lawyers, farmers, carpenters, teachers, homemakers, truck drivers, business owners, etc etc. This respect for audience is what separates some media and news entities from others. I believe it is what separates NCPR from Fox.

    Ellen Rocco
    Station Manager
    NCPR

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  38. BRFvolpe says:

    I have not heard Fox News touting its’ “Fair and Balanced”, tagline in quite some time. Perhaps because they are 99% editorial, and 1% news, and no longer need to conceal their bias. In that spirit of media honesty, they need to eliminate “News” from their network name.

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  39. Gary VanRiper says:

    Neutrality in any media is a myth. Every news outlet – print, radio, television – has a bias. There is finally an effective conservative-leaning voice in the mix and it resonates with millions who have been starving to have their point of view represented.

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  40. Pete Klein says:

    Bias is not necessarily a bad thing. Bias is just another word for an opinion. It shouldn’t be a problem as long as you pay attention to what is being said.
    One of the easiest was to spot an opinion/bias is to pay attention to the use of adjectives. Adjectives are almost always an opinion. Example: Innocent people were killed. Oh, really? And by what standard do you judge someone who is killed is innocent? Innocent of what? The weather is too cold. Maybe for you but not for me. She is a beautiful woman. Maybe to you she is. I might have a different opinion.

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  41. Bret4207 says:

    Yes Ellen, and editorial decisions can form the basis of a news outlets “tone”. Look at the hate directed at the Post Stars editorial decisions. Your decisions set the tone for your reporters.

    BTW- anytime I’ve heard you identify your political standing on air you’ve used the term “progressive”. What that means is open to interpretation, but I rather doubt I’ll be seeing you at a Tea Party rally as a participant.

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  42. JDM says:

    Better late than never….

    Obama, Democrats got 88 percent of 2008 contributions by TV network execs, writers, reporters

    Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/Obama-Democrats-got-88-percent-of-TV-network-employee-campaign-contributions-101668063.html#ixzz0y7lLF7FG

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  43. Bret4207 says:

    Lies! All lies!!! I mean, it can’t be true that our unbiased journalists are actually just normal human beings with political leanings…… can it?

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  44. Brian says:

    So your guys solutions is quotas for conservatives in journalism?

    Ok.

    The real issue is that journalism is generally seen as a public service profession.

    Conservatives of today generally disdain all forms of public service as they have gone to great lengths to discredit anything in the public realm. The main exception being public service related to authority (police, armed forces, prison guard).

    You don’t get filthy rich by being in journalism. And I mean, real journalism not the opinionating that passes for journalism in some quarters which can be lucrative.

    And at the end of the day, I think most MSM journalists try to be fair. Sure, someone will always nit pick one or two phrases out of the tens of thousands of words they say/write every month to “prove” bias. But the real way reporting is shaped is chosen by the editors who have to report up the corporate food chain. Corporate food chains don’t like anything that’s bad for the bottom line and being significantly more liberal than the audience is bad for the bottom line so that’s why such a thing would be quickly reined in if it existed.

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  45. Brian says:

    And Bret is confused. You can have leanings and still try to be fair. I’m a sports coach. Yes, there are some kids I like more than others for various reasons (some work hard, some have an entitlement complex, etc). But I try to treat them all fairly and by the same standards. I think I’m generally seen as fair by most of the kids and parents. That doesn’t mean I get it perfectly in every single instance. All you can do is your best.

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  46. Brian says:

    Back to the issue at hand, FNC clearly is a political movement. There are certain accepted standards in journalism, such as transparency. People claim that everyone’s biased, just that FNC is open and honest about it. Really?

    For example, Fox News (sic) certainly fanned the Islamophobia flames. However, they did not mention that one of the main funders of the Park51 Community Center was also the #2 shareholder in News Corp., FNC’s parent company. Any serious news outlet would’ve mentioned this disclaimer at some point. That’s what “being open and honest” means.

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  47. Brian says:

    Brian M, this is a great illustration of why I’m not a big fan of national issues on this blog (esp. when there are millions of other venues for them). They turn much too easily into “Your mama’s ugly… no she isn’t… yes she is” exchanges… except there are few actual exchanges and a lot more monologues. There are far fewer “scripts” for local and regional issues so you’re more likely to provoke original thought.

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  48. Bret4207 says:

    No Brian, no one is asking for quotas. In my case I’m simply saying that this is the pot calling the kettle black, mostly because at present the kettle has far better ratings!

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