Fox News and Media Bias
Liberals have a passionate hatred for Fox News. They see it not only as a mouthpiece of the Republican establishment, but as a hateful perversion of what the media should be. They believe that its coverage is not only unfair, but wrong. Limbaugh, Coulter, and Rove are despised on the left. Fox News is hated with a passion.
Fox News does try to attract a conservative audience. That is undeniable, and those conservatives who attempt to refute this end up trying to pass off Alan Colmes and Greta Van Susteren (who covers entertainment figures almost exclusively) as mainstays of the network. Of course, they aren’t—the real stars are Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, and they run the show. A typical O’Reilly Factor segment usually features two obscure pundits, one conservative, and the other liberal, who yap at each other for a while before O’Reilly shouts his position, which he loudly declares the correct one. A Hannity and Colmes segment usually features Hannity and a well-known conservative against the squirrel-like Colmes and a completely obscure liberal. On Fox News, conservatives always win.
Fox’s opinion shows are solidly conservative. Their news division is much less ideological, although it does lean to the right. Fox News’ liberal analysts seem fairly conservative. For example, Juan Williams is hardly a typical member of the Democrat Party. (He wrote a book which told blacks to be self-reliant, which is taboo in most liberal circles). Fox News does deliver the news fairly accurately, and probably more impartially than most of the other networks. However, it would a stretch to claim that it has no ideological bias.
What liberals do not understand, however, is that Fox News obviously fills some niche that the rest of the media does not. Conservatives watch Fox News almost exclusively. Why? Because liberals control the rest of the cable news networks. Liberals scoff at this charge, but conservatives don’t; they tune in to Fox News.
Fox News is mildly partisan, but they do at least pay lip service to the notion that they are fair and balanced. MSNBC doesn’t even try to do that. Their line-up is Hardball with Chris Matthews, David Gregory, Matthews again, Countdown with Keith Olbermann (this is their big show—sometimes, it gets over a million viewers. That’s almost as many as Brit Hume!), Verdict with Dan Abrams, Countdown again, then a prison documentary (I have no idea who watches those). Matthews worked in the Carter White House, Gregory built a very liberal as part of the White House press corps, and Dan Abrams is enough of a liberal to gloat about Rush Limbaugh possibly being arrested for election fraud.
Keith Olbermann is their big star—the guy who gets the ratings, and has the influence around the network. Recently (March 20, 2008), Olbermann felt the need to investigate fully the implications behind the revelations that State Department employees illegally accessed Barack Obama’s records. MSNBC gave him an entire advertisement free hour. He is everywhere on MSNBC—in addition to his nightly show, he also anchors election coverage.
Olbermann is incredibly liberal. He has called for President Bush to resign numerous times, compared Bill O’Reilly to Hitler, and has accused the U.S. of invading Iraq for oil. However, while liberals see creeping fascism in the fact that Bill O’Reilly is given a nightly forum, they see Keith Olbermann as the second coming of Edward R. Murrow. They do not see anything wrong with Olbermann or the rest of MSNBC’s exclusively liberal line-up.
Okay, MSNBC has liberal commentators, but so does Fox News. What about their news division? MSNBC does not even make a pretense of objectivity. Their election night coverage has Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews as anchors. Newsweek magazine supplies the analysts. (They have something is common with the MSNBC people: neither of them has an audience). MSNBC clearly caters exclusively to a liberal audience.
Liberals, of course, have no problem with this blatant bias. In their world, bias is something found only in the conservative media. They cannot conceive of finding partiality in their network of choice.
This double standard is infuriating, but there is a silver lining. Fox News has the top five rated cable news shows—and MSNBC’s shows have the lowest ratings. Hypocrisy and liberalism do not pay.