From it’s very inception Fox News has been the most adversarial news network that ever took to the air. Even it’s slogan taunted competitors by inferring that they were not “Fair and Balanced.” Whenever they see an opportunity to criticize other media, they leap on it with the ferocity of ravenous jackal. Such is the case with a report today on the Fox Nation website. The headline indicted the broadcast news programs for partisan bias saying that “ABC, CBS, NBC Report Ray Nagin Conviction, Neglect To Mention His Political Party.”
Oh My God! That is a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. Any so-called “news” enterprise that would so brazenly distort the facts of a story in this manner should be ridiculed and ostracized from the community of reputable journalists. They should surrender their credentials and slink away in shame.
The only thing worse than neglecting to note the political party of a convicted former mayor would be to neglect to note that the network making the criticism did the very same thing. That’s right…When Fox News reported on the conviction of Nagin they also left out any mention of his party affiliation (video below). Shepard Smith broke into Gretchen Carlson’s program with a two and a half minute “Breaking News” alert that covered just about everything else that is known about Nagin, complete with graphics and video. So it would be difficult to argue that they didn’t have enough airtime or time to prepare.
The Fox Nationalists sourced their story to the ultra-rightist media bashers at the Washington Free Beacon who wrote that…
“CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News and ABC World News broadcasts gave brief mention to the conviction of former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin Wednesday on 20 federal counts, including bribery and conspiracy, but all three omitted the fact that he was a Democrat.”
It says something about the research skills (or the rank dishonesty) of these supposed media analysts that they managed to monitor the big three nets for what they regard as flawed reporting, but failed to catch the same omission by the top-rated cable news network that shares their ideological bias. They would certainly never bother to complain about Fox when it, on multiple occasions, misidentified Republican scoundrels as Democrats without ever correcting the record.
On a more substantive note, the complaint that network news failed to mention that Nagin is a Democrat may not be a particularly serious oversight. When Nagin was indicted, the news spinners at NewsBusters made a similar complaint about network news reporting. What none of these stories mention is that Nagin’s party designation was a fairly fluid matter. As I wrote at the time…
“The right’s panic over whether or not the media should have identified Nagin as a Democrat ignores the fact that his association with the Democratic Party was a matter of political opportunism. Nagin had been a registered Republican for most of his adult life. He only switched parties when he decided to run for mayor of the heavily Democratic city of New Orleans. Even after his election he associated with, and behaved as, a Republican. As mayor he routinely favored the interests of his business constituents over the people. He was an avid supporter of George W. Bush prior to his election, and GOP governor Bobby Jindal afterwards.”
So it isn’t really much of a blunder to leave out the party affiliation of a slippery character like Nagin. In fact, if identifying his party were considered integral to the story, a responsible journalist would note that Nagin was more of a Republican than a Democrat. But if Fox is going to go out of their way to make their competitors look bad for leaving this information out, then they ought to include themselves in their criticism if they really want to be fair and balanced.