What on earth is it going to take to get rid of this persistent falsehood that Fox is only slanted right in primetime? So much of the recent squabble between the White House and Fox is predicated on this easily refuted premise. If it were only O’Reilly and Hannity spewing their nonsense, the President would likely have never mentioned it. But the bias is firmly integrated throughout the day’s programming and is presented as news.
The latest clueless commentary comes from CNN’s Campbell Brown who said:
“Just as Fox News leans to the right with their opinionated hosts in primetime, MSNBC leans left. I don’t think anyone at Fox or MSNBC would disagree with that.”
In addition to perpetuating the primetime myth, Brown conveniently forgets that three hours in the morning on MSNBC are given over to a conservative Republican, former congressman, Joe Scarborough. But more to the point, a quick look at Fox’s schedule reveals the lie that seems to be invincible. But here is the truth:
Glenn Beck is not on in primetime. Neil Cavuto is not on in primetime. Major Garrett is not on in primetime. Steve Doocy is not on in primetime. Gretchen Carlson is not on in primetime. Carl Cameron is not on in primetime. There are, in fact, more hours of rightist propaganda that are NOT in primetime than there are IN primetime. Why is it so hard to get these facts to sink in?
This troubling tunnel-vision can only make things worse. It gives Fox a pass on their most egregious violations of journalistic ethics. And it makes reports like yesterday’s announcement that White House press secretary Robert Gibbs met with Fox News executive Michael Clemente, seem useless. What could they discuss of substance if such a large chunk of the truth is waived off.
I wonder what they would discuss anyway. The gossip in the press is that a truce was on the table. Really? Does that mean that, in exchange for refraining from calling out Fox, Glenn Beck would stop calling everyone in the White House a radical Marxist? Will Sean Hannity stop finding corruption in everything from the Olympics to the Nobel Peace Prize? Will Neil Cavuto stop implying that every jump in the stock market is due to the tea baggers and every dip is Obama’s fault? How would the Fox audience respond to the revelation that Fox agreed to moderate their prejudices in an effort to make nice with the President?
Media Matters has established a method of distinguishing between a legitimate news organization and a propaganda dispenser. Here is an abridged sampling:
- If you regularly doctor quotes and videos to completely change the original meaning – sometimes to the complete opposite of the original meaning … you might be Fox News.
- If you allow your hosts and contributors to use your airwaves to raise money for political organizations … you might be Fox News.
- If your executives position your network as the “opposition” to (or defenders of) the administration … you might be Fox News.
- If you repeatedly organize, promote and encourage political protests … you might be Fox News.
- If you pass off the research and talking points (and typos) of a political party as your own reporting … you might be Fox News.
- If you declare “Victory!” when legislation is defeated (or passed) … you might be Fox News.
- If you advance baseless conspiracy theories … you might be Fox News.
Now we just have to get the Campbell Browns of the world to pay attention and recognize reality.