A new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism analyzed the coverage of news stories about the Gulf Coast oil spill. The results show that, while everyone else was busy trying to plug the leak, Fox News was putting a “top kill” on coverage of the catastrophe.
“CNN spent the most time on the spill story. From April 20 to July 28, nearly half (42%) of the CNN airtime studied was devoted to the subject. That compares with about one-third (32%) on MSNBC and about one-fifth (18%) on Fox.”
During that same period Fox News led the coverage of hot button issues like illegal immigration, the inept Times Square bomber, Elana Kagan’s alleged Marxism, Shirley Sherrod getting Breitbarted, the New Black Panther Party (all six of them), and now the non-mosque in Manhattan leads almost every Fox broadcast.
In addition to providing less coverage of the oil spill overall, Fox News had an interesting division of time in the coverage they bothered to present. Of the three cable news networks, Fox spent the least amount of time (17%) on issues pertaining to BP and their responsibility for the leak. And, not surprisingly, they spent the most amount of time (39%) being critical of the government’s role in the affair.
Once again Fox News demonstrates the practice of “omission bias.” This has long been a part of their effort to subvert journalism. They did the same thing during the Bush administration when the PEJ found that Fox produced less coverage of the war in Iraq than any of their competitors. And just a couple of weeks ago, Fox didn’t broadcast a single story about the million dollar donation to the Republican Governor’s Association by their parent company, News Corp.
As a result of this perversion of the press, Fox’s viewers will remain amongst the most ignorant in terms of real knowledge of news and current events. That’s a bigger problem than just the nuisance of ill-informed FoxBots wandering the streets. It impacts all of us because these news-deficient dolts vote in large numbers. And their voting decisions are driven by the disinformation they absorb from Fox News.
That’s why it remains a critical responsibility for the rest of us to pay attention to the dishonest practices by which Fox News operates. We must not only correct their mistakes (i.e. lies), but we must also expose their omissions and make certain that the public stays informed about the issues that matter most to their lives.