Media Matters published an interesting study that reveals just how dismissive Fox News is of professional journalistic standards. On the day after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Fox News practically ignored it on its most watched programs.
While this isn’t particularly surprising, at this difficult time it is definitely disturbing. This is not just another sad disaster on foreign soil. There were reportedly 40,000 Americans in Haiti at the time of the earthquake. But even that isn’t enough for Fox to take it seriously.
“On January 13, Fox News’ three top-rated programs for 2009 — The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity, and Glenn Beck — devoted a combined total of less than 7 minutes of coverage to the earthquake in Haiti, instead choosing to air such things as Beck’s hour-long interview with Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly’s discussion of Comedy Central host Jon Stewart, and Sean Hannity’s advocacy for Massachusetts candidate Scott Brown’s Senate campaign. By contrast, the content of MSNBC’s three top-rated shows underscored the significance of the Haiti disaster; Countdown, The Rachel Maddow Show, and Hardball devoted a total of more than two hours to the earthquake.”
So when Fox isn’t exploiting the tragedy for political gain, they try to ignore it altogether. At Fox News, if a story can’t be twisted to attack liberals or promote conservatives, it isn’t news. By making an editorial decision to feature Sarah Palin and Tea Bagger Senate candidates, rather than breaking news on urgent events in a neighboring country, Fox is admitting that their purpose is to proselytize for an agenda – not to inform.
For a network that spends so much time boasting about their ratings, they are abusing their position in the market by keeping their multitude of viewers in the dark on this important matter. But that is nothing new for Fox, whose mission has always been to advance the ignorance of their audience. And they get better at that every day.