July 2, 2001
Fox News Channel is anything but fair and balanced when it comes to political guests, a watchdog group has charged.
Fifty of 56 partisan guests interviewed on Brit Hume's daily news show over a five-month period earlier this year were Republican, and only six were Democrats, the liberal group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting said.
In an admittedly more subjective analysis, FAIR said 65 of the show's 92 total guests were conservative politically.
"Fox portrays itself as fair and balanced, as straight news," said Steve Rendall, a FAIR senior analyst. "It's media consumer fraud."
Hume said he would look into the group's findings, and correct it if he noticed any imbalance.
Executives at the cable news network, which has been gaining on rival CNN in the ratings over the past few years, have repeatedly denied any right-wing tilt in news coverage. Its slogan is ``fair and balanced,'' although founder Roger Ailes has called Fox an alternative to what he regards as a left-leaning CNN.
FAIR said it purposely chose to look at Hume's news report instead of more commentary-based shows like ``The O'Reilly Factor.'' Rendall said the differential between Republican and Democratic, conservative and liberal guests was ``breathtaking.''
``There's nothing wrong with it,'' he said. ``They can be proud of it. But I don't think anybody is served by mislabeling a conservative news product as fair and balanced.''
Hume said FAIR's view of political bias may be different than most. And he said news factors - FAIR watched during the first few months of a Republican administration, at a time the GOP also controlled Congress - played a part in bookings.
``We don't strive for mathematical balance,'' he said. ``We strive for an overall balanced outlook.''
Hume also said his is not a political debate show, and he often doesn't know the leanings of his guests.
FAIR also studied Wolf Blitzer's news program on CNN during the same period and found that of 67 partisan guests, 38 were Republicans and 29 were Democrats.
FAIR's founder, Jeff Cohen, appears regularly as a commentator on Fox News Channel. The group said he played no part in the study.
On the Net : Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting :FAIR
July 3, 2001
If you're a confirmed political junkie with a TV and any semblance of critical thinking, it usually doesn't take long to pick up on the patterns on "public affairs" programming, be they Tim Russert's ambush-and-attack interview tactics on Meet the Press or George Will's penchant for chiming in as early as possible with a wordy and ridiculous comment during the This Week roundtable.
The same goes for the weekday shows on the cable news channels : Geraldo's chummy manner of turning guests on each other during Rivera Live on CNBC, Judy Woodruff's attempt to balance the somewhat Smirk-favorable reporting on CNN's Inside Politics with no-nonsense interview segments, and the relative absence of elected Democrats from Special Edition on FOX News Channel as compared with their Republican counterparts.
And it looks like I'm not the only one who's noticed this last point.
Late last week, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting released statistics on FNC's flagship political program showing that in a five-month period, 50 of 56 political guests interviewed on Special Edition, which is hosted by right-wing "journalist" Brit Hume, were Republican -- and only six were Democrats. FAIR also concluded that 65 out of 92 commentators on Special Edition leaned conservative in their views.
That doesn't sound too fair or balanced, now, does it?
Interestingly, the AP story that detailed FAIR's assessment made it a point to label FAIR as a "liberal" group early on in their report. Of course, right-leaners have already geared up their knee-jerk "whining lefties" boilerplate, but have to face a the reaction of many moderates and liberals: FAIR would not be raising this issue if FOX News Channel were not a de facto "talking drum" for the once-GOP-dominated Congress, the Dick Cheney-Andy Card regime presently occupying the West Wing, the Republican National Committee, and a variety of conservative propaganda "stink tanks."
The bloom is coming off the "fair and balanced" rose -- but FAIR's findings are hardly the first evidence. That came from FNC grand high leader Roger Ailes himself, who pretty much admitted in the recent New York Times Magazine that his operation is far from impartial, tipping his hand with the unsupportable claim that the world leader in cable news, CNN, is "left-biased."
Worst of all for FNS, a cable-industry report obtained by American Politics Journal indicates that the cable news operation has essentially reached the end of their growth curve in the United States -- and has failed to draw the most affluent, educated and influential target viewership away from CNN.
Now, the media and political worlds are starting to catch on to the smoke and mirrors over at FOX News Channel. The FAIR report comes as only another sign that there is trouble on the horizon for FOX, despite conservative efforts to dominate the Beltway and media outlets, because people are watching -- and debunking their core assertion of fairness and balance.