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Friday, October 30, 2009


Anthony D. Renli

Ken - I've been trying to avoid this issue (here and a half dozen other places), but I do think that it should be pointed out that a Senior News VP from Fox News(Michael Clemente), when asked to define when Fox News ran straight News as opposed to Opinion, defined their straight news as running from 8am-3pm CST and 5pm-7pm CST. Having watched Fox news during these hours a few times...I'll agree that yes, during these hours it is a news network. Outside of these hours, when every one of their big names work, well - it's not news, it's opinion. The problem is, they sell it as news. The advertise it as news. They market it as news. When pressed, one of their hosts will admit that it is opinion, but for the most part, they never admit that they are wrong or even could possibly in some strange way not be 100% absolutely right. This is irresponsible.

If there was some way to separate Fox News from Fox Opinion, this would be better. I sadly don't have a good answer as to how to do this.

I don't claim that MSNBC is any better - they've followed the Fox News banner of 9 Hours of News/15 hours of opinion. CNN is actually quite a bit better - but they are in fourth place in the ratings, so watch for them to start shifting even more to Opinion vs. News programing.


Anthony: I am glad you gave up trying to avoid the issue. It is unavoidable. Yes, Fox devotes a lot of hours to opinion shows. In itself, this division between news and opinion is nothing new in the industry. Newspapers have their editorial and comments pages. What is new is the balance on programs such as MSNBC and Fox.

Each segment of the networks has to be judged on its own merits. Fox's straight news is as good as any of the other networks, and probably better. It's opinion segments are uneven. Bill O'Reilly is a bit of a blowhard, but he is in fact quite good overall. He constantly challenges his guests, but he lets them make their case. Sean Hannity is embarrassing. Glen Beck makes me itch, but there is no denying that he has been a gadfly to the party in power. Isn't that a good thing in a democracy?

As you observe, CNN has less sideshow journalism, but it is sinking like a stone. I don't know if there would be a place for a scrupulously even-handed network, but CNN isn't that either. At any rate, the market is what it is. More Americans have more access to opinions and information than ever before. Many Americans have been brought into the political process by these shows who would have been left behind by earlier journalism. As a political scientist, I have been hearing complaints about political apathy and non-voting for decades. Well, the sideshow journalists are doing something about that. So I refer to the old Chinese wisdom: be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

Thanks for the comment.


Fox is a very special sort of "news" outlet KB. You say they are very careful to get the facts right in their straight news programs. Well, I guess it is a fact that "someone" may be raising this or that question so reporting such is accurate and factual in a narrow sense. But when the someone is one of the "folks" on the opinion side of the network and you are reporting the slanted view they opine...? Jon Stewart did a great job of explaining that aspect of the Fox "News" modus operandi: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/30/jon-stewart-takes-on-war_n_339788.html

As for the belabored argument over the Treasury/White House exclusion of Fox, the point is that not even Major Garrett would confirm it was intentional. As someone looking to report accurate information, I think I would want confirmation from my own colleague who was intimately involved in the story before making any accusations. Instead, Fox ran with the "the White House shut us out" story first which it appears other media outlets swallowed whole. Then they ran a piece with Garrett who said it very well may have been the mix up, oversight, of what ever was claimed by White House spokes people who, by the by, say no apology was offered or necessary.

So, Fox's care in getting straight news right comes into question once again. At best, the exclusion story is a "he said, she said" situation, but Fox reported it as absolutely confirmed before even consulting their own reporter. They reported and I decided this was sloppy at best and if intentional on Fox's part, just one more example of the anti Obama/Democrats propaganda that is the networks stock and trade.


A.I.: the judgment regarding Fox News regular as opposed to opinion programing is whether the former gets the story right or not. Here I can only point out, once again, that Fox News has been much less prone to embarrassing itself than, say, the New York Times or CBS. Moreover, those that criticize the Glen Beck side of Fox constantly complain about distortion (see John Stewart's line about Fox f***ing the truth). But lets be honest for a moment. It wasn't Beck's distortion, let alone any lies he may have told, that alarmed the White House. It was the stories that Beck got right.

Last note on Feinberg Gate: as I said before, Major Garrett is a White House correspondent and it behooves him to be as nice as possible to the WH in the situation he was in. No, he never said the WH intentionally left Fox out, but he never said they didn't. He just reported what the WH told him. You have no evidence whatsoever that Fox's version of the story was wrong. It has been confirmed by two independent, Democratic leaning news organizations. Fox reported the story exactly as did the latter, so it is nonsense to complain that was sloppy on Fox's part, or evidence of propaganda. As for a story being "absolutely confirmed," unless God speaks, that never happens.

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