The True Facts About The Fox News Channel


Most of this text is from a web site called www.fair.org, I edited it and added some of my own words to it. I am in no way saying I wrote all of these words. I did spend hours finding and changing and adding pieces of it together and changed parts of it. For the actual un-edited full story go to www.fair.org.

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OK I admit I have been watching Fox News off and on for a few months, and I'll admit to being entertained now and then. Fox's straight news broadcasts are mostly neutral and fairly well done. Even though they clearly do a lot more stories sympathetic to conservative issues than other networks, they are real, reported stories. Still, most of Fox is right-wing commentary and analysis, and its overwhelming aura is conservative playhouse.

Fox daytime anchor David Asman is formerly of the right-wing Wall Street Journal editorial page and the conservative Manhattan Institute. The host of Fox News Sunday is Tony Snow, a conservative columnist and former chief speechwriter for the first Bush administration. Eric Breindel, previously the editorial-page editor of the right-wing New York Post, was senior vice president of Fox's parent company, News Corporation, until his death in 1998; Fox News Channel's senior vice president is John Moody, a long-time journalist known for his staunch conservative views.

Fox's managing editor is Brit Hume, a veteran TV journalist and contributor to the conservative American Spectator and Weekly Standard magazines. Its top-rated talk show is hosted by Bill O'Reilly, a columnist for the conservative WorldNetDaily.com and a registered Republican (that is, until a week before the Washington Post published an article revealing his party registration--12/13/00).

While there are differences between Fox News Channel stories and its opining, failing to brand the network as unabashedly conservative is like saying Trent Lott is not a Right-Wing Republican. The Conservative Ideology is embedded deep in its DNA. In an era when television news has become a hybrid of information, opinion, and entertainment, the Fox lineup of stars - from Hume to Tony Snow to Bill O'Reilly to Sean Hannity - is a cavalcade of committed conservatives, O'Reilly's silly protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

After the November Presidential election, Fox ran a newspaper Ad boasting that it attracted 6.8 million viewers Election Night, making it the #1 news network for election coverage. The Ad has rightly enraged rival networks CNN and MSNBC: Fox is cheating by counting not only the 2.4 million who watched its cable channel Election Night, but also the 4.4 million who tuned into its network broadcast. Since 48 million republicans voted in the 2000 Presidential Election should they be proud of a 2.4 rating ?

The truth is when it comes to Fox News, conservatives don't feel the need to "work the ref." The ref is already on their side. Since its 1996 launch, Fox has become a central hub of the conservative movement's well-oiled media machine. Together with the GOP organization and its satellite think tanks and advocacy groups, this network of fiercely partisan outlets--such as the Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal editorial page and conservative talk-radio shows like Rush Limbaugh's--form a right-wing echo chamber where GOP-friendly news stories can be promoted, repeated and amplified. It shows that Fox knows how to play this game very well.

Fox is inventing a new kind of TV news, though it won't acknowledge it. ABC, CBS, and NBC strive for authoritative, sober evening news broadcasts, and CNN aims to be the network of record. Fox is the first narrowcast news network. It is targeted not at the entire country but at the millions of right-leaning Americans skeptical of mainstream media. It is clearly an assertive conservative tabloid.

Most people (Including Me) will look at fox news with dis-respect as long as it continues to harp on its insane "fair and balanced" and "we report, you decide" claims. The funny thing is, their ridiculous proclamations are what makes it so hard to trust the Fox News Channel on anything they report on. I'd trust them a little more if they admitted to being a conservative news network.

Ever since Fox's launch five years ago Roger Ailes has been engaged in a campaign of relentless and fierce spin to prevent the media from sticking the network with the C-Word it so richly deserves.

"We're going to provide straight, factual information ... with less 'spin' and less 'face time' for anchors," Ailes said when fox news was first launched.

I suggest that ailes should be sued for fraud, they spin things more than any news station on the air. If they cant spin an issue or a news report they just dont report it at all. Once upon a time, the phrase "investigative reporter" actually meant something. It usually involved hard work, a real search for facts and real news. Now, it seems, they just make stuff up. Especially on the Fox News Channel, where an uninitiated viewer could easily think they had tuned in to a skit from Saturday Night Live. It's "Chandra-Chandra-Chandra" with the occasional "Condit is just like Clinton" thrown in. Given fox news 24/7 obsession with the Gary Condit "scandal", you might assume that there is no hard news to pursue.

For example, the Lori Klausutis case. The story bears remarkable and ironic similarities to the Condit/Levy story. Both involve Congressmen, rumors of infidelity, and the fate of a younger female subordinate. The details are so similar as to remind one of two alternate universes. The difference between the two stories? First, in the Klausutis case as not in the Levy case, there is a real body, very dead. Second, the Klausutis case involves a Big Name Republican. Yet Fox News wont even cover the story.

Link to full story here:
Strange Death in Republican Congressman's Office

Brit Hume on Fox News:

"The intention here is to do a broadcast people can trust," Hume said in early fox news promotional spots. Hume told a reporter for Electronic Media, ''It's a trick to be interesting and to be neutral and balanced. We think we've got that.''

Dear person reading this -- pick yourself up off the floor and stop laughing. Be assured he said it with a straight face.

This insane claim of fairness is preposterous. The big three networks and CNN stifle any seeping opinion with a deadening evenhandedness. If you watch CBS news for 48 hours, you will detect a slightly left bias in story choice and interview subjects. If you watch Fox News for 48 seconds, the right wing bias will stomp you on the head. The straight news broadcasts may be judicious, but O'Reilly is clearly a conservative predator (except on global warming and gun control). Hannity is smarter, funnier, quicker, and better looking than Colmes. Most of Fox's contract analysts, such as Newt Gingrich etc. are conservative stalwarts. TomPaine.com has dubbed Fox "GOP-TV."

In Ailes's view, Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Channel is - as its slogan advertises - the ''Fair and Balanced'' network for citizens who want their news straight and true. Roger Ailes, who runs the network, is a longtime Republican strategist. His top commentators are conservative stalwarts: O'Reilly, Hannity, Hume, Fred Barnes, David Asman, to name a few. Occasionally, centrists or Democrats show up-Mara Liasson, Juan Williams-but they're window dressing and dont get much air time. The network is a ceaseless assault on the Clintons, Liberals, Gore's attempted election theft, Democrats, Jesse Jackson, etc.

If fox news hosts and reporters got any easier on GOP positions you might think their scripts were copied right out of the republican party talking points. As for "we report," fox news does not do hardly any original reporting. It favors cost-effective punditry instead. And "you decide" is disingenuous since every news organization naturally exercises its discretion in the practical matter of selecting stories and topics to feature.

Not everyone has paid heed to the Fox News Spin. A 1999 story by Rifka Rosen wein in Brill's Content magazine unabashedly declared Fox News ''conservative.'' In the latest issue of Vanity Fair, James Wolcott bluntly describes the channel as ''the continuation of the Gingrich Revolution by other means.'' And the media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) www.fair.org reopened the matter with a much-publicized study alleging a conservative Fox tilt.

In fact, Fox emphasizes punditry over reporting, and a viewer can be excused for thinking that much of it sounds like it was lifted right out of GOP press releases. They hide behind the twin mantras, "Fair and Balanced" and "We report. You decide." These are repeated so frequently and with such earnestness that they take on the feel of propaganda. Truth by confident assertion. Believe us because we say it is so.

"We distort, we decide," is more like it.

I don't have any problem with Fox hosts having a point of view. I say, bring on the debate! It's just that these guys don't have a fair debate, they stack the deck with conservatives and present a biased point of view with almost no rebuttal from the democratic side.

There really isn't a need for conservative guests or GOP spokesmen since fox news hosts and reporters do such a good job representing those points of view themselves. Nonetheless, conservative guests dominate. When there is a liberal guest (and on Fox that typically means a centrist), they're almost always paired with a conservative one. Add the conservative fox news host and it's always a two on one debate.

An extensive report on fox news by Neil Hickey in the March/April 1998 Columbia Journalism Review included this passage:

Some of fox news severest critics are former employees. ... Several complained of "management sticking their fingers" in the writing and editing of stories and of attempting to cook the facts to make a story more palatable to right-of-center tastes. ("I've worked at a lot of news organizations and never found that kind of manipulation.")

The bias at Fox News Channel is so obvious that it seems a waste of time to offer evidence of its existence, which is readily available to anyone willing to tune in. But the most important reason why Fox clings to its fašade is the nature of its audience. Fox's viewers want a conservative news network but don't want to admit it. The Fox veneer allows them to reassure themselves that they are watching truth, not spin. If Fox suddenly abandoned the "fair and balanced" slogan for overt partisanship, their moderate conservative viewers would feel betrayed.

Take, as an example, a recent ''Fox News Live With John Gibson'' segment, on Representative Gary Condit's relationship with intern Chandra Levy. Gibson quickly teamed with a GOP consultant to converge on a wide-eyed Democratic consultant, who was half-heartedly coming to Condit's defense. Even more telling, the discussion produced several loaded comparisons to Bill Clinton. Presto! A show about Levy's disappearance suddenly became an ideological tong war, with Fox crowding Condit into a corner along with Democratic consultants and their scandal-ridden former president.

The FAIR survey studied Fox News Channel's lead political show - ''Special Report With Brit Hume'' - and found it was populated by an overwhelming majority of Republican and conservative guests. (Conversely, FAIR's study of CNN's ''Wolf Blitzer Reports'' found much more ideological balance.) The FAIR report also marveled at Ailes's ''Fair and Balanced'' mantra, pointedly noting that ''Fox's strategy of aggressive denial has worked surprisingly well.''

Fox's Slanted Sources

To test Fox's guest list, FAIR studied 19 weeks of Special Report with Brit Hume (1/1/01-5/11/01), which Fox calls its signature political news show looking specifically at the show's daily one-on-one newsmaker interviews conducted by the show's anchor. The interview segment is a central part of the newscast; Hume often uses his high-profile guests' comments as subject matter for the show's wrap-up panel discussion.

FAIR classified each guest by both political ideology and party affiliation. Only two ideological categories were used: conservative and non-conservative.

The numbers show an overwhelming slant on Fox towards both Republicans and conservatives. Of the 56 partisan guests on Special Report between January and May, 50 were Republicans and six were Democrats -- a greater than 8 to 1 imbalance. In other words, 89 percent of guests with a party affiliation were Republicans.

As a comparison, FAIR also studied the one-on-one newsmaker interviews on CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports over the same time period, and found a modest but significant tilt towards Republicans, and a disproportionate minority of guests who were conservatives--but in both cases, there was far more balance than was found on Special Report.

Of Blitzer's 67 partisan guests, 38 were Republicans and 29 were Democrats -- a 57 percent to 43 percent split in favor of Republicans. Thirty-five out of 109 guests (32 percent) were avowed conservatives, with the remaining 68 percent divided up among the rest of the political spectrum, from center-right to left.

The fact that the study included the beginning of a new Republican administration may excuse a slight tilt toward Republican guests. But at a time when the Senate had a 50/50 split and the White House was won with less than a plurality of the popular vote, Special Report's 50 Republicans to 6 Democrats reflects not news judgment, but partisan allegiance.

A 1998 Columbia Journalism Review article headlined ''Is Fox News Fair?'' epitomized the media's stubborn reluctance to clearly brand it with the C-word. ''Is the output of Fox News Channel, in its totality, truly `fair' and `balanced'? '' wrote Neil Hickey. ''The answer is a qualified no.''

Fox has had a lot of trouble hiding the partisanship of its main news personalities. In 1996, while already a Fox anchor, Tony Snow endorsed Bob Dole for president in the Republican National Committee magazine Rising Tide (New York, 11/17/97). A former speech-writer for the elder Bush, Snow often guest-hosts the Rush Limbaugh show and wrote an unabashedly conservative weekly newspaper column until Fox management recently pressured him to drop it to avoid the appearance of bias (Washington Post, 5/29/01).

At the 2000 Republican convention in Philadelphia, Snow--ostensibly present as a journalist covering a news event--jumped onstage to give a speech to the Republican Youth Caucus after organizers asked him to fill in for a speaker who couldn't make it. (He was later reprimanded by his bosses.) Trent Lott, whose speech directly followed Snow's, began with a cheer of "How about Tony Snow in 2008?" (New York Daily News 8/2/00; Federal News Service, 8/1/00).

Just three days earlier, near the GOP convention, Bill O'Reilly gave the keynote speech at David Horowitz's conservative "Restoration Weekend" event, where he was introduced by Republican congressmember Jack Quinn. Fox's Sean Hannity also spoke at the gathering, described by the Washington Times (6/30/00) as the "premiere political event for conservative thinkers." O'Reilly has had Horowitz on his show six times--to talk about everything from National Public Radio's "left" bias (12/20/00) to Hillary Clinton's "sense of entitlement" (6/22/00) to Horowitz's book on race relations, Hating Whitey (10/4/99).

On August 16, during coverage of the Democratic convention, Bill O'Reilly confessed to his guest ( Drew Carey ), "I'm so glad you're here because I'm so tired of defending George W. Bush." Curiously, this remark was excised from a transcript found on the Nexis database. O'Reilly twice said in the same broadcast that he's "not rooting for anyone," though it was hard to miss his aggressive assertion and defense of conservative positions throughout the whole show. Mr. O'Reilly said on a later show that he was kidding when he said that and it was clear, if thats true then why did they excise it from the transcripts ?

Not to mention you never see O'Reilly argue or attack or get screaming mad at a republican. O'Reilly claims to be impartial yet he only gets spitting mad at democrats who dis-agree with his viewpoints, if he was really impartial you would think at least one republican in the USA would get him mad enough to scream at them like he does with democrats.

Note From The Webmaster: No Democrats or Independents I know would even bother to defend Bush on anything. In fact they would not even joke about it because they would never have done it.

Former CBS producer Don Dahler resigned from Fox after executive John Moody ordered him to change a story to play down statistics showing a lack of social progress among blacks. (Moody says the change was journalistically justified--New York, 11/17/97.) According to the Columbia Journalism Review (3-4/98), "several" former Fox employees "complained of 'management sticking their fingers' in the writing and editing of stories to cook the facts to make a story more palatable to right-of-center tastes." Said one: "I've worked at a lot of news organizations and never found that kind of manipulation."

On October 25, host Shepard Smith interviewed Scott Hogenson, who was identified only as "Executive Editor, CNSNews.com." Why wouldn't Fox tell viewers that "CNSNews.com" is the Conservative News Service of Alexandria, Virginia, a project of the far-right-wing Media Research Center founded by L. Brent Bozell, III. Why not tell viewers and let them decide what to think of that fact ? Is this fair and balanced? You decide.

Hume recently interviewed a guest about political contributions, doing his best to focus on Democrats while skipping quickly past the fact that the GOP leads the race to sell out for electoral advantage. Especially with the corporations. (www.OpenSecrets.org has the facts.)

Then you have the nightly talk show called Hannity and Colmes, Alan Colmes represents the liberals, but it's a setup. Colmes plays the Washington Generals to Hannity's Harlem Globetrotters -- Hannity gets to score all the points while Colmes struggles for a piece of the action.

On the right, co-host Sean Hannity is an effective and telegenic ideologue, a protege of Newt Gingrich and a rising star of conservative talk radio who is perhaps more plugged into the GOP leadership than any media figure besides Rush Limbaugh. (Hannity reportedly received "thunderous applause" when he spoke at a recent closed-door House Republican Conference meeting that is usually closed to the media--U.S. News & World Report, 5/7/01.)

On the left is Alan Colmes, a rather less telegenic former stand-up comic and radio host whose views are slightly left-of-center but who, as a personality, is completely off the radar screen of liberal politics. "I'm quite moderate," he told a reporter when asked to describe his politics (USA Today, 2/1/95). Hannity, a self-described "right-wing-conservative" (Electronic Media, 8/26/96), joined Fox when the network was started, and personally nominated Colmes to be his on-screen debating opponent (New York Times, 3/1/98). Before the selection was made, the show's working title was Hannity & Liberal to Be Determined--giving some idea of the relative weight each host carries, both on-screen and within the network. Fox sometimes sends a camera down to Hannity's radio studio during the network's daytime news programming, from which he holds forth on the news of the day. Needless to say, Colmes does not receive similar treatment.

Craig Crawford on Fox News:

''They probably serve a purpose by giving a voice to the conservative side of politics,'' says Craig Crawford, editor of the Hotline political newsletter. ''It's why they succeeded. The viewers have gotten the message. ... There wouldn't be a problem if they weren't so determined about the slogan `Fair and Balanced.' ... I think it would help if they just 'fessed up.''

A September 2000 New York Times piece by Jim Rutenberg bore the headline, ''The Right Strategy for Fox: Conservative Cable Channel Gains in Ratings War.

Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz, perhaps conscious of his role as a CNN employee, often makes distinctions between Fox's conservative ''chat'' shows and its ''straightforward'' news reporting.

In Closing, If Fox News Channel wants to present conservative-spun news, fine. But it ought to own up to its ideology, not run from it. It's not really fooling anyone anyway, so why not just be honest? Instead, fox news maintains the lie that they are " fair and balanced. "