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Who's "Fair and Balanced?"

I keep hearing liberals whine about how biased Fox News is. The problem is, the numbers don't back them up.

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These numbers fall in line with many other studies done on the media. The cables are far more balanced than the "Big 3" networks and FoxNews comes the closest to having a 50/50 spit on positive and negative comments on both sides.

I wonder why they have so many more viewers than the rest of the networks....


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Comments (18)

To take these two debates a... (Below threshold)
Tom:

To take these two debates and use them as the measuring stick for how biased one (or all) network/news outlet is not by any means scientific, so I wouldn't hang my hat on it overall - but FOX's fairly evenhanded opinions on the debates has been great to see. Unfortunately, I don't think you can say the same for how the conventions were covered by everyone.

Here's a <a href="http://ww... (Below threshold)

Here's a more scientific study that says something similar. (warning: pdf file)

Of course the Liberals are ... (Below threshold)
Jim:

Of course the Liberals are complaining about Fox News; they don't want the conservatives getting their fair share of media exposure.

I hope you're not serious w... (Below threshold)
krl:

I hope you're not serious when you say Fox News is balanced. Maybe you're kidding, but you sounded serious, so I'll assume you were being serious.

Let's look at the facts. Rupert Murdoch owns a magazine called the Weekly Standard, which he has operated at a loss for years and mailed out free to thousands, solely to promote a specific neoconservative agenda. That magazine is edited by William Kristol, who co-founded the Project for a New American Century, one of the most controversial neoconservative think tanks there is.

That's just one example. The bottom line is that Rupert Murdoch is the most biased media mogul there is at the moment. He's more biased to the right than Ted Turner was to the left when he was still at the top of his game (and he was married to Jane Fonda for crying out loud).

I think some of the Fox News commentators had some pretty intelligent commentary about these debates. I think an alien plunging to planet earth and stopping by the first presidential debate, without knowing the language or culture, would have given it to Kerry. Let's be frank. Bush was horrible.

As for the second debate, it's my opinion as a reasonably astute observer of these things that if expectations for Bush had not been so incredibly low, Kerry probably would have won the public opinion on the second debate with a slightly wider margin. How people think a candidate did in a presidential debate often depends on how they expected him to do beforehand. Thus by that measure, Bush blew us all out of the water in the second debate. In the first debate, he whined like an adolescent and cowered behind his podium, repeating "It's hard work, I know that" like he was Dustin Hoffman in Rainman. (He referred to Iraq being hard work 13 times.) In the second debate, he did substantially better, relying on his beligerant Texas swagger to try to out-compete Kerry personality-wise and reassert himself as the alpha-dog. That show, combined with his much reduced reference to Iraq being hard work, I know that, did tend to convince a lot of voters that he at the very least was not autistic.

But let's face it. From a reasonable objective standpoint, taking the two debates as a whole, Kerry won. I believe that anyone who claims that the debating overall has been a toss-up is more than a little biased. Please -- Fox News, though they did have some good, honest analysis (mostly people annoyed that their guy didn't do better) -- still had the the first debate 52-51 Bush. If you think that was the outcome, just look at the post-first-debate polls.

Let's be reasonable. If it rains 2 days in a row and a news channel reports that it's been 50% sunny weather and 50% rainy over the last two days, that don't make the station fair and balanced.


p.s. Look at CNN. 57% of the comments about Bush's performance in the first debate were positive. I'd like to know what they were smoking; whatever it is, it can't be legal.

Your evidence does not supp... (Below threshold)

Your evidence does not support your assertion. To whit:

Suppose disputants Smith and Jones held a debate. Smith demonstrates a grasp of the facts and sound reasoning. Jones displays ignorance and commits logical fallacies. An impartial and accurate commentary on the debate between Smith and Jones must allocate positive and negative comments to Smith and Jones in proportion to their performance. In this case, since Smith performed well, and Jones performed poorly, a 50/50 split between positive and negative comments on Smith and Jones would indicate bias and inaccuracy rather than impartiality and accuracy.

Now substitute "Kerry" and "Bush" for "Smith" and "Jones" in the preceeding.

Veracity and logical soundness is not a matter of balance; either something is true or it isn't, and an argument is either sound or it is not.

Neal Boortz has a standing ... (Below threshold)

Neal Boortz has a standing offer of $10,000 I believe to anyone that can show conservative bias in any news story from Fox. Not op-ed stuff like Hannity and Colmes, but actual news reports. The offer has been out for about seven months or so, and no one has been able to claim it yet.

Sure Murdoch is a conservative, but the newsies at Fox are under strict direction to show no bias in either direction. I've heard more than one person say that on the air.

You guys are hilarious. Ke... (Below threshold)
wah:

You guys are hilarious. Kerry wins the debate, hands down. Everyone calls it like that, except Fox. All of a sudden, Fox is Fair and Balanced.

Haha. Umm, Fox is tilted a biiiit to the right. That's the only way they could even try to call the debate even with a 'straight face'.

Oh wait, did I just see that they said Bush Won the first debate!?

Rich, that is some rich stuff ya got there.

You guys are hilarious. ... (Below threshold)

You guys are hilarious. Kerry wins the debate, hands down. Everyone calls it like that, except Fox.

And everyone who watched it without a Kool-Aid® IV.

Maybe Kerry won both debate... (Below threshold)

Maybe Kerry won both debates?

I wonder why they have s... (Below threshold)

I wonder why they have so many more viewers than the rest of the networks....

Ah, the invisibal hand of the free market?

First, if a reporter thinks... (Below threshold)

First, if a reporter thinks one person did better, then they should say so. Talk about PC crap - you want everyone to be told they are a winner! Are sports commentators biased when they praise the winning team and not the losers?

And Fox does not have more viewers:
"NBC, with 12.3 million viewers, was the most-watched network, followed by ABC with an audience of 10.3 million, CBS with 8.1 million and Fox with 3.8 million." WJLA - Fewer Tune in to Second Bush-Kerry Debate

Did the liberals who commen... (Below threshold)

Did the liberals who comment here even read the article you linked to?

The assertion here is not that Fox News or CNN thought George Bush won the first debate or the second debate. As far as I can tell, it's not a "which candidate won the debate" at all - the percentages do not add up to 100%.

What the chart here is measuring is the percentage of positive (as opposed to negative) comments made about either candidate following the debate - not whether they won, but if the commentators had anything positive at all to say.

Sure, President Bush didn't blow anyone away with his on-camera performance in the first debate, but the fact that Fox News and CNN had an even-handed (instead of Bush-bashing) treatment of the analysis gives the viewers the option of making their own decision about the content of the candidate's statements, instead of being forced to hear constant negatives about either.

I for one appreciate the effort to remove as much bias as possible. It's rare to find anymore.

songstress7:Wha... (Below threshold)

songstress7:

What the chart here is measuring is the percentage of positive (as opposed to negative) comments made about either candidate following the debate - not whether they won, but if the commentators had anything positive at all to say.

This goes to my point: even-handedness is emphatically not the same as impartiality or accuracy. If two parties were to debate the proposition that the earth is flat, a commentary that had as many favorable statements for the party advocating the proposition as it did for the party opposition the proposition would be a ludicrous one; the earth is not flat, and commentary on the party advancing that it is would have to start with that fact—and then end there.

The President should have receive special opprobrium for his statement on the Dred Scott decision. First, it was a dishonest and cowardly way to signal to his base that he intends to appoint anti-abortion rights judges to the Supreme Court; second, unpleasant though it may be to admit, Dred Scott was decided in accord with the Framers' intentions; finally, his sputtering appeal to the Constitution as "speaking to the equality of America (sic)" is incorrect: article 1, section 2, clause 3 states that representatives and direct taxes are to be based on a population tally that excludes Indians and takes the slave population as 3/5 of its actual number.

songstress7:Wha... (Below threshold)

songstress7:

What the chart here is measuring is the percentage of positive (as opposed to negative) comments made about either candidate following the debate - not whether they won, but if the commentators had anything positive at all to say.

This goes to my point: even-handedness is emphatically not the same as impartiality or accuracy. If two parties were to debate the proposition that the earth is flat, a commentary that had as many favorable statements for the party advocating the proposition as it did for the party opposition the proposition would be a ludicrous one; the earth is not flat, and commentary on the party advancing that it is would have to start with that fact—and then end there.

The President should have receive special opprobrium for his statement on the Dred Scott decision. First, it was a dishonest and cowardly way to signal to his base that he intends to appoint anti-abortion rights judges to the Supreme Court; second, unpleasant though it may be to admit, Dred Scott was decided in accord with the Framers' intentions; finally, his sputtering appeal to the Constitution as "speaking to the equality of America (sic)" is incorrect: article 1, section 2, clause 3 states that representatives and direct taxes are to be based on a population tally that excludes Indians and takes the slave population as 3/5 of its actual number.

All of which simply goes to... (Below threshold)

All of which simply goes to the point: What reason do we have anymore to trust the judgment of partisan hacks like Dan Rather, when they decide for us which side deserves to get a lighter treatment?

Sheesh... thanks for saying... (Below threshold)

Sheesh... thanks for saying it. I've been saying this forever, the reason Fox looks so conservative is because of what we're comparing it to. The contrast is astounding.

And it's not just liberals saying it, I'm tired of conservatives buying into that song and dance about Fox being too biased as well.

We Conservatives may be lea... (Below threshold)

We Conservatives may be learning a sad lesson. It appears that it certain of our Conservative Talk Hosts and Authors may be made of the same “stuff” as those “Liberals” – it appears that it is all about book sales and host job-protection or radio/network protection. It appears that it is not about holding “their own” to the same standards that they do . . . . say . . . . . Dan Rather and CBS?????
On O’Reilly – Ann Coulter said NOTHING!!!! She asked NO QUESTIONS of O’Reilly and made NO statements . . . . it was all about SELLING her book and in doing this . . . . . she showed that Conservative Authors may be just like Liberal Authors . . . . it is all about book sales and manipulating the “little (stupid) people.”
Not one FOX News host – not even Brit Hume has acknowledged that this O’Reilly thing is even happening!!! Therefore, no FOX News representative could tell us that they are stepping to the plate in a full-press investigation of the sexual harassment/extortion charges. No – FOX News is adopting the plays straight from the CBS and Clinton playbook . . . . ignore, pretend that this is not happening. FOX News went straight for the throat of CBS (as they should) and were relentless in pursuit of Dan Rather’s effort to ignore and deny. In taking this most unwise stand – they are disrespecting their viewers/listeners and discrediting their own standing as “fair and balanced” in reporting news.
I am deeply disappointed in FOX News and am sadly learning that when put to the test of stepping to the plate and dealing honestly with us – they have chosen the sleazy road common to other media corporations – protect their stars, protect their revenue generators and break the trust with their listener/viewers – after all, we are probably so stupid we won’t even notice.

FOX is a Rupert Murdoch-own... (Below threshold)
Sarach:

FOX is a Rupert Murdoch-owned propoganda machine working to support the GOP for Rupert's financial gain, and to say that Fox is fair and balanced just means that you probably have your head in a bag of hayseed.

Ever really watched Bill O'Reilly?

He's about as "Fair and Balanced" as that other right wing zealot, Ann Coulter, the right wing nut job writer and spokesperson for the misinformed who would rather prop Bush up than get to the real truth behind this sick, sad chapter in bamboozling the American public.




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