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Are We Losing Fox News?

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The Fox News cable channel has been the one bastion where conservatives could find truly “fair and balanced” reporting of political and cultural news. It is beginning to look like those days may be over.

I am not talking about the opinion commentators on Fox. Alan Colmes and numerous other Democratic commentators are fine with me, because they are avowed liberals and their opinions are clearly intended as opinions. What was refreshing about Fox was that their news reporters were not openly part of the liberal culture of the mainstream media. Their news stories did not start from the point of a fundamental acceptance of liberal views. But there are disconcerting signs that the news part of Fox News is morphing into something more typical of CNN (though still far from MSNBC).

Exhibit one is the reporting by Fox News of presidential polls in the weeks just prior to the election. Repeatedly, on the news programs, Fox reporters would intone seriously about how John McCain was “ten points” or “fourteen points” behind “in the polls” (the reporter using the plural). In the past, Fox reporters could be relied upon to include in their reports mention of other polls showing a much closer race, and at least the Real Clear Politics average of polls. But in the weeks immediately preceeding the election, it became increasingly common for a “news” story to be based on a single poll showing the widest margin for Obama.

Next came the borderline giddiness of the Fox News analysts as it became clearer that Obama was going to win on election night. Fox reporters normally express their opinions during election night coverage, but their reporting and demeanor have been even handed and professional. When George W. Bush was initially declared to have lost Florida, then to have won Florida in 2000, there was no real noticeable change in their demeanor. Similarly in 2004, there was no apparent elation that Bush had won reelection. On no previous occasion did you see the outright enthusiasm shown this last election night, and this with the winner being the most radical president elect in the country’s history.

Then last night Carl Cameron “reported” with complete credulity the slanders by failed McCain campaign aides of Sarah Palin. The same people who previously claimed that Palin had “no close relationships with anyone in Alaska or anyone in her own family,” now claimed Palin did not know that Africa was a continent. Cameron did on an occasion or two throw in mild disclaimers such as “they claimed,” but those were the exception in his extensive report. No context was given, no reference to the previous attempts to destroy Palin’s reputation, no consideration of the motives of those making the outrageous claims, just open acceptance of the claims of liberal Republican campaign advisers.

Fox News was stung by the Democrats’ refusal to participate in a debate on Fox News, and the almost total inability to obtain interviews from Barack Obama, Joe Biden or other campaign members must have been a concern. Now, with at least four years of an Obama presidency ahead of them, and with Obama kicking off his campaign plane reporters for news organizations who endorsed McCain, it appears that Fox News may have made a conscious decision to “liberalize” its news to ensure access to an Obama administration. This is not nearly as serious as CNN censoring the news to keep its bureaus in nations under dictatorship, but if it proves to be true, it is cut of the same cloth.

I sincerely hope I am wrong, but there is a noticeable change in the tone of Fox News’ news. No one wants a news organization to be an open cheerleader for one party or another, but it sure was nice to have one news organization that at least made a concerted effort to report the news objectively. I hope I am wrong, but the signs point to Fox News giving up that distinction.

Oh well, we still have talk radio…at least until we get the new “Fairness Doctrine.”


Written by smalltalkwitht

November 6, 2008 at 7:21 pm

One Response

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  1. Mercutio,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. In the last three months (despite Fox News disagreeing with the Pew Institute study that their coverage was negative), I have gradually noted the allowances for more time for liberals than conservatives has increased. I think that John McCain not going on FOX more and not allowing Sarah Palin to do more FOX interviews was a disastrous decision. Frustrating – even The O’Reilly Factor was extremely moderate if not more tolerant of Obama’s lack of agenda.


    November 6, 2008 at 7:46 pm

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