Sunday, July 11, 2004

FOX NEWS ALERT: Fair and Balanced?

FOX NEWS ALERT: Fair and Balanced?

by The Gray Dog

I am the Gray Dog and I am a newsaholic! Fox Newsaholic to be precise. I eagerly begin each weekday inviting Steve, E.D. and Brian into my home for breakfast and go to bed each night with Greta Van Susteren. Did I really say that? Anyway, the point is that I am very political. Most of my friends consider me to be somewhere right of “Dirty Harry” and glad that I don’t own .357 Magnum. Actually I don’t own any guns so I can’t be that far over the edge. Yet!

It is because of my political beliefs that I found a haven of truth and righteousness in FOX News some six years ago. In fact when I moved to my new home four years ago, I was so distraught to learn that the local cable provider did not in fact provide FNC that I went right out and purchased a satellite dish with multiple receivers so that I could keep my favorite friends trumpeting throughout the house 24/7. Of course my liberal leaning, ex-Peace Corps wife thinks this is very unfair and that I am unbalanced. I’m not quite sure that she is convinced that my viewing is always politically motivated. My Kiran Chetry screensaver might have tipped her off. So what if FOX News is loaded up with hot babes? It’s like reading PLAYBOY. They really do publish interesting articles, don’t they?

So now comes the hard part. I really hate to criticize the people that have become like extended family to me, but the FOX News slogan “Fair and Balanced” is way off base. Just because I like FNC and agree with their particular way of reporting the news, are they really fair? Even if I believe that they make a sincere attempt to be accurate, thorough and honest, are they really balanced?

If CNN can fairly be referred to as the “Clinton News Network” then FNC must mean “For Newsaholic Conservatives”. FOX takes a point of view and it is definitely right of center. That’s great! Hell, that’s why I and millions of others are watching. But I cringe every time I hear “Fair and Balanced”, and shudder when Bill O’Reilly protests too often that he is an Independent. C’mon Bill, who’s spinning whom?

Why not “Honest and Accurate” or “Conservative and Right”?

Of course FOX does have their token liberals, but talk about stacking the deck. Have you ever watched a panel discussion when liberal NPR correspondent Juan Williams starts blabbering inanely, only to have Brit Hume chop him off in mid sentence? Brit then gives him a look like some village is missing its idiot, while poor Juan sits cowering like a chastised puppy about to be whacked by the newspaper again. Is this fair?

Then there is Alan Colmes, co-host of Hannity and Colmes. Colmes sits mute through most of the show while Sean Hannity filibusters. Poor Alan, he doesn’t say much, but when he does, he doesn’t say much! Hannity on the other hand is the energetic, animated co-host that manages to iterate his conservative talking points several times each broadcast, while challenging liberal guest with simple direct questions and gushing over conservative babe Ann Coulter all at the very same time. My wife likes this program. She thinks Hannity is hot. I guess maybe she and I have achieved some balance with FOX, but Hannity and Colmes still need to work on it.

Yes, there are more liberals. Susan Estrich, Geraldine Ferraro, Ellis Henican, Jane Skinner, etc., etc. These are the liberals known as “Fox News Contributors”. They get to appear on shows hosted by conservatives such as John Gibson, David Asman and Bill O’Reilly (No Bill!, You are not independent!) strictly for the purpose of providing easy targets. They are window dressing. Like ducks in a row at the shooting gallery, easily knocked down and then a new group is set up. Personally I often find this great entertainment but not necessarily fair or balanced.

So, how is FOX News ‘Fair and Balanced’?

Truth challenged liberals will disagree with what has been well documented over the past several decades: Network news programming is skewed heavily to the left. Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings lean so far to the left, it’s a wonder they’re able to stay seated in their anchor chairs. The countries largest newspapers, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post have historically been considered bastions of liberal thought.

One telling example of how a network dishonestly slants left, is the fact that several times this past year, when a CBS Presidential Poll had Bush leading Kerry, CBS didn’t report it. But let Kerry slide to the top and it becomes Dan Rather’s lead story for nightly news.

That conservatives at long last have a fresh new source of news reporting that provides a positive, uplifting and yes, conservative point of view, seems very ‘fair’ to me. The fact that they continue to gain audience share at the expense of CNN and the other networks, gives hope that they may obtain a ‘balance’ to the bilge being spewed by their competition.

Yes, indeed FOX News is earning the right to say ‘Fair and Balanced’. Keep it up gang. I plan to be more fair and balanced myself. I’m going to add Martha MacCallum to my screensaver.

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