Fox News

Does Fox Lean Right?

In the New York Times story today about Fox News President Roger Ailes being accused of lying  asking someone to lie in a wrongful termination lawsuit, we have this short ‘graph.

Mr. Ailes, a onetime adviser to Richard Nixon whom critics deride as a partisan who engineers Fox News coverage to advance Republicans and damage Democrats, something Fox has long denied.

At what point can a reporter say that Fox News is an organization that advances the cause of Republicans? Journalistic purists may not like it, but Fox News is not unlike many news organizations early in the past century and before. While there are some straight ahead news programs, they tend to lean right in their interviewing and it is better known as advocating a point of view. Just because the organization denies that they work on behalf of Republicans doesn’t mean that reporters can’t make a statement of fact that is obvious to everyone.

No Snow Plowing in NYC is a Snow Job

Even those of us who don’t live in New York City and have enough snow problems of our own have heard the story: City sanitation workers in the Big Apple supposedly were ordered to slow down plowing after the December 26 blizzard as retribution to the mayor for job reductions.

The charge was made by a single city councilman, a union hating Tea Party nut.  And I’m not talking about being a Tea party nut but a Tea Partier who is a nut in other ways.

For many New Yorkers, it was the first they had heard of Mr. Halloran, 39, a lawyer from Whitestone who has had a colorful first year in office.

During his 2009 campaign, his faith was briefly an issue. He is an adherent of Theodism, a neo-pagan faith that draws from pre-Christian tribal religions of northern Europe, and he led a branch in the New York area.

The city is investigating and the New York Times has the story that there seems to be little evidence that it’s true.

But an even better read is Ryan Chittum of CJR’s The Audit deconstructing how the mainstream media, especially CNN, the Washington Times and of course, FOX News used the story to enhance the “labor unions are killing America” meme. Chittum does a great job.

Why Congresswomen Giffords Was Shot

"When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous," he said. "And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik

Internet Gaining on TV and Newspapers?

Well, yes…and not necessarily. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press has another survey, out this week, that’s informative, if you don’t misinterpret the findings. The clearest finding is that the Internet is becoming more of the medium for news for many folks than television. It certainly hasn’t overtaken it among all groups, though it has among people 19-29 years old. And even that conclusion is somewhat suspect. After all, you can watch a TV program online. Who gets the credit as the source—TV or “the internet”?

This fuzzy conclusion gets more obscured when you read about the internet’s supremacy over newspapers, which applies to the overall population, though not among the 50+ set. After all, whereas most folks don’t go to the internet to watch TV, I’ll bet a sizable portion of those who look for news online indeed go to newspapers sites. Which makes the conclusions here a little misleading.

[M]ore people continue to cite the internet than newspapers as their main source of news, reflecting both the growth of the internet, and the gradual decline in newspaper readership (from 34% in 2007 to 31% now).

…The internet also has grown as a news source for people ages 50 to 64; currently 34% say the internet is their main source of national and international news, nearly equal to the number who cite newspapers (38%), though still far below television (71%). There has been relatively little change in the how people age 65 and older get their news. The internet has risen to 14% from 5% in 2007, but is still far behind newspapers (47%) and television (79%) as a main source.

I wish the good folks at the Pew center (and I love their work) would have worded it differently.  But reading further, there are nuggets that should influence how political questions are debated.

College graduates are about as likely to get most of their national and international news from the internet (51%) as television (54%). Those with some college are just as likely as college grads to cite the internet as their main source (51%), while 63% cite television. By contrast, just 29% of those with no more than a high school education cite the internet while more than twice as many (75%) cite television.

For political operatives that may mean deploying different spokespeople for different media. For example, if it’s the lower middle class you want to target, send those folks who can sound as if they are one of them. I don’t mean that condescendingly. Joe Biden may make a good source on TV news because he has a working class persona, whereas John Kerry may not.

There is some unabashed good news in the survey results.

Reflecting the slow decline in the proportion of people getting most of their national and international news from television, the numbers specifically citing cable news outlets or broadcast networks as their main news source has fallen. When asked where on television they get most of their news, 36% name a cable network such as CNN, the Fox News Channel or MSNBC; 22% name ABC News, CBS News or NBC News; and 16% say they get most of their national and international news from local news programming.

TV is constrained by its format. Rarely are issues covered in-depth and without prejudice or bias. If more people read the news online, they would be caught up in the world of hyperlinks, taking them to new sources that allow them to gain more knowledge and hopefully a broader range of viewpoints, though that’s not guaranteed.

But here’s the best news. The percentage of people who say they get their news from radio has remained constant over the past 20 years. Alas, they all aren’t listening to NPR; many are Limbaugh ditto-heads. According to Carroll Doherty of the Pew Center, NPR’s audience mirrors the general demographics of the population, so both young and old are listening. Why has radio remained constant? Because traffic hasn’t improved most places. Radio listeners tend to be in their cars at the time.

Post Coverage of Progressive March Finally Makes the Paper

On Monday I wrote to the national desk of The Post wondering where was coverage of the One Nation progressive march scheduled for Saturday.  I also had an exchange of emails with staffer Dan Balz.  He argued that The Post had coverage in July, but that story was about the One Nation coalition forming, not about any march on Washington.

On Tuesday, a story about Saturday’s plans appeared online, posted about midday.  I expected the story to appear in the dead tree edition the next day.  It didn’t.  Instead, a similar version of that story appeared online again yesterday, with a new time tag.  But if you click on my original Monday link to the story, you get the new version, which deleted a paragraph I quoted in my Tuesday post about how this rally may compete with the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally scheduled for the end of October.

(This is not the first time The Post has posted a story and then reposted an edited version.  The first version is no longer available.)

So far, this rally has received much less coverage by The Post leading up to it than did the Glenn Beck “restoring Honor” rally on August 28.

In the week before Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” march, The Post published in its dead tree edition:

· Three op-eds

. A 2,342-word story on how the march would be a “measure of tea party strength.” 

· On the day of the march, it published a 2,722-word story on the “meaning of the march.”

· Plus a 795-word story about TV coverage of the march.

· And a 1,331-word story on how to host a march on the Mall, giving further exposure to Beck’s march. 

So far for the progressive’s rally, we have basically the same 600+ story that has been online for two days but finally makes the paper today and an op-ed by Harold Meyerson.

Meanwhile, E.J. Dionne comments today that the upcoming rally has received much less attention than the Beck rally because Fox News seems to set the mainstream media agenda.  Amen.

Does the GOP Work for Fox News?

David Frum, the conservative speechwriter for W, who criticized Congressional Republicans for their healthcare strategy, has lost his job at the American Enterprise Institute due to AEI donor pressure.   In an interview with ABC (I can’t get the embed to work), he makes an astute observation.

Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we’re discovering we work for Fox. And this balance here has been completely reversed. The thing that sustains a strong Fox network is the thing that undermines a strong Republican party.

Fox is the 800 lb. gorilla of the right.  (Rush Limbaugh is the 700 lb. gorilla, though he looks like he’s put on a few pounds lately.)  I don’t watch Fox enough to know if it ever criticizes the GOP Congressional leadership for being too extreme, but if its right-wing agenda is putting the GOP in a box with a padlock on it, the implications for both are intriguing. 

If some of the more moderate Republicans start to exert themselves, can they withstand the Fox assault?  If they begin to boycott Fox because they would get pummeled, can the network sustain itself with only the most strident voices?  I’m told that Fox actually has a good following among independent voters.  Will they desert the network if it is only the wing nuts?  GOP leadership as guests must give it some seal of approval to independents, and if they leave, will a part of its audience?

MSNBC, most notably Chris Matthews, has a few right-of-center guests.  I’m not sure if Rachel Maddow tries hard to get the other side and is shunned.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Olbermann avoids them; he seems only capable of pandering questions to the left.  Matthews and especially Maddow can hold their own, so it’s a disappointment to me that she doesn’t have more opponents on her show.  But MSNBC has been critical of Democrats, especially the president and conservative Dems.  (I’ve rarely seen its hosts criticize the most liberal Dems, unless it was Rep. Kucinich for threatening to vote against the healthcare bill.)

If the GOP leadership were smart, they’d go on Fox and push back.  If they were smart…