Fox News Biased?

There have been a lot of charges recently about how biased Fox News is. Since I watch Fox News rather frequently, I was curious to find out how they came to this conclusion.

However, the more I look into the reasons behind the accusations, the more I come to conclude that they don’t hit their mark. For one, most charges of bias that I have seen are not against Fox News actual journalism shows, but against their pundits. The critics will go on and on about how Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity did this, or said that. However, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity are not performing as journalists, in the traditional sense of the term. But pundits, who are encouraged to give their personal opinions on certain issues. Viewers recognize that. For example, it wouldn’t be fair for me to criticize CNN for being biased simply because of what is said on the Lou Dobbs show. For me to claim bias, I have to criticize their news section. So if Fox News is biased because of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, than CNN is biased because of Lou Dobbs, or the LA Times is biased because of its editorial pages. The focus of any bias charges should narrow in on show’s like Special Report With Brit Hume, FNS w/ Chris Wallace, their by the hour updates. These are the shows that should be judged.

Second point, I have yet to see any significant amount of the liberal message suppressed on Fox News. I personally agree with the accusation that Fox News gives alot of time to the conservative message, definitely more time than other networks, but that alone doesn’t make a news network biased. You have to show that one side is being suppressed. I could easily make the charge that a significant amount of conservative thought is not known publically, if you hear it on other networks, its either being criticized, given a mini description, or not explained adequately. So Fox News is balancing that out by giving the conservative message more air time. But that is not the same as saying it’s biased, since the liberal message is also getting out. So the viewer has the ability to make a more informed decision. Put another way, to make an accusation of bias for one side(conservative) you have to show that the other side(liberal) is being unfairly represented. And saying the conservative message is getting out does not address that point.

Third and most important point, what is objectivity anyway, how do you really measure it? Both sides of every issue think they are right, so you can’t measure objectivity by who represents “truth”, since both sides think they do. In other words, there is no objective way to measure objectivity with regard to debatable issues. It’s a subjective matter. And since it’s fundamentally subjective, the closest test for objectivity is by how many people find the news network worthy of their attention. In all news venues, you will have conservatives claiming a certain news network is biased toward the liberal side, and you will have liberals claiming a certain news network is biased toward the conservative side. This all goes in one direction or the other depending on what that particular person’s personal views are, and how they fit within the broader viewers watching the show. So the closest you can get to a true test of objectivity, is how many people watch the show. Especially in a time like ours, where the country is “evenly divided” between both sides. A true mainstream news network would have the biggest fan base. So the true test to see if a news network is mainstream, and by mainstream I mean gives all sides of issues, is by seeing who has the most viewers. And clearly Fox News has the most viewers. Last figures I saw, it beats its competition by huge amounts. Almost double the viewers of the second in line.

So in conclusion, from the accusations I have seen, and I haven’t seen them all(I have not watched Outfoxed, for example), I see very little substance in their accusations. That is not to say that Fox News should be the only network people watch, but given the limited coverage of conservative views from other networks, Fox News should definitely be one of the many.

1 Response to “Fox News Biased?”

  • I don’t agree that viewers recognize Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity as pundits expressing opinions. Unfortunately, a lot of people watching TV are very much influenced by what what’s on the screen. Even commercials have a great impact. That’s why Bush spent 80-90 million dollars to define Kerry as he wants people to see him. Sadly, it works for many people.

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