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Time for a New Fairness Doctrine?

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Shortly after Bush was re-elected, the left, in an effort to fix what they viewed was an imbalance in the viewpoints espoused in talk radio, proposed a revival of the Fairness Doctrine. Republicans, holding a majority in the Congress, opposed, and the legislation never got to the floor. Since then, we’ve experienced first hand the decidedly leftist-oriented, pro-Obama coverage of 2008, and 2012 election cycles. We’ve been able to contrast the fawning and adoring media during the Obama presidency against a backdrop of a hostile and confrontational media during the Bush administration. It’s time conservatives ask if in fact the left was right on this one, and whether it’s time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine.

This is about much more than mere balance on talk radio. In newsrooms and television studios across America, there is a serious diversity problem in which one strand of thought dominates and dissent is ridiculed, cast out, and crushed. News coverage, in its content, selection and even in its very premises, serves to perpetuate one view., and entertainment venues follow suit. It’s hard to find even one form of media, or even one venue, that isn’t rife with left wing talking points and premises.

My leftist friends will say that I’m blaming Romney’s loss on the media, when Romney was just a loser. Romney most assuredly was a loser, as he lost. However, it’s indisputable that left wing bias not only exists but is pervasive – prominent liberals even admit as much from time to time, The problem, as a 2008 Pew poll found, was that liberals in journalism are vastly over-represented, as compared to liberals as a percentage of our general populace. This lack of diversity and balance in our media has an effect on the populace, who are continuously exposed to an onslaught of one-sided liberal thought, and shielded from stories that might conflict with the liberal media narrative.

The leftists will claim that “Faux” News and the WSJ are Republican-leaning outlets, that if bias did exist, it doesn’t make a tangible difference, and besides, all is fair in love and war. But that’s not true. Fox News and The Wall Street Journal go out of their way to host liberals in virtually every discussion on the issues, and are much more balanced than MSNBC (or NBC even) is partisan. Taken together and adding the few boutique conservative magazines (The Weekly Standard, et alia) still pales in comparison to the massive liberal media complex. To quote the great Victor David Hanson:

When you tally together the cultural influence of The NY Times, The Washington Post, NPR, PBS, CBS, ABC, and NBC, and then consider the slant of a USA Today or People magazine, it all adds up. Worse perhaps are the biases of AP, Reuters, Bloomberg News, Google, Yahoo, and the other wire services that feed supposedly neutrally reported news to local affiliates that ensure their prejudices are aired as disinterested information.

I’d say it’s even worse than that; from television shows as innocuous as Good Morning America (co-anchored by former Clinton alum George Stephanopolous), children’s films like The Lorax, or even coverage of a Climate Change fundraiser in your local penny saver, bias is pervasive. And it does matter: the results of this imbalance can be observed in Obama’s re-election on issues of abortion rights amid record unemployment and a workforce that’s smaller than at any time in the last 30 years, and even though Romney wasn’t running on making changes to settled law. It’s safe to say that if George W Bush had presided over 7.9 percent unemployment on election day, the results of his re-election campaign would not have been the same (Unemployment during the 2004 election was only 5.4 percent – Geoge H. W. Bush lost re-election with unemployment at 7.4 percent).

Left-wing media bias exists, is pervasive and has an impact on the way people think about politics and policy. Quoting the great Abraham Lincoln, “Let the people know the facts, and the country will be safe.” Unfortunately, often times the people don’t know the facts due to media bias and the country is in a period of grave danger as a result.

The new Fairness Doctrine would involve a number of common sense regulations for our media to increase diversity and ensure Americans are getting truly balanced facts and news, done in such a way as to not unduly burden private enterprise, or infringe on free speech:

Labeling of News

On both sides of the political sphere, we all know that the line between what’s termed news and what’s termed entertainment has been blurred. Al Sharpton’s show on MSNBC is hardly news, and to be fair, neither is Sean Hannity’s show on Fox. In order for something to be able to live under the banner of news, it would have to meet certain regulatory requirements, such as ensuring that editorial staffing is ideologically balanced between the two major parties, based on their most recent voting record. So if you want to produce a newspaper like The Washington Post, all articles need to be edited by a staff that is split 50/50 between the two major parties, and this would be based on their last major (i.e. presidential) election vote.

Can’t meet that requirement? Then you cannot label your product “News” and must instead label it as “Entertainment.” Same goes for TV. Most newspapers do this now to differentiate advertorial from regular content; this would be a similar type of label shown at the header of an article, or at the beginning of a show.

Partisan Identification and Ranking

For op-eds and various opinion articles both written and in video, partisan ranking of the commentator must be presented at the outset using a standardized scale. Think of this as akin to an ingredient label on food. For example, if I wrote an article for The NY Times, they’d need to include my ranking at the outset of the text, which would indicate my party affiliation and degree of affiliation (I.E. GOP +5). Who would decide what ranking to use? Let the authors themselves choose their own ranking. Anyone who lied about their own political leanings wouldn’t be taken seriously by the public and would likely lose the respect of their colleagues.

Organizational Political Speak

As the Supreme Court found, corporations do have a right to free speech, as do unions and special interest groups like the Sierra Club and the NRA. However, any organization, be it church, union, or company, must disclose its political affiliation, and be required to pay taxes on any money spent or earned when related to political speech. Further, those funds must be attributed to the political party for which they are advocating. All organizations are required to make a history of such activism clearly available to the public. So-called non-partisan think tanks would be included.

None of these ideas slant the playing field in any one direction. They level what is currently a preposterously unlevel playing field today. These don’t curtail free speech in any way. If anything, they enhance free speech, by allowing the consumer of that speech better to understand its context. They don’t require the hiring of additional staff, just that existing staff represent the same diverse views found in our society.

Our framers focus was on ensuring the press was free from government coercion. However, they never expected the press to willingly advocate for a singular ideology. The media has ceased to be a referee of ideas and has turned into a maker of opinions, both obscuring the stories that are damaging to the narratives they favor, and promoting those that are not. If we can regulate every other industry to ensure it plays fair and by the rules, we should be able to ensure information being passed off as news actually meets the definition of fact-based, impartial reporting.

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About The Obnoxious American

  • Baronius

    I’m not interested in solving the riddles of people’s psychology, Clav. I like facts as the basis for a discussion. But when people start claiming that others have secret agendas, it becomes a problem.

    I know that some commenters on this site have said that the rich are different from the rest of us. I don’t know if Igor thinks that, but he may. I’ve never liked that kind of thinking. It’s demonization, and what’s more, it’s not even good demonization. The path to riches can pass through casinos, factories, med schools, Harvard Business School, whatever, and some people are born into it. It doesn’t seem realistic to portray them all the same. It’s demonization of the Other: that accusation that leftist intellectuals always throw around but never think to apply to themselves.

  • Clavos

    Well said, Baronius, particularly the point about HR staff in modern corporations and the laws to which they must adhere.

    Igor’s virulent hatred of corporations has been ongoing for a very long time; quite some time ago I speculated that he must have been unjustly (from his viewpoint at least) fired by some employer in his past, or mistreated in some other way. I’m convinced of it now.

  • Baronius

    Igor – I’m not sure how to respond to that. The first thing that strikes me is your accusation that liberal businessmen are fakers. During our last chat, you accused me of being a fool or a liar. You should understand that accusations of hidden motives (a) are clearly unprovable, and (b) never persuade anyone.

    Secondly, if you’ve ever dealt with an HR department, you know that they are bound by very specific laws. They don’t respond to pressure from above, or from anywhere. They’re typically the most hated people in the company – even the IT guys are more popular, and nobody likes them at all. And even if companies were engaging in a massive hiring coverup, they’re still hiring from the J-schools, so they wouldn’t be getting many right-wingers.

    On top of that, we can look at the facts. Ob noted the percentages of liberals in the media. Every study I’ve seen shows the same pattern. So your theory depends on illegal, inexplicable, and ineffective behavior.

  • Igor

    Public STOCK ownership is not public ownership.

    Some owners may have a pose as liberals, but when it concerns business they are rightist. First allegiance goes to The Corp and the Business Community it stands for. “Liberal” sounding owners are plumping for government contracts, an increasing part of their revenue streams.

    The interests of the ownership determine hiring, and the HR dept. and all the hiring authorities and managers know exactly what those interests are.

  • Baronius

    “TV and radio are slanted right because their ownership is rightist,”

    Not true. Ownership varies a lot. A lot of the biggies are publicly-traded companies. Viacom’s Sumner Redstone is a liberal; Clear Channel is owned by Bain Capital. There’s a variety.

    “and the ownership decides who is hired”

    Not true. Only in small companies does the boss have any say about who gets hired. Maybe some of the top staff, but the day-to-day reporting gets done by people who’ve never met the boss.

    “and what editorial policies are to be aired.”

    Not true. Anyway, this article is about bias, which isn’t a matter of editorial policy.

  • Igor

    The only way to assure broadcasting fairness is to make the Board Of Directors fair, which would require putting on directors from the employees and from the general public.

  • Igor

    TV and radio are slanted right because their ownership is rightist, and the ownership decides who is hired and what editorial policies are to be aired.

  • Baronius

    I don’t see how you can call half the names on that list “journalists”, at least in the modern sense of reporters. They’re commentators. Same thing on the left side – I mean, come on, Maureen Dowd isn’t a reporter by any means. She doesn’t cover stories. She writes about what she feels like writing about.

    The thing is, you pointed out the important distinction between fact-reporting and opinion in your article. At least, I assume that’s what you meant with news versus entertainment. Maybe I didn’t understand. Anyway, if you wanted to propose a sharper delineation between news and opinion, I think it’d be great – although a lot of the bias stuff would still slip through.

  • Igor

    I don’t get cable because I refuse to pay monthly fees to have hourly commercials delivered, especially now that commercials consume 40% of the TV hour.

  • Doug Hunter

    This site has become amateur hour as of late, obvious that Technorati doesn’t give a damn about it.

  • The Obnoxious American

    And can I say? These technorati technical issues are a HUGE pain in the ass – about 75% of the time I access this article or try to comment on it, I get page not found. Can someone please fix this?

  • The Obnoxious American


    I’m really sorry to hear that you’re so upset that you have no meaningful comeback to this article and comments and must resort to invective. After all, I’ve read your comment several times and all it seems to contain is vague anger.

    In terms of my comments, I was merely responding to the baseless claims that Glenn Beck is the only example of right wing journalism from the partisan hacks that frequent these discussions. If it makes you feel better, I’ll stop cleaning your clocks for you.

    And let me add, you say Baronius feels this is off base, well if that is how he feels he is welcome to his opinion. However, Baronius isn’t the arbiter of what’s off-base, nor is he even the arbiter of conservatism. I’ll remind you that the Fairness doctrine was something that your party was pushing just a few years ago, so it’s laughable to come back and suggest it’s off base merely because a conservative proposes the same.


    I’m suspecting you didn’t read the article. Therein lies several common sense reforms that are certainly workable, and do not rely on ANYONE to administer fairness.

  • Dean Fleitman

    The fairness doctrine is an unworkable idea, too dependent on those go administer it’s idea of fairness.

  • Zingzing

    Does it not bother you that you are being completely slanted? You’ll point to “fairness” on the right, but won’t even look to see if there’s any on the left. Your accusation against “all fox news critics” when shown to be at least doubtful, if not flat out wrong, is met with vague, blanket accusations against the more left parts of the media, with little evidence to back it up.

    If you can’t see that, it’s not hard to figure out why you can’t see it in the rest of the media that agrees with you. This article is incredibly ironic. So is your response to the criticism it has received. YOU are exactly what you complain about. Or a parody. One of the two. Baronius seems to be the only right winger willing to touch this and he seems to think you’re pretty far off base as well.

  • The Obnoxious American


    Not sure what the purpose of your first point is. As I evidenced, there are quite obviously plenty of conservative journalists who are great at what they do (and this was just off the top of my head, there are many more not listed). The claims were made here by yourself and others about conservative journalism is so easily refuted and wrong headed – basically suggesting that not only do you disagree with our ideas but we’re not even smart enough to deserve to have them. Is that part of the new culture of civility?

    I didn’t respond to some of your criticisms because some of your criticisms regarding the ranking might be valid. I won’t quibble over the details of what the new fairness doctrine would contain, so long as it helps achieve a more diverse discussion of the issues. I’m not afraid of the unvarnished truth coming out, and people having an honest discussion about the way forward. Right now, that’s not happening.

    Lastly, going back to my first point, your claims to be familiar with Fox’s output even though you admit that you do not watch it is just plain funny to watch. Those of us that do watch Fox know how totally wrong you are. Not sure what you want me to respond with, it’s just more ignorant fact free opinionating that I’m getting used to hearing around here.

  • Dear me, Obnox. That’s some list. Perhaps there are Republican journalists after all. Such a shame that the biased MSM never publishes any of their stuff…

    You responded only to the points you thought were easy to knock down. No comment on my reason for thinking an up-front ratings system for journalists is a bad idea, nothing to refute my argument for why I am familiar with Fox’s output despite not being a frequent viewer, nothing in response to my citation showing that liberals do indeed watch Fox, nothing on my challenge to rewrite a routine stock market report to make it less biased, if biased it is.

    And I think the reason for this is that these assertions don’t make any sense to you. You’re confusing, as has so often been your wont lately, your opinion with the facts.

  • The Obnoxious American

    I read and responded. Specifically to your comments on Beck, Hannity and Coulter (see post #27). And yet you go right on in post 34, and make the same statement. Who is not reading whose comments?

    Here are some great Republican journalists:

    Brett Baier
    Kim Strassel
    Mark Steyn
    Matt Drudge
    James Taranto
    George Will
    Neil Cavuto
    Megan Kelly
    Jake Tapper
    Peggy Noonan

    I could go on and on, we have GREAT journalists, and they operate on a much higher level of integrity than anything known in whatever outlet you might consider to be respectable (I truly can’t think of one).

  • Dr Dreadful

    Every single critic of Fox posting here has proven that they do not watch Fox, have no idea what’s on it, and have been told what to think by Fox’s competitors.

    I think the above demonstrates, on the contrary, Obnox, that you did not read my comments, have no idea what’s in them, and have been told what to think by Fox.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Beck, Hannity, Coulter, etc. aren’t journalists, lousy or otherwise. Definitely not Coulter.

    Precisely. They are what the Right, with a few exceptions, has to offer as a facsimile of journalism.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Dread, I think you’re creating a straw man about journalists not covering stories – and Ob is letting you.

    That would be the other way round, then. The straw man was Obnox’s.

  • tr oll

    indeed after some meditation I wonder whether the blessed sages or Mr Murdoch better understand the meaning of: ‘as it is written so it shall be done’

  • troll

    he has more journalistic integrity and fairness than the editorial staff of the NY Times, LA Times, Wash Po, NBC, CBS and ABC combined.

    god willing he will own all these outlets soon and will be in a position to raise their levels of journalistic integrity to his standards

  • The Obnoxious American

    I think way too much is made of Murdoch. People who actually consume media from his outlets know the truth, he has more journalistic integrity and fairness than the editorial staff of the NY Times, LA Times, Wash Po, NBC, CBS and ABC combined. Every single critic of Fox posting here has proven that they do not watch Fox, have no idea what’s on it, and have been told what to think by Fox’s competitors. Can we say BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH?

    I watch MSNBC. I frequent the sunday talk shows. I read Maureen Dowd (because she has a certain schoolmarm allure, not because I ever agree with her dimwitted and simple minded columns). E.J. Dionne, Eugene Robinson, Joe Conason, etc etc and so on – I read them all. Each time I click on one of their articles, I’m hoping that they will make a reasoned case that will sway me. Each time, my hopes are dashed and instead I’m told that my views are racist, or some other such nonsense.

    I dare any of you who profess to hate Fox News, to watch it religiously for 1 week, from the 1pm slot all the way till the 10pm slot with Greta. And then come back and tell me how unfair and unbalanced they are.

  • troll

    …personally as in most things I blame the Brits

    had Murdoch not been distracted by their leftist harassment he might have been on point and timely with his restructuring of the US MSM and then these travesties would have been widely aired on more stations than fox and npr

    not that it matters…he’ll likely get his targeted newspapers in any case

  • The Obnoxious American


    I agree completely with your comment. Wish we had “likes” here.

    I will say, when I use the term media blackout, you’re right, it may get some limited coverage, but when compared to an Abu Ghraib (or in the case of F&F or Benghazi, I think the AG scandal and Valerie Plame incidents are better comparisons), there is a clear agenda. Let’s not quibble over the difference between 0 vs some vs typical coverage given during a GOP admin.

  • The Obnoxious American


    First, Beck and Coulter are not journalists, and do not claim to be so. Beck’s website has a moniker: “The fusion of entertainment and enlightenment.” Coulter is an author of books, and a former NY Lawyer. In the article, I specifically use Hannity as an example of what should be termed “Entertainment” versus news. So your point is, in fact, pointless.

    There are still Woodward and Bernsteins, in fact, Bob Woodward wrote a very critical book about the Obama administration, that the media largely ignored. Had the book been about Bush, they’d still be talking about it.

    In terms of what happened when Fox helped expose these stories? Well prior to their reporting, there was no action within our government to get to the bottom of it. On F&F, the MSM had a virtual blackout of the story, except to carry the occassional comment that the whole scandal was invented, probably because of racism. On Benghazi, the same, the media was especially incurious, though they were quick to find fault with Romney for noticing what happened.

    Had all of the media treated these real scandals and abuses of power as the real story that Fox knew it to be, perhaps the election would have rolled differently. But that’s the point isn’t it.

  • Baronius

    Dread, I think you’re creating a straw man about journalists not covering stories – and Ob is letting you. There are very few stories that get 0 coverage across the board, but stories may be under- or over-reported. Deciding which is which is a judgement call, but it can be informed by similar examples. I think that a comparison between the Abu Ghraib coverage and the Benghazi coverage would suggest an agenda at play.

    Beck, Hannity, Coulter, etc. aren’t journalists, lousy or otherwise. Definitely not Coulter.

    No Woodwards and Bernsteins? A lot of new media types would disagree with you. But mainstream reporters have gotten a lot lazier, and politicians are tougher to shame.

  • Dr Dreadful

    The Dow went up yesterday because… insert your leftist talking point here.

    Well, then, let’s try an exercise. Here’s the NYT’s latest stock market report. I don’t see anything in the way of bias, but perhaps it’s just too subtle. How might you rewrite this piece to make it less “liberal”?

  • Dr Dreadful

    First, you’re making a completely non-factual statement when you complain about the so-called “piss-poor” job of conservative journalists.

    You are correct. It is nothing more than my opinion that the likes of Beck, Hannity, Coulter etc are obnoxious hacks with as much talent for real journalism as a marmot with advanced Alzheimer’s.

    Did it ever occur to you that conservative journalists never get a shot at the big shops, which are controlled from the editorial board on down, by extreme leftists?

    Did it occur to you that this is also a completely non-factual statement?

    Your ilk owns the mainstream media completely, and they’ve done a terrible, piss poor job.

    They are not my “ilk”, and I agree with you that by and large the quality of output of the US mainstream media is utterly abysmal, which is why I don’t spend all that much time looking at it. I was raised on the BBC and the UK print media, which is (or used to be before Murdoch took over most of it and dumbed it down) highly adept at getting the public pissed off at the transgressions of their leaders. Here, politicians routinely get a pass on just about everything they do, unless what they did involved their reproductive organs, in which case it’s primetime fodder for weeks.

    There are no more Woodwards and Bernsteins. When was the last time a pol resigned or withdrew a candidacy over anything other than the waving about of willies and boobs?

    So, if the Fourth Estate is not doing its job…

    Fox helped expose both fast and furious, as well as Benghazi

    Exactly. And where did they get the story?

  • The Obnoxious American

    Doc, again not true – articles on the movement of the Dow are common targets for liberal talking points. The Dow went up yesterday because… insert your leftist talking point here.

  • The Obnoxious American

    First, you’re making a completely non-factual statement when you complain about the so-called “piss-poor” job of conservative journalists. Did it ever occur to you that conservative journalists never get a shot at the big shops, which are controlled from the editorial board on down, by extreme leftists?

    It’s the left that’s done a piss-poor job – they are biased, and they’ve let their bias infect their product. The Columbia School of Journalism, the supposed arbiter of what’s considered quality journalism, has virtually nothing to say on the matter. Your ilk owns the mainstream media completely, and they’ve done a terrible, piss poor job.

    And btw, Baronius’ last comment is 100% right – the problem starts in j-school, which creates a hostile environment for anyone who doesn’t tow the liberal line.

    “One final question: If some stories aren’t getting told, how do we know about them?”

    Well, Fox helped expose both fast and furious, as well as Benghazi – two real scandals, with actual dead Americans as a result (as opposed to say what happened with the Bush era AG scandal or the Valerie Plame scandal that the left was eager to investigate). And on these two scandals, the MSM is way behind the curve.

  • Dr Dreadful

    But the people who make the editorial decisions to run or not run the big stories aren’t the J-school drones.

    You’d be hard-pressed to find liberal bias in, say, a few routine column inches about what the Dow did yesterday.

  • Baronius

    Dread, I’m not going to speak for Ob, but I don’t think the problem is on the editorial page. It’s not the big, obvious rants of a Chris Matthews. It’s the constant drip, drip, drip of stories written by identical J-school graduates who don’t think of questioning their assumptions. Journalists may have their suspicions about the beliefs of their companies’ owners (and not every owner is the same) but it doesn’t affect their day-to-day work any more than the positions of the op-ed writers.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Obnox, as I said, I doubt the product has changed that much, whether they’ve switched around a few of their presenters or not. I’ve seen enough of it (for example, my father-in-law rarely watches anything but Fox when he’s not glued to Storage Wars and the History Channel) to come to my own judgement about that. Of course, I could be wrong: in your opinion, has the editorial bent of Fox changed significantly in the last few years? If not, how can my assessment be invalid?

    I’ve given my reasons why I’m sceptical of your proposal. I’m prepared to accept that there is a leftist bias in the US media, purely because of who most journalists are and the fact that they’re human. But extreme? Uh-uh. Liberal journalists are far more likely to pull their punches than conservative ones are: just read a random sampling of op-eds from both sides if you don’t believe me. Editorial slants notwithstanding, journos know that the people who write their paychecks more often than not aren’t liberal, and that there’s only a certain degree of jugular-ripping they’ll tolerate. So there’s a degree of built-in balance right there.

    Again, IMO, the answer isn’t some kind of “fairness doctrine”, but encouraging more conservatives to go into journalism. The ones that are there now do a piss-poor job of representing: for every PJ O’Rourke there are 10 Sean Hannitys.

    One final question: If some stories aren’t getting told, how do we know about them?

  • The Obnoxious American

    So basically, your response is you watched it at the gym in the past and based on that you’re able to judge, even though you have no idea who shepard smith is (liberal host of 2 daily slots for the last several years). Way to speak out of a deep knowledge on the issue.

    Look, if you want to complain about fox, watch it first. Otherwise, you’re banging on about something you’ve no idea about. Illusion of being balanced. Hahaahahaha..

    In either case, this article isn’t about Fox. The proposal I’m putting forth would include Fox in any case. I’m comfortable with that. There is a well documented and extreme leftist bias in our media currently, where stories don’t even get told. We regulate all manner of American industry, all less important in function than our news. It’s time to restore balance and fairness to what is referred to as “The News.”

  • Fox is often more balanced than many of the other media outlets out there.

    No, Obnox, it gives the illusion of balance. I admit it is a pretty good illusion, as it must be if it fools you.

    It’s a favorite target of the left, but they don’t watch it.

    Oh yes they do.

    Doc’s characterization of Fox is so obviously off base that it’s evident he never puts it on.

    Not if I can help it. I rarely watch MSNBC either. I prefer media like this one, where instead of impotently screaming at my TV screen I can actually add my own input and people will respond.

    However, as I related in one of my own old articles, the owner of the gym I used to frequent before I relocated used to have Fox News on 24/7. I’m very familiar with the product and don’t imagine it’s changed much in the intervening years.

    Is Shep Smith (4pm and 7pm slots) conservative? No.

    I’m not familiar with Shepard Smith since he’s had his own show: when I used to be forced to watch Fox News he was one of their “pretty face” field reporters, which is generally Fox code for someone they don’t want their viewers to take too seriously. I am aware that among his liberal firebranding highlights is a lukewarm refutation of birtherism, three or four years after everyone else decided it was bollocks. (Oh, and he apparently thinks Billy Graham is dead.)

    Is Greta Van Sustren a hardcore conservative? Hardly.

    I didn’t say I thought she was. I said she was a self-declared liberal who never says or does liberal things on Fox News. That is part of the illusion of “fair and balanced” that the network projects.

    Who is MSNBC running during those slots? No one on the fox network is nearly as partisan as, say a Kieth Olbermann, or a Paul Krugman.

    MSNBC does not, as far as I know, advertise itself as a balanced network. It’s positioned itself pretty much as the anti-Fox, and I don’t think anyone pretends it’s anything different.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Bill O’Reilly agrees with Obama that taxes should go up on higher income earners. O’Reilly refused to endorse Mitt Romney, and openly mocked him for not appearing on the Factor.

    Bill O’Reilly is a conservative, no question about it. But he’s not even close to extreme in his views. He’d be best described as center-right. Put him up against loony leftwing extremist Ed Shultz in MSNBC’s same time slot. Or Lawrence O’Donnel, who was in that slot before.

    Ever watch Brett Baier’s Special Report? He’s extremely impartial, and his nightly panel always includes notable liberals who are given plenty of time to state their view, and they do.

  • Baronius

    Ob, when you say “Fox News”, most people don’t think of Shepard Smith and Chris Wallace. They think of Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly.

    I remember that the National Enquirer always used to win awards for health reporting. And they did solid, factual reporting on health issues. But it didn’t help their reputation any, and that wasn’t why anyone read it.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Oh, and before anyone pipes up with, “Well Olbermann was gone long ago” – i know – it was an example. The Ed Show is more partisan, Maddow, Al (chuckle) Sharpton, and so on. That’s just MSNBC, you got extreme liberals who are constantly distorting the facts or simply not reporting them at the NY Times, Wapo (home to Ezra (journolist) Klein), LA Times, etc etc ad nauseum. And don’t get me started on the clear bias of the so-called “fact check” sites out there.

  • The Obnoxious American

    I consume media of all kinds and Fox is often more balanced than many of the other media outlets out there. It’s a favorite target of the left, but they don’t watch it. Doc’s characterization of Fox is so obviously off base that it’s evident he never puts it on. Is Shep Smith (4pm and 7pm slots) conservative? No. Is Greta Van Sustren a hardcore conservative? Hardly. Who is MSNBC running during those slots? No one on the fox network is nearly as partisan as, say a Kieth Olbermann, or a Paul Krugman.

    Further, Tommy’s comment is completely fact free, and I’d challenge him to try to back it up. He won’t obviously, because he cannot. But it might be fun to watch him try.

  • Dr Dreadful

    What do you mean by “same”, Baronius?


  • Baronius

    Again, Dread, we’re saying the same thing.

  • Baronius

    Tommy – You may not realize this, but it’s a commonly-held position among conservatives that they’re the true successors of the Western liberal tradition. I hate to bring that up, because it usually devolves into a “what do you mean by a particular word” thing.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Context? OK, here’s a rewording.

    Baronius: Balanced? Kind of.
    Me: Balanced? No, not at all.

  • “Our framers,” as you put it, never expected the Internet. Nor can it be successfully argued that they were conservatives. The idea of a free press is a liberal idea to begin with. As to fair, that depends upon one’s judgement. It is a cultural misfortune that so many conservatives are all about fairness when they disagree with the truth.


  • Baronius

    Dread – context! I said, “Balanced, kind of. Fair? No, not at all.” See what I did there? I said the same thing you did, but wittier.

  • Baronius

    Slate.com did a telling article, “Slate Votes”, in which all their staff announced their presidential choices.

    Obama: 31
    Romney: 2
    Gary Johnson: 2
    Jill Stein: 1
    No one: 1

    Their publisher, who’s been there less than two months, was one of the Romney votes. Their Account Manager was one of the Johnson votes.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Yes, FNC is more likely than any other network to have representation of left and right on an issue or a show. Balanced, kind of.

    No, not at all. Fox News shows often feature no left-wing voices at all. And when they do, great care is taken to ensure that the “liberals” are as lukewarm, demented or incompetent as possible. So, yes, Fox does have liberals on, but they are rarely the Bill Clintons and Rachel Maddows of this world. They are far more likely to be either (a) people who self-identify as liberal but say and do no liberal things whatsoever, e.g. Greta van Susteren; or (b) idiots like Al Sharpton or Geraldo Rivera, who are booked precisely because there is a much better than even chance that they will make fools of themselves on the air.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Yes, Baronius, that too. Both, really.

  • Baronius

    Dread, I think you mean confirmation bias.

  • Baronius

    To be perfectly honest, Fox News has done more damage to the right than any other media institution. It may have won a few converts, but it presents a caricature of conservative thought.

    Worse – far worse – it presents a caricature of the conservative critique of the media. The original slogan, and I think the original intent, was “we report, you decide”. That’s a legitimate critique of the mainstream media, and it’s a potentially good business plan for a network. What it became was junk news, the kind of blurring of news and editorial that this article fairly criticizes. Yes, FNC is more likely than any other network to have representation of left and right on an issue or a show. Balanced, kind of. Fair? No, not at all. FNC does rightward spin, across the board.

    So I’m John Q. Public. I’m innoculated to the network news after years of exposure. (More accurately, I’m infected.) I see Fox News as lunatics. They’re trying to tell me that the stuff I’ve listened to all my life is biased, but what they’re claiming as neutral is practically Tea Party press releases. I see MSNBC and they’re doing the exact same thing on the other side. Am I going to be persuaded that the mainstream media are biased? No. I’m going to declare Democrats and Republicans to both be stupid, register as an independent, and continue to watch “The ABC Neutral News with George Stephanopoulos”.

  • Dr Dreadful

    I see an obvious issue with your proposal for the political leanings of journalists to be published at the head of their articles, and that’s selection bias.

    Blogcritics is something of an exception, but in general people tend to read and watch only political opinions they agree with. If Leonie Liberal opens her newspaper, and sees at the top of an article that its author has a +5 Republican rating, she’s most likely not going to read it. If one of the objects of political writing is to change hearts and minds, such a system would hobble journalists before they ever put pen to paper.

    I’m fine with the notion that media outlets should seek political balance among their editorial and writing staff, and some – mostly online – do a pretty good job of it. But as you observed, most journalists are liberal, which makes that goal very hard to achieve even if the newspaper, TV channel, website or what have you actually wants to. You need to encourage more conservatives to choose it as a career. And, especially, competent ones, because frankly a lot of right-wingers currently in journalism are absolutely crap at it.