Monday, April 13, 2009

Fair and balanced?

There are some media watchdog organizations who are taking exception to Fox News and its role in these nationwide protest Tea Parties. And it does seem a conflict of interest especially if the lines get fuzzy between political commentary and general news coverage, which is supposed to be objective.

At Fox News, there seems to be an unfortunate blending of the two. And it makes their slogan of "Fair and Balanced" and "We Report, You Decide" ring hollow.

Karl Frisch is a Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America (, a progressive media watchdog, research, and information center based in Washington, D.C. He doesn't like what he sees.

Said Frisch, "Talk to any political organizer and they'll tell you the hardest part about pulling off a successful protest rally is building a big enough crowd for the press to show up and cover the festivities. As tax day approaches, conservatives planning anti-Obama 'tea party' demonstrations across the country have found a way around this once-daunting organizer's dilemma: Fox News.

"Despite repeatedly claiming its coverage is 'fair and balanced,' despite its attacks on anyone who dares claim or imply the cable outlet tilts to the right, despite encouraging viewers to 'say no to biased media,' Fox News has frequently aired segments imploring its audience to get involved with tea-party protests across the country -- protests the 'news' network has described as mainly a response to President Obama's economic policies."

Frisch said the national tea party protests have no bigger cheerleader than Fox News, which he says has provided attendance and organizing information for the events on air and online dozens of times.

Fox has offered viewers and readers such vital organizing information as protest dates and locations and addresses of websites where people can learn more. It has even posted information and publicity material for the events on its own website. Tea-party planners are now using the planned attendance of Fox News hosts to promote their protests and listing Fox News contributors as "Tea Party Sponsor[s]" on their website.

Fox political commentators Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Neil Cavuto and Greta Van Susteren are all scheduled to broadcast live from tea parties in different cities across the country, and they've used air time to boost attendance for Wednesday's events.

On his Fox program, Hannity has told his viewers, "And don't forget, you can log on to our website to get all the details one week from tomorrow, our special, 'Tax Day Tea Party' show. You can attend. It's live. It's in Atlanta."

Cavuto struck the same note, telling his audience, "By the way, this tea party movement that's going against largesse, it is growing. And folks are fed up with out-of-control spending."

Beck, encouraged viewers to come "celebrate with Fox News" at any of the four "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties."

News outlets should cover political protests, especially if they're significant. And columnists/political commentators who are paid to take a point of view logically should in this case as Hannity, Beck, and Cavuto others have.

But to use its website to promote the tea parties, to have its name attached to four of them, to give the impression that the news organization is not just providing information to the public, but supporting them is an ethical embarrassment.

Conservatives can lash into CNN all they want, but CNN would never blur the lines like this.


t jones said...

john mark, i'm disappointed in you.

is your criticism of journalistic activism limited to right-leaning organizations? is the ASSOCIATED PRESS not qualified for your righteous chastisment? the AP is a well known leftist propaganda outlet, of which you are a contributing member.

when compared to the AP, any alternative will appear to be a polarizing step toward the right.

this condemnation is laughable. the masses have become dissatisfied with our leftist news agencies. just take a look at newspaper subscription rates around the country. then take a look at fox news' outstanding ratings. you decide.

EricStevens said...

Yes, look at Fox News ratings skyrocket- then, mourn for the poor Americans disillusioned enough to take what they say to heart.

Fox "News" is full of liars, Bill O'Reilly, especially.

I mean, really, you can sum up his "News" show like this:
"Now, for a fair and balanced report on Barack Obama:
He sucks"

I mean, having a news station that has a certain bias is fine-- as long as we know about it.
We all know that Rush is Conservative.
But, to CLAIM that you're fair and balanced, and to lean so much to the right is a lie and a real travesty in media.

myownview said...

jon mark...i'm disappointed in you as well.

all ideas start with one person...maybe the person who came up with this idea was a fox news employee or fan. who really cares where it started. but for the protest rallies to have been significant at all, a news outlet really needed to be involved to get the word out. if i were you, as a reporter, i would be much more disappointed in how little attention cnn and msnbc reported on the rallies. one cnn reporter specifically should be embarrassed with the way she behaved...she asked protesters questions but would then cut them off when they were replying. is that the way you feel reporters get their stories?

i think everyone who watches fox news is fully aware that there are more republican views on the network. my question is are you aware that your beloved cnn and msnbc are airing their democratic views? that is why there is more than 1 national news channel, so that all the views can be explored.

based on the views you presented in your blog, you believe that a good reporter will report both sides - right? maybe you should try covering both sides of a story before posting your clearly biased comments on a blog. now we all know where you lie.

Blogger said...

"Conservatives can lash into CNN all they want, but CNN would never blur the lines like this." - John Mark Beilue, April 13, 2009hahahahahahahaha.... sorry, I fell out of my chair.No, Jon, CNN never blurs lines or is biased. Never. Where's that kool-aid again?

So, essentially, your thesis in this entry is that Fox News publicized an event too much...or are you saying that Fox News was behind the event?

If your point is the latter, you should do your homework and do a better job of forming an opinion before publishing said opinion., the main site that has been instrumental in this effort is registered to Eric Jodom of Reno, Nevada. That doesn't sound like Fox News or any of its media conglomerate parents.

If you're criticizing the amount of coverage of this event on Fox News, you're crazy. Any sane, logical person can clearly see that out of the cacophony of all news outlets, Fox News stands alone in representing a large segment of America.

There is a striking parallel to your supposition of a News cabal. Does anyone remember Where did I hear of that website? Who publicized it so much that even my computer illiterate grandmother knows it? Oh yeah, it was your blessed CNN and its buddies MSNBC, HLN, et al.

You criticize Fox News for using the catchphrase "fair and balanced." Fox News is fair and balanced. Your senses are being blunted by your over consumption of the products produced by the media powerhouses that have become the machine behind the Democratic Party. When you wear rose colored glasses, everything looks funny when you take them off.

Finally, I hope your post was an attempt to garner more traffic on your blog. Whether your post was genuine or not, I guess its a good cover. If the current administration is able to continue pushing this country towards a populist state, maybe our new overlords will be kind to you.

PS - I hope this post is approved by your moderator. I would hate to think that you'd censor someone's honest opinion. You'd never do that, right?

John Galt