Monday, October 18, 2010

Do You Think Fox News Is Biased?

If so, Neal Boortz would like to hear from you!
I offered up this challenge last year ... with no legitimate takers. Let's do it again. Watch Fox News and then tell me just where you find an instance of conservative bias in a Fox newscast. I'm not talking about opinion shows here ... Not Hannity, not Beck, not O'Reilly. We're talking newscasts. Go ahead! Find the bias! Call the show and tell us what you've found, or just send us an email! The last time we tried this, as I said, no valid examples were offered. So now we're just five weeks from the most important election in our lives ... so get out there and find that bias! I'll even publish some of your examples here on the Nuze ... with my explanation of why you're wrong, of course.
That's right, the "news" part of Fox News isn't biased at all. It's a point conservative pundits love to make. And as one of the few such pundits whose Fox News appearances are merely occasional, rather than frequent (or regularly-scheduled), Boortz is among the most qualified to make the argument.

Anyway, back to the challenge.[1] I have neither the time nor the fortitude (nor the requisite cable subscription) to sit around watching Fox News, but, thankfully, purported examples of its bias constitute, like, 7% of the Internet's non-porn content. So let's see what's out there. I'll even save Boortz the trouble of explaining why I'm wrong—I can handle that part myself.
During [a segment about a Tea Party rally], both Fox News and [organizer Felicia] Cravens said that the event was nonpartisan. While [Bill] Hemmer spoke, Fox News aired protest footage referencing Obama.
Well, what else are they going to show? It's not like there's a whole lot of pro-Obama sentiment at these rallies. Besides, when Americans come together in such large numbers to make their voices heard—regardless of the cause—it's an event worthy of coverage.
Jon Stewart skewered Fox News last night for covering every tea party protest in America (no matter how small) but not sending a reporter, or even a camera crew, to cover Sunday's gay rights march which included more than 75,000 protesters.
Ok, so some events get more coverage than others, but hey, there's a lot of news out there—nobody ever said Fox isn't allowed to prioritize. Still, can prioritization itself be a reflection of a network's bias? Probably, but I don't see how we can say for sure that Fox News—not CNN or MSNBC—is the one that has it wrong.[2]
During the June 6 edition of Fox News' America's Pulse, host E.D. Hill teased an upcoming discussion by saying, "A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab? The gesture everyone seems to interpret differently."
Eh…I don't think bias is the right word here. Crazy, bizarre, and inexplicable all seem more appropriate, as does a silent, open-mouthed expression of bewilderment. Maybe it was a case of latent bias bubbling to the surface, but there's no way "terrorist fist jab" was the product of even a millisecond of forethought. Also, Hill apologized, which everyone remembers just as vividly as the original comment, right?
[D]uring the May 6 edition of Fox News's America's Newsroom, Fox News ran on-screen text that read, "House Dems vote to protect pedophiles, but not veterans."
Hemmer teased the segment by saying Democrats had reportedly "voted to give special protection to pedophiles."
Ok, that sounds bad, but, in Fox's defense, they were reporting on the Liberals Hate America, Children, And War Heroes Act of 2009.[3]

Ha ha, just kidding—I'm pretty sure this one is a legitimate example of bias. All the elements are here: Essentially truthful information, presented in a misleading way,[4] for the purpose of reinforcing negative (and, dare I say, unfounded) stereotypes about liberals.[5] That's bias, right? What other explanation is there?

Ultimately, I don't see how any of this matters all that much, because of course Fox News is biased, and so are CNN and MSNBC. Those who argue otherwise typically insist that their preferred network is the only one offering an accurate portrayal of reality, which is an argument that, in and of itself, indicates a basic inability to comprehend reality. But all the bickering distracts from a much more troubling slant: Regardless of political differences, the news media is uniformly biased toward laziness, sensationalism, and over-simplification.

1. Which has been on the table for at least six years now, and remains to this day in a virginal state of un-met-ness.
2. William of Ockham, a Franciscan friar from fourteenth-century England, would surely argue that they all have their priorities wrong.
3. I tried to create one of those clever acronyms Congress is so fond of, but it seems acronym-creation is among my lesser talents. Any suggestions?
4. See, it was a hate crimes bill, which the Democrats were all set to pass when Republican Steve King added an amendment to exclude pedophilia from the bill's definition of sexual orientation. The amendment was pointless, as federal law already excludes pedophilia from any form of legal protection based on sexual orientation, so the Democrats, either unaware or unconcerned that King was most likely engaged in a Simpsons-esque ploy to force them to "vote to protect pedophiles," shot it down.
    As for the part about not voting to protect veterans—that's technically true, but it's not like they voted to not protect veterans, as Fox implies. There was never a vote on whether to add veterans to the bill at all. So, yeah, they didn't vote to protect veterans, and they also didn't vote to protect elephants, Neptune, or the Oakland Raiders.
5. Liberals would rather protect pedophiles than veterans? No, of course not. That's ridiculous. But liberals are, perhaps, more inclined to seek to understand pedophilia so that it can be dealt with more effectively (and maybe even overcome), whereas conservatives seem content to broadly ostracize pedophiles from society, in the simplistic and misguided hope that they'll either go away or just stop being pedophiles.
    (And, because sometimes the ultra-liberal viewpoint happens to be the correct one, it should be noted that merely being a pedophile is not a crime—pedophiles are just as deserving as anyone else of equal protection under the law. In return, they have to exercise enough responsibility to avoid breaking the law or hurting anyone. It's the same standard to which we hold alcoholics, politicians, stock brokers, and, well, everyone. But we're not ready to have that conversation. It's depressing to think about how far we have to come before we can have that conversation.)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. eh, i wanted to edit my post, but apparently that's not allowed or requires some level of effort i'm not prepared to give.