One of the big stories lately, at least in my mind, is the Administration’s attack on Fox News. This sort of attack isn’t new of course, as all of my friends on the left have long dismissed Fox News as anything but legitimate. It’s no secret that I’m a Fox watcher and don’t totally agree with their assessment.
Their criticism usually centers around the idea that Fox is a “Right Wing” Network, and is completely biased to the right. I think that oversimplifies things, and dismisses what Fox really is. Anyone that denies that the programming on Fox leans to the right would be insane. It is clear that Fox is the network to watch to find right commentary (I use right in the political sense, not the factual sense). To say that Fox News isn’t a news network is not correct, however. If you are one of those that disagrees with that statement, I simply ask you this: is MSNBC a news network? Is it more of a News Network than FoxNews?
I asked myself that question this morning. I attempted to look at the two networks with a blind eye (which is hard to do, but I think I did it). I’ve concluded that the two are a result of each other, and are the Yin and the Yang of Cable News. I attempted to analyze CNN too, but found that of all the networks, they were the most “News” Centric, and ultimately left them out of my comparison (which makes sense, and good for them — though once I took my “Neutral blinders” off, I still think CNN leans left). CNN does have commentary shows, and they do lean to the left, but compared to the other networks, this amount of programming is pretty minor.
So, being the geek that I am, I created a spreadsheet comparing the 24 hour programming cycle of MSNBC and FoxNews. I put the programming into categories:
- (N) – News/Fluff – These are strict news shows, or semi-news/fluff shows. Fox and Friends fits the News and Fluff while Special Report with Bret Baier is strict News. (Need the MSNBC Equivelents? Morning Meeting is News and Fluff and MSNBC News Live is strict News.
- (R) – This is a show that is hard right or leans Right. In my list i separated that into (MR) too, as Morning Joe on MSNBC is definitely right leaning, but has more of a moderate tone sometimes.
- (L) – This is a show that is hard left or leans left. I debated whether Chris Mathews was (L) or just (ML), and eventually gave him the (ML) rating.
Further, I noted that even the news shows could have a lean to them. On Fox it’s fair to say that almost every news show has a bit of a right lean, at least in comparison to any other news network (It’s my belief that the other networks lean so far left that even fair reporting looks “right”, but that’s probably my idealogy, so for the sake of this “study” I’ve accepted that Fox has a bit of a right lean in their regular News). I also accept that the MSNBC leans left in most of it’s news reporting. Whether or not those two lean each way equally is open for debate.
Both networks repeat their opinion shows multiple times. I did not clarify the number of shows in my study, but rather the hours of programming.
So here are my results, feel free to look through your programming guide and compare with me. In the 24 hours news cycle:
- Fox News has 16 hours of News Shows
- Fox News has 8 hours of Commentary Shows that are to the Right
- MSNBC has 8 hours of News Shows
- MSNBC has 3 hours of Commentary Shows that are to the Right
- MSNBC has 13 hours of Commentary Shows that are to the Left
- Fox has *one* business show (which leans right), while MSNBC has one Medical show (Which i’ve noted neutral)
Based on this I think the following conclusions are legitimate:
- Both Networks have a strict Political Lean
- Fox has more “News” programs
- MSNBC attempts to look more moderate and Balanced, and indeed does carry a commentary show that counters all of their others. Fox lost their only “balanced” program when Colmes Left and Hannity and Colmes became just “Hannity”.
In case your curious and don’t want to do the analysis yourself, here are the shows and my classifications
- Fox and Friends (N/F) (3 hours)
- Americas NewsRoom (N) (2 hours)
- Happening Now (N) (2 hours)
- The Live Desk (N) (2 hours)
- Studio B With Shepard Smith (N) (1 hour)
- Your World with Neil Cavuto (BR) (1 hour)
- Glenn Beck (R) (2 hours)
- Special Report with Bret Baier (N) (2 hours)
- The Fox Report with Shepard Smith (N) (1 hour)
- The O’Reilly Factor (R) (3 hours)
- Hannity (R) (2 hours)
- On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (N/F) (2 hours)
- Red Eye (N/F) (1 hour)
- Morning Joe (MR) (3 hours)
- Morning Meeting (N) (2 hours)
- MSNBC News Live (N) (4 hours)
- Dr. Nancy (HN) (1 hour)
- Andrew Mitchell Reports (NL) (1 hour)
- Hardball with Chris Mathews (ML) (3 hours)
- The Ed Show (L) (2 hours)
- Countdown with Keith Olbermann (L) (4 hours)
- The Rachel Maddow Show (L) (3 hours)
- First Look (N) (1/2 hour)
- Way Too Early with Willie Geist (N) (1/2 hour)
Now, if you’ve stuck with me this far… let’s quickly discuss what our administration is doing. They are targeting a network because of it’s lean, and claiming they do not report news. I think this is hypocritical and wrong. MSNBC’s lean certainly looks like they have been in the tank for Obama. I think Fox, despite the number of right wing commentators, has generally given a fair shake to the left in their news and interviews. There is definitely an attempt to delegitimize each of the networks by their idealogical opponents. I think that’s the wrong way to go. The first amendment is a wonderful thing, and commentary is appropriate. Perhaps the lean of the news show is problematic… but if you approach your intake of news and commentary with a skeptical and questioning mind, you can certainly make your own opinions.
We do not need a news Fairness Doctrine, we do not need to trash the news networks, and we do not need “Diversity” in the news and Radio… it’s already there! The Free Market has already taken care of this.
The administrations efforts to dismiss Fox may backfire on them. Their attempt to pat the other networks on the head has even CNN questioning the administration. My fear is that this backdoor attack on the first amendment is just the first step, however. Obama just today dismissed FoxNews as “Talk Radio”. If one did this, and the “Diversity Doctrine” (The new version of the Fairness Doctrine) makes any headway, that would allow the government to essentially shut down FoxNews. Did you know that the government is attempting to fine Fox $30 million for “Wrong statements and indecencies”? This is exactly the sort of thing Chavez has done to his critics… shutting them down. No government should ever control the media. And of course it’s completely hypocritical, as I’ve shown that MSNBC leans way left.
We need debate, we do not need to stifle it. Do not dismiss something simply because your politics say you must, and don’t let our government do it either.