Definitive evidence that FOX isn't fair and balanced?

Two things from the start. One, I know good and well that all of the news organizations have their bias, and that they all from time to time seem to miss key facts in their reporting. Second, I’m writing this as someone who used to watch FOX to avoid the other channels’ liberal bias. Suffice it to say, I could disagree with that view more now.

My personal opinion (one that I bet more than a few people share) is not the issue of this thread. I don’t want people to start debating whether or not FOX is a network of lies because they said this or that. I want to know if there have been media studies that show, for example, that FOX viewers have a skewed view of certain issues. I want research that both liberals and conservatives can look at and see solid evidence that FOX isn’t necessarily “Fair and Balanced.”

For example, I remember in 2003 there was a study that showed a considerable number of Americans still believed in 3 misconceptions about the war in Iraq:

And, among networks, FOX was well out in front when it came to the number of viewers who held at least one of those misconceptions (80%). Among viewers of CNN, on the other hand, 55% maintained one or more of the misconceptions. Only 23% of NPR listeners held one or more of the misconceptions.

Are there other studies like this that take issues and compare network viewerships’ knowledge of the issues? For instance, have there been studies that take both present presidential candidates and look at the falsehoods different network viewers still believe (e.g. Obama is a Muslim or McCain wants to invade Spain)?

Also, if you want to present studies that might shed light on CNN or MSNBC in the same way, I’m open to it.

First, it should be noted that if you were Kim Il Jong, you would view everything from NPR to FOX to be capitalist propaganda that didn’t portray things as they actually are. And to a large extent, that would largely be an accurate position. The interpretation of the same factual occurrence is a significant portion of everything we say unless you summarise everything down to one basic sentence or qualify everything you said up the wazoo.

“Dead body found.” or “A person was ruled by the person commonly known as Dr. Bubba, who is commonly accepted by the authorities of the geographic area commonly referred to as the United States as a coroner, as being dead after being discovered by other possible members of the aforementioned authorities if such exist.”

The assumption of the existence of the United States as a valid ruling body for this geographic area, for instance, would be a political assumption common to Imperialist Capitalist Pigs like ourselves.

So that being said, unless you had a news source which reported the same event from six or eight different perspectives, and which included any news item so long as any one of several minority opinion holders felt it was newsworthy, you’re not going to have a fair and balanced newspaper.

Now you can ask how well a paper sticks to getting the factual details of the things they do cover, accurate. You can also ask how wide a range of opinions they tend to display. But that’s as close as you can come to “fair and balanced.”

I think it could certainly be said that whatever their range of opinions is, it’s to the right of most other sources. Whether it has an equal amount of spread as X alternate, I couldn’t say. I also think it could be said that they’re not as finicky at getting the details of specific numbers and verifying the sources as they could. But that’s likely to be true of most news sources but a few particular ones. Just because FOX itself is relative fluff doesn’t mean that one couldn’t have a separate right-leaning news source with very in depth and factual journalism.

FOX is the junk food of journalism, but I don’t believe they pretend to be otherwise.

There is no need for studies when there is hard evidence. I fondly remember the days when it was arguable that Fox was deliberately biased, but I digress. Fox insiders have leaked memos from Fox management, which all follow the theme; ‘how can we make today’s news look good for Republicans and bad for Democrats’. A notable example was leaked after the 2006 elections, along the lines of ‘another election as normal, nothing worth mentioning’.

Agreed. This is why I’m trying to look for the results of the reporting. I feel that no news organization could ever qualify all of it’s statements, nor would they try – except for maybe NPR – because most people would find it boring and change the channel.

Agreed. But it’s like graphing an equation that will never equal zero. Even though you’ll never have a press outlet that is 100% fair and balanced, some are much closer than others.

To be clear, I’m not equating FOX with all conservative-leaning news orgs. There is a lot of relevant and insightful conservative commentary out there – at times, even on FOX.

I’m speaking here, specifically, of FOX.

They do though. I was just reading a piece on Rupert Murdoch in Esquire in which he brings up the fact that FOX angers so many people because it’s “Fair and Balanced” – the suggestion here being that showing fairness and balance to conservative subjects is anathema to so many other news organizations.

Since, as you noted above, it’s impossible to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that a media outlet is fair and balanced, I wanted to look at the effects of different outlets, as in the study I noted. Seeing as there are certain things that are accepted as fact (i.e. Osama and Saddam didn’t work together), then it seems we could take those pieces of information and see what percentage of different audiences know about these accepted facts. After all, it is from these fundamental truths that we all proceed to form our viewpoints on issues right?

Not necessarily. You’re making an assumption that the link or absence of a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein is important information that must be made to be known. If FOX claims there is a link even when all evidence is to the contrary, then that’s one thing. But it seems more likely that the average FOX viewer is unaware of this fact because it wasn’t very widely reported and is hence easy to have missed.

If, in their view, it doesn’t matter whether a mass murderer was helping other mass murderers, or if instead both groups were acting independently, then…well it’s just not newsworthy. What’s not newsworthy doesn’t get reported and the average person won’t know. My guess would be that this is what you are seeing. And it’s due to a fully honest presentation of what they feel is newsworthy.

About 2 months ago I heard someone on NPR say the BBC has standards regarding which news organizations will be used as sources, and Al Jazeera meets these standards while Fox News does not. I’ve searched at the NPR and BBC websites for confirmation of this or some record of what I heard, without success.

Someone with stronger google-fu should be able to discover more information on this.

Probably this interview: http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=17932912

Yow! Thank you, Yamato Twinkie.

Which will likely only go to REINFORCE Fox News’ viewers’ idea that they are, in fact, “Fair and Balanced” and it’s the REST OF THE WORLD that is biased.

Beat me to it.

I’m looking for evidence that I might use when talking about FOX with people I’m trying convince to at least question what they see on the channel. This won’t. It will just have them say that those liberal Europeans want to shut out conservative commentary.

I saw Fox News on TV in UK a few years ago. It is carried over there:

Here’s a paper that uses what seems to be a fairly decent and has a clear way to figure out the bias/leaning of a news source. Of course that doesn’t help with determining how many factual errors a source will have, but it does at least give a fairly solid answer to one question.

A Measure of Media Bias - Tim Groseclose & Jeff Milyo

50 = Center
100 = Librul
0 = Tighty Righty


Table 4. Rankings Based on Distance from Center

Rank	News Outlet				ADA
1	Newshour with Jim Lehrer		55.8
2	CNN NewsNight with Aaron Brown		56.0 
3	ABC Good Morning America		56.1
4	Drudge Report				60.4
5	Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume	39.7
6	ABC World News Tonight			61.0
7	NBC Nightly News			61.6
8	USA Today				63.4
9	NBC Today Show				64.0
10	Washington Times			35.4
11	Time Magazine				65.4
12	U.S. News and World Report		65.8
13	NPR Morning Edition			66.3
14	Newsweek				66.3
15	CBS Early Show				66.6
16	Washington Post				66.6
17	LA Times				70.0
18	CBS Evening News			73.7
19	New York Times				73.7
20	Wall Street Journal			85.1

Fox is decently central, though of course 25 points to the right of most media sources. The placement of the Wall Street Journal seems odd, and the study remarks on this. I don’t know enough about the various news sources to comment on their explanation.

You’ll never be able to convince anyone who is willing to summarily dismiss any information that they disagree with.

I think that’d be a pretty big deal though. If CNN and the Bull Moose party cite “Reality,” and MSNBC and the Whig party cite “Fantasy,” I’m not sure “CNN IS BIASED!!!” is really what you should be concluding here.

/Apologies to our SDMB Whig Party constituency.

That study is irredeemably flawed from the get go based upon its methodology. It’s using floor speeches by politicians as a baseline for determining middle of the road ideology/lack of bias. C’mon, get serious.

The real question is “What percentage of Fox employees believe their channel is fair and balanced?”.

That’s what really matters. I doubt it can be ascertained though.

No, the real question is why this thread is here and not in IMHO. The OP is a poll, and doesn’t belong in GD - IMHO, that is.

ETA that I think it should be here, but the rules say it shouldn’t. Maybe we should go back to the old rules.

I think that all of the pretty empty-headed Fox & Friends morning show hosts (ie Steve Doosy, Brian Kilmeade & Gretchen Carlson (forgive my spelling)) all believe that they are unbaised, fair and balanced, and I don’t think that proves anything other than that they are delusional idiots.

It puts the Drudge report to the *left *of center? Is it possible that you have the key wrong, and that >50 = right-leaning? Other than that, I can’t see how this could possibly be taken seriously.

I don’t know how widespread it is, but there is an ad running on one of Fox’s pages that proclaims them to be the only media outlet with fair coverage of the election – almost all the supporting text is soundbites from Hannity and O’riely :smiley:

Missed edit window

The study’s explanation of the Drudge finding:

Which, IMHO, underscores the significant weakness of the study — that the number of references to a source is not a fair proxy of the editorial bent of the content. Does the headline/story “Is the ACLU trying to ban religion from your home?!” count as a cite to the ACLU? Does five paragraphs from one source and two carefully culled lines of rebuttal from another count equally?

While I appreciate the effort to try and develop some sort of quantifiable metric, the nuance of language is far beyond the abilities of mathematicians.

Let’s see if this rings any bells for anyone, since I don’t remember where I saw it:

A week or so ago, I saw a report that was counting the amount of time the campaigns and campaign proxies were aired “unfiltered” (I think that was the term used) on the various news programs and news networks. By unfiltered, they meant simply showing clips of various speeches/comments–in essence carrying the messages of the campaigns and giving them screen time.

Fox News had the biggest skew toward Republican candidates and proxies. But all of the programs had at least some skew toward Republican candidates and proxies. The most important part of that, however, was that the period in question coincided with the RNC, so I would expect (demand, perhaps) a Republican skew at that time.

Did anyone else see this report?