Ben Buchwalter


On FOX and MSNBC
October 17, 2008, 12:55 pm
Filed under: General Politics, Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,


I was initially shocked by the media coverage following the final debate. MSNBC and CNN seemed to call McCain the winner while FOX news said that Obama clearly won. Up was down and white was black because FOX was right. But also because FOX deviated from its regular position of bashing Obama whenever it gets the chance. For one night, FOX acted like a real news network.

This happened for two reasons. First of all, as George pointed out, its in the interest of these networks to keep their viewers interested. If CNN and MSNBC were reporting the Presidential race as it is rather than calling states “battleground” even though Obama leads by thirteen points, then people might (god forbid) stop watching the news 10 hours a day. So all news stations had an interest in making the debate seem closer than it was.

Second, all news networks want to seem non-partisan at any cost. Sometimes that means boosting any sign that the trailing candidate did well and delegitimizing the victor’s strong points. Wouldn’t it all just work better if we called the news channels what they truly are? Some are staunchly liberal, and some are just as conservative.

Last night, Daily Kos called FOX the “24 hour ACORN and Ayers” network. In the past few weeks, FOX News has mentioned ACORN and Ayers 1,231 times, compared to the 963 times that CNN and MSNBC combined have mentioned those semi-scandals.

I almost feel guilty criticizing FOX News because I am a proud fan of MSNBC, which has become almost as partisan and faux-journalistic as its rival FOX news. This is a full fledged rivalry that began when the liberal Keith Olberman, host of “Countdown with Keith Olberman” started openly attacking Bill O’Reilly, host of “The O’Reilly Factor,” as “the worst person in the world” on his show in order to boost ratings. It worked.

Let’s be clear. There is nothing wrong with having a liberal or conservative leaning news station. The problem is when popular stations (FOX receives way more viewers than MSNBC) pretend to be fair and balanced. One of FOX News’ mottos is actually “fair and balanced.” At this point, it seems like FOX is barely trying to hide the fact that it is part of a vast propaganda machine for the Republican party. Dems have blogs, the GOP has tv and think tanks.

This is what led liberal blogs like Daily Kos, MYDD and TPM to staunchly oppose the Democratic Primary Debate on FOX news last fall. Allowing this debate to take place would have amounted to the Democratic Party’s tacit approval of the conservative station which masquerades as an exercise in journalistic ethics.

So this is just a call for stations like FOX and MSNBC to embrace their ideological leanings in order to become the best versions of themselves: staunchly and unappologetically partisan. Let Olberman, Matthews, Maddow, O’Reilly, Hume, and Hannity go wild. Let the other 24 hour news networks handle the the news.

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