29 May 2008

FOX News: Number one in America's heart

I read something today that made me shake my head (taken from www.mediabistro.com)

"For the 77th consecutive month, Fox News Channel [FNC] finished first in total day and prime time ratings during May. FNC was the sixth highest rated cable network on all of basic cable during prime time for the month (CNN and MSNBC finished 19th and 26th) and the seventh rated network in total day (CNN and MSNBC were 19th and 27th).
FNC also had 11 out of the top 13 programs in cable during the month in Total Viewers. The O'Reilly Factor was the #1 program in cable news for the 90th consecutive month, and saw gains in Total Viewers year-to-year (26%).
America's Newsroom (9-11amET) was up 30% year-to-year, with the program averaging more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined during the time period. Meanwhile, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren has been #1 for 73 consecutive months in Total Viewers while Hannity & Colmes has been #1 in its timeslot for 54 consecutive months."

As a news professional, this makes me look at my viewing audience a little differently. If I were to go by these figures, and determine the mindset and makeup of my audience based on their preference for a network that fails to meet its own "Fair and Balanced" declaration. The mindset of this audience is that:
-America is right. 24/7, 365 days a year, including holidays.
-White people aren't to blame for anything; in fact, they are the only ones that matter. Look at the largely Caucasian staff of Fox's talking head staff, and see if you can draw a different conclusion.
-We're out for blood, and we aren't ashamed of it.
-The weapons of mass destruction are still out there. Somewhere.
-'Osama' and 'Obama' are really the same person.

Need more ammunition for that last one? Well, I've got that. During a live interview May 25, FOX contributor Liz Trotta not only "make the mistake" of calling Obama "Osama," she took the job one step further.
Trotta: "And now, we are having what some are reading are a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama, umm, uhh, Obama."
Hemmer (FOX newscaster): "Obama?"
Trotta: "Well, both, if we could." (Laughs gleefully).
Hemmer: (mumbles) "Well, talk about how you really feel."

This is what passes for news on America's top rated "news" channel? This is the sort of "Fair and balanced" coverage that some people actually ingest as their sole source of news nutrition? Rupert Murdoch isn't about improving the quality of journalism; he's about adding to his media empire, already worth billions, and spreading his own Republican views all over it. it's no accident that FOX is this way; judge the rest of the body from the head of the snake. It would be one thing for FOX News to display this sort of blatant partisanship under an admitted conservative banner; newspapers in England and Europe have been doing this for years. But hiding behind "We report, you decide?" Come on! How dumb do you think we are? By the time something has been reported on your channel, it's no issue of deciding - your own internal machinery is quite capable of passing judgment by the time a report hits the viewer's retina.
It's bad enough that such a station even exists; it's worse when it tows the line from a White House that has led the country into two wars with no foreseeable end, a justice department that plays by its own rules, a population seeking relief from high energy prices and finding no support at the top (Come on, George, why should the Saudis help us? We're putting their great-great-great-great-great grandchildren through college), a tarnished image around the world, and an unspoken fear of a future that, before 9/11, seemed bright. I don't know about you, but I'd like to have my country back, please. While all news organizations are guilty of their failures in vetting the White House's spin leading up to the Iraq War, at least some of them (NBC, CNN) have tried to make up for this by having coverage that is more skeptical/critical of what the powers-that-be-are saying. For an example, look at all of the news that came about about government incompetence at all levels when it came to Hurricane Katrina.
If FOX wants to be a Washington mouthpiece for a conservative agenda, that is their business. I just wish they'd be honest about it and not pretend to be anything else.

P.s. - And a final reply to those survey results and bumper stickers that suggest one can live guilt-free as a conservative? That's great - but the reason the rest of us are feeling guilty is because we still have a conscience.

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