Published on Monday, December 1, 2003 by the Madison Capital Times / Wisconsin
Fox News 'Balance' is Just Plain Bogus
by Dave Zweifel
Just in case some Americans are still swallowing the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News Network's "fair and balanced" claim, a national Web site has begun to document its partisan bias.
MoveOn.org launched a "Fox Watch" group last month to "chart this alarming disintegration of journalistic standards."
Thousands have signed up to monitor the network and "hold it accountable for specific instances of manipulations or distortions of truth and partisan bias."
So just last week, MoveOn.org reported that Fox News was the public relations brain behind the Senate Republicans' recent all-night talk-a-thon to counter the Democrats' filibuster against four of George Bush's most radical conservative appointments to the federal bench.
The idea for the political spectacle, the Web site reported, had its origins on the editorial pages of the Murdoch-owned Weekly Standard. That suggestion was picked up by Fox News anchors Brit Hume and Tony Snow, who pitched the idea outright to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on the Oct. 26 broadcast of "Fox News Sunday."
Hume and Snow challenged Frist's contention that the all-night protest session would be counterproductive.
"Make people stay in all night. Make it the central political event in Washington," Snow argued. "Why won't you do it?"
Two weeks later, a leaked e-mail showed that a producer for Hume's evening news show, "Special Report With Brit Hume," worked directly with one of Frist's staffers in an effort to choreograph the start of the Republican protest as a "live opening shot" for the show.
"It is important to double efforts to get your boss to S-230 on time. ... Fox News Channel is really excited about this marathon and Brit Hume at 6 would love to open with all our 51 senators walking onto the floor - the producer wants to know will we walk in exactly at 6:02 when the show starts so they get it live to open Brit Hume's show?" the e-mail said.
"While Howard Dean has claimed the mantle of the 'Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,' " MoveOn's Eli Pariser commented, "Fox News has clearly become the public relations wing of the Republican Party."
Interestingly, Murdoch has apparently put the kibosh on any mention of the 10-person commission that Congress created - over White House objections - to investigate the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the government's response to them. The investigation has been the called the "largest investigation of the U.S. government in U.S. history."
According to the "Fox Watch" monitors, however, there has been virtually no mention of any of the commission developments on Fox News. Further, the Murdoch-owned New York Post has barely reported on it. The Weekly Standard has not run a single word.
Murdoch is notorious for using his huge media holdings for partisan purposes, dating back to his Australian and New Zealand holdings.
But he's also been notorious for pulling the wool over his audience's eyes with clever slogans like "fair and balanced." It's the old adage - say it enough times and people start believing it.
Copyright 2003 The Capital Times