For fans of Fox News (which I watch myself in addition to most of the other networks) the term “fair and balanced” often gets offered up as a reason for watching. I’ve been skeptical of those claims from the outset but the network’s latest move has gone entirely off the rails of believability and, at this point, I’d like any current fan to provide some sort of explanation as to how this doesn’t disqualify them entirely from being able to make that claim.
I’m talking about an ad the network ran in Friday’s Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. The ad (seen here) asks, “How Did ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and CNN Miss This Story?” It’s referring to coverage of the 9/12 march on Washington.
The bottom of the ad says, “We Cover All The News.” The main problem with the ad is two-fold. First, it’s entirely 100% blatantly incorrect and, quite frankly, a lie. Every one of the networks out there covered the story quite heavily. The difference between the other networks and Fox News is that the other networks covered the event. They didn’t promote it as Fox News did which, quite frankly, isn’t what fair and balanced news organizations are supposed to be doing.
Second, what fair and balanced news organization runs advertising that attempts to ridicule its competition over the coverage of an event? This ad really makes little sense—except from one perspective. No one who watches the networks taunted in the ad will buy any part of this assertion by Fox. Why? Because they watch those networks and saw the coverage with their own eyes. The only people who will buy into this ad are Fox News viewers who watch nothing but Fox News. I have absolutely no doubt that my Republican friends who swear by Fox News will, in short order, ask me—with a straight face mind you—why the other networks didn’t cover the event. They’ll know this to be true because Fox News keeps telling them that the other networks didn’t cover it.
I caught a rebuttal from CNN’s Rick Sanchez that’s worth watching. In it he applies Congressman Joe Wilson’s now infamous words to Fox News saying, “You lie.” He points out the huge hypocrisy of the ad by denoting that their own network mentioned CNN’s coverage of the event and ran footage of Bill O’Reilly commenting on it specifically.
This sort of thing is just going to continue to drive home the point that Fox News is anything but fair and balanced. Frankly, of late the coverage here—most notably the ramblings of Glenn Beck—remind me of the lunacy I used to encounter on late-night public access channels years ago complete with people suggesting that aliens were beaming brainwashing signals into our skulls from a distant planet.
Look, I support what Fox News is doing. They have every right to do it and, as I’ve stated before, I think it was pure brilliance on their part to provide a solution to a totally unserved market. What I will not support is their effort to brand what they’re doing as news reporting or that their approach is fair and balanced. You may buy into that but you can’t possibly construe and argument that supports that position. If you watch it and enjoy it that’s great. Just don’t try to tell the rest of us that it’s anything more than what it is—an interesting network that tells a segment of the market exactly what it is they want to hear. Nothing about that qualifies as fair and balanced.