Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Nice Comparison of Fox News and MSNBC

The left is really big on the idea that Fox News' slogan "Fair and Balanced" is absurd--that they are a Republican organ.  What I find frustrating is the way that critics of Fox News fail to distinguish the news shows from the opinion shows.  The O'Reilly Factor is not news; neither is Glenn Beck's show, or Hannity's show.  Fox News is actually, within the limitations of television news, pretty good about balance--and they cover stuff that a lot of other news organizations do not.

The opinion shows are another matter.  They are partisan, and only O'Reilly pretends otherwise: "The Spin Stops Here."  Nonetheless, this column by Stu Bykofsky in the November 4, 2010 Philadelphia Daily News makes a good point about balance.  He watched a week of Bill O'Reilly's show on Fox, and Keith Olbermann's equivalent show on MSNBC--and makes the point that if you want to hear more than one point of view, there is not much choice:

"The O'Reilly Factor" welcomed 20 guests from the right, 11 from the left and seven who were neutral. Left and neutral voices combined almost equaled those from the right.

"Countdown with Keith Olbermann" had 20 guests from the left, two neutral and not a single voice from the right. Zero voices of dissent.

So, if you never want to hear anyone challenge liberal views, lock in on Olbermann. While progressives disdain Fox's claim of being "fair and balanced," "The O'Reilly Factor" does present opposing views. O'Reilly will cut them off in midsentence, true, but he even does that to people who agree with him. (Shock therapy might help.) Olbermann seems unable to even listen to anything other than progressive orthodoxy.

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 I no longer have cable, so I don't see O'Reilly, Beck, or Hannity anymore.  I do not miss O'Reilly; his pugnacious style is annoying, and his ego has been inflating at a horrendous rate for several years now. 

I do not miss Hannity much.  While he seems like a nicer person than O'Reilly (or at least he knows how to simulate decency and humility), I seldom see much deep thought coming from him. 

Beck, like Hannity, seems like a decent person--someone I would invite over for dinner, and while not deep, he occasionally says things that contribute to the national conversation.  The signal to noise ratio, unfortunately, is not terribly high.  Realistically, how can it be, on a show that is intended for mass consumption?

If the left wanted to complain that television is not a terribly effective method for serious discussion, they would have my complete agreement.  If they wanted to complain that Fox, especially the opinion shows, is clearly on the conservative side, I would agree with them--and point out that the broadcast networks are just as clearly on the progressive (or fascist, or crony capitalist, whatever label you want to give it) side.  What I find detestable is the notion that Fox is somehow especially bad, or evil, or despicable, compared to other media organizations. 

1 comment:

  1. I don't have cable or a dish any more either, but I do watch Beck on a website, which seems to have over a year's work in a not exactly easy to use archive.