15 years of Fox News

Fair and balanced?

Fox News Channel is 15 years old this week, having changed the face of TV?news (though it still considers itself an underdog). Since 1996, Fox has caused plenty of controversy with its often caustic, center-right viewpoint. To the chagrin of liberal critics, its audience is twice that of the combined figure of CNN?and MSNBC. Fox News has always divided opinion; and here, two commentators tell us what they think.

Opinion: Pro Fox: Anthony Figiola Vice President of Empire Government Strategies

Fox News leaves the liberal media trailing in its wake

The first lesson I was taught when entering the business world was “If they don’t like you, it means you’re doing something right.” Over the last 15 years, Fox News has made some enemies, but their unique brand of journalism has created a strong legion of supporters. 

Since the beginning, Fox News has been criticized by the left and accused of being stalwarts for the GOP. However, no matter what one thinks about the political ideology of Fox commentators, one thing is abundantly clear: America trusts them.

Fox News fills a large void in reporting that’s watched by more than 1.8 million viewers each night. In fact, the Fox News Channel is the fifth most-watched cable network in America with a nightly viewership larger than that of CNN and MSNBC combined.

Their popularity can be explained partly by the fact that they offer another side to news that we usually do not see enough of when relying on the traditional news media. Earlier this year, a Democratic organization, Public Policy Polling, polled Americans and found that Fox News ranked as the second most-trusted news network, just behind PBS. This might explain why commentators such as Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren have been rated No. 1 in their nightly time slots time and time again over their CNN and MSNBC counterparts.

Fox News covers many overlooked but important issues, serving as a leader in public discourse. Fox’s journalists report on stories that other media outlets don’t always pay attention to, but that often turn out to be major national stories. Fox’s recent coverage of the shameful “Operation Fast & Furious” by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is just one example of this.

For as long as there is competition and opinions in the news, many will criticize Fox and its contributors. Ten years of consistent, record-breaking ratings should signify the reach and impact that the network has on the playing field of news delivery.

Irrespective of what the critics on the left might shout from their soapboxes about Fox, the people have spoken, and Fox is here to stay.

— Anthony Figliola is vice president of Empire Government Strategies, a government relations and economic development consulting firm representing clients in New York and Washington D.C. He is a former fundraiser for federal, state and local political campaigns.  

Opinion against Fox: Lance Strate Professor of communication and media studies, Fordham University

Fox News: A Blot on the Media Landscape

The recent series of phone-hacking scandals facing Rupert Murdoch have conclusively demonstrated that HIS News Corporation is devoid of journalistic ethics. No doubt, the vast majority of broadcast journalists in the United States regard Murdoch’s troubles as long overdue comeuppance for the permanent damage they inflicted on the American media landscape.

For more than a century, journalists have adhered to an ideal of objectivity — admittedly, one they could never quite live up to. Still, they were intent on serving the public interest by providing objective, factual descriptions of events. Journalists proudly proclaimed that the criticisms and complaints they received from both left and right proved that they were maintaining the correct level of professional detachment and impartiality.

Fox News represents a radical break from this tradition, as it is profoundly partisan in its reporting.
Fox’s political bias would not be so damaging if the organization would be honest and up front about the fact that it favors conservatism and the Republication Party. That would be perfectly legitimate.
The problem is that Fox keeps its political agenda hidden and obscured in a manner that blurs the distinction between journalism and overt propaganda. Instead, Fox News presents itself as part of the tradition of objective journalism, claiming that its deliberately biased newscasts somehow represent “fair and balanced” reporting.

This smokescreen has the effect of tainting all reporting with an air of political bias and pressuring other organizations to compensate for the imbalance in the media ecology. MSNBC has more recently eschewed the objective ideal to become the liberal counterpart to Fox. 

And so, like a zombie plague, the infection spreads!

Cynicism abounds; and is it any wonder that when news becomes a joke, comedians become our most trusted journalists? How can we not look to Jon Stewart or Jay Leno as voices of reason and truth, when all that Fox brings us is an endless parade of programming that favors confrontation, conflict and angry exchanges?

Fox News is to journalism as professional wrestling is to sports. Murdoch is guilty of nothing less than strip-mining the media landscape, and it will be a long time healing from the damage that he has caused.

— Lance Strate is a professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University.

Metro does not endorse opinions of the authors, or any opinions expressed on its pages. Opposing viewpoints are welcome. Please send 100-word submissions to letters@metro.us.


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