Opinion Taints the News at FNC?

James Rainey writes in the LA Times that opinion is tainting the news at FNC…

So Fox news anchors and reporters hype “tea parties” that rail against the Obama administration. Reporters flog liberals who support healthcare reform while tossing softballs to conservatives who are sure government is growing out of control. The nightly “Fox All Stars,” capping a news program, employs a quirky math that finds two rock-ribbed conservatives plus one neutral party equal one balanced panel.

In one not atypical session this week, the all-stars and host Bret Baier returned to the ubiquitous question of healthcare reform. The Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes asserted that “the Democratic Party seems like it’s in disarray on this, the signature domestic policy item of the president.” Columnist Charles Krauthammer repeated a regular Republican talking point, finding it “astonishing” that Democrats are pushing “restructuring one-sixth of the American economy and don’t even have a bill, don’t even have a scoring, don’t even know what opting in and opting out means.”

Baier, the ostensibly unbiased host, then helpfully reminded Krauthammer that he had previously contended that the so-called public option is merely a “camel’s nose under the tent” toward single-payer insurance. Of course, Krauthammer agreed, “it is the royal road to government-controlled healthcare.” This is the nightly pattern on the All-Star panel that caps off Fox’s “Special Report.” Two conservative panelists express opinions ranging from mild disdain to utter disgust with the Obama administration. Then a third panelist, typically a journalist like Juan Williams or Mara Liasson, stakes out far less ideological ground.

I asked a Fox spokeswoman how this represented balance, and she said I seemed so set in my disapproval that it wasn’t worth offering a rebuttal.

26 Responses to “Opinion Taints the News at FNC?”

  1. imnotblue Says:

    Well… the “All Stars” aren’t really there for ideological reasons, they’re there for analysis. They’re function as insiders, not necessarily pundits (although punditry is sometimes unavoidable). In other words, they give their insider opinion, but they’re not really debating one another.

    But the FOX PR person was correct. This guy’s mind was made up, and he wasn’t looking for an answer, just an attack. An equally apropos question could have been, “How is this panel different than other news program’s panels?” The answer would have been, of course, the make-up is similar, but often reversed with the left in majority over the right. Of course, those programs don’t receive the same scrutiny… and never have.

    But the bigger issue is Mr. Rainey’s characterization of Juan Williams and Mara Liasson. Do note that while providing quotes from the other two panelists, he provides no such quotes from them, as that would probably hurt his argument. He says that the left-wing panelist “stakes out far less ideological ground” than the other guests. This is a perfect example of our media’s “group-think problem.” HE sees their opinions as non-biased or non-ideological, because HE agrees with them. Most of the people he knows agrees with them, most of the people he talks to agrees with them… so why shouldn’t he think those are the “mainstream” opinions? This is the main problem with news today (and why FNC is so different)… so many people think alike, they are unable to differentiate the true mainstream, from the “accepted beliefs” of those around them.

  2. This is an absolutely accurate portrayal of what goes on at FNC, particularly the All Stars segments. You can criticize MSNBC all you want – often deservedly – but when they host opinion segments with commentators during a straight news hour, they bring on the Full Right Wing Crazy to counterbalance liberal viewpoints. “Fair & Balanced” stops at Shep’s door. Ask Shannon Bream..

  3. imnotblue Says:

    You really think Charles Krauthammer is a “right-wing crazy?” I mean, lets be serious here. Nobody on that panel rants and raves, nobody shouts, nobody insults the other people… its insider banter, far from crazy.

  4. Not my point, Blue. I disagree with your assessment of Mara and Juan. They express moderate-liberal views – I can tell, because I’m a moderate liberal. You’ll never see a Kucinich-type liberal on All Stars, which is my comparison to MSNBC putting far-right-wingers on.

    What you will see much of on All Stars is constant references to a “complete government takeover” of this or that. I find that to be an extreme view which does not correlate with Obama’s intentions. It’s the same “I fear for my country” crap that Beck weeps over.

  5. – right-wing crazy –

    Dr. Krauthammer isn’t even a conservative, so that line of thinking is just dumb.

  6. Geez, you guys, am I that hard to understand? Hopefully I’ve clarified my point, ’cause I got payroll staring me in the face and better get back to it. You’re on your own, kids.

  7. lonestar77 Says:

    Ask Shannon Bream? What does that mean? She had several standing requests to interview Corzine. By your logic, if Corzine refuses to appear, she’s not allowed to interview Christie? Yeah, that’s rational. BTW, Shep made the correction the following day and noted that FNC had had a standing request to interview Corzine. Shep is the best in the business but he jumped the gun when he went after Ms. Breem and ended up looking like a D-bag.

    I won’t address the main issue of this particular board because INB hit the nail on the head. So, I’ll just say, “what he said”.

  8. Krauthammer is strong on national defense, conservative on fiscal issues, liberal on social issues.

    Williams, Liasson, Mort Kondracke are liberals.

    The FNS panel is 2-2 conservatives vs. liberals.

    The Special Report panel rotates. I agree it might lean a little to the right at times, but the author wants you to believe Liasson & Williams are just totally non-partisan, and it’s simply not true.

    I love the panel, Krauthammer in particular. If you want to learn something, listen to the man talk for 30 seconds. He can break down the most complex international issue and make it simple for someone who knows nothing about the situation.

  9. unclearthur Says:

    Dr. Krauthammer isn’t even a conservative, so that line of thinking is just dumb.

    HAH! that’s hilarious. You guys… *whips eyes*

  10. unclearthur Says:

    Uh… *wipes eyes*…

  11. The LA Times article was interesting, but it really left out so much stuff. I was greatly disappointed that the author didn’t come down hard on Jane Skinner, Shep Smith, and Jon Scott for the way they routinely call Obama fascist/racist/Marxist every hour of every day. How could he have overlooked that?

  12. Only a Ron Paul libertarian would call Mort Kondracke a liberal, or claim Krauhammer isn’t a conservative. The libertarian takeover of the GOP has decimated the traditional definition of ‘conservative’. Libertarians – which many commenters here are – have co-opted the term.

    LS, Bream has tilted her reports right several times that I’ve witnessed, including claiming Obama is “pro-abortion”, which is a ridiculous descriptin of the pro-choice position.

    By the way, kids, nice job ignoring my comment and going on a rant about Krauthammer. Why do I even bother?

  13. J$, why are you continuing a feud with Art and his silly comments about Fox? As I said in that thread, everybody knows FNC leans right and lets crazy comments about liberals fly sometimes, just as MSNBC does on the other side. Any claim they thay both do it ALL the time is ludicrous. But instead of commenting on what is actually in this article, you speculate about why he didn’t say something closer to what Art said. What’s the point?

  14. Because it’s a Friday, I’m a little bored, and I just wanted to tweak him a bit for never owning up to his own words. So shoot me. Fear not, I won’t do it again.

  15. Ready. Aim… 😉

  16. joeremi Says:
    October 30, 2009 at 8:44 am

    Ah, okay… I understand now.

    Mara and Juan are definitely moderate Liberals, although probably just calling them “Democrats” might work as well. But I disagree that Krauthammer and the other members are far-right. Sure they’re Republicans (san Brett), but not outlandish.

    However, as to the question of “government takeover,” that isn’t necessarily far-right rhetoric, that’s more like insider logic. Even Obama was quoted (before the elections) as saying that he wanted a single-payer system (aka, complete government control), and but it might take some time to get there. The play they’re coming up with now is the first step, with a well established conclusion of 100% government run healthcare. That’s not crazy thought… that’s just logic.

    As for needing some loony lefties to come on (Kucinich was given as an example… who ironically does appear on FOX), will THEY do it is the question? They’re pretty unified in their hatred of all things not “them,” especially FOX. I doubt that if asked, they’d want to be a part of it.

  17. I support a single-payer government-run health-care system. My objection is with people who use that example as a “slippery slope” to government-run everything. Obama is constantly being slimed by the far-right as a socialist who intends to have the government run everything like Communist Russia. It’s a ridiculous charge. There’s a difference between a liberal and a socialist. He’s a liberal.

    Yes, I think any liberal would be happy to be on the All Stars panel. They won’t be asked because Fox knows their viewers don’t wanna hear it.

  18. lonestar77 Says:

    Yes, I think any liberal would be happy to be on the All Stars panel. They won’t be asked because Fox knows their viewers don’t wanna hear it. –Joe–

    O’Reilly is the highest rated show on FNC and he has liberals on all day long so your theory doesn’t hold water.

    So, “pro-abortion” is incorrect but “anti-choice” is a-ok? Uh, ok. BTW, when Obama said he’s in favor of abortion because if one of his daughters “made a mistake”, he wouldn’t want them “punished with a baby”…that sounds pretty pro-abortion to me.

  19. I was greatly disappointed that the author didn’t come down hard on Jane Skinner, Shep Smith, and Jon Scott for the way they routinely call Obama fascist/racist/Marxist every hour of every day.

    I’m a big fan of Jon Scott and his abilities as anchor. But I have to conceed he was the one who gave out that non-explanation explanation for the GOP talking points that wound up in an FNC graphic, complete with typo. Scott addressed the typo…not how the RCN talking points made it into an FNC slide. That hurt his credibility for me. Shep never would have done that.

  20. C’mon LS, we’ve been down this road before. The common terms that everyone uses are “pro-choice” and “pro-life”. I personally prefer pro- and anti-choice, but it is what it is. “Pro-abortion” implies that supporters of abortion like it, which is absurd. And it was right-wing-crazy of Shannon Bream to use the term. She needs to keep her conservative bias in her pocket if she wants to be taken seriously as a juornalist.

  21. Health care is probably the most personal of services an individual ever needs. I can’t see the logic of putting all the eggs in one basket for something so critical. At the very least, we should give a real capitalistic healthcare system a chance first. The system may be broke now simply because true competition has been intentionally stifled over our entire lives.

    A friend of mine is one of the most skilled surgeons I’ve ever met. It was twice as difficult for her to get into a programme as it was for me to get into medical school, the costs comparable, and she has had to receive far more extensive training. She’s a veterinary surgeon and the total tab to perform on my dog the equivalent of hip surgery on a human came to just under $4,000. Using identical equipment, the same number of staff, the same disinfected style operating room, and similar drugs this procedure would have been nearly ten times that amount for a human patient.

    Why the difference? Largely because there’s no third party in there mucking up the cost structure. The unintended consequence of employer-provided health insurance was to raise the costs of medical care for everyone – it’s simple supply and demand and “free” money naturally gets used up quick. Keep in mind that most hospitals are struggling to remain viable and pharmaceutical companies are way down on the list of profitable industries. So all these increased costs have been a total waste. And note that our dental care costs are also now rising fast because more and more people have dental insurance coverage. It was always expensive, but just a few years ago most people could afford to pay for their dental treatment out-of-pocket. Not any more.

    A single-payer system sounds good until you think it through to its logical conclusion.

  22. imnotblue Says:

    joeremi Says:
    October 30, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    My objection is with people who use that example as a “slippery slope” to government-run everything.

    But that’s simply following trends. The government is heavily involved with the banks, some auto manufacturers, they’re talking about acceptable raises… and now they want to control healthcare too! It IS a slippery slope argument, and it’s not a far-right opinion!

    But be that as it may, I’m not sure if I’ve heard anyone say, “Government will control everything,” on the panel. Is there a specific person or quote you know of?

    They won’t be asked because Fox knows their viewers don’t wanna hear it.

    Bogus… and you know it. There are plenty of Democrats who appear on FOX, but it’s the far-left Liberals who continually try to keep “their people” off FOX. It’s tough to argue “they’re not legitimate” when your co-anchor was just on the network.

    If there wasn’t a concerted effort to keep Liberals off FNC FROM other Liberals, someone like Julia Piscitelli wouldn’t have to write articles talking about it:


  23. – Jon Scott –

    I don’t think he usually does that and so I’d give him a pass. You can convince me if I’m wrong, however.

  24. I saw Jon Scott on something called Fox News Watch this afternoon, and it was horseshyte. A half hour devoted to questioning if “the mainstream media was going to continue to give Obama a pass”, and Scott did not play a neutral observer position. Hey Fox, Breaking News: you’re part of the “mainstream media.”

    Note for Red: Kirsten Powers was on!

  25. Fox News Watch used to be hosted by Eric Burns and I think it was a much better show then. On the other hand, Kirsten Powers is on nowdays…

    Must be lots of babes in Alaska. Kirsten Powers, Sarah Palin, Jewell…

  26. Al Says:
    Fox News Watch used to be hosted by Eric Burns and I think it was a much better show then.

    I agree.

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