Fox, I Must Agree With The Liberals, Is Not Fair
As terror attacks intensified this week, with incidents in Britain, Egypt, Lebanon, and Iraq among the most noteworthy, I was continuing my protracted trip in Alaska, specifically in the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage.
This is a conservative state, and quite often I find hotel television carrying the Fox network, but not CNN and often not even all three of the traditional networks, NBC, ABC and CBS. The lone sizable newspaper, the Anchorage Times, also is conservative, but does run some convincing liberal columnists.
So, I was watching Fox quite a bit, and despite my own hawkish views on the war, known to all who read this blog, I have to acknowledge that I do not find Fox coverage "fair and balanced," as their motto claims.
Fox leans heavily toward the conservative Republican side, toward a continuously dire view of the world situation (which is hard not to have these days), against civil liberties, and against liberals and Democrats.
While, as in the tsunami coverage last Christmas, it is quick to jump on breaking news, its 24-hour coverage means that quite often interviews are recycled two or even three times. It would be better to interview more people, with diversity of view.
For discussion of public issues, such as civil liberties questions, Fox often relies on ideologues representing two sides, but the conservative ideologues often seem more reasonable in their presentations than the liberal ones, and the liberal ones are not treated quite fairly.
A typical example Friday involved a civil liberties representative, Sam Gross. Not only did he take the dubious position that nothing should be done to fight the war on terror that would impinge in any way on civil liberties, but even the moderator frequently jumped in against him, leading to a ganging up impression. At the end, the moderator said Gross' position was ridiculous. It occasionally struck me that way too, but I felt Fox should have picked a better, more articulate representative of the civil liberties position.
The only time Fox showed Howard Dean, the Democratic National Chairman, while I was watching was to show him making a rather extreme position. I do not like Dean much either, but occasionally have to acknowledge he is cogent.
One commentator Fox did show who I felt was quite balanced was Nina Easton of the Boston Globe, who once worked for the L.A. Times and is the ex-wife of Times political writer Ron Brownstein. I've always felt Easton was more intelligent and able than Brownstein, and her presentation further convinced me. They recycled her panel too.
It would be better if Fox showed more seasoned academics to present liberal views, and then treated them respectfully. They don't need to invite L.A. Times editorial page editor Michael Kinsley to be showing the other side.
These are difficult times and the issues are bewilderingly complex. It would be better, honestly, if Fox were more middle of the road.