Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Fox News

On his site, Andrew Sullivan is having a discussion with some readers about Fox News - specifically, an appalling fawning interview that Sean Hannity conducted with Dick Cheney. One reader commented that he/she was not so much surprised that Hannity was blatantly partisan, which is his avowed purpose, but that he didn't even "ask ... the questions to which conservatives would like some answers." Which begs the question: Based on what Fox News is actually like, who says conservatives are interested in having questions answered by their news and information sources?

Ok, but more seriously, I'm well aware of US conservatives' confirmed belief that the mainstream media is unrepentantly liberal, and I think there is some validity to some of these arguments some of the time. For example, I do think that newspaper journalists are more likely to be socially liberal, but middle-of-the-road on economic issues (I'm sure I've seen studies indicating this). And NPR, to which I am ridiculously addicted, features reporters, hosts and analysts that tend the same way, I believe (this is based more on my observation and instinct than any objective studies).

But the thing that amazes me about Fox News is just how flat out BAD it is. If I were a conservative, I'd be embarrassed to have Fox presented as the conservatives' ideal news outlet. I'll pit my local NPR station, WBUR, against Fox, and WBUR will kick Fox's ass any day of the week and twice on Sundays. NPR is far from perfect - for example, the standard announcer style is too WASPY and bland - but at least it tries to delve deeply into issues and ideas, exploring things beyond just the surface. Contrary to what my conservative friends seem to think, if you're a reasonably intelligent, skeptical consumer of NPR news and information shows, you can come away with an independent opinion about world events. Fox is about nothing more than telling people what they already think and what they want to hear. And doing so in the most embarrassingly pandering way.

Andrew and his conservative reader seem shocked, simply shocked at how bad the Hannity interview is, and wonder if it portends a lowering of standards for conservative journalism. But frankly, it's obvious after watching Fox for 2.5 seconds that it's got nothing to do with serious journalism.

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