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The Fox Business Model

Michael Clemente, Fox's senior vice president for news, gave an unintentionally revealing quote to Time's Michael Scherer:

The fact that our numbers are up 30 plus in the news arena on basic cable I'd like to think is a sign that we are just putting what we believe to be the facts out on the table.

Most news organizations, in my experience, do not have to qualify the word "facts" with the words "what we believe to be." On the other hand, as Fox says, that model is good for ratings.

By Ezra Klein  |  October 7, 2009; 10:26 AM ET
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Fox: Poison for democracy.

Posted by: adamiani | October 7, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

ya because Rachel Maddow is totally unbiased.

She made sure to point out (I watch her occasionally too) when insurers stocks had an uptick on a day when reform seemed to go in their favor. When their stocks went down on another day did she do an "expose" on it? NO.

The only one that seems to be fair is CNN of the national media outlets and even some of their hosts are slanted to the right (Lou Dobbs I'm talking to you).

There is no more "FAIR and Balancd" in journalism. Everyone has a slant and its up to reader/viewer to realize what is garbage and what is true.

personally and i've said this before I'm a big fan of Jon Stewart because he doesn't seem to have too much of a bias one way or the other. he'll call both sides crap when they deserve it and give fair time to both sides too (several visits with Ron Paul come to mind)

Posted by: visionbrkr | October 7, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

"News" organizations have ALWAYS been biased.

Posted by: kingstu01 | October 7, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I also found that quote eyebrow-raising. What is particularly odd is that he seems to claim that Fox's ratings are up 30% now that they're putting "what they believe to be the facts out on the table." What were they putting on the table before?

Posted by: lindamorris131 | October 7, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I don't have any implicit trust in my news sources, but I've found NPR to be the most reliably neutral; sometimes infuriatingly so. Most of the time they do a pretty good job, but every once in a while they slip into the "report both sides, even if one side is ridiculous" groove that ruins most mainstream reporting. Still, they're usually pretty good.

I roll my eyes at MSNBC from occasion, but I do stick around because I think that they're on the right side of most issues, even if they can be obnoxious. Fox I can't watch for more than a couple minutes before the rage starts. CNN I find to be simply bad, but not really biased. They're obsessed with controversy and drama but don't do a good job with the substance.

That said, while I appreciate the pithy-ness of Ezra's post, I don't think that quote is particularly telling. I think reporting the facts "as we understand them" isn't necessarily damning. There are times when there's uncertainty and in any news program there are choices about how to present news which could have an impact on how the viewer receives the information. The only reason this quote is damning at all is because Fox has a record of badly reporting stories beyond reasonable disagreement in presentation.

Posted by: MosBen | October 7, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Fox plays to virtually every psychological vice under the sun. You go there to find out that:
- your mistakes and failings are really someone else's fault (probably illegal immigrants)
- you're a true patriot, but other people are not
- you're in the know, but everyone else is an idiot
- those people that you've always had a hunch were evil *really are* evil (Hah, I knew it!)
- people who hate you are really just jealous (or maybe they're just generally evil)

Fox surrounds people with all of the fluffy ego-stroking reassurances that make them happy. There's a huge market for playing to people's insecurities and the desire to make reality just shut up and be the way you want it to be. It makes a ton of business sense to tap into that.

How that translates into being more factually accurate, I have no clue. I assume that statement is all just part of the fantasy.

Posted by: ponkey | October 7, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Judging by his performance on Jeopardy, Wolf Blitzer wouldn't know a fact if it crawled out of his mini-pompadour and bit him on the nose.

Praise Allah for White House press releases.

Posted by: msoja | October 7, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

There's a difference between, on the one hand, harping on your ideological opponents' shortcomings and cheerleading your own side's successes and, on the other hand, just making sh!t up most of the time. Fox News does the latter, which is what distinguishes it from MSNBC's admittedly partisan evening programming.

Posted by: WarrenTerra | October 7, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

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