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Why journalists cannot understand Fox News Channel’s success 1/18/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in Fox News.

Have you ever heard a journalist provide a logical and compelling explanation as to why the upstart Fox News Channel (FNC) seized leadership in cable news from the highly established CNN? Or, describe tactics CNN could do to reverse it? Neither have I. So, I don’t hold out much hope for the upcoming “tell-all” book from Dan Cooper, a former and disgruntled underling of FNC President Roger Ailes.

The reason many journalists don’t understand Fox is that they do not really understand themselves. Although study after study of journalists’ voting behavior, political beliefs, and perception among the public indicate they tend to lean to the left, most still identify themselves as “moderates.” As former CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg says, “The sophisticated media elites don’t categorize their beliefs as liberal, but as simply the correct way to look at things.” But, their liberalism does not mean they are open-minded about how they view news. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Left and Right have totally different expectations for news based on their worldviews. The Left worldview posits that Man is perfectible, he can solve virtually any problem, and these solutions can be figured out by our best, brightest, and most enlightened. Accordingly, liberal journalists believe their goal in news is to provide “the truth.” But, what they don’t realize is that providing “the truth” is completely incompatible with FNC’s promise to deliver news that is “fair and balanced.” After all, what sense would it make to balance truths with untruths, or be fair to a position that is wrong?

On the other hand, the Right worldview posits that Man, a category which includes journalists as well as themselves, is imperfect and imperfectable. Similarly imperfect are those who might claim to be our best, brightest, and most enlightened. The Right is wary, if not fearful, of those who claim to know “the truth” on issues as complex as social policies. That’s why the Right prefers systems where the views of many individuals are considered and debated. And they want those debates to be fair and balanced (not to say they are above those that are slanted in their direction). FNC does deliver balanced debate, and those representing both sides of the debate are picked fairly — they are not cherry-picked to provide weak opponents who do not represent their sides well. Do you see that on CNN or the TV networks? No. That’s why those on the Right don’t like to watch them. “Fair and balanced” is not something that Old Media delivers, nor is it something that, in their hearts, they really want to.


1. Laurence Hallas - 1/20/08

How does the newly launched Fox Business Channel (FBN) fit into this. I believe they are taking on more the Bloomberg’s of the world than the CNN’s – or perhaps a totally different issue.

2. Steve Boriss - 1/20/08

Laurence, I’ve posted my thoughts on that here.

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