1996 marked the start of the cable news station Fox News Channel by Rupert Murdoch, who “faced allegations that his companies, including the News of the World, owned by News Corporation, had been regularly hacking the phones of celebrities, royalty and public citizens.”
The channel’s slogan is “Fair & Balanced,” but this core value is debated among other news networks, celebrities and the common viewer.
What could have been a fair and balanced news channel during its creation has turned into a constant battle between truth, lies and everything in between.
Fox News Channel has received high ratings since the beginning of the Iraq conflict. From there, the channel has remained the No. 1 rated news channel, beating out CNN and MSNBC. So what are the issues with a channel that has such high viewership?
In January 2014, reports began to surface that a large role in who watches Fox News is dependent on age. Frank Rich, a writer for New York Magazine, states that,
“With a median viewer age now at 68 according to Nielsen data through mid-January (compared with 60 for MSNBC and CNN, and 62 to 64 for the broadcast networks), Fox is in essence a retirement community … If it is actuarially possible, its median viewer age will keep creeping upward.”
Rich also states that, “according to new Nielsen data, only 1.1 percent of Fox News’s prime-time viewership is [black].” Despite such a limited scope of viewers, the Fox News Channel still manages to be No. 1. Rich believes that their median viewer rarely watches television besides Fox News, and the channel markets towards its audience who, on average, vote for GOP candidates at a higher rate than other nominees.
It is possible to argue that there is a liberal bias in news journalism. But what is even easier is to show that viewers of Fox News tend to be given misinformation.
Over the last ten years, eight studies have come out showing the conservative bias of Fox News and that the channel spreads information that is false or tweaked to a conservative advantage.
The studies include the 2003 Program on International Policy Attitudes which looks at media and the Iraq War; the 2007 Pew Research Center data on public knowledge of current affairs; the 2010 Stanford University paper focusing on global warming in relation to Fox News coverage; and the 2010 Ohio State University paper on the false rumors on the New York City mosque. The Kaiser Family Foundation, Fairleigh Dickinson University, University of Arizona and the combined reports from the Universities of American, George Mason, and Yale have all put out reports that show Fox News is no longer “fair and balanced.”
In 2000, Jane Akre and her husband, Steve Wilson, sued Fox News after being fired for not changing their story on bovine growth hormone (BGH). The series, told in four parts, showed that supermarkets in Florida sold milk from cows treated with BGH. Executives at Fox tried to force the couple to use quotes and information from Monsanto Corporation, the company that manufactures BGH, that went in direct violation of their own research. Instead of listening, the couple refused and were fired from the company.
After winning a settlement of $425,000 from a Florida jury under the state’s whistleblower law, Jane Akre was brought to appeals court in 2003. The Florida Second District Court of Appeals overturned the settlement awarded, stating that the whistleblower law states that the employer must violate a law or regulation.
The court stated that, “the FCC policy against falsification of the news does not rise to the level of a ‘law, rule, or regulation,’ it was simply a ‘policy.’ Therefore, it is up to the station whether or not it wants to report honestly.”
Now being able to stretch facts legally on air, Fox News hosts numerous reporters and repeated guests that lie on air. These include, but are not limited to:
In 2010, Huffington Post released an article that listed ten on-air lies told by Fox News reporters or guests and videos that showed each lie. Media Matters released a video in 2013 that compiled a series of clips showing reporters stretching the truth about healthcare issues.
There are so many lies spread on Fox News that The Daily Show, a show that uses comedy to discuss current events, has a tag dedicated solely to the channel. The Colbert Report, a spin off from The Daily Show, set up a fake twitter that swapped out names of movies and actors in Rotten Tomato reviews with Fox News commentators.
While at some point in the past Fox News could have been a fair and balanced channel, it has been corrupted.
Through their own viewers’ political opinions and becoming a news network that no longer cares about telling the truth about current events, Fox News should no longer be able to call themselves a news network.