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Bias on FOX News

Posted on September 30 2009 6:14 am
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FOX media commentator Bernie Goldberg’s weekly appearance on the O’Reilly Factor turned into a shouting match about whether certain unnamed talking heads on FOX News were spinning their biased views as facts.   This was in response to O’Reilly’s question as to why FOX is under constant attack by the “mainstream” media.

After conceding that FOX’s conservative views and its ratings success were contributing factors to the angst in liberal media elite circles, Goldberg then lent legitimacy to the anti-FOX assaults by going after the bias of the unnamed commentators (whom everyone knows must have been Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck).  He said that these commentators had a habit of distorting the facts to make their point.

Goldberg’s usual target for media bias are NBC, CBS and ABC , along with The New York Times.  But usually he does so in a monotone, matter-of-fact manner.  This was one of the few times that I have seen Bernie really lose his cool.  When the subject switched to Dan Rather (whose lawsuit against CBS had just been thrown out of court), he returned to his usual calm demeanor.  But the cat was out of the bag.  So let’s take a look at his charge against FOX.

As O’Reilly pointed out, neither Beck nor Hannity hold themselves out as journalists.  They more or less wear their biases on their sleeves.  Beck is the “common man” populist who goes after both parties when he thinks they are abusing the little guy.  Hannity has said many times that he is a proud Reagan conservative.

On the biggest controversy that Beck has taken on recently — Van Jones — Beck turned out to be entirely correct.   Much of the basis for his attacks on Jones as a self-avowed Communist, race-baiter and 9/11 conspiracy wingnut came from Jones’ own words.

Hannity never lets a show go by without hammering President Obama.  From the days of the Presidential campaign, Hannity pointed out the potential dangers of Obama’s radical associations with such people as Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright.  Given the ugly realities of Van Jones and a number of other radical Obama administration czars such as Cass Sunstein, Hannity’s warning was spot on.

However, I have noticed Hannity’s tendency to greatly exaggerate a fact, or to take quotes out of context to support his positions.  And since Alan Colmes left the show, the only liberal voice that we occasionally hear to counter Hannity is Bob Beckel, whose claim to fame was that he managed Walter Mondale’s disastrous 1984 campaign for the presidency.

I also think that Hannity has taken on an arrogant, contemptous tone that was entirely missing in his early days on his ABC radio show.  He is fond of calling Obama “the Annointed One,” but at times it seems that Hannity sees himself as the Annointed American Patriot sent here to rescue the country from the barbarians.

So Bernie Goldberg had a legitimate point and I congratulate FOX and Bill O’Reilly for having the guts to air the criticism of their own station.  When was the last time you saw such self-criticism on the liberal talk shows?

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