Fox Commentators Guarding Bias Henhouse

In a 2001 study, FAIR found that in its regular one-on-one interviews, Fox News‘ flagship news show Special Report With Brit Hume favored Republican guests over Democrats by a greater than 8-to-1 ratio. After the FAIR report, Hume told the New York Times (7/2/01) that if the data warranted, he would rectify the bias: “If it is a reasonable question, and we find that there is some imbalance, then weâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢ll correct it.” A 2002 follow-up study (Extra!, 7-8/02) showed some improvement–a mere 3-to-2 bias in favor of GOP over Democratic guests–but by 2004, FAIR showed, the ratio had crept back up to a 5-to-1 advantage for Republicans.

Last night, in an attempt to rebut White House communications director Anita Dunn’s recent claim that Fox News “often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party,” Fox News‘ Bill Oâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢Reilly brought on Brit Hume as an expert on media bias (O’Reilly Factor, 10/12/09).

Hume claimed that Fox doesnâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢t feature “very many people who are down-the-line advocates for whatever the Republican party is up to,” and that “the Republican party takes a fair amount of fairly sharp criticism on Fox News and has for a long time.” Hume offered no evidence and ignored the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

And, though it is beside the point of whether or not Fox News is an arm of the GOP, Hume wheeled out Fox‘s old attack on the rest of the corporate media. Citing his pre-Fox career at outlets like ABC News, Hume told Oâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢Reilly: “It wasn’t that I couldn’t report the news in the way that I saw fit. It was that I often had to argue for doing it a different way than the headlines on the front page of the New York Times seemed to direct the network coverage.”

With bias experts like Hume, one might wonder if Fox would feature the Unabomber as an expert on domestic terrorism. Certainly no one can say that Hume didn’t get to report the news the way he “saw fit” at Fox.

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.