December 27, 2007

Study: Fox Is the Most Fair and Balanced Thus Far in Prez Campaign

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 8:45 am

A leading nonpartisan media watchdog, the Center for Media and Public Affairs, says so. The “About” page for CMPA is here.

Imagine that (HT The Cable Game):

The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) at George Mason University ….. found that Fox News Channel’s evening news show provided more balanced coverage than its counterparts on the broadcast networks.

A look at the press release (small PDF) reveals the extent of the balance at Fox, and the imbalance elsewhere:

Fox News Channel’s coverage was more balanced toward both parties than the broadcast networks were. On FOX, evaluations of all Democratic candidates combined were split almost evenly – 51% positive vs. 49% negative, as were all evaluations of GOP candidates – 49% positive vs. 51% negative, producing a perfectly balanced 50-50 split for all candidates of both parties.

On the three broadcast networks, opinion on Democratic candidates split 47% positive vs. 53% negative, while evaluations of Republicans were more negative – 40% positive vs. 60% negative. For both parties combined, network evaluations were almost 3 to 2 negative in tone, i.e. 41% positive vs. 59% negative.

On specific GOP candidates:

Among Republicans, Mike Huckabee fared best with evenly balanced coverage – 50% positive and 50% negative evaluations by reporters and sources. Fred Thompson came next with 44% positive comments, followed by Mitt Romney with 40% positive, Rudy Giuliani with 39% positive, and John McCain with 33% positive.

Here’s their methodology, again from the PDF:

CMPA has monitored every presidential election since 1988 using the same methodology, in which trained coders tally all mentions of candidates and issues and all evaluations of candidates. We report the evaluations by non-partisan sources, excluding comments by the candidates and campaigns about each other, because research shows that non-partisan sources have the most influence on public opinion, and they are also more subject to the discretion of reporters. However, we maintain data files on partisan evaluations as well.

Teeing it up: I’ll leaving it to commenters to discuss why, of all GOP candidates, Huckabee is the one getting a fair shake from Old Media thus far, and whether the 14-point difference in Dem-GOP positive/negative differentials at the big three networks (47/53 [-6] vs. 40/60 [-20]) will narrow or widen as the campaign progresses.

Cross-posted at


UPDATE: Open note to Jeff at Ohio Daily Blog — Following up on the discussion that began here at Wide Open during the fun times over SCHIP, I look forward to seeing analogous work from a nonpartisan group showing how fair and balanced the liberal advocacy organizations known as NPR and PBS are.




    nonpartisan? maybe. unbiased? surely not. you link to their about page. how cute. you can do better than that, Tom. i’ve got no problem with a conservative media watchdog. but call it that.

    Comment by Eric — December 28, 2007 @ 3:14 pm

  2. #1, the methodology leaves little room for injection of judgment, left or right. SourceWatch is paranoid.

    If the left is so convinced that there’s bias here, they could always employee the same methodology. My guess: too much work, too sure there would be no difference, ending the debate once and for all. Vastly preferable to have a bogeyman to beat on.

    Comment by TBlumer — December 28, 2007 @ 3:19 pm

  3. bogeymen don’t scare me. it’s those boogeymen i fear.

    but listen, you either have to admit CMPA is conservative or be considered part of the drivey-by blogosphere with absolutely zero journalistic credibility. whichever is fine with me.

    do you dispute any of the facts sourcewatch highlights? like near 90% of CMPA funding coming from 3 far right sources?

    “out of the total of $2,523,916, nearly all of it ($2,173,916) came from just three sources: the John M. Olin, Scaife, and Smith Richardson foundations. In other words, CMPA received 86% of its funding from those 3 donors. Here is a sample of other right-wing causes funded by these 3 donors, as listed by their respective SourceWatch articles:

    * John M. Olin Foundation – American Enterprise Institute, Project for the New American Century
    * Scaife Foundations – American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation
    * Smith Richardson Foundation – American Enterprise Institute, Hudson Institute”

    you actually think a group that attacked PBS, attacked Fahrenheit 9/11, and supported the “Reagan miniseries” can be considered unbiased non-partisans? legally they might get by with the non-partisan bit, but unbiased no way. would you call AEI an unbiased non-partisan think tank? you don’t have to be an investigative journalist to figure this stuff out. it’s easy.

    maybe in the interest of journalistic integrity (of which i know “” is highly concerned) you should change your lead-in to “A leading nonpartisan, conservative leaning media watchdog…”. i’m sure any responsible old school dead tree media journalist would approach it this way.

    i love that you think the methodology of using “trained coders [who] tally all mentions of candidates and issues and all evaluations of candidates” is infallible. hilarity. trained by who? CMPA? the right-wing watchdog whose funders also pump big dollars into AEI? LOL.

    it’s not hard to understand why dems might have more positive mentions than negative. everyone has known for some time (even you) that the rep candidates blow as compared to the dems. this is politics, not rocket science.

    as for portraying CMPA as this unbiased media watchdog, you are wrong and the case is closed. no further discussion is necessary at all. thank you and good day sir.

    Comment by Eric — December 29, 2007 @ 10:08 am

  4. strike that. bogeymen i do fear. especially on par 3s.

    Comment by Eric — December 29, 2007 @ 10:09 am

  5. CMPA is nonpartisan, leans right philosophically, is not unbiased, but uses fair and objective methods to evaluate the broadcasts.

    They’re a lot like me in how I look at things. :–>

    SourceWatch looking for neocons under their beds is as bad as John Birchers were looking for Commies under beds.

    Comment by TBlumer — December 29, 2007 @ 12:20 pm

  6. PLAISTOW, N.H. — Ron Paul said the decision to exclude him from a debate on Fox News Sunday the weekend before the New Hampshire Primary is proof that the network “is scared” of him.
    “They are scared of me and don’t want my message to get out, but it will,” Paul said in an interview at a diner here. “They are propagandists for this war and I challenge them on the notion that they are conservative.”

    Comment by GWenker — December 29, 2007 @ 7:15 pm

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