Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Do we make too much of FOX News?

In an editorial in The Nation, Richard Pollak suggests the answer is yes.

Pollak suggests that FOX averages about 2.13 million daily viewers "in a nation of more than 215 million people over the age of 15." (NOTE: I am quoting from Pollak's editorial that appeared in the Kindle version of the magazine. I am not a subscriber so I cannot directly access the full online report.)

He wonders why the mainstream media seem so determined to turn almost anything FOX News and its employees say into a news story.

He asks why the media "promulgate the network's willfully false portrait of the political landscape."

He's correct. So why do the media seem so infatuated by FOX? I have a few theories.

1. FOX is a success, and therefore the media are going to be more critical of it. Let's compare the Pittsburgh Pirates to the New York Yankees. The Pirates are looked upon as one of baseball's hapless franchises, but the Yankees are the evil empire, hell bent on world domination of Major League Baseball. FOX (number one in the cable-news ratings) is akin to the Yankees (winners of the most World Series championships), able and willing to do whatever it takes to win. You can't hate the Pirates, but you sure as heck can hate the Yankees.

2. FOX scares the heck out of the lean-to-the-left establishment, wherever it might be found. FOX upsets the apple cart and refuses to play by the rules. It yells loudly and through many megaphones that the country is heading in the wrong direction and that liberals are sending us to damnation.

3. FOX has changed the look of cable news. Consider how FOX female anchors appear on screen and you are getting to the heart (or close to it) of this point -- attractive women not afraid to show it (or perhaps told to show it) deliver the news and information that FOX viewers want to keep abreast of. In doing so, those viewers get a leg up on the competition.

4. FOX delivers more news than the competition. I'm going only on anecdotal viewing here, but my sense is FOX covers more news than CNN or MSNBC. I'll acknowledge the spin associated with that coverage.

So, do the mainstream media make too much of FOX News? Yup. And FOX News wants it that way.

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