At the MRC, Fox News is not biased, even when it is

Blog ››› ››› TERRY KREPEL

Apparently, the Media Research Center believes there is no such thing as ideological bias at Fox News -- even when it's irrefutably demonstrated that there is.

A January 27 MRC press release touting the Public Policy Polling survey finding that Fox News had the highest trust rating among TV viewers quoted chief Brent Bozell as saying: 'The proof is in the pudding. Americans want balanced news, not liberal advocacy. Fox offered them 'fair and balanced' journalism, and America has embraced them."

Just one little problem: Fox is not "fair and balanced" -- and the MRC knows it. The day before Bozell's press release was issued, the MRC highlighted a Center for Media and Public Affairs study finding that, while most major news outlets were, on the whole, almost evenly balanced in negative and positive coverage of President Obama's first year, Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier was much more harsh -- only 22 percent positive coverage of Obama and a whopping 78 percent negative.

MRC research director Rich Noyes -- a former CMPA employee who "helped [to] develop the methodology the Center uses for tallying good and bad press for presidents" -- somehow didn't see this as media bias. Rather, Noyes claimed, Fox News was merely providing "historically normal scrutiny" of Obama, because it was "roughly equal to that provided by the old networks in the past."

But the MRC has historically portrayed overly negative coverage of Republican presidents and their causes, such as the Iraq war, as examples of media bias. Now that Fox News has been caught exhibiting the same kind of negativity, using methodology one of its own employees developed, it's suddenly no longer bias but "historically normal scrutiny."

It's no surprise that Bozell would slavishly adhere to right-wing talking points to declare Fox News "fair and balanced" -- never mind that Public Policy Polling made no correlation between trust and balance. As PPP director Tom Jensen pointed out: "A generation ago Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in the country because of his neutrality. Now people trust Fox the most precisely because of its lack of neutrality."

But it seems the MRC as a whole is just as dedicated to those same talking points, to the extent that it will redefine and whitewash its own methodology and research to avoid having to hang that dreaded B-word on Fox News -- a channel on which MRC employees make regular appearances.

Fox News Channel, Media Research Center
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