“News” or “editorial” ? Fox's Kelly builds entire segment around Beck's criticism

Fox News reportedly draws a distinction between its “news hours,” which it claims are objective, and its “editorial” programming. But on March 19, purported “news hour” anchor Megyn Kelly constructed an entire segment around “editorial” host Glenn Beck's criticism of New York's proposed restaurant salt ban, airing clips from his show and asking her guest to respond to Beck's arguments.

Fox's “news” anchor uses Beck criticism as basis for segment

Kelly introduces segment by airing Beck clip. Kelly began her segment by airing a clip of Beck on the March 10 edition of his Fox News program in which he stated:

BECK: The government cannot make people healthy. If I want to stuff my face, I'm going to stuff my face. If I'm going to have a heart attack in 15 minutes because I stuff my face, it's my fault. If the firemen have to come to my house and cut a huge hole in the side of my wall because I'm stuck to my couch because I'm a big fat fatty just eating marshmallows all day and the firemen have to come in with a crane and pull me out and put me on a flatbed truck to take me to the hospital, you know what? I should have to pay the bill!

Kelly then said of the proposed ban, “It's got Glenn Beck all fired up.”

Kelly repeatedly demands NY Assemblyman Ortiz respond to Beck's criticism. Kelly's first question to her guest, New York State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz -- who has introduced legislation banning salt in New York restaurants -- was: “Glenn Beck is all upset with you, Assemblyman. What do you have to say to him?” She later asked, “Ok, salt's not great for you, certainly not in large amounts in any event, but why isn't it up to us? As Glenn said, if I want to become a fatty fat fat, what business is it of yours?”

Kelly to Ortiz: “You wanted Glenn Beck to start talking about you.” After Ortiz stated that he introduced his legislation in part because doing so focuses media attention on the issue of the health risks of excessive salt, Kelly stated: “So it's a media stunt. I'm on to you, Assemblyman. Ok. So you just wanted to get on America Live, you wanted Glenn Beck to start talking about you.”

Fox has drawn distinction between supposedly objective “news hours” and “editorial” hours

In response to criticism, Fox News claims its news hours are objective. The New York Times reported on October 11 that in response to White House criticism, Fox News claimed that its news hours -- which it reportedly defined as “9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on weekdays” are objective:

In an interview, Mr. [senior vice president for news Michael] Clemente suggested that there was an element of “shoot the messenger” in the back and forth. “Sometimes it's actually helpful to have an organization or a person that you can go up against for whatever reason,” he said.

Fox argues that its news hours -- 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on weekdays -- are objective. The channel has taken pains recently to highlight its news programs, including the two hours led by Shepard Smith, its chief news anchor. And its daytime newscasts draw more viewers than CNN or MSNBC's prime-time programs.

“The average consumer certainly knows the difference between the A section of the newspaper and the editorial page,” Mr. Clemente said.

America Live replaced Live Desk in early 2010.

In a written statement provided to media outlets, Clemente compared Fox News' purportedly separate “news” and “opinion” programming to “the A-section of the newspaper and the editorial page” :

An increasing number of viewers are relying on FOX News for both news and opinion. And the average news consumer can certainly distinguish between the A-section of the newspaper and the editorial page, which is what our programming represents. So, with all due respect to anyone who might still be confused about the difference between news reporting and vibrant opinion, my suggestion would be to talk about the stories and the facts, rather than attack the messenger...which over time, has never worked.

“News” hours nonetheless takes cues from Beck, features same smears and GOP talking points as “opinion” programs

Fox's “news” division routinely promotes and echoes Beck. Fox News' reporters and “news” programs have routinely promoted and echoed Beck on stories such as the 9-12 Project, tea party protests, ACORN and former White House officials Van Jones and Anita Dunn.

Fox's news programs echo its “opinion” shows. Fox News' purportedly straight news programs echo its “editorial” programs, featuring smears, falsehoods, doctored and deceptive editing, and GOP talking points.