Fox News' “Fair And Balanced” Doesn't Extend To Equal Airtime For Obama Speech

The contrast between Fox News' coverage of President Obama's first campaign speech after Hurricane Sandy and its coverage of Mitt Romney's rally in Virginia is a study in the network's notion of “fair and balanced.” Fox aired Romney's entire speech, which lasted almost 25 minutes, but cut away from Obama's remarks after just six minutes.

By contrast, MSNBC aired both speeches in their entirety -- Obama's speech lasted about 23 minutes -- while CNN aired the entire Obama speech and all but the first two minutes of Romney's comments.

Obama appeared on Thursday in Green Bay, Wisconsin, to describe his agenda in a second term, and Romney was in Roanoke, Virginia, with Republican senatorial candidate George Allen for a campaign rally.

Fox aired Romney's speech from his opening remarks at 10:19 a.m. to his closing comments at 10:42 a.m., when he stated: “This November, I know you people in this room have very clear eyes, you know the consequence of what this election means. You have full hearts, and we can't lose. We need you, Virginia. We've got to take back America. I'm counting on you. George is counting on you. Let's make sure we keep America the hope of the Earth. Thank you so very much.”

Four minutes later, following a commercial break, Fox hosted Obama campaign national press secretary Ben LaBolt to discuss Romney's comments.

By contrast, Fox aired the beginning of Obama's speech at 11:44 a.m. but cut away six minutes later at 11:50 a.m. following Obama's urging to the crowd not to boo, but to vote. Happening Now co-host Jon Scott then told viewers to head to to listen to the rest of Obama's remarks.

Scott then led a discussion with Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson and Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis about Obama's speech, though it had not yet ended, and the tone of the campaign in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Carlson claimed the hurricane allowed Obama to “play president” and “pretend” that “he hasn't run this incredibly divisive, nasty campaign that literally singles out groups of Americans and blames them for America's problems, which is what he's done.”

Scott also took the opportunity to mention the September 11 attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, which Fox News has continued to politicize in attacks on Obama.

In May, Fox covered less than three minutes of Obama's speech launching his re-election campaign.

Despite its “fair and balanced” motto, Fox News has treated coverage of this election season as an extension of GOP efforts to elect Republicans and deny Obama a second term. Indeed, a Media Matters report released today found that at least 32 Fox News figures have backed Republican efforts in more than 300 instances during the 2011-2012 election cycle.